Overcoming Toxicity in a Relationship
We have relationships with our families, our partners, and coworkers or employers that shape the reality we live in. Unfortunately, some relationships take a turn for the worst. We’ve read about them, we’ve watched them on TV, and some of us have been in them: toxic relationships. Toxic relationships are addictive, destructive, and incredibly painful. What’s worse is that, once we’re in them, it can seem impossible to leave. Every day we talk to people, and the conversation that flows between us should be mutually beneficial. No one likes a one-sided relationship.
Toxicity begins to form when the relationship becomes dysfunctional, which can arise in many different ways. Romantic relationships are intimate, and it's easy to get hurt. In a long-term relationship, your partner knows the deepest information about you, and it can be easily used against you. Let’s explore the ways that relationships become toxic and how to overcome them.
Knowing the Signs of Toxicity
If you are experiencing a toxic relationship, then you likely move in and out of a state of denial about how unhealthy it truly is. At one moment, you feel revulsion; at another, you are making excuses and justifying a partner’s intolerable behavior. Maybe the relationship has lasted a long time, and being alone sounds uncomfortable or scary. Most people will let certain issues go from time to time in long-term romantic relationships, and it is essential to be willing to accept your partner as they are. They likewise need to do the same for you. However, there are certain things that a person should never dismiss in a relationship. You are sowing bad seeds in the infertile ground if your partner lies, cheats, humiliates you, exploits you for money or other resources, or emotionally or physically abuses you. If you allow this behavior to continue, then you are enabling an unhealthy dynamic.
The Isolating Nature of Toxic Relationships
If you are in a toxic relationship, then you have probably stopped confiding in friends and family. You keep your relationship separate from others; you are afraid that loved ones will see how unhealthy it is. You may even feel like your toxic partner is the only person who will ever love and understand you. Withdrawing from others and avoiding face-to-face intimate interactions with others reinforces the idea that you will never be known or cared for by anyone other than your toxic partner. It keeps you in a panic-like state of thinking you will find yourself alone. The desperation will prevent you from drawing boundaries and wholeheartedly holding your partner accountable. The truth is, toxic relationships are emotionally damaging; you will not magically get better unless there are boundaries or you leave the relationship and begin to heal.
Perpetuating the Toxic Cycle
Some couples crave the drama in the relationship and feed into the cycle of manipulation and abuse. It allows them to feel a rush of emotions, whether anger or sadness, which is then associated with their partner. When the partner is tied to a certain feeling, thus the cycle of emotional toxicity continues.
The phrase “communication is key” will never wear out. Assuming your partner knows your thoughts and feelings on a subject matter is a fantasy. No partner is perfect and all-knowing, so you will need to communicate your feelings to them. The more accurately you can identify what your partner is saying or doing that caused your emotional discomfort, the better your boundary will be, and your partner will be more likely to respect it. Avoid blaming your partner, or conversely, taking too much blame on yourself. Instead, calmly address the issue with your partner, and discuss how you would like to avoid it in the future. The goal is to establish a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not with your partner. Boundaries are not always easy to identify in a relationship. In one way or another, people may feel that an emotional boundary is being violated in the relationship, but they don't know how to properly communicate it with their partner.
Boundary setting doesn't come naturally with most; however, it is a skill that can be learned. If boundaries can be respected mutually, then the relationship has the potential to grow into something beautiful. Couples counseling is also an option for couples that feel like they need a mediator for their more intense conversations. It takes self-confidence to realize what you deserve in a relationship. If you feel that your boundary is being crossed in any way, you should address it sooner rather than later. If you brush it off, you're conditioning yourself and your partner that it's okay to overstep your boundaries. This belittles the meaning of your word and opens the door to more sensitive boundaries being violated elsewhere in the relationship. Understand that you have every right to keep to your boundaries, and your partner should respect them.
Leaving the Relationship
If you find that your boundaries are being crossed consistently, or worse, being ignored, it might be time to leave the relationship. The emotional and psychological damage of being manipulated and disrespected is not okay, and no one should tolerate it. You are deserving of love, acceptance, and care. You are a valuable human being, and the right person will come along eventually. Do not force a relationship if it does not happen naturally. Your heart will know. Your partner should be the safe place you run to when you are in need of comfort. It might feel scary to be alone, but it is more frightening to be in a toxic relationship.
Toxic relationships are real, and many of the people around us are in them. It is crucial to be able to spot the warning signs in your own relationships that may be a red flag for toxicity. The behaviors could include your partner isolating you from friends and family, controlling what decisions you make, and making you feel as though you have to “earn” their love. If you know someone in a toxic relationship, there is help available. At Achieve Medical Center, we offer counseling that is tailored to your unique situation. We are a holistic mental health service provider that has helped thousands of individuals, couples, and families of all ages. Our team believes in our clients and that the well-being of a person begins with a healthy mind. Let us assist you in your journey towards better emotional and relational bonds today. Call Achieve Medical Center today at (619) 375-3977.