Relationships are probably one of the most complicated aspects of one’s life. Whether you’re fifteen and in love with your high school sweetheart or you’re sixty and have been in a relationship for thirty years; relationships are tough work. But how do you know when a relationship has gone from the everyday boring complications to seriously toxic? We live in a day and age where toxins aren’t just something you find in the food supply; even our relationships can be dripping with the metaphorical “GMO’s” and one of them, is being in an addictive relationship.
How do you identify toxicity in your relationship?
When you’re in deep and you feel something sucking all of the energy out of you, it can be hard to identify and escape a toxic relationship. When you’re with the person, you feel “high” or content, even if you’re being abused or walked on. There are flags though, and if you get really honest with yourself, you can identify these flags and get out of a bad relationship with a little stern effort. So, what are these flags? When should you be concerned?
- You stop being able to identify yourself as an individual; when people ask what your hobbies are, you aren’t sure. When you wonder what you want out of life, you’re not sure. These are clues that your identity is tied up with someone else.
- The beginning of the relationship felt so amazing, you felt high or on cloud 9, but that feeling often is replaced with anxiety. Anxiety and that sense of “panic” is your intuition letting you know something is going on. A lot of times, it’s easy to remain in a state of denial and never get out. It’s important that your fear doesn’t paralyze you.
- You’re staying out of fear, you’re afraid of what you will feel like when you’re alone. You’re afraid of what will happen if you leave and you don’t know who you are on your own anymore.
- You’ve been neglecting your outside relationships (like friends and family) to a point where you don’t even know that you have friends anymore. This one is particularly dangerous and it’s easy to rationalize away. For example, “We’ve been so busy.” And “There’s no time”.
- You feel controlled and lose in the drama and fighting; sometimes this is associated with strong feelings of fear and despair. You may also feel like there’s no way out, like you’re stuck in some vortex that you cannot escape.
- You don’t enjoy things anymore, the only thing that matters to you is your “partner”; I use the term partner loosely because in this scenario, it’s not a partner. It’s a “fix”. When you start losing the things that give you joy in exchange for one thing that gives you joy and more often than not, pain, that’s addiction.
So more importantly than these very real red flags, is what to do with them. How do you get out of a bad relationship, once it’s already started? What’s next?
That’s the hard part. The first step is realizing that while you feel stuck and you feel like you can’t leave, you also cannot trust your first “instinct” to stay. It’s not your rational thought; it’s your ego fulfilling some deeper need. Sometimes, you need to seek professional help. Sometimes, you just need a support system.
To learn more about how to get out of a bad relationship, check out my article here: “How do I get out of a bad relationship?”
How to seek professional help to escape a toxic living situation
It can seem scary and overwhelming to seek outside help to take care of yourself and get yourself away from the damaging situation that you’re in; however, it is crucial that if you don’t feel you’re strong enough to break away from the situation you’re in that you get help
If you cannot afford help, or are in a dangerous situation, you can call the Mental Health Association if you’re from the United States and they even offer pro-bono therapy in some cases. You can find more information here.