Relationships are hard work. Fights are perfectly normal, you will go through plenty of rough patches – it’s all part of the learning process and understanding how to negotiate with each other. But at what point do these arguments become more than arguments? Where is the line drawn in differentiating a ‘normal’ relationship with a ‘toxic’ relationship?
Dr Lillian Glass defined a toxic relationship in her 1995 book Toxic People as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
For licenced mediator Marja Zapusek, she knows too well about the reality of living in a toxic relationship. The 35-year old-spent five years in an abusive relationship, and has learnt from her own experience, the damage a toxic relationship can have on you – mentally, emotionally and even physically.
So how do you know if you’re in a toxic relationship? Marja explains these are the 5 signs that will help you find clarity:
1. Learn not to judge yourself
When you’re not judging yourself, it’s easier to see your own value and it also makes it possible for others to start seeing your value as well. This can give you a different perspective on your relationship and what kind of treatment you should be receiving. When you are not constantly in judgment of yourself anymore, it opens the door for other to follow that example.
2. Play with your intuition
Every situation has a feeling to it. When you’re making choices see which decision ‘feels’ lighter. If thinking about one of your options feels heavy and contracted, it might not be the best option for you.
3. Flip your relationship on its head
Look at what is working, instead of what isn’t. Seeing things from another angle can be incredibly helpful.
4. See things from your kids’ perspective
If you have kids, see if you feel happy with the example you’re setting. In my case, I knew I didn’t want my daughter to think ours was a relationship to aspire to, so I knew I had to leave. Although that might not be the case for you. Leaving is always a choice, your choice, as is staying.
5. Ask yourself questions
Ask yourself questions, without any preconceived ideas of what the answer should be. Is this situation okay for me? What will this choice create? How will that feel for me? If I leave, what will my life be like? What will my life be like if I stay? Will I feel sadness or relief? Don’t try and force answers, pay attention to what comes up in your thoughts.
You can also ask your partner if the way they are being or functioning right now is the example they would like to set for their children, and the choices they make in regards to relationships in the future. The same question might also apply for you.
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