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Whether you work with an online counselor or a therapist in your local area, you deserve to be able to process your complex relationship with a professional who has relevant experience. This is not an attempt to demonize mothers, nor is it meant to fuel feelings of hatred towards yours. However, it will be counter-productive, even harmful, to make excuses for her behavior, and to underestimate the extent of its effect on you. Also, note that this list of character traits is not exhaustive. A mother who consistently ignores your stated boundaries, withholds love, or invalidates your feelings in any way, displays toxic traits, and these may manifest in more ways than those stated here.

Does, "Nothing is ever good enough for Mom" ring true for you?

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This often goes not only for you but most people and things in her life. She is perpetually disapproving and a perfectionist, as things seem to meet her exacting standards seldom. Your inner critic probably sounds just like her! As a child, you are likely to have been criticized often and severely.

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Controlling tendencies sometimes accompany the Constantly Critical mom's behavior. She often has a strong, even overpowering personality with leadership qualities.

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However, she probably still issues you with instructions on how to behave, what to wear, and what to do, even when it's completely age-inappropriate. She also opines on many aspects of your life and considers herself an expert on these, despite well-evidenced protestations.

Her tone of voice is often all it takes to either paralyze you or galvanize you into automatic action whenever you visit! This mother is probably used to getting her way with people so that she could display controlling behavior in most relationships. All these behavioral traits are inherently manipulative, but some mothers display alarming skills in the dark art of negative manipulation.

She actively works to make you feel guilty or responsible for her bad behavior, often when she cannot have her way. She is likely to be an expert at honing in on your emotional weak spots or 'buttons' like a heat-seeking missile and can play masterfully with your emotions. After all, she knows you very well. Do you, for instance, find that despite your best intentions to the contrary, you sometimes just react in response to something she says or does? That's very probably the Manipulator pulling your strings. She can also, indirectly or directly, blame you for her problems, or hold you accountable for her failures in life.

This can be subtle or quite brutally direct. This mother will regularly make negative comments or jokes about you in front of family and your friends, without regard for how her words may affect you. This trait is related to those above when you are being belittled or criticized for expressing unhappiness with the way you are being treated, or for expressing any negative emotion towards her.

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In particular, expressing anger towards her is not allowed, or punished with severe passive aggression. You may even be criticized for feeling bad, irrespective of the reason. All of this is likely to result in making you feel that you had better not share any negative feelings with her. Source: flickr.

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  4. Passive aggression can be defined as, "non-verbal aggression that manifests in negative behavior. The toxic mother doesn't respond well to confrontation and tends to avoid emotional intimacy at all costs. She is often also a Control Freak. You're visiting at your mother's house. You're showering when your mother walks into the bathroom and offers to wash your back. This may sound innocent, yet it is not if you happen to be, for instance, an able-bodied adult. In this case, her behavior is highly inappropriate.

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    Other manifestations of this trait could include her opening and read your private mail without permission, hacking your computer or phone to read your texts, contacting your friends or boss to discuss you inappropriately, or showing up at your house anytime and unannounced.

    A mother such as this, who ignores your requests for boundaries or privacy, is a mother with attachment problems and a lack of respect. This is not always a characteristic of the toxic mother, as close and good relationships between parents and children do exist. However, if she also displays controlling, manipulative and passive-aggressive traits, then being her best friend can be a huge burden on you.

    Some toxic mothers don't encourage reciprocity and insist that you focus on her feelings exclusively. This is a narcissistic trait. Alternatively, when you share emotional intimacies as she does, the toxic mother doesn't hesitate to betray your confidence or manipulate you when she cannot otherwise control you.

    It goes without saying that the relationship between you and a toxic mother is unlikely to be healthy or nourishing. Toxic mother-daughter relationships, in particular, are very common, with toxic mother-son relationships slightly rarer. Dysfunction in this primary connection affects all aspects of a person's psyche and life, and awareness of this, especially in women, seems to be on the rise.

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    Bethany Webster, a trained psychologist and Life Coach, has coined the phrase "Mother Wound," defining it as "…the pain of being a woman passed down through generations of women in patriarchal cultures. This is a sober reminder that the toxic mother is herself a product, not only of her dysfunctional upbringing but a largely male-dominated society. That said, men are not exempt from these issues. Elaborating on the definition, the Mother Wound can well be applied to explain many men's life experiences too.

    These feelings and an inner sense of disempowerment and worthlessness are ultimately what will shape all relationships in a person's life.

    10. She is a Nagger:

    It takes no stretch of the imagination to see that this influence is not positive and urgently needs to be addressed. Webster describes the following relationship fallouts:. Realizing that you need help to deal with an issue is most often the first, important step in any healing journey.

    You are a strong, brave lady to do so. In my case, I gave so much to my late mother and got nothing back but hate, so I am still in the stage where I am totally numb about the concept of forgiveness. My mom passed away when I was 15, but I can honestly tell you that so many of these things on this list are true.

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    As I was reading it, most of things I find hardest in my life are the things you mentioned mothers help with most, i. I have a lot of anger and riled up emotions nowadays I don't know what to do with it all a lot of the times. Sometimes I wish I could just hug my mom like I used to when I was a kid and she'd make everything all better I've learned to accept that she's gone I always have the thought that I'll see her again in the back of my head, and i'm happy I do. I am blessed with the best! But, I do think articles like this one raise awareness.

    Barton Goldsmith, Ph. Throughout their lives, HSPs must look for coping tools. Communication is the most important element in any relationship. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine.