Relationships are incredibly complicated. It can be challenging to live alongside another person while still having the time and space to practice one’s individual interests. These kinds of relationships aren’t limited to romantic involvements. It can be just as complicated to learn how to be friends with a person, get along in group projects for school or professional goals or even live harmoniously with family members.
Intimate relationships can affect an individual in profound ways, whether reshaping beliefs and goals or finding ways to empower and support each other. However, it is also possible that these relationships can become “toxic.” Toxic relationships can have the opposite effect on an individual, and there may be an unhealthy imbalance of needs or support. Identifying toxic relationships and understanding their perils can help avoid dangerous outcomes while addressing one’s mental health.
Trademarks of Toxic Relationships
Toxic relationships can be difficult to spot and even more complicated to break away from after developing. Unhealthy relationships often involve some level of manipulation. However, while it can be a kind of physical manipulation, such as limiting the time that another person has access to their own possessions, this manipulation can also be psychological or emotional. For example, an individual may subtly criticize other friends or introduce doubt about other relationships as a whole. This can both cause a person to distance themselves from their other friends or personal interests while simultaneously increasing one’s trust in the offender, effectively alienating a person from any other social outlets and emotionally isolating an individual.
Toxic relationships also tend to have an imbalance of needs. A toxic individual may not address one’s needs even when theirs are met. They may also set unrealistic expectations and imply consequences if they aren’t satisfied, such as getting upset or threatening to hurt someone or even themselves.
Toxic relationships also don’t necessarily make themselves known from the beginning. An individual can develop unhealthy habits at any point in a relationship. Some behaviors may only manifest months or years into an otherwise beneficial relationship. Due to one’s positive history with another, it can be challenging to break away from this kind of developed toxicity. Nonetheless, it is essential to regularly reevaluate all of one’s relationships and how they affect an individual.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Keeping tabs on one’s relationships can be a difficult practice. The nature of many relationships is very complicated as it is still possible to have fun with the person who is also creating a toxic environment from time to time. Having a few guiding questions can help uncover if a relationship has toxic elements that need to be addressed. Some questions to ask one’s self are:
- Do I feel bad or have regrets after spending time with this person, even if I had fun at the time?
- Did I compromise my interests or personality to fit into a situation?
- Did I feel like I had to justify my actions, such as a purchase I made?
- Do I spend as much time in my other relationships as I want to?
- Do I feel like I need approval or validation from this relationship specifically?
- Am I scared or worried about how this person would respond to my actions or interests?
- Do I avoid, either consciously or unconsciously, responding to messages from this person for a time? Or am I worried about how they would act if I didn’t reply?
- Do I feel I need to apologize to them even when confronting them about something they did wrong?
- Have I felt heard or valued in the relationship equally?
- Do I have feelings of low self-esteem after spending time with this person, even if I had fun at the time?
- Do I feel like I have to stay with this person over the fear of how they would hurt themselves?
- Do I feel like I have to be their only support?
These are just a few questions to begin understanding one’s relationships. While there are other ways toxicity may manifest, relationships that provide negative answers to these kinds of questions may need to be reevaluated.
Breaking Away from Toxic Relationships
Breaking away from these relationships is a difficult undertaking. However, it is still best to begin with a conversation. Not all toxic relationships develop intentionally. Some individuals don’t realize how their behaviors are being harmful in the first place. These conversations are just the beginning of addressing toxicity in a relationship. It is crucial that a person makes a genuine effort to be an equally supportive member in a relationship to strengthen the bond between two people going forward. Apologizing without trying to make changes, or claiming to be trying without evidence, can be another sign of toxicity. If there is the fear of the other person’s anger if they are confronted, it may be time to escape from the situation with professional support or other family members or friends.
The stress involved with a toxic relationship can be overpowering, and unaddressed can create further issues. It is possible to develop depression or anxiety disorders, and persistent feelings of low self-worth can become an everyday experience. Professional help may be needed to address traumatic experiences or feelings of emotional isolation as a result of these relationships.
Toxic relationships can be hard to identify, and they can have a tremendously adverse effect on a person. If you or a loved one are coping with anxiety, depression, or trauma as a result of a toxic relationship, Avalon Malibu can help you take the first steps towards empowering your future. At Avalon, we offer an array of programs, which can be further customized to help you meet your needs and goals. Yoga, meditation, art therapy, music therapy, and various physical therapies can all be utilized to help you establish your own best practices surrounded by a genuinely supportive, sympathetic, and caring group of professionals and peers. Our team uses evidence-based, scientifically proven methods to drive our treatment and care for individuals in recovery. For more information on how we can help you or to speak with a trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (844) 857-5992.