Toxic Relationships: Recognizing and Dealing with Them

TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS

You have the right to be treated with respect by anyone you encounter and you have the duty to be respectful.

 

Toxic Relationships.  We've all had them.  Usually learned a hard lesson from them.  Often, when looking back, we wonder, could we have handled them better?

I believe the answer to that question is a definite "YES!"

In this edition of the Defying Depression blog, I am going to take a look at how to identify a toxic relationship, how to analyze it, and how to end a toxic relationship if it cannot be remedied by other methods.

Identifying a Toxic Relationship

Some people will treat you like dirt.  It doesn't matter how well you treat them.  It doesn't matter how hard you try to win their approval.. win their affection.  

As a deep-caring person, sometimes you fixate on the wrong person or the wrong people to care about.  It's really hard to recognize a toxic relationship when you are trying so hard to win someone over.  Unfortunately, the harder you try, the more ridiculous you end up looking.

One very important warning sign of a toxic relationship is when someone close to you brings it to your attention -- a good friend, a family member, spouse or what have you.  If you believe that person has a good sense of judgement, you would be foolish to ignore their input.  Often a person on the outside looking in has a better perspective than you do, on the inside of a toxic relationship.  This is especially important if more than one person brings the toxic relationship to your attention.

You need to ask yourself, am I in a dysfunctional relationship with said person?  This is hard to do and takes courage to be honest with yourself and ask, "Am I better off without this person?"

Another warning sign of a toxic relationship is a strong imbalance between the two of you when it comes to give and take.  Are you "meeting half way" most of the time, or taking turns in decisions.  Are you both participating in mutually enjoyable pastimes or are you always doing what they want to do, when they want to do it?

If there is a strong imbalance, it can be because you are trying hard to win them over, or win their approval.  Unfortunately, it can also be because they have recognized you want their approval and they have seen this desire as something they can exploit to their own advantage.

Again, it takes some hard courage to be honest with yourself and look at a potentially toxic relationship objectively, with your truly best interests at heart.

To be brutally honest, toxic relationships can only rarely converted into healthy relationships.  And they can revert back to toxic all to easily.

Ending a Toxic Relationship

Once you have determined that you are in a toxic relationship, the next step is to figure out how to end the relationship.  This can be quite challenging.

What is most important in deciding how to end the relationship is what method will ensure the best outcome for you.  It is not necessarily the method you are most comfortable with.

To end a toxic relationship, you can:

  • confront the person
  • communicate via email/letter/text
  • simply and quietly disappear

Each of these choices has pros, and cons.  The decision is a very personal one.  

Whichever method you choose, I highly recommend you tell your decision to a trusted friend.  They will become your accountability partner to ensure that you follow through and succeed in ending the toxic relationship.

Confronting the Person

This might be the method of choice if you feel the need to face them -- if you feel the need to stand up to them, or perhaps call them out. You may feel the need to tell them in person, to ensure that they understand your message.

Communicate via email/letter/text

This is a great option for a number of reasons.  It allows you all the time you need to think about what you want to say, and how you want to say it.  You can organize your thoughts and communicate them uninterrupted, and unintimidated.

Simply and Quietly Disappear

Some may view this as a cowards way out.  I totally disagree.  Often in a toxic relationship, the other person holds more power than you in some form.  They may be very manipulative.  The toxic relationship may involve more than one person in a given social circle.

In order to effectively disappear, you need to block all methods of contact they may have with you.  Call blocking, deleting from social media, and ensuring your privacy controls are set appropriately to prevent them from contacting you.

Summary 

You deserve to be treated with respect by everyone you encounter.  No one has the right to disrespect you.

If you find yourself in a toxic relationship, be honest with yourself.  Find the courage to end it.  Tell a friend, and follow through.

Yes, there can and probably will be some short-term pain in ending the toxic relation, but the long term result will be well worth it!

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