How do you know when it is time to exit a toxic relationship?
Before we discuss exiting toxic relationships, let’s look at what is happening within the relationship in question.
The term ‘toxic relationship’ is a label projection.
One of the parties in the relationship is unable to see how the behavior of their partner or friend is serving them. We tend to label other people because we project our own values onto them and unwisely expect them to live according to our values. We don’t recognize and respect their values and that they will live according to their own set of values and not ours.
A relationship can become corrosive when we consistently challenge our partners. When we don’t know how to communicate what we value in terms of their values this relationship can become caustic. If we leave this relationship before learning how to communicate in their values, we are likely to recreate the pattern with someone else. It would be prudent to attempt to fire up the relationship before firing it out.
There are a few conflict resolution steps to follow prior to deciding to leave the relationship.
First, ask yourself which specific traits, actions or inactions displayed by your partner you dislike or hate the most. Be specific and objective about what they’re doing and beware of your own confirmation bias. Compose a list of all these things.
Then, look at the list one item at a time and ask yourself where you display or demonstrate the same behaviors in some same or similar form. Who experiences and sees these behaviors when you display them? It is easy to resent others for their behaviors, but in truth, they are just reminding us of the parts of our own lives that we dislike or judge and maybe too proud to own. We become blind to our own actions and would be wise to humble ourselves and look at our situation clearly before we respond.
Now, think about how these behaviors are serving you. How do you benefit from them? What are you learning? How are they strengthening you? Are they making you more independent, giving you drive, expanding your social circle or making you closer to your family? Are they helping you develop your career in some way? Often the challenges in our lives are what make us more precociously independent and entrepreneurial.
Lastly, imagine if your partner were to act in the opposite way, in the way you wish they would, what would the drawbacks be? You might wish that they could provide more and be more complimentary and then all would be “good”. However, if they did this, it may stop your growth and you may become dependent on them. You may end up stuck at home while they work and they may then control your life. We don’t often think of the consequences of the fantasy we hold on to. It’s not actually a better life; it is just a different life.
This exercise will help to crack that fantasy.
When we are angry with people, we generally display a subjective bias in how we perceive them. We accentuate the negative and minimize the positive. The truth is somewhere in the middle. We are all kind and cruel, generous and stingy etc. Your partner has balance, as do you. If you’re projecting a label onto them and calling them toxic, they will be under a constant sympathetic response and act in a retaliatory manner.
People want to be loved and appreciated for who they are
People want to be loved and appreciated for who they are and what they are is a reflection of their highest values.
If you don’t know what your partner’s highest values are or don’t respect them enough to determine them, you will have unrealistic expectations as to how they will live their lives. They can only live according to their highest values.
If you communicate with them according to their highest values when you want them to do something for you or behave in a certain way, then there is a higher probability that they will do it. When you help them get what they want, you’ll get what you want.
If you haven’t considered or mastered the action steps above, I advise that you try them. You might discover that the relationship is not as toxic as you first thought.
If, however, you truly believe you have applied these action steps and you still feel that you want to leave, do it without resentment.
Resentment will be the baggage that you take into the next relationship. Find out how your experiences in this relationship served you so that you don’t take that baggage into your next relationship.
“Anything you can’t say thank you for, is baggage, and everything that you can say thank you for is fuel.”
Don’t remain a victim of your history rather, become the master of your destiny.
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