The Science Behind Toxic Relationships
Trying to end a toxic relationship can feel exhausting.
It’s not always clear when a relationship gets toxic until we reach our tipping point.
I’ve been in toxic relationships where I was confused by my emotions.
We can often get tripped up over what we feel for the person.
Care for another can quickly blur into rescuing another.
When a relationship got toxic one of my go-to solutions in fixing the problem was “cutting people out”.
However I’d only repeat the cycle of toxicity but with a different person.
I realized that I was attracted to toxic people because of my own unhealed wounds.
There is a strange paradox to toxic relationships.
We may love the person and don’t want to feel like we are abandoning them so we stick around through it all.
However sometimes it can do more harm to our mental health than good.
Signs you are in a toxic relationship.
Dr. Sherri Carter she defines toxic relationships as:
Toxic relationships are characterized by: insecurity, abuse of power and control, demandingness, selfishness, self-centeredness, criticism, negativity, dishonesty, distrust, demeaning comments and attitudes, and jealousy
Sometimes it is hard to recognize that we are actually in a toxic relationship.
Especially when we are unconsciously repeating the same relationship patterns.
If we aren’t paying attention to the signs it is easy to slip into the familiar.
I struggled with paying attention, listening to the signs and obeying the signs.
When people show you their true colors it is their writing on the wall.
We can either choose to see them for who they are or wear our rose-colored glasses.
Think of it as the same rule for driving.
You approach a stoplight and it tells you green for go, yellow for slow down and red for stop.
I like to think the universe shows us the stoplight for the people in our lives all the time.
We can either choose to go for it, slow down in caution or stop while we are ahead.
The science behind toxic relationships.
According to science, there are many reasons why we choose to stay in toxic relationships.
In a study researchers found that “difficult people” in our lives are hard to ignore. For more reasons than one.
We either need them or simply can’t ignore them.
This usually is in the context where people have minimal freedom to choose their associates, i.e. family or co-workers.
“These are people with whom our lives are so complexly intertwined.
Many are close family whom we need and even love; others we just can’t escape. Social norms do not allow us to simply walk away from them, however much this might be tempting to do sometimes,” — says Dr. Offer.
Does that mean we are bound to stay in these relationships?
You are the writer of your story.
Some relationships in our lives will be hard to simply “cut off”.
And some really will be completely liberating and healthy to end.
There is a grey area where we will carry on relationships with certain toxic people.
However, it does not mean you have to feed into the toxicity.
Toxic people aren’t necessarily bad.
In their heart they may have good core values but are not living their life in alignment with them.
Sometimes it comes down to ignorance and lack of knowledge.
They may truly not know any better.
None of this makes it okay to be mistreated or to stay in one that can be harmful to our psychological health.
But there are some relationships that we will choose to maintain for personal reasons.
This is where you learn how to be smarter than the individual and to not take their toxic behavior personally.
How to change toxic relationships.
Changing the nature of toxic relationships means at least one person changes the system by building a healthy relationship to self.
This will change the way the relationship works.
We will either aggravate the other person because we aren’t engaging in the usual cycle of toxicity or inspire them to change.
Distance will naturally be created through new change and boundaries.
Have you ever noticed that as you grow and become a better version of yourself some people grow more distant from you?
Healthy distance is okay to have with someone who just doesn’t get it.
It doesn’t mean you love them any less but that you love yourself more.
As you become healthy, you shift and your world shifts too.