What to do when you are in a toxic relationship

Relationships influence us either for good or for bad. Toxic relationships drain and sap the energy, motivation and resources out of us and wear us out, they make us feel worse rather than better about ourselves, and they discourage us from doing the things we know we could do.

Toxic relationships often take a lot of effort, energy, and resources to maintain; they perpetually put us under pressure to live up to expectation. They de-geniunize and de-energize us, they slow us down and distract us from focusing on our goal, they take more from us than they add to our lives. Toxic relationships generally don’t allow us to grow. It’s like swimming with a drowning man, you could drown with him if you aren’t careful.

Toxic relationships also include abusive relationships. All forms of abuse whether physical, psychological or emotional are signs of a negative and toxic relationship.

So what can someone in a toxic and negative relationship do? The following steps can help us better handle the situation and make it work for our good:

  1. Define the essence of the relationship: What is the relationship about? What are you looking to achieve with the relationship? What was your intension for going into the relationship? What influenced your decision to go into the relationship in the first place? Different people go into relationships for different reasons. For some it could be to get married, for others it could be to just have a fling, and yet for some others it could be for financial or material reasons, and so on. The list is endless. Your reason for going into a relationship is what will determine how important or otherwise the relationship is to you and how you are going to handle issues pertaining to the relationship. In short, your actions will depend on what is at stake in the relationship.

  1. What is the source of the disaffection? Be specific, what is the source of the disaffection? What exactly do you not like about the relationship? What’s driving you nuts? If you don’t ascertain what isn’t going right in your relationship how do you start fixing it? The process of pinpointing what isn’t going right could also open your eyes to some positive things about your partner that you hadn’t given thought to.

  1. Communicate your disaffection: Having determined the source of the disaffection, go ahead and communicate it to your partner. There is no wisdom in keeping quiet and bearing a grudge against your partner. Even if you think you know your partner more than anyone else, and that there is no point telling them what is on your mind because it won’t change anything, still tell them anyway. You never know if that is all he needs to change. And again, you may communicate a very good message the wrong way. It matters how you communicate. How your partner would react may depend on how you communicate to them. Sadly, many people don’t know how to communicate without stepping on the other person’s nerves. To succeed in your relationship you must know when and how to communicate to your partner to get results.

  1. Talk to someone: Before you go talking to people who will take your story to the ‘gossip mills’, chose with caution. Talk to a relationship expert or councilor, or someone you respect; someone who can look you in the eye and tell you the truth in love, talk to someone more experienced than you, talk to your mentor or personal coach if you have one. Talking to someone might help take the burden off you, and could help you get advice that would help you better handle the situation. While it is not advisable to let other people take decisions for you, sometimes it is advisable to listen to advice before taking a decision.

  1. Whatever you cannot put up with in the long term, do not condone at the beginning: It’s as simple as that. Once you let something become a practice from the beginning, changing it later in the course of the relationship is always difficult. Let your partner know from early in the relationship what your values are; what you stand for and what you don’t. One of the reasons why people in a relationship fight is as a result of a conflict in their value system. Get this straightened out from the beginning and you’ve taken care of a ton of issues in the future.

  1. Take decisions devoid of emotions: Sometimes we know deep down in our hearts that we need to discontinue a relationship, or give it another shot, but we let our emotions get the better of us. Sometimes we stay in a relationship longer than we ought to out of fear or pity for the other person, and sometimes we end a relationship all too quickly because of pride and ego. We need to put our emotions in check when we are taking decisions that border on our relationships.

  1. Walk: If you are in a relationship that has the attributes mentioned at the beginning of this article, then don’t just walk, run. The earlier and the faster you run the better. I don’t understand when people say I’m hooked in this relationship; I don’t know how to walk away! The reason is simple; you haven’t made up your mind yet. The day you decide to end a relationship marks the end of that relationship. It’s that simple. All you have to do to walk out of a thorny, toxic and difficult relationship is a simple decision. Such is the power of decision making. A simple decision can change the course of your life in a whole new direction. Some decisions may seem simple, but their impact on our lives can be enormous.

What other suggestions do you have for people who are currently in a toxic relationship? Kindly let me know in the comment section.

Hilton Etakoh is the author of You Are Too Gifted to be Poor.  He covers career, creativity, entrepreneurship, and personal growth.  Twitter: @HiltonEtakoh, Facebook: @Hilton Etakoh, website: http://hiltonetakoh.com/


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