I’m now a happily married woman of 6 years and counting. The road leading up to meeting and finding my husband has been nothing but rocky and I can honestly say that it has mainly been caused by attracting a LOT of toxic people.
Before I get into any detail on how to distance yourself from such people, I’d like to explain toxicity from an ethereal point of view…keep in mind that I have used this analogy before with those close to me when asked about relationships and this has helped them navigate through their lives very well.
There are two kinds of people in a toxic relationship: The Narcissist and the Empath.
The Narcissist is a self-absorbed individual who constantly seeks approval and uses any means necessary to obtain what he/she wants. Such behavior includes manipulation, emotional/verbal abuse, playing the victim, and so on. In a relationship, the Narcissist becomes a tornado, sucking all the positive physical and emotional energy on any person he/she sets their sights on.
The Empath is an individual who tends to put the needs of others before his/her own needs. They are thoughtful, empathetic, genuinely loving people who would stop at nothing to bring happiness to those close to them.
When in a toxic situation, the Empath tends to absorb all the negative energy (physical and emotional) and is eventually brought down. These people feel a lot more than the average person and it is hard for them to rebound when being dragged down by a Narcissist.
Friends, colleagues, siblings, extended family members, and even parents can fall into either category and it’s hard to see someone close to you change drastically from a cheerful, bright person into a husk of his/her former self.
Fortunately, there is hope.
Nothing lasts forever.
Leaving a toxic relationship is never easy, but once you distance yourself for good, life will be great once again.
1. Look at the toxic person in your life and see them for who they really are
Anyone can be the toxic person in your life. It’s just a matter of gaining perspective. If you look at this person, you will start to see that the individual isn’t what he/she claims to be.
All the negative traits and qualities tend to manifest quite easily when you begin to see this person in a new light.
Think of Janus, the two-faced Roman god. A person who is toxic in your life will have two personae: the one they tend to show when they are together with you, and the more insidious one that comes out to others in your life.
When you apply this principle of Janus to the one you want to distance yourself from, whatever façade they put in front of you will be shattered and his/her true self will emerge.
2. Leaving a toxic relationship at a slow and steady pace
Leaving a toxic relationship is just as difficult as giving up a vice cold turkey. If you cut ties all at once, the toxic person is more than likely to work harder at keeping you under his/her thumb. And, like an addict looking for a fix, you will regress and fall back into the same patterns again.
Start by cutting back the amount of time you spend with this person down to one day/night a week, then gradually change it to once every two weeks. It will seem daunting at first, but if you work diligently and keep your distance slowly, the situation will slowly get into your control.
Use whatever excuse you can think of to limit the amount of time you spend with the toxic person, just make sure it’s plausible so that they won’t easily recognize your plans for departure.
Also, screen your calls and texts if you have to. It’s not a crime to choose not to associate with someone. Your life is your own and you are free to live it however you wish.
3. Talk with a counsellor or life coach
Who is more adept at reading a toxic situation better than a Counsellor or a Life Coach? Both are professionals who make it their life’s work to help you better yourself.
Keep in mind that they might have also been in similar situations, so they may have more plausible advice based on experience. I am one of many who has been affected by the wrath of a toxic person.
When I became a certified Life Coach, I chose to specialize in the elimination of toxic relationships because I had experienced far too many and wanted to help others escape its confines as well.
Basically, don’t be afraid to seek help. There are resources and people out there who can help you change things. You don’t have to go through it alone!
4. Rebel, rebel, REBEL!!!
This may seem like an episode of the Twilight Zone, but a good way to regain your own life is to stop listening to what the toxic person tells you.
The toxic individual is great at using your flaws against you, and they almost always are on the lookout for any weaknesses they can spot. Why give them the satisfaction of bringing you down?
If said person tells you that you need to grow out your hair, cut it short. If he/she tells you that they aren’t fond of tattoos and you are, get a tattoo! By rebelling against little things, you are taking power away from them, bit by bit.
Doing things your way comes with a sense of satisfaction. Besides, you have to put yourself first…your happiness is more important than a negative person who always tries to bring you down.
5. Always remember that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
The toxic person will always try to tell you that any negativity you encounter in the relationship is all your own doing. Well, they are completely and utterly WRONG!
Love is part of the human condition…and it also tends to be blind most of the time. We can’t help but be attracted to others, whether it’s a potential friend or a potential partner for life…also, we don’t choose which family we are born into.
So, how would this be your fault? You didn’t ask for this manipulative, abusive person to come into your life. As said in many television shows, Fate is a very cruel mistress.
However, it could be just as simple to blame everything on fate. You’re stuck with a person in your life who is sucking the energy out of you with his/her behavior and you feel powerless, so you place the blame on an invisible entity instead of where it truly belongs.
While you can’t help but think that it’s unfair to blame the toxic person for your troubles, it’s the right thing to do. The only thing you are responsible for is the power that you’ve given to such a person.
Lay the blame where it belongs…with the toxic person. Simply put, they are hurting you in ways you can’t imagine because it makes them feel better about themselves.
You haven’t done anything wrong, really. It’s not your fault that the toxic person is unhappy with him/herself, so don’t ever shoulder the blame for their insecurities.
Leaving a toxic relationship will never be easy, but you must be willing to put in the work. If you keep the aforementioned five steps in mind and put them to use, you will begin to see the silver lining in the storm clouds of the one who has darkened your life.
Soon, you will see the shades of gray dissipate into the inviting blue skies of the happiness you’ve been craving for so long.
Take control of your life and keep in your pursuit of happiness.