Every one of us has had a partner, a friend, or even an acquaintance whose presence brought negativity into our lives. If not, we’ve all at least heard a friend complain about a toxic boyfriend, boss, or family member.
Now imagine being in a relationship with a toxic person. On the surface, a toxic relationship may not seem so bad, but when you pull back the curtain, it can cause a lot of pain and trauma to those involved.
Wondering whether you’ve experienced a toxic relationship or maybe you’re in one right now? Keep reading to understand more about toxic relationships, what causes them, and how to leave one.
While every relationship has its ups and downs, a toxic relationship has more downs than ups. It is a relationship in which you feel unsupported, misunderstood, denigrated, or even attacked. These behaviors will cause you pain that will severely impact the well-being of the person enduring it. Long-term commitment to such toxicity may be mentally, emotionally, or even physically damaging to you or your partner.
A toxic relationship may not have started out that way. But negative emotions, a bad history, or unfulfilled desires can fester and contaminate any relationship, polluting it and changing the people in it.
Usually, a toxic relationship occurs between intimate partners, but sometimes a toxic relationship can also happen between friends, family, co-workers, or bosses.
All abusive relationships are toxic – but not all toxic relationships are abusive. However, you shouldn’t minimize the pain a toxic relationship can cause you. Oftentimes a relationship turns toxic and then can turn abusive — whether that’s physically, emotionally, financially, or other types of abuse.
A dysfunctional relationship is caused when either of the partner has a toxic behavior, unhealthy thoughts, and toxic coping mechanisms. Such a behavior of one of the partners disrupts the entire relationship. Here are some of the reasons of toxic behaviors:
It can be difficult to realize if your relationship is toxic because bad behaviors are uncommon- but recognizing these relationship red flags can help you figure out if something is wrong and whether the problem can be fixed or if it's time to break up or move on.
It is possible to fix a toxic relationship in certain circumstances — and when both partners are truly willing to try. For any potential fix, the relationship must become healthy and mutually beneficial. Thus, both parties must be committed and willing to work on themselves before working on the relationship.
It is highly likely that a third party, such as a couples' therapist, will almost certainly be required. You both will be working on yourselves and become extremely reliant on emotions, so the assistance of an outside party is necessary to guide you through the process. Even with the involvement of a third party, there is no guarantee that the toxic relationship can be fixed.
Again, fixing a toxic relationship is not an easy task, but most worthwhile endeavors are not. Thus, if you're both willing to work it out, it'll be worth the effort and awkward conversations.
However, you may also decide that ending the relationship is the best for you.
If you’ve given this person many chances to change and they’re not meeting you halfway, it could be the best decision to move on. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things just don't work out. If you've decided that leaving this toxic relationship is the best way to deal with it, here are a few strategies to help you do so safely.
Remember when they are unreasonably demanding, controlling, belittling, and vindictive with a willful disregard for healthy boundaries or healthy relationships- it is time to leave for good. Never jeopardize your own health and wellness and know that the relationship is doing you more harm than good.
Leaving toxic or abusive relationships are often the most dangerous part of the relationship as the person will have high emotions. If you believe they could react negatively, create a safety plan for what you are going to do to safely escape.
No relationship is perfect, but a healthy relationship should make you feel secure, happy, respected, and free to be yourself. On the other side, if the relationship no longer brings you joy and instead consistently makes you feel sad, angry, anxious, or uncomfortable, it may be toxic. This will eventually have a detrimental effect on your mental health, personality, or self-esteem.
You should also keep an eye out for changes in your other relationships or how you use your free time. If you ever feel guilty for doing your own things because you feel like you have to prioritize your partner at all times then that is unhealthy. You are completely sacrificing yourself and giving everything to your partner.
A clear and serious warning indicator of a toxic relationship is any form of violence such as abuse or harassment that occurs frequently in your relationship. These are deal-breakers, and you should know they are.
Being aware that your relationship is toxic is vital in protecting yourself from harm. It is necessary to make sacrifices in relationships to achieve happiness, self-esteem, and, most importantly, well-being. If you could relate to any of the signs above, it could be time to acknowledge and take action that your relationship may be toxic. If you believe you are in physical danger, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also take our Toxic Relationship Quiz to further identify patterns of toxicity in any relationship in your life and get further access to resources to help you make the best decision for you.