Deciding when it’s time to end a toxic relationship is a lot harder than it looks. I’ve had more than my fair share of toxic relationships. And while in my head I knew that it was negatively impacting my emotional and physical health, I just couldn’t seem to let go. And every time I tried to let go, I just couldn’t get myself to move on. After a while, it seemed like staying in a toxicity pyre was easier than dealing with the painful withdrawal of losing the relationship.
Personally, I don’t think there is a magic formula to doing it, either. So, how do you know whether a relationship is toxic? Sometimes it’s obvious, such as relationships that are physical or emotionally abusive. But other times, it’s not so readily apparent. Ask yourself:
How do I usually feel when I am around this person?
Does spending time with this person leave you feeling energized? Are they a source of support? Is this a friend who has been there through it all? Or are you left feeling drained and emotionally spent? Do you feel “down” about life or yourself?
How do I feel when I don’t spend time or have contact with this person?
Just as important as how relationships impact your well being while you are in them is how you are affected when you are not. Sometimes it can take a bit of distance to realize you are better off without them or that you have a lot less drama in your life when they aren’t around.
Why do I have this person in my life?
If there was another option (such as potential friend or significant other) available, would you keep this person in the picture? Most of the time, the answer is no. Often times we keep a toxic relationship to avoid feeling lonely or alone.
You can choose your friends…but not family
Some toxic relationships are easier to “end” than others – but what if it’s with a family member? Easier said than done, but it all comes down to setting boundaries (and sticking to them). Try limiting your exposure to the toxicity by reducing the number of times you must interact – maybe keep it just to family gatherings. Set boundaries as to how many telephone conversations you’ll have with the person and for how long you’ll stay on the phone. In addition, limiting how much you share about your own life can be an effective way of shielding yourself from toxic opinions and unsolicited advice.
What are your tips on protecting yourself from toxic relationships? Share them in the comments below!