Phew, this might be a heavy one, Babes. Let’s talk about Toxic Relationships.
It’s Time to Let That Toxic Relationship Go, Babe.
We have all had that friend, family member, or coworker that deep down inside we know isn’t really doing us the best favours. These people may be energy vampires, folks that live for gossip, or just always seem to have a dark cloud around their head.
Before we get started, I’m in no way saying that you need to dump friends or family members that are going through a hard time. I think in this day and age we don’t spend enough time looking inwards and reflecting. We don’t realise that the people that we surround ourselves with really really have an impact on our mental health. They can impact our self-esteem, and also how we react to the things around us. You may have heard the saying “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. I definitely believe this statement to be true. When is the last time that you looked around at the people in your life and really sat and thought about how these people are influencing you?
We all have that friend that we avoid as much as possible. When you hang out with them, all they want to do is complain about their life, or reminisce about the past. Is that really how you want to be spending your time with your friends? Or would you rather spend time with people who are supportive and that you don’t feel ashamed of sharing the wins of your life with them? Is that really fair to you? This type of toxic relationship would be called the “Debbie Downer”. If they’re always talking about the negative sides of life, how do you expect to have a positive relationship with them?
Toxic Relationship types
There are ten types of toxic relationships, and while I’m not going to go over them all here, I think it’s important to note that each type may have a different way of affecting us. I would really recommend clicking the previous link to find out more about the ten types. Being able to identify these people in our lives allows us to really look at our relationships objectively and assess how to move forward.
For me, #7 really stuck out to me on the above list. My ex wife was a binge drinker. This of course isn’t the only reason why she was toxic (there’s a longer story there) but it certainly didn’t create a safe space for me and it brought out my own issues with binge drinking. Remember above when I said you’re the average of the folks you hang out with? This was very true for me here. I’ve had several relationships like this in my life. Whether that be a partner or a friend, it definitely wasn’t a healthy or good look for me.
As soon as I separated myself from these relationships and their influences, I stopped drinking nearly as much as I used to. Do I still enjoy a bottle of wine to myself while on a 4 hour Zoom call with a friend every so often? Yep. But now instead of doing this every night or finishing off a box of wine in less than a week, it’s become only an occasional thing for me.
How can I tell a Toxic Relationship from a Good One?
There are 12 signs that you’re in a toxic relationship but I’m going to put them into bullet point form for you here. I’m going to write “friend” below, but a toxic relationship can be anyone in your life. Your friend, family member, coworker, client, any relationship you form with another person can be toxic if you don’t know what to look out for.
- Your friend has no other friends other than you.
- Hanging out with them ends up making you feel physically or emotionally tired or sick.
- They personally attack or criticize you or call you names.
- This friend is constantly texting or calling you to “check in”.
- They interrupt you constantly or give you the silent treatment when you do something they don’t like (or sometimes for seemingly no reason at all).
- You always feel like you’re apologising to them and you’re not sure why.
- They want you to change yourself in some way. ie: go on a diet, change your hair, get a new job, etc.
- All of their exes or past relationships are “crazy”.
- It feels like they are obsessed with you.
- One or both of you have a substance abuse problem.
- All of your other friends hate this friend or partner.
- There are a lot of lies, even about little things.
If you can check off more than one thing off the above list about a person in your life – chances are that this relationship isn’t good for you.
What Can be Done?
Once you’ve identified these toxic relationships in your life, it’s up to you what you do with that information that you’ve gathered. You of course have the option to confront them and explain that spending time with them has been detrimental to your overall mental health and that you’d like to make some changes. You could work together with this person to see if you can repair the relationship with them. To make that relationship a more positive one. This option isn’t easy but of course, neither is your other option.
Your other option would be to cut this person out of your life completely. Does this hurt? Yup! Does it suck? Absolutely. Is is going to free up space in your life for new relationships to blossom and flourish? Yeah, you bet it will.
How do I know all of this? I’ve lived it. A lot of the relationships in my past were not good for me. It took me a long time to realise how much of an effect they were having on my life. In the past few years I’ve had to let go of a lot of the relationships in my life. Some of those friendships were with people who I’ve known for eight years or more. People that I’ve shared secrets and hardships with. That have lived through some of my darkest days with me. It feels hard and maybe even a little cruel to let go of these long-term friendships. But you really really need to start putting your own feelings above everyone else’s.
What could be the result?
The result this journey for me? My anxiety is probably the lowest it’s ever been for my entire existence on this planet. As a more recent bonus of letting go of some of the toxic relationships in my life, I’ve opened my time up to foster the ones that I already have that are positive and affirming. People that I can share my wins with, without worrying about upsetting them. The truth is too that I have far fewer friends in my life than I ever have. But as they say, quality over quantity, right? I know that there are many people in the future that are going to be positive and caring influences on my life that I haven’t even met yet. I needed to make the room for them to appear and I did just that. So, now I am patiently waiting for the Universe to connect us.
What you decide to do with the information in this blog post is up to you. Whether you decide to end some toxic relationships or try to repair them is up to you. Know that I believe in you. Even if you’re not ready to face any new challenges quite yet. You’ll eventually find a time that you’re ready to make some positive changes in your life. And that, babe, is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself.