Once a toxic relationship is identified, the best case scenario is to run away, right? Easier said than done. Or in this case, easier given as an advice, than done. Though this advice may be well intentioned, a person emotionally involved or financially dependent on someone may find it hard to leave them. Maybe that person is simply someone you care about, yet don’t want affecting you as much or negatively.
Think you might be in a toxic relationship? Here are some ways to consider slowly removing yourself and detaching for your own health.
Most toxic relationships become toxic once emotional, verbal, psychological, or physical boundaries have been crossed. It can happen in one-sided relationships, emotionally negative relationships, or abusive relationships. Identify your boundary profile and what your needs are in order to be able to work around that with the other person.
What patterns have been serving to make this relationship dysfunctional? Are you able to sense when your emotional or physical boundaries have been crossed? If so, what are you doing about it? Are you emotionally or physically too involved? How can you re-shift both of your boundary profiles in order to reconstruct a better relationship with new roles and agreements.
Also, how can you communicate these boundaries in healthy verbal and nonverbal ways?
In part one of toxic relationships, I discussed the role that communication skills play in relationships. Examples included John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen Apocalypse”, criticism and contempt. Exercising empathy and learning effective communication skills are vital to every relationship, and are usually the reason behind most arguments, resentment, and failure to connect.
Taking Time off
Taking time off is necessary to recharge, maintain, and balance wellbeing. Time off doesn’t necessarily have to mean going off on vacations every time as this needs time, money, and energy. We don’t always have that on hand. Taking time off can be spread into daily doses of “me time”. The intensity and duration of your time off varies from one person to another. It can range from half an hour each day to a few hours. Sometimes you might even need to take a day or two, like over the weekend. It’s okay to want some time on your own. Do make sure that those times are designed especially for you. Finishing up errands alone does not constitute “me time”.
Identify how you want to feel in the present
In cases of emotional drainage, identifying how you are feeling in the present in comparison to how you want to feel is key. What are your emotional priorities? Do you want to feel sexy? Do you want to feel content? Satisfied? Do you want to feel healthy? Who makes you feel what? Defining your emotional desires will help direct you to where and what you should do, who you keep in your close circle of loved ones, and how to manage it otherwise.
When it’s time to leave, make sure you are equipped with the right emotional, financial, psychological, and physical tools, resources, and support to let go and move forward. This starts from a safe place to stay, having financial resources, to having a loving and supportive entity of friends and loved ones. With even just a few people around you who can be supportive and motivating to your growth and your wellbeing, you will be able to feel nourished enough to take further steps at your own pace and readiness. There should be no pressure. It’s hard to cut out of a present comfort zone, regardless of how destructive it can be. I cannot stress the importance of emotional nourishment in order to take calculated risks.
Note: There are many professional mental health practitioners and organizations available to help provide social resources for partners who want to leave abusive or harmful relationships. Do your research, ask questions and find one suitable to help you deal with or remove yourself from a toxic relationship. You are never alone.