Am I in a Toxic Relationship?
Throughout our lives, we build plenty of relationships with the people around us. Whether they are romantic relationships, friendships, or professional relationships, we build and develop connections with the people in our lives on a daily basis. But what happens when those relationships are no longer healthy? What if being involved in those relationships does more harm than good to our mental or physical health? We now find ourselves involved in a toxic relationship. In a Liz Claiborne Inc. study conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited in 2005, it was reported that 11% of teens in a relationship have been physically hit by their partner- a number that increased to 12% in 2006. Of course, a toxic relationship is not necessarily always physical harm. In the same study, it was revealed 13% of teens in a relationship reported to have experienced continuous verbal abuse from their partner while in the relationship, a number which went up to 16% in 2006.
One of the most shocking realities of a toxic relationship is that many times, we are completely unaware the relationship has become unhealthy. We become so desensitized to the mistreatment we are receiving, we begin to view it as “normal”, or even worse, we start to believe it’s the kind of treatment we deserve. No one deserves to be in a relationship that makes them feel bad about themselves, causes them physical or mental harm, feel pressured into doing something they are uncomfortable with, or experience demoralizing words or actions.
Even when we do recognize the relationship has grown toxic, often times it feels next to impossible to free ourselves from its captivity. So, what can we do?
The first step to breaking free from a toxic relationship is being able to identify one. Here are a few warning signs you should be on the lookout for. (Please note these are just a handful of the many existing warning signs):
- You don’t feel like you’re good enough or that it isn’t enough to just be yourself.
- They make you feel uncomfortable, or pressure you.
- They call you names.
- They physically hit you *Be very aware of language such as; “it will never happen again.” or “you made me do it.” These are classic lines abusers use to keep the partner stuck in the toxic relationship.*
- They threaten to physically harm you.
- They threaten to hurt you or themselves if you leave the relationship.
- They blame you for everything.
- They lie to, cheat on or ignore you.
- They don’t consider your feelings.
- You feel excluded.
- They prevent you from talking to other friends or your family members.
- They’re judgmental of you.
- They won’t work on improving your relationship.
Identifying a toxic relationship is your first step to freedom. The next step is finding the courage to leave the relationship, and do so safely and efficiently. These are a few guidelines in helping you do so:
- Understand that you deserve better than the treatment you are receiving.
- Make a plan to end the relationship (and then, follow through with it).
- End contact with them. Delete or block their number from your phone, and remove them from social media. This barrier will not only prevent them from contacting you, it will take away the temptation for you to reach out to them.
- Stay strong. They may try to attempt to lure you back into the relationship, remember why you deserve a healthy relationship.
- Talk to someone you trust. Finding support and guidance during this time can be provide a great deal of encouragement.
- Know you are making the right decision.
- If you feel as though your safety is endangered, contact the police immediately.
It is important to remember toxicity can develop in relationships of any age, race, or sexuality. If you feel as though you may be in a toxic relationship, talk to someone you trust. Always remember, if it’s abuse, it isn’t love.