Dr. Paul Hokemeyer


Editor’s note: Dr. Paul Hokemeyer is a nationally recognized expert on Eastern philosophies, relationships, and emotional healing. A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, he holds a PhD in psychology, as well as a doctorate in the law. A part-time Telluride resident, Dr. Hokemeyer is based in the New York City office of the Caron Treatment Center. He is also a contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, “The Dr. Oz Show,” CNN’s “Headline News,” and other media outlets, including “Good Morning America,” “truTV,” WebMD, and “Oprah Radio.” The following blog is based on a recent TV interview featuring Dr. Hokemeyer.


Dr. Paul Hokemeyer

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is any relationship we have with a person that makes us feel drained, anxious or less than. Instead of building us up and making us feel good about ourselves, these relationships break us down in subtle and not so subtle ways. We can have toxic relationships with just about anyone, from the receptionist at the dentist, to our boss or co-workers, to our parents and children, to our most intimate romantic partner. The more intimate the relationship, the harder it is to recognize that the relationship is toxic- and the harder and more painful it is to change it.

What are the signs of a toxic relationship?

Take a step back and look at how you feel around that person.

• Do you get anxious thinking about your next interaction with that person?

• Do you have a bad physical reaction in their presence? A stomach ache? A feeling of being ungrounded or unsafe? Does your head spin?

• Are you drained emotionally and physically after you leave them.

How do you act around the person?

• Are you making excuses for or needing to constantly defend yourself and your actions?

• Do you become a person who you are not normally either by becoming overly hostile or obviously passive?

• Do you need to recover after you leave them?

• Are you so drained emotionally and physically that you need to go to bed, eat, drink or take drugs.

• Do you swear that you will never see or interact with them like that again.

• Do you scratch your head and wonder “What was that about?”

If you do not feel good around a certain person, act out of character, and wonder why you keep going back for more, perhaps you are addicted to a toxic relationship.

To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to my chat with Susan Viebrock.

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