Joshua Earle_Depression

Toxic Relationships: How to Handle Difficult People

A toxic relationship is characterized by behaviors by the toxic individual that cause us to feel used, taken advantage of or brought down. Toxic relationships are not limited to romantic ones because they can extend into our friendships and occupational relationships as well. Toxic relationships can impact our emotional well-being as well as our physical and financial well-being. Since they can manifest themselves in all parts of our lives, it is extremely important for us to understand how to best handle toxic relationships in ways that are healthy and beneficial to us.

Toxic Friendships

A toxic friendship is something that most people experience at some point in their lives. It may begin as small, unreturned favors, which may seem minor at the time. For example, lending a friend small amounts of money that go weeks or months without any sign of repayment. However, this can grow into you being taken advantage of by your friend. Small loans can add up quickly and the discomfort of having to ask a friend about repaying said loans can easily put large amounts of strain on a friendship.

Toxic Romantic Relationships

A toxic romantic relationship is often an emotionally damaging experience. When you are emotionally invested in someone in a romantic way, it can become easy to overlook or forgive poor behavior from your partner. However, allowing your partner to continue taking advantage of you is unhealthy and can lead to bigger problems down the road. Toxic romantic relationships can easily turn into emotionally abusive relationships, which is why they should be appropriately addressed or avoided altogether.

Here are some tips to handle a toxic relationship in a healthy way:

  1. Don’t allow your emotions to dictate the conversation- keeping calm will help to steer the conversation in a positive, productive direction. If you feel that you will not be able to have a calm and constructive conversation with the individual, write them a letter to start the conversation off right and ensure that your message gets across in an appropriate way.
  2. Use pointed language to address the situation- Instead of using accusatory language, asking pointed questions can help to force the individual to address the situation without you coming across as being hostile or overly aggressive. Being straightforward and saying “Hey! I’m happy I was able to help you out with rent last month, let’s set up a plan for you to pay me back” is more effective than dancing around the subject and trying to drop hints about the money you lent your friend.
  3. Minimize your involvement with the offending individual- Sometimes putting some emotional distance between yourself and the toxic individual can eliminate some of the effects this person is having on your life. Your personal relationships, especially your close ones should be mutually fulfilling and if someone is acting in a way that is emotionally draining for you, you may need to reevaluate the relationship.

Here are a few steps to help you to get out of a toxic relationship if you find yourself in a toxic relationship that you cannot find a way to salvage or resolve with the above tips:

  1. Be honest- Explaining to your friend or partner that their behavior has had a negative impact on you and has caused you to need to take a step back from them will make sure that they understand the long-term implications of their behavior and allow you to get closure and know that you did everything you could to save the friendship or relationship.
  2. Be firm- Being forgiving is one thing, but allowing toxic people to remain in your life will not serve you well in the long run. Putting yourself first is important, even if it seems selfish at times, because your mental health is deeply impacted by the people you surround yourself with. No one should be able to walk all over you and ignore your feelings and no friend or partner should to treat you poorly.
  3. Be kind- Not all toxic people are inherently bad, and they may never have intended to act maliciously toward you. Behaving in a way that ends your relationship on positive or at least neutral terms is always the best policy. Instead of blowing up at the person or speaking poorly of them to others, try to be honest and firm, but also kind in ending the friendship or relationship.

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