It seems like you can't do anything right.
Most of us can admit to remaining in a toxic relationship well beyond its expiration date. Few of us get out unscathed in life in that department. We often remain in these relationships for many reasons, which are rarely any good.
We remain here until we eventually find that we can see the trees beyond the forest and we are able to see the relationship for what it is and more importantly for what it is not.
I found myself in two previous toxic relationships that overlapped in time (which are now a lifetime ago for me) — a friendship and a marriage. The friendship started when we bonded over intense doctoral demands and for each of us, an impending divorce.
The friendship turned toxic when I was able to see the truth in her personality and how she treated others: condescending and often with a self-righteous attitude, which is the opposite of my value system.
As I slowly came out of my "divorce fog", that relationship quickly ceased to exist, and so did my marriage, which was exceedingly more toxic than the friendship. I learned a valuable lesson in both of these experiences: Introspection and distance provide invaluable clarity.
I came across a blog, 5 Signs You're In A Toxic Relationship, by Yvette Bowlin, who eloquently summed up what it means to be in a toxic relationship: "Toxic doesn't only entail obvious damage like physical abuse, stealing, or name-calling. It also represents all the internal turmoil that results from an unhealthy relationship."
Not only could I relate to many of these things, but felt compelled to share some of the things I have learned along the way not only from my own personal experiences but from those whom I help(ed):
1. It seems like you can't do anything right.
"The other person constantly puts you down as not good enough. They mock your personality, and you feel ashamed most of the time. You only feel pardoned when you take on the traits of the person doing the condemning or judging. Belittling makes you feel less than and takes away your power and inner strength," says Bowlin.
When you are in agreement with the other person, the relationship is going well. When you disagree, relationship strife bubbles to the top and the relationship becomes uncomfortable. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you like this person?
- Are they good for you?
- Do they bring out the good in you?
- Do you find that you become more negative while in their presence?
- What are some of the feelings that you experience when around them?
- Is there more criticism than compassion?"
The answers to these questions are important and telling.
2. Everything is about them and never about you.
Bowlin says, "You have feelings, too, but the other person won't hear them. You're unable to have a two-sided conversation where your opinion is heard, considered and respected. Instead of acknowledging your feelings, they battle with you until they get the last word."
The toxic person seldom, if ever, asks about you and the conversation is one sided. If you do share, it's momentary and they find a way to quickly return the conversation back to them.
3. You find yourself unable to enjoy good moments with this person.
"Every day brings another challenge. It seems as though they are always raising gripes about you. Their attempt to control your behavior is an attempt to control your happiness," says Bowlin.
Furthermore, they focus on the negative to keep you in the same state that they are: unhappy and miserable — though they would not admit that.
4. You're uncomfortable being yourself around that person.
According to Bowlin, this is when "you don't feel free to speak your mind. You have to put on a different face just to be accepted by that person. You realize you don't even recognize yourself anymore, and neither do your closest friends and family."
5. You're not allowed to grow and change.
"Whenever you aim to grow and improve yourself, the other person responds with mockery and disbelief. There is no encouragement or support for your efforts. Instead, they keep you stuck in old judgments insisting that you will never be any different than you are now," she said.
You can set yourself free.
Growth and change are part of life, yet toxic people feel threatened by this very thing — your desire for growth and self-improvement. Their negativity can easily sneak in and stifle your growth, question your desires to change, and influence your judgment.
Because they are unhealthy, they want a partner-in-crime. Don't do it!
Learn to recognize the signs of a toxic relationship. Listen to your intuition, the "inner voice" we all have (it's there for a reason), which often steers us in the right direction. Take the time to listen to it.
Do you find yourself questioning your decisions? Are you neglecting what's important to you? Are you forsaking your values for another? This could be indicative of an unhealthy and toxic relationship.
Remember, being in a healthy relationship means you feel safe and at ease to be yourself. You can live your life with authenticity. Sharing your thoughts and feelings are acknowledged and embraced not ridiculed and left to make you feel uncomfortable.
At the core of a healthy relationship is open and honest communication, trust, and support.
People are not critical, able to manage their own problems, rely on one another in a productive and reciprocal way, balanced, and not defensive nor inappropriately blaming the other person.
Take a moment to think about your relationships. The 5 most important people in your life. Are they toxic or healthy?
Are you in a toxic relationship? Not sure. Reach out and connect @ drkristindavin.com.
This article was originally published at www.kristindavin.com . Reprinted with permission from the author.