An OverviewPeople who have faced addiction may also have experience with unhealthy relationships. Even when a relationship is toxic, however, it can be a complicated matter to decide if it is time to end the relationship or simply draw clearer boundaries. It isn’t just romantic relationships that can be unhealthy. A family relationship, work connection or friendship can also be toxic. It also isn’t just bad people who can end up in toxic relationships. Sometimes, two otherwise good people create an unhealthy dynamic. While they might be able to change the relationship, sometimes that simply is not possible.
Signs of a Toxic RelationshipPsychology Today shared an article on their blog entitled “51 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship”. Of the signs from that article, 15 can apply to any relationship, romantic or otherwise, and seem particularly relevant to people who have faced substance abuse.
- The other party won’t take no for an answer.
- Neither of you is any better for knowing the other.
- You can identify ways you’ve made each other worse, particularly in relation to promoting harmful habits.
- They routinely point out ways you are imperfect.
- You feel like they could ditch you at any time.
- They are dismissive of your emotions, especially fear.
- You feel worse about yourself as a person than when you started the relationship.
- They don’t seem interested when you experience success.
- You’re not sure how dependable, supportive, or reliable they would be in a crisis.
- There are times you avoid them, because going to Starbucks or a bar is more relaxing after a stressful day than hanging out with them.
- They are the source of negative surprises.
- You catch them lying repeatedly.
- You worry that they might get so angry they’d hurt you…or they have.
- If you had to rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 on qualities like warmth, trustworthiness, and dependability, you would rate them lower than 5.
- They think you’re lucky to have them, but not the reverse.
Hope for HealingIf only a couple of the statements above are true about a relationship, it might be possible to fix the problem by talking to the person about how their actions have made you feel and setting better boundaries for the future. Therapy may also help. If, however, there are many red flags or talking hasn’t helped, it may be time to let go.
Options for Dealing with Toxic RelationshipsWhen it is not possible to repair an unhealthy relationship, the remaining options may be limited:
- Continue tolerating the harm one is enduring
- Distance oneself from the other person
- End the relationship entirely
- Determine if there is a physical danger. If there is a risk of the other party becoming violent, it may be appropriate to contact the local authorities or the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help.
- It may be prudent to save some money secretly, for the purpose of making a safe escape and a fresh start.
- Document abusive behavior, especially if a restraining order or custody agreement might be needed in the future.
- Get a restraining order, if appropriate.
- Confide in trustworthy people to assist in building a life without an unhealthy relationship.
- Seek out counseling for yourself. A therapist may be able to help you see how you got into a toxic relationship and how to avoid them in the future.
- Find a support group. There may be an online or in-person support group where other people who’ve shared the same experiences can offer wisdom on how to move forward.
- Increase self-care overall. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Plan a fun trip. In general, keep your life busy with good things.