A toxic relationship doesn’t have to be just a romantic one, it can be familial (parents, siblings, relatives) or professional (boss, co-worker) as well. At the core of every toxic relationship is the fact that the other person makes you feel bad about yourself. You feel used by others and taken advantage of. Then why do people remain in such relationships?
People find it difficult to break away from a toxic relationship because their partner is dominant and holds the power in the relationship. Also, they may be getting some sort of benefit from the relationship, even if they are not consciously aware of it.
For instance, a man may stay with his verbally abusive wife because she reminds him of his verbally abusive mother. So, he is in a toxic comfort zone when he’s around his wife. Another example may be that a sister is unable to keep her manipulative elder sister at bay because she makes her feel cool and grown-up. A person may not stand up to his abusive father because he feels financially dependent on him.
What happens in toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship has the following characteristics:
- The toxic person makes you feel abused in many different forms. She/he constantly hurts you.
- You get nothing in return from a toxic person, but she/he takes everything you’ve got.
- When you are around the toxic person, you feel uncomfortable and you are not yourself.
- After spending time with the toxic person, you feel exhausted and mentally drained.
- You may be spending time with the toxic person because you feel obliged to him/her.
- The toxic person may be humiliating you all the time. You may feel disappointed at his/her actions.
If you recognize several of these signs in your relationship, know that you are in a toxic relationship with the person.
So how do you leave?
In toxic relationships, prolonging things and hoping that your partner will become better with time will not help. Your partner is not going to change because he/she enjoys wielding power over you. The rush of power is addictive and it takes immense will-power for a person to change.
You may prefer to stay with the toxic person and put up with his/her power tactics and abuse. But you should respect yourself enough to have the courage to live alone rather than live with such people. Never think that you do not deserve better treatment, even if your partner tells you so.
Follow these steps:
Announce your intention to end the toxic relationship.
Your partner’s treatment of you will influence how you make the announcement to end the relationship. If he/she has been particularly abusive and dominating, it is best for you to simply say that you feel unhappy and insecure in the relationship and that you are ending it. Do not get into a confrontation because your partner is a pro at arguing until he/she wears you down or manipulating you to make you feel guilty.
Have this important conversation in a private place where you are sure you will not get disturbed. You should have the full attention of your partner because she/he needs to understand that you are serious about your decision. Stay calm and do not show any sort of hesitation or neediness.
Seek out positive interactions.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is a tough call. To remain strong and committed to your cause, you will need plenty of support. Try to spend time with fun, positive people who remind you that life is so much more than a series of negative interactions. Seek out supportive people who are willing to help you get a foothold in life again. Avoid people who tend to criticize your decision or make you feel bad about yourself. You don’t want to land up in another toxic relationship, do you?
Indulge in activities with these positive people that will increase your self-confidence and self-esteem. You deserve to love yourself and be loved by others.
Participate in pleasure-giving activities.
When you’re abused on a regular basis and made to feel less, you tend to do less! Now that you are out of the toxic relationship, fill your time with activities that you enjoy the most. Start an old hobby again and turn it into a passion. Learn something new–nowadays there are more classes than ever for every type of skill. Speak to a cherished old friend whom you haven’t spoken to in years.
Most importantly, keep telling yourself that those feelings of hurt, anger, and disappointment need not bother you anymore.
Envision a happy future.
You may not want to hear this, but you are responsible in part, too, for your toxic relationship. If you had spoken up earlier in the relationship when your partner first began to abuse you, the toxicity may not have set in. The fact that you chose to remain quiet and endure the abuse, for whatsoever reason, makes you complicit in the toxic relationship.
You need to introspect and figure out which of your behaviors encouraged your partner to abuse you in the first place. Then, you must work on improving or healing those aspects of your personality. This will prevent the formation of future toxic relationships. Thus, you must work on brightening your future and securing your happiness.
Allow love to enter your life.
Just because you had a toxic relationship that brings back bad memories, you should not shut yourself up to love. There are many, many loving individuals on this planet–and love does not necessarily mean romantic love. You may find loving friends who care for your well-being like no one else. You may meet an exemplary boss at work who always keeps your professional growth in mind.
Opening yourself up to love does not essentially mean that you are opening yourself up to hurt. Remember that you have worked on yourself to identify what attracts toxic people to you and you have improved on those aspects. So you may not appeal to such people any more.
If you are able to peacefully end your toxic relationship (romantic, professional) or skillfully manage relationships that you can’t really end (familial), you will find the experience very freeing. Your zest for life will return and you will be eager to move on.
Are you in a toxic relationship and are unable to get out of it? Consult our qualified relationship counsellors at Askmile anonymously and for free!