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Health and Wellbeing

06 Nov 2019

Toxic relationships continued …

In the last edition, I began sharing tips on what to do if you’re finding yourself in a toxic relationship. Here are a few more …

If you believe that you might be in a relationship or friendship with a toxic person, it’s crucial that you come to terms with the reality of your situation as soon as possible. It is also important to acknowledge what part you have played in this relationship and become familiar with the signs and symptoms of a toxic relationship dynamic.

If you feel that you’re in physical danger, you may need to involve the authorities. If the harm is emotional or mental, you’ll have to decide if it’s possible to work through the issues. Getting to the root of the problem is important for both sides, but, sometimes, the answer may be to walk away.

Some initial steps to you can take are (in no particular order):

Consider going to therapy

A therapist job is simply there to help you be as healthy as you can be. Talking to a therapist’s can be a great way to understand past relationship patterns. It’s critical to learn from their/your behaviour to develop healthier relationships in the future and see the signs and symptoms of toxicity sooner.

Get out as quickly as you are able to

The patterns of toxicity easily become a habit, so it can be hard to walk away and leaving takes resolve and effort. Once you’ve decided to exit the relationship, however, please do so safely. Although not every toxic relationship is with someone dangerous, do prioritise self-protection.

Give yourself time to heal

Once you’ve ended the relationship, it’s time to start doing the work of healing and moving on. Cut all ties on social media and through other avenues if necessary and give yourself a clean break. It may be helpful to give yourself a short period of time to mourn the relationship.

Moving forward

Focus on self-care

Be kind to yourself. Whether self-care for you means exercising regularly, having more “me time,” or doing more enjoyable activities, taking care of your own mental and physical health will set a foundation for future health with a partner.

Get your thoughts out

Take time to write down what you are thinking and feeling so that you can make sense of how you are processing the events pre, during and post the relationship ending. Journaling can help you reconcile feelings and thoughts that are holding you back from moving forward.

Commit to seeing it through

It might feel easier to go back to the relationship, but the truth is that although it may be uncomfortable to see it through, it is better for you in the long run.

Bring joy back into your life - reclaim your identity

As a part of loving yourself after leaving a toxic relationship, you need to revisit what makes you happy. Direct your focus to things that spark joy in you and bring you back to “yourself”: take a road trip, hang out with good friends, re-connect with your community or spirituality, ground yourself with activities that remind you of what life was like before the toxicity began.

Don’t forget, you deserve healthy relationships

Realising that you have been in a toxic dynamic with someone can be hard. It’s easy to internalise feelings of shame or worthlessness, but just remember: You are worthy of healthy relationships, and better relationship habits can be formed. While confronting past toxic behaviour can be painful, it should also feel hopeful.

Rajna Bogdanovic - Clinical Psychologist

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