Navigating personal relationships is an integral part of the human experience. Unfortunately, not all relationships are beneficial or nurturing. Some can be overwhelmingly negative, introducing harmful patterns into your life, often referred to as toxic relationships. In this blog we help identify what a toxic relationship looks like and tips on how to successfully walk away from toxic people in your life.
A toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic individual that are emotionally and, in some cases, physically damaging to their partner, friend or child. While a healthy relationship contributes to our sense of happiness and overall well-being, a toxic relationship can crush our self-esteem and drain our energy.
The first step towards separating yourself from toxic people is recognizing the signs of a toxic relationship.
Constant negativity: Interaction with the person often leaves you emotionally drained.
Lack of support: Toxic individuals tend to show little interest or support in your accomplishments or personal growth. They may belittle your successes or not acknowledge them at all.
Control and manipulation: They may use manipulation tactics, such as guilt-tripping or gaslighting, to control you or the situation. This control can also extend to isolating you from friends, family, or other support networks.
Disrespect of boundaries: They may consistently violate your boundaries, refusing to accept your 'no' or dismiss your feelings and needs.
Constant criticism: Persistent, unwarranted criticism is another common sign. While constructive criticism can be helpful, consistent negative criticism can wear down your self-esteem and confidence.
Unequal give-and-take: Relationships should ideally involve a balance of give and take. In a toxic relationship, you may feel like you're constantly giving, but not receiving the same level of care and attention in return.
Abusive behaviors: In some severe cases, toxic relationships can involve emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Any form of abuse is a clear sign of a toxic relationship and requires immediate action.
Walking on eggshells: You often worry about how they'll react to things you say or do. The unpredictable or volatile behavior makes you feel like you're constantly on edge.
It's important to note that while everyone can have negative behaviors or bad days, toxic relationships are defined by patterns of these harmful behaviors, not isolated incidents. Once you've recognized a relationship as toxic, it's important to begin to process that change is needed, this can be a heavy and overwhelming decision, but it is important that you are honest to yourself about what is going on.
Evaluating Your Options
Before deciding to sever ties, evaluate if there's a possibility to improve the relationship. Open communication can sometimes lead to changes if the other party is willing to understand and adjust their behavior. However, it's crucial to remember that you cannot control or change anyone's behavior but your own. If your attempts at addressing the issues are repeatedly dismissed, it might be time to admit that you have done everything to heal the relationship to no avail and it is time to walk away.
Creating Emotional Distance
Emotional distance, often referred to as emotional detachment, is a term used to describe a state in which a person significantly reduces or eliminates their emotional interaction or investment in certain situations, relationships, or interactions. Emotional distance can be a beneficial coping strategy, allowing individuals to protect themselves from emotional exhaustion or the negative impact associated with toxic or overly demanding relationships. It can serve as a boundary, helping people manage their emotional health when dealing with challenging individuals.
For example: A sibling, parent or friend may consistently call to complain about their day at work. At first it was fine, then it got annoying and then it just got plain ridiculous, they just want to complain and never listen to your advice. Next time they call, you can say, “I love hearing from you, but I only have about 2 minutes, tell me something good that is going on.” Stick to the 2 minute call and then politely tell them you have to go. Which leads to the next step:
Setting Firm Boundaries
Establishing clear and firm boundaries is an essential part of managing toxic relationships. This may involve limiting the time you spend with the person, controlling the topics you discuss, and outlining the behaviors you find unacceptable. If these boundaries are repeatedly violated, it's a clear sign that you may need to consider ending the relationship as they refuse to respect your needs and time.
Walking away from a toxic relationship can be challenging, often filled with feelings of guilt, fear, and uncertainty. It's vital to seek support during this process. This could involve talking to trusted friends or family members, or seeking professional help such as a counselor or a mental health professional. They can provide valuable guidance, encouragement, and coping strategies.
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Ending the Relationship
When all else fails and the relationship continues to negatively impact your mental health, it may be necessary to end it. This decision should be communicated assertively and respectfully. It's essential to be firm in your decision and prepared for any potential backlash.
Aftermath and Healing
After ending a toxic relationship, it's important to focus on healing and recovery. Surround yourself with positive influences and engage in activities that promote your well-being. This might also be an opportune time to consider therapy or counseling to work through any residual feelings or trauma.
Walking away from toxic people in your life can be a challenging, but ultimately empowering journey. By recognizing toxic relationships, setting boundaries, seeking support, and focusing on healing, you can regain control of your emotional well-being and lead a healthier, happier life. Remember, everyone deserves relationships that bring joy, mutual respect, and positivity. Don't be afraid to settle for anything less.
All the best,
Food for thought:
Have you had a toxic relationship in your past?
Are you presently in a toxic relationship?
Have you had the strength to walk away?
What is one thing you know you did right in this situation?
What is one thing you wish you knew then?