Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guest Post--How to Recognize and End Toxic Relationships

It can be difficult to recognize the toxic relationships in our lives. After all, we are drawn to these people in the first place because they bring something valuable to the table. Maybe they are the friends who we have fun with, or the ones who can share our secrets, or the ones who challenge us to go outside of our comfort zones. However, they can also be the same friends who are always causing drama, or who make us feel bad about ourselves, or who just aren't reliable.

There are many criteria that can make for toxic relationships. Here are a few of the signs:

  • You feel belittled or disrespected
  • The other person exerts control in the relationship
  • You are afraid of the other person's temper
  • The other person uses guilt to try to manipulate you
  • The other person is overly dependent on you
  • You feel used
  • The other person is overly jealous or possessive

Of course, any abusive behavior is a sure sign of a toxic relationship, as well.

Once you recognize that you are in a toxic relationship, it may be time to end it. Here are a few ways that you can end your toxic relationship:

Admit the Truth

Many people are in toxic relationships because they can't admit that they are, in fact, toxic relationships. The first step to ending such a relationship is to admit that it is toxic and destructive. Sure there may be things you like (or even love) about this person. You may have fun together. This person may even be nice to you. But if there are aspects of a toxic relationship, then the relationship is ultimately going to be destructive for you and unhealthy.

Confront the Reasons for the Relationship

Once you have admitted that the relationship is toxic, seek to understand why you became involved in the relationship in the first place. Is the relationship filling some need in you? For example, do you have a need to feel accepted because you suffer from low self-esteem? Or do you allow others to control you because you are afraid of asserting your independence?

When you understand the reasons you are in the relationship, you can seek out other healthy relationships or activities that fill these needs.

End All Contact

When you end a toxic relationship, it is best to go cold turkey. Don't see the person occasionally. Don't limit contact to e-mail. Don't keep the person on your Facebook. Any contact you allow to continue can eventually lead to a re-establishment of the relationship as it was before. Just end the relationship and cut off all contact.

Surround Yourself with Positive People

One of the best ways to move on from a toxic relationship and to form more healthy relationships is to surround yourself with positive people. Seek out new friendships with people who treat you with kindness and respect. Spend more of your time with family who treat you with love and appreciation. The more positive influences you have in your life, the fewer negative ways you will tolerate.

Recognizing toxic relationships can be difficult, and ending them can be even harder. However, taking the steps to end toxic relationships can help you to eliminate the negative influences in your life and to become a happier person with more fulfilling relationships.

Have you had to end a toxic relationship in your life? Share your experiences in the comments!

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance writer and researcher for In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

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