Toxic relationships can happen in any form of relationship. It can happen with friends, with lovers, even with family. We all have them at some point in our lives! Those relationships where you wonder why you are with (or hang out with) that person/people. If you are anything like me, you are a people pleaser. Meaning that you want people to like you and become nervous or anxious when they don’t (or it is perceived that they don’t). Continually taking a step back from a situation helps you to re-assess if it deserves that much thought/ worry.
I was once told I was “too sensitive” when I told my friend how her actions hurt me. While that person meant to be negative, I always feel like it’s how you take stock of yourself that counts. Yes, I may be sensitive, but I believe that being “too sensitive” can be a good thing. Especially where my work is concerned.
Quite frankly though…you should never be considered “too sensitive” when you choose to speak up about something that has hurt you or has done you wrong! In a normal situation (one without a toxic individual), saying that something has hurt you or that something was wrong starts a conversation over what happened and what can be done to fix it in the future… Not, oh…you’re just too sensitive and trying to leave it at that.
So how do you recognize when you are in a toxic relationship and how do you get away?
How to Spot a Toxic Person
They make you feel like everything is your fault:
Toxic people are master manipulators. You could go to them to talk about why they hurt you and all of a sudden they are the one that is hurt because of you. It’s crazy how good they can turn things around to make you feel bad about yourself.
They make you feel unwanted:
They will exclude you from gatherings with friends. If you confront them, they start to backtrack or make up an excuse for why you weren’t included. Social media doesn’t help in this situation because we are always looking to see what others are doing.
Only calling you when there is no other option:
A toxic person may not call you unless they have nothing else to do, making you feel like you are the last resort. They won’t invite you out with their other friends when they all hang out, just when those people are unavailable. If you are always someones last resort, they make you feel like it was somehow your fault that they didn’t call or text when they were planning an outing.
They make you question yourself:
Like with the “too sensitive” example, that person made me question my entire personality. You know you are a good friend, but they want you to change for them. So they will do or say anything to make you feel like it is your fault.
They make you work for THEIR happiness:
There are times when the person is super happy then mad or upset the next minute. They make you feel like you did something wrong to upset them. Which in turn makes you want to make them happy. However, you just played right into their game and they will do it all over again later because they got what they wanted (you to work to make them feel better).
Do you always feel like you are doing for them but it is never reciprocated? Chances are you are in a toxic relationship. Toxic people will always ask you for favors but are suspiciously absent when you ask the same. It is never on equal ground.
It is always about them, never you:
Toxic people will try to dominate the conversation with any good or bad thing going on in their life. These people will never ask you what’s going on in your life and when you do get an opening to talk, they will shut you down or find a way to bring the conversation back to them.
They never seem happy for you:
You could get the best news in the world and they would act like it’s no big deal. The person might even just say “uh huh” and change the subject. Toxic people don’t share in your joy, only your sorrow.
They never apologize:
Why would they when nothing is ever their fault. Toxic people will even try to gain sympathy or play the victim to gain attention.
What You Can Do to Distance Yourself From Them
Stop trying to please them:
Toxic people learned a long time ago that good people will do anything to help make the people they care about happy. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY. You can not control how other people feel or act, only yourself. Your only job is to make sure you are happy.
Don’t let them make you feel “obligated”:
If they can’t respect the fact that friendship is a two way street and not something just for their benefit, it’s time to get out. If you don’t want to go do something saying no is OK! Don’t let them guilt you into it or make you feel obligated to go just because “you haven’t seen each other in forever” or “they really need you right now”. You have to worry about your sanity and your mental health too.. Not just theirs..
Know your worth:
With a toxic person (or people) in your life, it’s hard to remember who you truly are. Take steps to increase your self-esteem or confidence. Sometimes having some “alone time” allows you to get in better touch with your feelings. It also shows you what you want out of your life and what you deem is important.
Turn to friends/family who make you happy:
While you may have those toxic people in your life, I am sure who have at least one or two truly good friends/family members who make you happy. Make a point to spend more time with them! Go do things that you felt you couldn’t with the toxic person.
Create a support network:
Now I’m not saying you have to go out and find a support group in your community, but in your own circle. You are not the only person who has had a toxic person in their life. Your family or other friends have probably gone through similar situations in the past, maybe even with the same person. Be each other’s support system and lean on one another when things may be tough. Find your people. Having good people around you that love and support you is key!
“Let go of people who dull your shine, poison your spirit. and bring you drama. Cancel your subscription to their issues”-Steve Maraboli
Toxic relationships, in all their forms cause so much stress, anxiety, worry, dread, heartache, and pain (sounds like a country song). It’s so important to remember what your beliefs are and what you want out of a relationship. Toxic people want you to “save them” and/or feel sorry for their situation. So much so that you are often thinking about them even when you are not around them. It is just emotionally draining.
When you surround yourself with positive people, you will continue to grow as a person. Invest in good self-care strategies that allow you to focus on YOU. This may be reading for a specific amount of time each day, a nice bubble bath, exercise, writing in a journal, drawing, etc. There are so many options and one thing might not work every time so have a list written down or in your brain so you can easy call upon another tool.
Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? How did you get out? We want to hear your stories and suggestions in the comment section below,