True, life is better shared. And then there are toxic relationships …

Of course, all relationships take hard work and even the most loving couples ebb and flow in their attraction, connection, and intimacy. But sometimes it’s not until you’re two kids and a mortgage into the relationship, that you realise something has been missing for a while … and that something is you.

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Toxic relationships aren’t necessarily the territory of the weak, downtrodden or insecure. Strong, healthy, independent people can find themselves in the white-knuckled grip of a toxic relationship.

Fact is, when you’ve invested so much time and energy into a relationship, you desperately want it to work, regardless of how bad things have become, right? Don’t be fooled by the Hollywood hype. Unhealthy relationships are often portrayed as being passionate or exciting. Thing is, we rationalise it; if the relationship was wrong, wouldn’t we stop having feelings? Wouldn’t we stop hurting every time we are ignored or insulted? But of course it’s complicated. There may be a lot of baggage; kids, pets, furniture … and who will keep the circle of friends?!

We’ve all been in the company of people who were not rooting for our best selves. A relationship doesn’t have to be romantic to fall into the “toxic” category either – many friendships, mother-daughter, boss-employee relationships also qualify.

So, be mindful of what is okay and what is not. The most serious warning signs include any form of violence, abuse, or harassment and should be dealt with immediately. However, very often the indicators of a toxic relationship are very subtle. It can be hard to recognise when a relationship is failing and when you should let go. According to Jane Greer, marriage and family therapist, and author of How Could You Do This To Me? you have reason for concern the minute your partner makes you feel as if you’re not good enough.

Are you constantly trying to “fix” everything to prove your self-worth? Or are you always walking on egg shells, having to think twice before you speak because certain topics are off limits? Does your emotional support lie elsewhere, and do you have to turn to others to vent? Are words of encouragement - that were once commonplace - painfully absent? Are you always apologising for something, but not really sure why?

A toxic relationship will destroy your self-esteem, your happiness and the way you see yourself in the world.

When a relationship is built on love, it nurtures, restores, replenishes and revives. It doesn’t diminish. It isn’t cruel and it doesn’t ever violate a warm heart. A good relationship will make you feel secure, happy, cared for, and respected.

Remember, all relationships are worth the fight, until they’re not. A wise man once said: “What you allow is what will continue.”

So, be brave enough and have the courage to let go of those who make you feel small.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.