Often, the hardest things to come to terms with about a toxic relationship is admitting you’re in one.
Many people blame themselves for allowing toxic people into their lives.
But self-blame is never productive.
You chose to see the best in this person and once valued their contributions to your life.
Maybe their energy has recently changed and it’s causing a problem. Or maybe your relationship has always been toxic and you’re just seeing it now.
Either way, it’s time to end things.
How to identify a toxic relationship
Even if things once were great, if being around this person makes you feel bad, you’re in a toxic relationship. This is especially true if the person obviously lies, manipulates or acts abusively.
It’s important to note that no relationship is immune to toxicity. Many people think of toxic relationships as romantic partnerships, but that’s not always the case.
You can be in toxic relationships with your siblings, parents, friends or coworkers.
The biggest tipoff is how you feel during and after your interactions with this person.
It’s possible that this person makes you feel great, but they always seem to get you into uncomfortable situations. Or, maybe they’re fun to be around, but somehow they make you feel inadequate.
These type of relationships come in many shapes and sizes, but bad feelings are the common ground. If you consistently feel any of the following emotions from your relationship, it’s time to end things:
Can you fix a toxic relationship?
In some cases, it’s possible to fix toxic relationships. To do so, both parties must be willing to work at the solution.
Start by talking to the other person.
Tell him or her how you feel and that things need to change in order for this relationship to be mutually beneficial. Phrase things in a way that feels natural to you, but you want to send the message that your needs aren’t being met.
Tell him or her about the negative feelings you’re having and where they stem from.
This conversation may go well, or it may be the end of the relationship. Either way, you’re achieving your desired outcome.
But if your friend or family member promises to change and falls short, you’re going to be left to end things clearly and concisely.
How to know when to walk away
If the other person in this relationship has told you that they’re going to change and they don’t, it’s probably time to walk away.
There are certain types of people who are more likely to cause toxicity in any relationship. Watch out for signs of the following conditions:
1. Addiction – Addiction is a disease, and addicts have little control over their behavior.
Still, they are known to lie, cheat and steal to get drugs, and this can put a strain on any relationship.
If someone you love is addicted, let them know you’ll be there to help them get sober, but you have to walk away in the meantime. You cannot help them until they’re ready to help themselves.
2. Narcissism – In psychology, narcissism is defined as, “extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.”
It may be possible for a narcissist to change, but in most cases, they don’t want to.
3. Sociopathy – You may have someone described as a sociopath. If they were diagnosed, the diagnosis would be “antisocial behavior disorder.”
Sociopaths are expert manipulators, and they care very little about other people.
Much like an addict behaves to get drugs, sociopaths will manipulate people and situations to their liking. Sociopaths can be violent, but most are not.
4. Psychopathy – Psychopaths are people who have an extreme personality disorder.
They do not have any empathy, and they treat people as pawns that they can use to get their way. We commonly see psychopaths as the murderers on television, but this isn’t always the case in real life.
If someone you love exhibits signs of any conditions above, it’s time to walk away.
You can return if you’re sure the person has thoroughly addressed their issues, but they can’t help their toxicity right now.
Although the above conditions are guaranteed to bring toxicity, they aren’t the only indicators that a relationship is toxic.
You may be in a toxic relationship if you care deeply about someone who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings.
You may be in a relationship with someone who makes you feel bad through no fault of their own. It’s not always the person who is toxic. Sometimes, it’s just the relationship.
How to end a toxic relationship
Once you’ve established that your relationship is having a negative impact on your life, the best way to end it is with a conversation. Whether it’s a romantic relationship or not, this will feel like a breakup.
Be firm about your intentions and do not allow yourself to waver.
Be respectful but hold your ground. If it helps, write down what you plan to say before you have the talk. And if things aren’t going as planned, it’s okay to walk away.
Remember that you’re ending this relationship for your own mental and emotional wellbeing. This is about preserving your own health, so do not compromise.
If the other person tries to bully you out of your decision, it’s okay to shut them down. Let them know that it’s final and you’re going to stop taking their calls.
Finding support through the breakup
You may need some moral support to help you through this, so be sure you have some good friends to lean on during the transition.
Let your inner circle in on what’s happening.
Tell at least one person about your plans to end this relationship, so you can have someone to talk to when it’s all over. The process may be emotionally draining, and it’ll help to have someone on your side.
You’ll also be mourning the loss of this relationship (or what it once was), so remember to take time to heal yourself.
Just like with any romantic breakup, it’s best to work on being alone before you run out and form new relationships.
And if you’ve identified that you were in a relationship with an addict, sociopath or psychopath, counseling may help you recover.
As you go through this difficult time, remember that this one relationship does not define you. A year or two from now, this will be in your rear-view mirror and won’t weigh as heavily on your heart.
You’ve made the right decision to end this toxic relationship. Your health and emotional well-being are of paramount importance. It’s never easy to end relationships, but it’s sometimes necessary. And, most importantly you deserve the best.