I wanted to write this post, because I’ve been there, and for too long a period. Luckily I’m out of the other side now and I can soothe myself with the knowledge I learned a lot from the experience – the person I want to be, my boundaries and the people I want to surround myself with moving forward – but I do feel so frustrated about the time I wasted. All those years spent largely miserable, with no confidence or hope, years that could have been spent making the most out of what could have been a relatively care-free existence being a twenty something.
I’m not going to talk about my personal experiences here, but I wanted to talk about the signs and alarm bells that could hint to the fact that you may have a toxic relationship in your life. I’m hoping I can at least stop some of you regretting not making changes sooner…
Before I go into that…the subject of toxic relationships isn’t only applicable to those in romantic relationships, it can apply to friendships, colleagues and sadly even relatives. The people we spend our lives with have a huge influence on our confidence levels, self esteem and general happiness, so it’s incredibly important we pick wisely and do our best to rid ourselves of those that have a hugely negative effects on our well being.
So first up I want you to think about your confidence level. Is it Low? Has it dipped? If the answer is yes to either of these, I want you to ask yourself whether there is any correlation between this deterioration and the beginning or intensifying of a certain relationship. Then ask yourself why your confidence has taken a knock. Is it a result of someones words or behaviour? Is it the accumulation of a lot of subtle digs and disrespectful or hurtful behaviour?
Yes, it is important to have people in your life who are honest with you, even if at times they have to say something which isn’t what you want to hear. There’s a huge difference between people saying harsh or honest things with your best interests at heart, and those who belittle and bully, not because you need it but because they want power over you, or because it’s their unhelpful way of dealing with their own issues and insecurities. If you can pinpoint a person or people that hurt with their words and actions, or a regular basis, you need to ask yourself whether you should carry on letting them be a part of your life.
Have you lost yourself? Have you noticed a change in the person you are how people view you. Have you stopped wearing clothes you’ve always chosen to wear? Have you give up an interest of hobby you’ve always found pleasure in doing? Have you gone from being sociable to being reclusive or introverted? If people have noticed a change in you (a negative one) or if you are aware that your ability to be yourself has dwindled, again you need to ask yourself why. Is someone noticeably trying to control or influence your every day decisions and choices. Is someone making frequent but subtle comments that subconsciously make you amend certain aspects of your life. Perhaps someone is making no bones about telling you what to do and how to do it.
Advice, guidance, encouragement can be positive things, but if someone is forcing you to change in a way that isn’t positive or in the direction that’s right for you, then you have a right to take a stand.
Next I want you to ask yourself about whether you’ve felt pressured or uncomfortable. Have they made you do something you didn’t want to do. Have they ignored your exclamations or opinions and forced you to do something that makes you upset, scared, vulnerable or unhappy. If someone cares for you they should respect your opinions and boundaries. Sadly people use force or manipulation to make them do what you want. Don’t let people direct your life…when they should only be your co star.
Are there a lot of people in your life that are anti this relationship? Does there seem to be a common thread? I’ve lost count of the amount of stories I’ve heard where someone loses their close circle of friends, choosing to stand by their partner when their mates vocalise issues with said partner. The partner tells them that their friends are jealous, or that they don’t want you to be happy, or that they’ve tried it on with them, and they’re just bitter that they weren’t interested. You’ve heard it too, its a regular feature on Jeremy Kyle. Of course there are exceptions. Sometimes people forge opinions about people based on hearsay, rumours, or past behaviour, not allowing for the fact that someone has changed their ways. You have to use your knowledge and wisdom here. If you’re honest with yourself, do these people have a point with their negative opinions.
When we’re in love or lust we can be blind to what’s going on. Even if we’re not besotted, smitten or heavily invested in the person, we may have a lot of hope in the idea of love or the illusion of an idyllic relationship. Someones it takes someone else speaking up to draw our attention to what’s really going on. Listen…it could save you.
Obviously there’s a chance that you/I are the toxic person. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are a bad person, but you may not be in the right place to be a good partner right now. It’s so important to be generally content with yourself and happy in your own company and being single, before you embark on becoming part of a relationship. If not, there’s a chance that certain issues could effect the stability of the relationship. If you enter a new partnership with huge insecurities or jealousy issues (stemming from previous relationships for example) then you can find yourself creating problems that aren’t really there.
Sometimes its the combination of two incompatibles that creates that toxic environment. Like a really bad chemical reaction if you will. It may be that you have come together at the wrong time, and you both seek different things out of life. Perhaps you share very different views about things and clash on a regular basis. Perhaps you rile each other up so much that you spend more time getting niggled with each-other, arguing, and scoring points, than actually being happy.
(I know some people love combative relationships, and and a high frequency of fiery and explosive exchanges…but that’s not for me.)
So there’s just a few things to look out for if you are wondering about toxicity of a relationship. If you feel you’ve detected one, please do something to change the situation. Voice your concern, go to counselling if needed, or seek help from someone you trust.
If it’s unsalvageable or you’re in danger, I urge you to remove the person from your life as fast as you can. Please don’t let fear stop you. No situation is hopeless, even if it feels like it is. There are charities and refuges you can turn to, so please don’t suffer in silence.
Life is short. We all deserve to share it with people who respect us, who make life a little bit easier, (or who challenge us in positive ways). I’m not saying good relationships, or relationships worth working on, don’t offer up difficulties or testing periods, of course they do. Life can kick your butt on a regular occasion, putting all our relationships under intense strain. Tricky relationships can also make us stronger and teach us things, but I think we can agree we’d rather the majority fell in to the healthy catagory, for most of the time.
Detoxing is a hot topic this time of year. It may be time to apply it to your relationships, and it could be one of the most life changing things you can do.
Lots of Love xx