How To Deal with Toxic Relationships |

How To Deal with Toxic Relationships

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Whether we’re talking love or friendship, toxic relationships can really drag you down, so if a situation has turned sour, it’s worth considering your own happiness and taking action.

From how to spot an unhealthy partnership to easing your way out of a negative friendship, we asked relationship expert and lifestyle coach Olga Levancuka, Author of How To Be Selfish, for her top tips on dealing with poisonous relationships...

What characterises a toxic relationship?

The trouble with toxic relationships is that negativity starts in small doses, and we don't often realise how or when it began. It’s often by listening to others that we’re forced to recognise that something’s wrong. Even once you’ve realised there’s a problem, you may start to rationalise it to avoid dealing with it. As a result, it becomes difficult to escape a vicious cycle, and you may start to experience mood swings, the persistent feeling that something isn’t right and general feelings of unhappiness.

What are the warning signs that a relationship has become toxic?

The easiest way to spot if you are in a toxic relationship is to see if you are 'withdrawing' from your usual lifestyle. As your confidence levels drop, you may start to feel less enthusiastic about engaging with the outside world. Other warning signs to look out for include feeling fear, no matter the reason, feeling unwell – sooner or later your body will tell you something’s not right – and being told you seem down. These are clear indications something’s wrong.

Why is it important to address and let go of toxic relationships?

Toxic relationships can strip you of your unique identity and change the way you feel about yourself. In the long run they can also encourage other problematic relationships, as you’ll likely become immune to toxic behaviour, thinking it’s perfectly normal when it’s not.

If a relationship has become toxic, is there anything one can do to improve it?

First, you need to remove yourself from the person making you feel unhappy. Take that work-related trip, book a holiday or go visit a relative. Once you’ve been clear of the person for at least 24 hours, examine the signs mentioned above. If you identify as being in a toxic relationship, acknowledge what the person is doing to you and how you are feeling.

Once you feel you are able to verbalise your issues, make time to speak with the person. Have your concerns written on a piece of paper and don’t allow yourself to be manipulated or controlled – say what you have to say. If at any time the person stops listening or acknowledging what you are telling them, calmly explain that you can only continue talking when they are ready to listen to you.

How can one begin distancing oneself from a toxic relationship?

At the earliest stages, anything that distracts you from negative feelings can be beneficial. Try a new sport that requires a degree of learning, such as climbing, or take an exercise class to tire you out and keep your mind off things. Then, gently bring new interests into your life, whether that’s new friends, dating, personal projects or volunteering. You'll soon find that new, more positive people begin to fill the gaps in your social and personal life.

If a relationship is not easy to escape from, what can one do?

Increase your confidence

Toxic people are aware of your weaknesses. The stronger you become, the more exhausting it is for them to use you as a scapegoat for their negative behaviour.

Confront issues

Be clear that you know what’s happening and walk away from the person without entering into a dialogue with them. If somebody feels unable to argue their position, it weakens their sense of superiority and exposes their attempts at manipulation.

Reduce how much you interact

Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it on people who don't appreciate it or whose only goal is to make your life miserable.

Find a source of strength

Whether it’s a loving partner or an understanding friend, talk to someone about the situation you are dealing with and ask for support.

Report the situation

Psychological abuse is very real and should not be tolerated. If nothing seems to help the situation, have a word with your GP and get the emotional support you may need.  


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