Ever had someone in your life who dragged you down or made you doubt yourself? It’s very possible you were dealing with a toxic relationship. We’ve all heard the term, but what does it really mean? And more importantly, what can be done about it?
A toxic relationship is one in which one or both partners feel trapped, controlled, and/or drained by the other. Certain themes, like codependency and narcissism, are also common in toxic relationships.
“Any toxic relationship implies there is something potentially damaging for the person (or both people) in that relationship.”
These relationships can leave you doubting your own reality, your own values, and your sense of self-worth.
Signs of a toxic relationship:
- You’re constantly sacrificing your own needs.
- You feel erased or invisible.
- It’s lonely.
- You bring out the worst in each other.
- Spending time with them leaves you drained.
- There’s uneven give and take.
- One or both partners are controlling.
- Jealousy is a frequent issue.
- You feel isolated.
- There are issues like substance abuse or unchecked mental health.
- There’s a lack of respect.
- Emotional or psychological abuse.
- Physical abuse.
- You can’t communicate effectively.
- Resentment of the other person.
- It’s cyclical.
- One person makes all the decisions.
- Your friends and family don’t approve.
Physical symptoms and effects.
Toxic relationships can also cause serious health issues due to the sheer stress they put the body under. These issues include but aren’t limited to:
- Anxiety and depression.
- Weight loss or appetite changes.
- Weakened immunity.
- Sleeping troubles.
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Can a toxic relationship be fixed?
Yes, though it takes a lot of work, both individually and as partners. It will be work you both have to do and you may need an outside party to guide you through.
How to leave a toxic relationship.
Depending on how deeply you two are invested (i.e., are you married, dating, have children?), how you get out of the relationship will vary.
“Have compassion for yourself, and really examine your role in staying in the relationship. Not saying it’s all your fault—but asking, Are there areas of self-worth and self-esteem I need to work on? How you want to feel in a relationship is one of the first things I ask people to reflect on.”
If you’re married, it’s important to be prepared with all the files and information you might need, plus a savvy lawyer, to help you proceed. Additionally, the most important thing is to make time to care for yourself and lean on your support systems as necessary throughout this process.