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Andrea Anderson Polk’s Blog

Clinically Practiced, Biblically Informed

  • Writer's pictureAndrea Anderson Polk

Are You Vulnerable & Susceptible to Attracting Toxic Relationships?

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Are You Vulnerable & Susceptible to Attracting Toxic Relationships?

In all my years of working with different people as a professional counselor, I’ve observed that there are some who are more susceptible than others when it comes to opening doors to unhealthy relationships with difficult people.

It is important to identify what makes your life prone to attracting destructive or unbalanced relationships. It is most likely because in some capacity, you are willing to give up your own needs, wants, and thoughts; your feelings, your voice, your boundaries - even your hopes and your dreams.

You need to realize that by neglecting yourself, you enable difficult people and unhealthy relationships.

I encourage my clients to take the time to reflect on why they pour out their time, energy and emotions into the kind of relationship that drains them completely as a result of a chronic neglect of their own selves.

Is there something missing inside of you that you are hoping the relationship will heal or fix? Do you have an inherent fear of rejection, abandonment or disappointing others?

Is your identity found in the need to be needed, and subsequently, you abandon your own needs?

Have compassion for yourself.

Do not shame yourself.

You are not alone.

We all have a deep, human need to be loved and cared for.

Yet inadvertently, you lose connection to who you are and what you want in order to care for someone you’ve allowed in your life, receiving little or no reciprocation at all. The relationship is not mutual, it is one-sided.

The first step to healing is understanding and being aware of how you participate in a toxic relationship by allowing it into your life.

You are not responsible for carrying the emotional weight of the relationship.

Resist believing the lie that you are responsible for carrying the emotional weight of the relationship. No one has the power to control you. They can attempt to try to make you feel or act a certain way - only if you allow them.

Toxic relationships often initially come disguised as a seemingly good and healthy relationship, but when you ignore the warning signs, you end up in an endless cycle of suffering, exhausted, and lose precious pieces of yourself.

This isn’t about placing blame on the other person - they are not the problem. It is easy to accuse and use terms like narcissist, crazy, broken, etc. at the person who is hurting you. The problem is the unhealthy relational dynamic between the two of you. Learn to recognize the role you play in allowing harmful relational dynamics.

I often remind my clients that it takes courage and commitment to do the necessary internal work and not blame others. Understanding your pain and confusion is the first step to usher in healing and freedom. Once you become aware of your human vulnerability to this behavior, you can be intentional about making different choices in your relationship.

I encourage you to face the reality of your unhealthy relationship and stop pretending everyone is okay. Face the lies you have been telling yourself. Face the painful emotions you have left buried because your pain contains truth.

Acknowledge the role you play by allowing the toxic relationship to become your primary purpose, rather than having your own purpose and heart’s desire to delight in, bring you joy. and complete you.

Ask yourself these 4 questions:

- Am I encouraging/enabling unhealthy, toxic behaviors?

- Have I allowed this unhealthy relationship to invade my life?

- Am I fulfilling their needs instead of nurturing my own?

- Am I neglecting myself to the point of exhaustion?

Are you vulnerable to attracting toxic relationships? Do you feel like you are stuck and there is no way out?

There is hope.

You can heal regardless of whether or not the other person is willing to do the work.

The only person responsible for your own healing is you.

In my next post, I’ll share 5 initial steps on how to deal with the toxic relationships in your life so that you will learn the necessary tools to help you get unstuck and begin the process of healing and finding yourself again.


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Andrea Anderson Polk is a licensed professional counselor, nationally certified, registered clinical supervisor, and certified professional coach. She has a private practice in Northern Virginia with nearly 20 years of clinical experience helping hundreds of clients on their healing journey.

She is driven by a deep calling to help ambitious women of faith experience healing and breakthrough so they can live each day with peace and purpose. 

Andrea believes healing happens through relationship. The wounds that occur in a relationship must be healed in a relationship. Andrea invites you into a life-altering relationship.

Work with Andrea one-one- by contacting her here.


Andrea has spent her career studying the human experience and has developed a fascinating analogy that compares cuckoo birds, nature’s master manipulator and imposter, to situations and relationships that leave us feeling drained, confused, lost, and empty. Her new book, The Cuckoo Syndrome, helps us fend off the cuckoos, the unhealthy relationships, toxic thinking, and self-sabotaging behaviors in our life that never truly satisfy the deep longings of our souls and the desires of our hearts. 

Andrea’s clinically proven, innovative method helps us recover the lost pieces of ourselves, discover meaning in suffering, and transform our pain into purpose by teaching us to uncover the truth of who we are and who God is so we can be healed and live free. 

Purchase the book Andrea’s clients call “a life-changing breakthrough” for yourself and the people you care about today.

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If you….

Feel internal pressure to do all things well. 

Tend to neglect your needs to please others and search for validation.

Continually attract toxic or one-sided relationships leaving you drained. 

Want to build a life that is unashamedly true to who you are and what you want.


Then…this is the time to reclaim your JOY, ENERGY, AND TIME so you can live each day with peace and purpose!


Curious to know how?

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