When you take the time to reflect on your relationships from the past (or even look at the one you are in now), here are some things to recognise that they were toxic/unhealthy and what you can learn from them:
1. Red Flags
Red flags are signals that there is something bad ahead. Sometimes, they are clear but sometimes, they are not.
Often, we ignore them and when we do, disasters can happen.
What might a relationship red flag look like?
Perhaps they talk about their past relationships a lot or have bad relationships with their parents.
Maybe they can’t hold down a job, use humour a lot or refuse to talk about anything difficult/serious.
On a more overt side they may even state that they are interested in a serious relationship or insists that they don’t like you to have friends of the opposite sex, or even friends at all!
Think about the red flags that you now would notice that you overlooked before and how you can avoid the relationships that bring you a world of difficulty and pain.
2. What Not to Do
Many of us have behaviours that we repeat in every relationship and are in serial toxic relationships because of it.
We can personalise things that happen in a relationship.
If they don’t answer our messages, it’s because they don’t love us.
If they come home later than they said, they don’t respect us.
If they go out with their friends rather than stay in with us, we aren’t important to them.
In some cases, this may be correct, but you need to look at the circumstances and regularity. more often than not things that people do have nothing to do with you.
So, don’t take things personally.
Another thing in unhealthy relationships is being passive aggressive.
Instead of confronting an issue head-on, you may hear snide comments on the side, clearly obstructive behaviour or silent treatment.
You may even be the one that acts out in this way.
What are the roles in your relationships, who acts in what way and what outcome is this trying to fulfil?
Unhealthy relationships rarely happen because of one person’s behaviour.
3. Enabling is not Supporting
Have you ever been in a relationship that was struggling and you tried to save it by being supportive?
Many of us, believe that if we can just support a person that the relationship will be okay.
If you are patient with your partner or hold their hands when they feel insecure, you may believe that they will need you and stay. All the while hoping that they will eventually change their behaviour.
This ‘supporting’ is really ‘enabling’ and this is not good in any relationship.
If you continue to allow, play up to or excuse certain behaviours to keep them, you are telling your partner that their behaviour is ok and they will never change.
You don’t need to people please.
If your partner makes you unhappy, stop supporting them, speak up or walk away.
4. What You Want in a Partner
One of the clearest lessons to learn from negative relationships is what it really is that you want in a partner.
Looking back now or at the toxic relationship you are in, you have decided what you no longer want from someone in a relationship, as you tell yourself this regularly.
Even as you hold on to toxic people you have decided that this just doesn’t make you happy and fulfilled.
If you are not aware yet of what you do want, consider what you don’t want and think about the opposite to this. Tell yourself often what this is and then allow it into your life.
5. Letting Go – Not Giving Up
Many clients I see will not walk away from a toxic relationship because they don’t want to appear to be failing or giving up.
But you are not giving up on something that can never make you happy, especially if the other person is not trying to change to ensure the relationship can succeed.
And if you are both trying and it is still difficult, it is clearly not meant to be.
There are various reasons why you may not walk away (I have written a couple of articles on this).
But you can walk away knowing you gave your best and that it is just one of those things that would never work.
6. Know How Strong You Are
For those of us who have experienced unhealthy relationships we know how strong we are.
You have empowered yourself by walking away, doing what was right for you.
If you had stayed you would have completely lost yourself in someone else’s stuff!
It may be sad and you may miss the relationship, but this will not last. Losing yourself and living an unfulfilled life would have.
Feel the strength from making the best possible decision for you.
7. Being on Your Own is a Positive Choice
One thing that can become clear when you are in a toxic relationship is how much better it might be to be on your own than with someone who you feel miserable with.
There is nothing worse about a relationship than day in and day out suffering.
You wake up, it’s there, throughout your day, it’s there and when you go to bed, you know it’s still there.
When you are on your own you may miss sitting together watching TV or just having someone around, but your time is your own, your mind is your own and you are not constantly thinking about what someone else needs, or what kind of mood they are going to be in.
You can do what you want, see who you want and although you may go home alone, you are not alone. You have people around that will care and you can be great in your own company.
So, remember, take a good look at all the negative relationships you’ve have had in your life and think about the lessons you have learned so that you can do things differently in the future!
You can have what you really want, you just need to decide what that is and allow yourself to have it!
Please feel free to comment or ask any questions about this article.
If you would like to know more about coaching and how it can help in relationships then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I look forward to hearing from you.