Toxic relationships effect lives and lead people to ask that first main question: how do you know if you’re in a toxic relationship? I tell my clients is to listen to your instinct. Something inside of you probably will not feel right. And when you think about the relationship, something will seem to be not right, usually, the balance of give and take.
In any relationship, especially a romantic one or a relationship with a friend or family member, we look to get our needs met as well as meet their needs. There should be an equal give and take. In a toxic relationship, there won’t be. You will be asked to give and give and to give things you never intended to give and to give things you feel uncomfortable giving, possibly until you question who you are and what you know about yourself. And that can leave you in a very uncomfortable and unhealthy place.
What you must bring yourself back to ultimately, or someone that cares about you will bring you back to ultimately, or something that you read will bring you back to is finding that core of yourself. This is finding what you know about yourself to be true and knowing that just because someone else says something about you doesn’t make it true. You know who you are and what is important to you and how you feel about and treat the people that you care about. Someone else saying something contradictory to that does not make that true of you or make that you who you are. A toxic relationship will make you question that. It will also have you giving up things that you always knew were important to you or that you knew that you wanted for your life. Feeling bad for wanting those things or for feeling resentful, or angry, or sad that they’re not happening, or you’re not able to pursue them, is not a peaceful way to live. A toxic partner will condition you to believe that you should feel badly for wanting these things.
In a toxic relationship, you will spend a tremendous amount of time and energy on that person, more than you ever planned on putting into them.
You will neglect other people. You will neglect yourself and you will neglect other things that you need to do or want to do. You will also feel like you should feel guilty for doing something outside of that person or doing something without them, (with another friend, with a family member, or with a colleague). You could give up ultimately spending time with those other people altogether or severely limiting it. These are just a couple of the clear signs that you are in a toxic relationship.
It really comes back to that feeling that you have inside of yourself, a feeling that you know that something isn’t right, that you know that you’re not happy and that something feels uncomfortable or off. Similar to what we teach children in knowing when a stranger makes them feel uncomfortable, remember that: you know best for yourself. If something feels uncomfortable, it probably should be avoided. With most toxic relationships, it’s best to leave that relationship or distance yourself from that person as soon as you feel this. If you feel that this is not a healthy person for you to be spending time with, the earlier that you get out of that relationship or that you distance yourself from them, the easier it will be for multiple reasons.
There can be family relationships that you have been in since birth or other reasons that your relationship makes it difficult or not possible to leave ever, or at this time. Then, you should take other steps to protect yourself and to ensure that you get what you need and want out of life. You have to be happy. You have to take care of yourself, because ultimately, if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.