Updated: Nov 13, 2020
What exactly is a Toxic Relationship? Isn't it normal to fight and have disagreements when in love with someone? Isn't being emotional, raising our voices, arguing and ignoring each other at times a part of the relationship dynamic? Every day isn't going to be a bed full of roses, relationships are hard work. There will be plenty of ups and downs, good times and bad times and sometimes sadness, but isn't that expected? What determines if a relationship is toxic? Are all relationships capable of being toxic in some way or another or just romantic relationships?
Let me first define toxicity. Toxicity is a poisonous spread of unhealed traumas, fears, hurts and offenses that are carried over consciously or unconsciously into our personal relationship with others.
A Toxic relationship is defined as "Any relationship causing frequent, unpleasant feelings extremely harmful to our well being."
If you are in a relationship and experiencing the lowering of ones self-esteem, criticism, belittling, maliciousness, constant conflict, deception, disrespect, possessiveness, made to feel guilty, verbal abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, dominance/controller, self-centeredness, manipulation, jealousy, insecurity, draining of ones energy, isolating one from family/friends, lack of reciprocity, co-dependency, substance abuse/addiction, reoccurring depression, feeling unsafe, and consistent betrayal and infidelity; these are signs that you are in a toxic relationship.
So, how and when do toxic relationships manifest? We all know that in most cases relationships start pleasant.
In romantic relationships, this pleasant start is referred to as the "Limerence" and/or "Honeymoon" stage which can last up to six months or possibly a year, so the signs of toxicity may be minute during this time making it harder to detect.
In other relationships, (business, family, friendships) you may notice the toxicity within hours.
Either way, as they say "pay attention to the red flags." Once the pleasant stage has subsided and you begin to experience unpleasant feelings due to the behavior of the participating party, it's best to address it immediately by expressing to that person how he/she made you feel.
If the person is receptive to your concerns and willing to "actively" correct his/her behavior (if correction is needed) you can move forward. If they are not receptive and unwilling to actively change their behavior you may have to consider leaving that person and/or situation.
If you continue to accept behavior that is unacceptable, over time, you as well will become toxic because you are no longer "honoring" yourself.
A lack of self honor is a lack of "self love." A lack of self love is the reason that you stay.
A lack of self love in a toxic relationship can become a form of co-dependency (Something I will touch on in a later blog.) A lack of self love and co-dependency from both parties is the reason a toxic relationship can exist.
Toxic relationships are detrimental and can cause tremendous damage physically and/or mentally and sometimes end tragically. Recognizing and acknowledging that the relationship could be toxic is the first step to healthiness.
Not all toxic relationships are doomed and can be healed, and yes toxicity can be experienced in "healthy" relationships too. However, the key is to pay attention to the "frequency" of the toxic occurrences and work on expressing and correcting them. Also, keep in mind that not all toxicity is from the "other" party involved. Most often "we" enter into relationships with our own toxicity.
As long as all parties involved are receptive, self aware, willing to take accountability and correct the behavior, the relationship can be salvaged.
(Please note: I do not recommend staying in any abusive relationship, i.e-physically, emotionally, verbally.)
Couples counseling, Individual counseling, Family counseling, Spiritual counseling, support from a Church group and/or Pastor AND Prayer, can all be avenues of effective support and healing.
Remember- Love & Take Care Of Yourself.