“Philip was the sweetest man I had ever met. He was everything I wanted in a man. At last, I found my answered prayers, I thought. It was barely two months into our relationship that I realized I had made a mistake. Philip was a control freak. He wanted to know where I was at every second, he controlled my finance, monitored my life, and worst still, he hit me at any chance.”
“I never thought this would happen to me.
“Whenever I took up the courage to confront him, he would lock me up for days. He cut me off from my loved ones and friends. He finds fault with everybody else and why they were not good enough.
“I am thankful that I left. It was not quite easy. But I ended the relationship, and I am glad I did,” explained Jovita, my neighbour.”
Ideally, no one desires to have an unhealthy relationship. As much as we can, we all work towards having a happily ever after kind of relationship where both parties are fulfilled, feels wanted, and appreciated. But the tides seem to turn sometimes, and what looked like a promising relationship becomes toxic.
“A toxic relationship negatively affects a person’s health and well-being,” says Dr Kelly Campbell, an associate professor of psychology and human development at California State University, San Bernardino.
Outwardly, a toxic relationship may look easy to identify. But it is more complicated than you think, as toxicity can be coated with traces of romance.
You may be in a toxic relationship if you are extremely careful not to say or do the wrong thing around your partner. Other signs include:
An extremely jealous partner.
An overly protective partner.
Getting angry at your progress.
Making you feel caged or worthless.
It may not be easy, but you should make healthy adjustments for your well-being and sanity.
What you can do
“If someone discovers they are in a toxic relationship, they should get the support needed to improve it or get out of it,” Campbell says. It’s vital, she points out, to begin to develop a game plan.
1. Talk to your partner about your worries
“If they are willing to see a therapist, then go to counselling together,” she says. “A good therapist can help you manage through the process, regain your self-worth, and deal with safety concerns,” Campbell added. “So, if you have access to therapy, it is highly recommended you get professional help.”
“However, if you get the needed help and discover the same patterns being repeated, you should consider ending the relationship.”
2. Let your family members and friends in about your condition, including your decision to leave
Hiding your situation from family members and friends is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Opening up to trusted people can give you the morale and support you need.
“You may need accommodation when you call off the relationship, and your family members and your network of friends can be helpful,” Campbell said. “At a minimum, they can give social and emotional support.”
3. Save money
It would be best if you had something to fall back on as you eventually leave the relationship.
“Endeavour to put away as much money as possible as you prepare for the eventual end of the relationship,” Campbell advises. If your partner has been abusive and has threatened you, take note of every instance and consider obtaining a restraining order against them.
“Restraining orders give authorities the right to search the person if the order is disobeyed, which is important for keeping you safe,” she says.
4. Work on your self-esteem
Toxic people are experts in putting people down. They could judge, disrespect and even verbally abuse you. Over time, their activities have a way of getting to you. But then, you must realize that their words do not define you, and they do not also deserve you.
“Engage in activities that you value, including exercise and time with loved ones,” she notes. “These activities will boost your self-esteem.”
Stay more around people who genuinely know your worth and say positive things about you.
5. Cut off communication with the toxic person.
“Continuous communication with a toxic partner can crumble your courage to leave,” she says. It is easier to move on when you are less in contact with the toxic partner. Although, sometimes, it is not possible to completely cut off communication.
“Sometimes it is difficult to cut off all communication, especially when children are involved. In such scenarios, keep the communication direct and brief—discuss what you must and nothing more.”
A good relationship can improve your life in many ways, just like a bad relationship can leave you heartbroken and depressed. Leaving an unwholesome and toxic relationship is a tremendously courageous and challenging step, but you can do it. Your happiness is paramount.