Toxic relationships are those that sap you of energy, like being chewed and spit out. There are various reasons people hold on to toxic relationships and sometimes the process of becoming disentangled is harder than it was to get involved in the first place.
But just a toxic substance is poison to your body, toxic relationships are poison to your soul.
Let’s look at some strategies on how to detect a potential toxic relationship:
- Don’t expect people to change. People can make changes over time, especially if they work at. But it is a mistake to let yourself be attracted to a person’s potential rather that what you see in front of you today.
- Do get to know the person on a deep level. Conversations on serious topics often reveal the person’s character. If you can get a sense of this early on, it will be easier to avoid getting involved.
- Do study the person’s history. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. It is very tempting to think “things will be different with me.” But they won’t. Chances are the same issues that presented themselves in the past will recur even it if takes a different form. For example, unless a person undergoes a major intervention (such as professional help) to overcome anger, they will continue to be angry with you.
- Do check for signs of manipulative behavior. Manipulative and controlling behavior is a norm in many toxic relationships. Some people need to control to feel validated. One classic sign of manipulation is heavy use of if-then statements. “If you really cared about me, you would do [fill in the blank].” If you find yourself often being drawn to do things you don’t want to do and/or feeling guilty about it, you’re probably being manipulated.
- Do keep a list of qualities to evaluate in a potential partner. This is a good exercise that may help you get a handle on what type of people you attract or pursue. It’s best to downplay superficial attraction and focus on personality or specific traits. Unlike looks, attitudes are harder to shape.
The most obvious application of these strategies is with romantic relationships. But toxic friendships and acquaintances also negatively impact our quality of life. Work to eliminate all toxic relationships. It will be a gradual process, but can reap great rewards in achieving a peace of mind.