Hurtful and harmful—with the potential of turning into an abusive situation—toxic relationships are often physically and emotionally draining. In such a scenario, one tends to lose self-confidence, self-worth, and the behaviour of the partner can make even the most 'psychologically sound' person feel 'crazy' in many ways. In short, a toxic relationship adversely impacts a person's mental health and well-being.
But before we tackle how to get out of this unhealthy situation, let's break down the telltale signs that suggest you are in a toxic relationship in the first place. According to Dr Roma Kumar, Counselor, Emotionally. in, "Toxic partners implement their behaviour in slow, subtle ways. It may begin with a small critique such as, "Why do you need to talk to your parents' so often?", and over time, may manifest into control and isolation, such as, "I don’t like you mixing with your friends" or "Why did you wear a dress to the party?". While some signs of a toxic relationship are more obvious—including physical abuse, repeated infidelity, and inappropriate sexual behaviour—others can be harder to detect—this could include disrespect, dishonesty, or controlling behaviour. Many times denial, guilt, or shame are at the forefront and used as manipulation."
Now that you can probably gauge whether you are in a toxic relationship or not, Dr Kumar delves into the ways you can deal with these red flags.
Establish Healthy Boundaries
While it is important to create boundaries in every relationship, it becomes critical in toxic relationships. "Boundaries are an effective way to set the standard for what type of behaviour, respect, and reciprocity is expected in the relationship. They can also help identify red flags, warning behaviour, improve communication, release shame/blame, and help detach from situations or people who make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Setting appropriate boundaries is a great way to make you feel more secure, heard, and will consequently help increase your self-esteem as well. Encouraging clear communication, this way you can speak from your heart and will be heard by your partner, who may make changes if they are willing, and vice versa," explains Dr Kumar.
Engage in Endorphin-Releasing Activities
Try to speak to your partner about what has been bothering you in the relationship or their behaviour towards you. Apart from that, consider indulging in activities that you value, and give you a purpose—such as physical exercise, spending time with your loved ones, dancing, singing etc. All these activities will help boost your self-esteem and self-worth and will help you de-stress and relieve pain.
Detach From Your Partner and Prioritise Yourself
"Understand that detaching from a toxic partner doesn’t suggest that you don’t love or care for them. Instead, you are choosing to prioritise your own needs and emotional health, and there is nothing wrong with it. You must also learn to say 'no' if and when required. Learning to use the word 'no' if the occasion calls for it is a powerful tool and will enable you to make the best decision for yourself. This way, you will be able to shift focus on self-care and will decline invitations from others, especially when you feel uncomfortable," adds Dr Kumar.
Consider Seeking Professional Help
If you are unable to cope with the situation, consider consulting a professional. A psychologist can help you address your fears surrounding loneliness and will guide you to the path towards healing. Rethinking the dynamic in your relationship and empowering yourself along the way is an important step to freeing yourself from an unhealthy, deleterious relationship.
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