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Is Your Relationship Toxic?

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Relational Problems » Featured Article

By Tracey Ashcraft, MA, LPC

Tracey Ashcraft, MA, LPC

The definition of toxic is poisonous. We don’t want to ingest poison so why do we absorb it in our relationships? Toxic relationships are not just the romantic kind; they can show up in parent/child relationships, with co-workers, members of groups, employees, friends, relatives.

Here are some signs you may be in a toxic relationship:

  • You feel drained after spending time with someone.
  • You barely can get a word in during the conversation.
  • The person is critical of you and may even call you names.
  • You feel like you need to ask permission to do something.
  • You feel like you are walking on eggshells around this person.
  • You notice you change your behavior to avoid their wrath.
  • You feel less and less confident around this person.
  • You often feel angry around this person.
  • You sometimes feel scared around this person.
  • You do not feel safe to be yourself around this person.
  • You feel like you need to do things their way.
  • You find yourself wishing you were somewhere else when with this person.

Take this short true/false quiz to see if you are in a toxic relationship:

  1.  I feel energized after spending time with this person.
  2.  My feelings are welcomed and often validated.
  3.  Support around life’s problems is offered equally.
  4.  Frustrations are expressed in a clear, respectful manner.
  5.  Insults or name-calling are not used in my relationship.
  6.  I don’t ever feel manipulated in this relationship.
  7.  Sharing new ideas is welcomed and met with interest.
  8.  My time is valued and respected.
  9.  Physical boundaries are respected. We never physically hurt each other.
  10.  I do not feel guilty taking care of myself in this relationship.

If you answered false to one or more of these statements there may be some toxic elements in your relationship. The more that you answered false, the more likely you are in a toxic relationship.

OK, so you are in a toxic relationship. Now what?

  • Admitting that something is not right is a start.
  • Decide that you want to have a healthier relationship.
  • Learn to set boundaries.
  • Make time for yourself.
  • Do things that build your confidence.
  • Get support. Friends, family, clergy, can be valuable resources for helping you stay sane when others around you are toxic.
  • Working with a therapist can help you understand the reasons you may have ended up in a toxic relationship and how you can change your situation. A professional on your team can speed the healing process and keep you motivated when you feel like throwing in the towel.

Know that recovering from a toxic relationship is a process. You can learn to strengthen your internal dialogue by telling yourself you deserve healthy, happy relationships. If you are in a toxic relationship, stop tolerating it now. Poison kills. You really do deserve better.

About the Author...

Tracey Ashcraft, MA, LPC is an accomplished Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Life Purpose Coach and the Founder of Best Life Therapy where she has been transforming lives since 2004. She specializes in helping adults, couples and college students cope with emotionally intense people. She brings her sense of humor and direct, down-to-earth style that helps clients get to the truth quickly.

Last Update: 5/25/2017

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