We all know that one person that always seems to be miserable in their relationship – constantly fighting and breaking up, then making up only to repeat the cycle over and over again…unfortunately in my case – that person was me! I’d let myself get mistreated time and time again, and once the cycle began, it felt really difficult for me to break free…
And if you are reading this article, chances are you are that person too! If you’ve been there (or are currently there), you understand the struggle.
What Is A “Toxic” Relationship?
Let’s begin by defining unhealthy relationships. According to Psychology Today, one of the primary warning signs of a toxic relationship is that you feel you can’t turn to your partner for emotional support. Healthy relationships require you to be able to rely on your partner to listen, willingly pay attention, and support you at your happiest of times, as well as your lowest.
Another sign of a toxic relationship is one where your partner continuously says or does things that trigger something in you, where you feel like you’re stupid or less-than…They might say things like, “Don’t worry about it, you wouldn’t understand anyway.” Another way an unhealthy relationship can trigger feelings of less-than is when your partner regularly goes missing for long periods of time – as in complete radio silence…MIA…no text, call, no update on where they are / who they are with / when they’ll be back.
One of the biggest ways to tell if you are in a toxic relationship is if you are experiencing any form of control, abuse or violence. This can include physical, emotional, financial, social (isolation), spiritual and / or sexual. None of these are ok. Ever. Every person has a right to feel safe in their relationship and in their home. Everyone has the right to have their boundaries respected. Domestic and Family Violence is a National Crisis in Australia, and unfortunately, I was a victim of this myself…thankfully I had the courage to get out and to seek help, and you can too!
Now that we know some of the signs of a toxic relationship, it’s time we looked at how to break the cycle.
Breaking The Cycle
The first step is to admit there is a problem. As with any issue – until we acknowledge there is an issue, there is no room for change.
The next step if you are with a current partner who is mistreating you – it’s time to seek help (couples or individual counselling or coaching), and if your partner will not cooperate with counselling, you need to face the reality that he or she will probably never change. Then you have a choice – to stay and be miserable or to move on. It’s always easier said than done to end a relationship, especially if there are other factors to consider (aka pets, kids, house together), but chances are you’ll all be better off once you are out of this toxic environment.
Putting your emotional health first is absolutely essential here. Have compassion for yourself if you want to go back into your unhealthy relationship. It’s normal to miss your ex, stay mindful, however, that missing “the good times” does not mean that he/ she was, or is, good for you. Think about what you would say to a family member or close friend who wanted to return to a toxic relationship. Thinking about how you may value or advise someone else can help you believe in yourself and give you the courage to move on.
Once the ties have been cut (and this means stopping all possible contact), the final step to healing and moving on to bigger and better things is to spend time working on your self-worth, forgiving yourself, and better understanding yourself – what you truly want for your life. The better we understand and value ourselves, the better we’ll be able to choose partners who treat us with the respect, love and honour we all deserve. To find out more about allowing yourself to heal and move on after a break up, you may want to check out my blog Overcoming Heartbreak.
If you or someone you know are in need of support, we encourage calling 1800 RESPECT – Australia’s free national sexual assault and family violence counselling service which runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the event of an emergency in Australia, dial 000