Toxic Power Dynamics in Relationships and how to Avoid Them

Relationships are built on trust, mutual respect, and a healthy power dynamic. However, sometimes these foundations can be shaken by toxic power dynamics.

Toxic power dynamics can manifest in many different ways, but they all involve an imbalance of power between two people in a relationship. This can be due to a difference in status, age, or even just personality. It can be subtle or overt, but it always results in one person feeling like they have less control over the relationship than the other.

There are many different ways that toxic power dynamics can manifest in a relationship. Here are some examples:

Bullying or Threatening

One of the worst possible dynamics in a relationship is when one person is constantly bullying or threatening the other. This can be done through verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. It’s a very unhealthy way to try to control someone and usually results in a lot of fear and anxiety for the victim.

Abuse is unfortunately common in many relationships. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.

Making Demands

Another one of the common toxic dynamic is when one partner consistently makes demands of the other. This can be things like demanding all of their attention, or always needing to know where they are and what they’re doing. It’s a way of controlling someone by making them feel like they have to constantly answer to the other person.

Sometimes, it can occur when one of the personalities is stronger than the other. For example, a very independent and assertive person may have a harder time dealing with someone who is more passive. The independent person may start making demands in order to get their way, without realizing that they’re doing it.

They may badger the more passive person into doing things that they don’t want to do or make them feel guilty if they don’t comply. This can lead to a lot of resentment and hurt feelings over time.

One person has All the Decision-Making Power

Similarly, when one person has all the decision-making power in a relationship, it can be very toxic. This usually happens when one person is domineering and likes to control everything. They may decide where you go, what you do, and how you spend your time.

While there may be nothing wrong with making decisions together as a couple, it’s not healthy when one person is always making the decisions, and the other feels like they have no say. This can lead to feelings of resentment and powerlessness.

Imbalance of Household Chores

Another way that toxic power dynamics can manifest is through an imbalance of household chores. If one person is always doing all the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing while the other person does nothing, it’s not a healthy dynamic. This can be especially true if the woman is doing most of the work while the man does nothing.

While it’s not necessarily wrong for one person to do more around the house than the other, it becomes a problem when it’s not equal. One person should not be expected to do everything while the other person does nothing. This can lead to a lot of resentment and feelings of being taken advantage of.

Age Difference Causes Power Imbalance

Age differences don’t always mean a relationship won’t work. Some men have gone about becoming a sugar daddy and having peaceful relationships as a result. Some partners with a large age disparity end up complementing each other perfectly. However, there can indeed be an imbalance of power when there’s a significant age difference.

For example, a 20-year-old woman dating a 40-year-old man may find that he is much more experienced and worldly than she is. He may have a higher income, more education, and more life experience. As a result, he may start to feel like he’s the one in charge and she is just a child.

This can be a very toxic dynamic because it can lead to the man taking advantage of the woman or making all the decisions in the relationship. It’s important to make sure that both partners feel like they have an equal say in the relationship, regardless of their age.

One Person is Manipulative

Manipulation is a very common toxic dynamic in relationships. It’s when one person tries to control the other by using emotional manipulation tactics. For example, they may guilt trip the other person into doing what they want or make them feel like they’re not good enough.

Manipulation can be hard to spot because it’s often disguised as caring or concern. For example, a manipulative partner may constantly tell you that you’re not eating enough or that you need to lose weight. They may say it in a way that seems like they’re just trying to help when really they’re trying to control your body.

If you feel like your partner is always trying to control you or make you do things that you don’t want to do, it’s a sign that the relationship is toxic.


Toxic power dynamics can be very harmful to a relationship. If you feel like your partner is always trying to control you or they’re taking advantage of you, it’s important to speak up. You should also make sure that both partners feel like they have an equal say in the relationship. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can always seek out counseling or therapy. Toxic power dynamics can be overcome with time and effort, but it’s important to identify them first.

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