Are Toxic Relationships Killing You?

Are Toxic Relationships Killing You? Hero Image

Have you ever had a fight with a friend or partner, and afterward felt like you'd been beaten up? It turns out that the mental stress of relationship conflicts may actually be hurting your health.

A recently published Danish study asked approximately 10,000 people between ages 36 and 52 how often they experienced conflicts with partners, children, other family members, friends and neighbors. Eleven years later, researchers followed up with the group, discovering that 422 of the participants had died.

While this number is typical for a group of that size over the course of more than a decade, what surprised researchers was that those who said they experienced relationship conflicts "always" or "often" were two to three times more likely to be dead than the rest of the respondents. What's more, the study controlled for potential confounding variables, meaning that increased risk of death was likely caused by relationship stress.

If that isn't enough to convince you of the health perils a contentious relationship can bring, the researchers added more evidence. The Atlantic has the details:

[Researchers] also saw a similarly morbid trend when those same 10,000 Danes answered a slightly different question: “In your everyday life, do you feel that any of those people demand too much of you or seriously worry you?” Frequent worries or demands from a partner or children were associated with 50 to 100 percent increased risk of dying during the 11-year followup.
The conclusion, then: "Stressful social relations are associated with increased mortality risk among middle-aged men and women."

So, with that in mind, the next time you feel like getting into it with a loved one or neighbor, it may be helpful to ask, "Is this really worth dying over?" On the flip side, if you're a bit too demanding or worry your partner and other loved ones too much, you may want to pump the brakes and consider the effect you could be having on their health!

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