Letting Go of Toxic Relationships

One of the more difficult things we may encounter in our lives, is when we have to let go of certain relationships. It may be a relationship with our employer, friends or even family members that has simply become too negative and hurtful for us to continue to maintain it. It may also be because someone simply stops the contact with us, and we don’t even get to know why.

Whatever the case, it’s always a little sad when someone we know becomes someone we knew.

But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t also sometimes very necessary, especially when relationships start to become toxic. So, how do you know when a relationship has become toxic? Here are some quick things to be aware of.

Being Passive-Aggressive.

Instead of communicating clearly and honestly, someone is dropping hints or creating tests of loyalty for the other person. When these hints aren’t picked up on, or the other person – who was unaware they were being tested – doesn’t come through with flying colors, they are punished as retaliation. Either way, it’s a clear sign that this is not a safe or secure relationship. Instead it is marked by pettiness and discord.

Someone is Keeping Score.

You aren’t going to their birthday party, because they didn’t come to your baby shower. Or, they aren’t inviting you to a dinner party because you weren’t able to attend their last one. Or, perhaps they are reminding of that time you were late picking them up every chance they get. Whatever the case, someone is keeping score in order to push shame onto someone else. And that is not a healthy, mutually supportive relationship.

Being Suspicious.

Jealously will sometimes show up in our relationships, but experiencing it too often is a slippery slope that leads right to suspicion or worse. A partner who acts angry every time you get a text message, or a friend who acts hurt each time you engage in an activity without them, is attempting to control you. The cornerstone of a secure and healthy relationship is trust – and suspicion is the opposite of that.

Assigning Responsibility.

We all have bad days, but assigning someone else responsibility for that bad day, or for improving it, is a big red flag. When I hear someone say that their partner “ruined the day”, it often speaks to a degree of selfishness or blaming in the relationship. We almost always having options available to us to change the course of our day – blaming someone else because we didn’t take them is manipulative and breeds resentment.

Giving Ultimatums.

Threatening to end a relationship over a complaint instead of working together to resolve the matter is emotional blackmail. It creates an uneven power balance, and generates a sense of insecurity that can hold someone hostage in a relationship unless they are able to recognize what is happening and disengage from it.

I find that sometimes we need to take an honest look at our relationships – which is not always easy. And while this list is not meant to dictate that you should end a relationship, I hope it does help you in taking that honest look. If a few of these topics seem familiar, It might be time to reconsider relationship parameters or boundaries.

How to let go of Toxic Relationships

With thanks to John Morgan for image use

About Jessica S. Campbell, LCSW

Jessica S. Campbell, LCSW is a licensed and trained psychotherapist who helps overwhelmed women, frustrated parents, and anyone who has experienced trauma, to find a more balanced lifestyle, move on from troubling events and form meaningful relationships with reawakened creativity for happier and healthier lives.

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