A toxic relationship is something that fills your life with suffering, struggle, and a sense of helplessness. Some people stay in such relationships for years, not knowing how to heal them or end them efficiently. In this article, you’ll find out what you can do if a toxic relationship takes away your happiness and joy in life.
In this article, you will learn what a toxic relationship is and how to know if you are part of such a relationship. You will also learn the reasons for the formation of such relationships. You will learn how to deal with relationship toxicity and what to do to make a decision about ending or healing it.
If you are living in a difficult relationship, reading this article may be a difficult task for you. You can find a lot of painful truth about what your relationship looks like here. You don’t have to read the whole thing at once. Give yourself as much time as you need.
A toxic relationship is a relationship in which partners, instead of giving each other energy, rob themselves of it.
Instead of supporting, strengthening and appreciating each other – they put their feet up, cut each other’s wings, and hurt each other.
Such a relationship is not always an explosive, quarrelsome relationship. Sometimes the toxicity is subtle, hidden, more difficult to detect. It may be about building the partner’s conviction that he or she is an inferior, worthless person. It can manifest itself as constantly building guilt in the other person. Such psychological abuse can have far-reaching consequences, often worse than physical abuse.
Relationship toxicity does not only apply to partnerships. Many people have such relationships with their parents, friends or colleagues. This article is written primarily with partnerships in mind, but all of these tips are great for any other relationship.
Let’s start with the basics. The first step is to locate the problem. How do you know if you are in a toxic relationship?
- You give up your goals, plans and dreams for the sake of your partner (sometimes we do it unconsciously when, deep down in our heart, we know that our plans would not be liked by our other half);
- You don’t develop because your partner doesn’t believe in you. Instead of supporting, he cuts your wings and discourages you from taking new actions (perhaps because he doesn’t believe in himself and is afraid that when you move forward, you will leave him behind);
- Your partner tells you in many different ways that you are not enough the way you are. You are criticized every time the opportunity presents itself. You feel shame and remorse for what kind of person you are (keeping the other person in this emotional state is usually a way to control them and build your self-esteem);
- Your partner is constantly trying to get attention. Your feelings, opinions and needs are ignored, every conversation comes down to what HE or SHE feels and thinks;
- You don’t feel comfortable with this person. You can’t be 100% yourself. You don’t feel free to say what you think. You consciously or do not adjust to what your partner expects. You feel like you are treading on uncertain ground, never knowing what will make him angry;
- Any attempts to talk calmly end up arguing, blaming and reproach.
It all comes down to asking yourself one question – Does my partner make me more or less happy?
If less, don’t worry – it’s good that you are aware of it now. You probably wonder how your relationship ended up in such a place. What has made you so much negativity, aversion and destructive emotions?
Here are some possible causes of toxic behavior in a relationship:
- lack of matching characters and attempts to force the partner to change so that it meets specific expectations;
- reluctance to continue the relationship while avoiding the decision to end the relationship (for fear of loneliness, habit, etc.);
- low self-esteem and inability to cope with their problems, while at the same time blaming the partner for these problems (it is easier to blame someone than admit your flaws);
- lack of ability to honestly and directly communicate their feelings, needs and expectations. Creating a false self-image to match your partner’s expectations;
- the belief that by criticizing, blaming and guilt-making you can provoke another person to love and pay more attention.
Of course, these are just a few examples, there could be many more reasons.
The toxicity of a compound may be related to one of the above situations or a combination of the several. Stop for a moment now and think about what it looks like in your relationship. What can be the cause of the destructive emotions that regularly appear in your contacts?
Locating the cause of your relationship problems will help you decide what to do next. It is easier to work on healing relationships if the cause of conflict is inability to communicate well than when, at heart, the partners do not want to be together at all.
Either one way or the other
One of the most important problems for people who are in such a relationship is not just ending the relationship or taking up the challenge of healing it.
It is the inability to make decisions.
People hang in limbo for years, paralyzed by the fear of making a choice. They hope that the situation will resolve itself. That suddenly a miracle will happen and the other person will change, or fate will give you a painless end to this relationship. Nothing like this will happen.
Now come to terms with the fact that if you want your situation to change, you have to make a decision. Either one way or the other.
Am I giving this relationship one last chance and want to work on it with my partner?
Do I end this relationship once and for all?
As long as you are undecided whether to continue in this relationship or not, it will be difficult for you to take any step. Remember that no decision is also a decision. However, in this case – the most harmful for you. Don’t let yourself be in this any longer. Now that you’re reading this article, it’s the best time to do something about it. You deserve happiness, and the sooner you make up your mind, the faster you will be free from suffering.
Even if you have the slightest doubt, take your distance and take the time to rethink the situation. The certainty of your choice will give you strength and persistence in further actions.
You don’t have to be afraid of making the wrong decision. If you decide to fight for this relationship and it turns out to be a bad idea – you’ll be sure like never before that it’s time to stop it. If, on the other hand, you decide to end this relationship, and after some time you feel that you cannot live without this person – you will know (like never before) that it is worth doing everything to save this relationship.
So what can you do to make the best possible decision at the moment?
As long as you are entangled in a web of mutual reproaches, expectations, guilt and other destructive emotions, making an informed decision is simply impossible.
You need distance, breath, space for yourself. You need time when you can calmly, without quarrels and toxic conversations, think about your feelings, needs and expectations.
The best way to make the right decision is to take a break from your partner. Preferably for a minimum of 2 weeks (the longer the better, but of course without exaggeration). Why so much? Because before you even start thinking about your relationship, you need a few days to cut yourself off from all the destructive emotions that have become your daily routine.
What could such a break look like? There are several options:
- if you can, go to another city. Go on vacation;
- rent another apartment for a short period and move out (or offer it to your partner);
- ask friends or family for a place to stay for this period;
- do your best to be away from your place of residence for as long as possible every day and to see your partner as little as possible (and avoid any contact when you see him). Explain to him that you need some space for yourself and that you will avoid contact for a certain period of time.
Now consider which option will be best for you.
I recommend the first two suggestions. I know they are the most difficult to implement. However, it is such an important decision that it is worth moving heaven and earth just to be able to distance yourself and give yourself the conditions to make a decision about your future.
Taking a break is a good idea, even when you know for sure that you don’t want to part with your partner. By taking some distance, you can understand what is not working in your relationship and how you can fix it.
Once you’ve decided on a way to take your break, here are some things to do during your break:
1. Give yourself the first few days to regain your balance. Take care of yourself, take a lot of walks, read books, listen to music. Air your mind. Don’t think too much about your relationship – there will be time for that later. Rest physically and mentally.
2. Over the next few days, try to view your relationship as an independent observer. What would you handle if you were a stranger watching your relationship?
3. Also imagine possible scenarios. Give yourself half an hour of time, sit back, close your eyes, ask yourself the following questions and see with your imagination what could happen:
- What would our future be like if we tried to heal a toxic relationship?
- What would happen if it succeeded?
- What would happen if it failed?
- What would my future be like if I ended this relationship?
- What would happen if I did not find another partner for a long time?
- What if I quickly fell in love with someone else?
- What do I need? What do I want from life? What do I expect from a relationship?
4. Free yourself from mental attachment. Consider which of the following beliefs are part of your thinking:
- He / She will definitely change and we will be happy in the end;
- It’s all because of me;
- Losing that person is worse than living alone;
- Loneliness is terrible;
- Suffering is part of true love;
- When I end this relationship, I will never find anyone else for myself.
Mental attachment is the reason why so many people get stuck in toxic relationships, even when they see in black and white, that the relationship is hurting them. By believing in the above beliefs, you force yourself to be passive.
Of course, some of these beliefs may be true. However, in most cases, they are all false and act as a brake on your actions. Before you make a decision to end a relationship or work on it, it’s a good idea to let go of these beliefs by basing your judgment not on fear, but on what you really want.
Think about how you would view this relationship if you didn’t believe in any of these beliefs.
5. Set aside all obligations and compulsions. Forget what your partner, parents and friends expect of you. For these few days, get out of your head what is socially considered “right” in such a situation.
It is important that your decision is not based on “I have to break up” or “I have to work on the relationship”, but on “I want to break up” or “I want to heal this relationship”. Therefore, focus only on your feelings, needs and desires. What do you really want from life? Does your relationship help or hinder you from achieving it? What is your intuition telling you?
6. Finally – make a decision. At this point, it should be clear what you want to do. Write it in capital letters on a piece of paper and think about how you will implement this decision.
If you still don’t know what to do… make a decision as well. Better is a wrong decision than not having one. As I said before – an unnecessary breakup will let you understand that you do not want to live without this person, and unnecessary efforts to save the relationship – will quickly show you that it is better to part ways.
What if taking a break is not possible at the moment? If you are unable to avoid daily contact? If you are planning a break, but only for some time? Take note of the following tips:
- Minimize daily conversations as much as possible and cut short any discussions that could lead to an argument. Be firm or determined to nip any conflicts in the bud, even if you feel an urgent need to surrender to a wave of anger at your partner;
- Don’t be emotionally manipulated. Your partner will likely try to make you feel guilty and remorseful. This is his way of controlling you. Don’t let anyone tell you what is not true;
- Be aware of the tricks your partner is using and show them to him. Don’t get caught up in discussions, instead reveal his manipulations to him. Help him become aware of its toxicity;
- Strive for a healthy, calm conversation. Make an appointment with your partner for a specific date and time and establish a few rules before the interview, e.g. we stop the conversation when it turns into an argument, we don’t judge the other person, we only talk about our feelings, we don’t interrupt ourselves, etc. When one of the rules is broken, stop the conversation and make another appointment.
- Reach for the support of a psychologist or coach specializing in partnerships;
- In this difficult period for you, take special care of yourself. Look for opportunities to be alone with yourself. Walk, read books in the park or in a cafe, meet other people;
- Once you regain your balance and get some space for yourself, follow the exact same points as outlined above for your partner’s recess.
Once you know what to do, get down to business. Don’t wait any longer. It’s a waste of your life. Too bad for your happiness. You are too valuable a person to waste yourself in a toxic relationship.
What if you are the toxic part of this relationship? Ask your partner which behaviors are making them feel unwell. You should ask carefully about how these behaviors affect him and what he thinks about them. Ask him to inform you every time you do these things. Find different, more constructive and less manipulative behaviors and work to change those habits.
Share your story, your challenge, your doubts in the comments. This is a topic where mutual support is particularly important – and this is where we can give it to each other.
If you need tips on how to heal a relationship or how to end it wisely, let me know in the comments as well.