Toxic - Adj: Acting as or having the effect of a poison; poisonous: a toxic drug.
Relationship - Noun: The condition or fact of being related; connection or association.
Toxic Relationship - Noun: A relationship that causes the inability to recognize a person who will threaten your happiness, well-being, dreams, goals, and life . . .
Ok, well maybe that last definition was not printed in any dictionary, but I'd say it's pretty accurate. Toxic is a term we are all familiar with. In early childhood we are educated to avoid toxic substances. But, as adults, why can't we acknowledge something toxic such as a relationship?
Have you ever found yourself in a toxic relationship? I took a minute this week to reflect on this very topic, and I realized something: We have all done this! If you haven't, you're probably lying to yourself and are currently in one of these relationships. Yeah, let's face it. . . They aren't pretty to talk about, but at some point, you're going to need to address it. Either that, or you can just live in denial forever and be unhappy. . .
I know that when I think about this type of relationship I often find myself with questions, and they just keep stacking up: What defines a toxic relationship? Are there rules to abide by? How do you deal with them/get out?
We have all seen them. It starts with your friend who suddenly disappears after his/her significant other enters the picture. Next thing you know, your friend is telling you their phone needed to be "cleaned up." Pictures are missing, Facebook has been altered with privacy settings, tweets stopped, emails stopped being sent, and their name is the hot topic at the water cooler in the office. Control becomes a very serious issue, and both parties are trying to have it over one another. Then there might be the occasional text casually mentioning a fight that occurred between them a week ago. Then it turns into your friend asking for advice and telling you they don't know what else to do. They have tried everything, but their partner just won't change. Their fights are becoming more hurtful. Your friend says they might need a night out with you to talk. During that talk they mention that the fight went to another level and they are scared, and the next thing you know you're getting pulled into arguments. You're being asked questions that pertain nothing to the subject of the argument. You're in the middle- and you DON'T know what to do. You're getting late night phone calls and texts telling you to come help them out. They need to be picked up from the bar. . . or even worse. . . the hospital or the police station. Or maybe they have called you from their house because they were advised by the cops to leave with the company they can trust. The relationship has gone completely south. All levels of trust are broken from here on out and the mental health of both parties has vastly declined. This is this side that you have never seen from either of them and it worries you. It's completely irrational and upsetting, but it's a reality.
If you say you don't have a friend like this, you're lying to yourself. And, if you can identify with any of these examples, you might just be in one of these relationships. There is one in every bunch. This type of relationship can happen to almost anyone. I am not putting blame on anyone. But when you get two people who just don't get along it becomes chemistry for disaster. It's the hard truth.
So, how do you deal with this type of a relationship? Well, the answer is really simple: Identify it the minute it starts then LEAVE IT ALONE! Don't get involved, or don't be involved. Walk away from it as fast as you can. And do your best to leave on good terms. Once you have identified the relationship, you can figure out what moves you need to make, even if it involves packing up your stuff and leaving for good. However, the reality of it is really not that simple. The relationship might have started out with smooth sailing, but after a year the waters became choppy, and they became that way for several reasons. Some of them being the following:
-They feel they have spent entirely far too much time in it just to let it go.
-They wanted more from their partner and the partner just could not provide it.
-They gave too much.
-One or the other or both are manipulative and always want to get their way with things.
-Change was something that was never going to happen.
-Change happened and they could not adapt.
-They became jealous, untrusting, and lied.
-They were too open-hearted, trusted too much, and believed everything.
There are several more, but I find these are the commonalities amongst most toxic partners. How you deal with them depends on the severity level of the relationship. In extremely toxic relationships my advice is to let the authorities handle it! Tell the person who is in danger to seek safety amongst those who will only help them flourish in happiness and health. And as for others, advise them with honesty. Sometimes people can't see the forrest from the trees, and others are like the horse you can only lead to water. There are no set rules when it comes to toxic relationships, but my best advice is to follow the path of safety. Most people won't change until they are truly hurt in an emotional sense, and sometimes in the worst case scenario - physically hurt.
Bottom line: It needs to be left to the person in the toxic relationship to make the decisions that will better them in the long run. In the meantime, offer reasonable support that does not endanger you or others. Never put yourself in a situation where you can be dragged into something that could potentially turn hostile or violent. And if it does, let someone else know! Support groups like interventions can work if that person is willing to seek help or make a change. Everyone needs to remember that they are entitled to happiness without a toxic influence jeopardizing it. Be smart. Be happy.
So as Shakespeare once wrote: "...seek happy nights to happy days," and cleanse yourself of the toxic in your life.