What are toxic relationships and how do you end them?

What are toxic relationships and how do you end them?

Toxic Relationships

I don’t think I’ve come across anyone in my office saying that they would love to find more unhappiness in their life and how can they get more miserable. This is a good thing…we are usually trying to look for ways to find happiness in our minds, body and spirit. Trying to better ourselves to be more than we are currently. Though sometimes, to get that happiness, we need to make touch decisions about the relationships we have with others. We may all have had that truly wonderful friend that has supported us no matter what. The person we can turn to and not face judgment, someone who fills us. I want more of those people in my life because I know I’ve had the opposite. The person who just drains everything you have and then keeps wanting more. You dread when they call yet you pick up the phone anyways because that is what a “good person does.” So, did you know you really do have a choice in the matter? YOU get to decide whom you allow into your inner circle and whom you don’t. This can be hard and tricky but not everyone should be allowed into your oasis. You may be wondering, “how can I tell that person no.” Or, “They are my sister, I could never end that relationship.” I am not saying that you will never talk to this person again or that you still can’t have some form of a relationship. What I am saying is that we need to look deeper and find out if that relationship is toxic to your health. If it is, rethink what kind of relationship you would like with whoever that person is.

Your health could depend on what your next move is. Now, this process may not happen over night or even in the next month, however, you will be focusing on what you would like to happen to this relationship. Start by noticing the thoughts you have about this person. You can do this by journaling, paying close attention to what happens to your body when you are around this person, and just witnessing your overall mood when you are around them as well as away from them.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself about this particular relationship:

  • Can I make boundaries? Will they last?
  • Am I fatigued when I’m with the person?
  • Is the pain too much for things to continue?
  • Is there blaming and complaining happening too much?
  • Is what’s holding me back my fear of change?
  • Does this relationship take more energy than it gives?
  • Am I the only one that is willing to meet in the middle?
  • Do they know my problems with the relationship?
  • Do I constantly picture an alternate reality?
  • Do I miss the old me when I’m with this person?
  • Does this person apologize when they need to?
  • Do I feel like I’m never heard?
  • Is being with this person turning me into someone I’m not?
  • Does my mood change when I’m with this person or after I’ve been with this person?
  • Am I afraid of what people will think if this relationship ends?

How to say goodbye

The first thing I want you to know is that it is okay to think about this, to take your time and really figure out how this is going to work. I believe that the more dysfunctional the relationship, the more entangled and therefore, the harder it is to get out. You may need help from a therapist to really work this out and to gain perspective on the situation.

To end the relationship, you need to know a few things that will make things easier for the both of you. One, don’t play the blame game. It’s too late anyway. By pointing fingers, all you are creating is for the other person to get defensive and then “pushing” you back and you getting defensive. This is already tough enough; let’s not make it more difficult. Two, this may coincide with the first one but, don’t bring up the past. What’s done is done and leave it there. What good is going to come out of you talking about an event that happened a year ago? Is this person really going to see it now that you pointed that out (probably at least for a second time)? The answer is NO! If they were going to, it would have already happened when you brought all of this up before. Three, know what you want with the relationship. How will the relationship look in the end? Lastly, try to remember good times. In any relationship, there weren’t all bad times. Maybe the majority, but I’m sure if you really thought about it, you can remember some good times there too. So, be direct with this person. Let them know what you are doing and how this will affect the relationship. Maybe you will no longer spend one on one time with them. Maybe you will only see them on holidays with the entire family. You could be ending the relationship permanently where you will “never” see them or talk to them again. They need to know exactly what you expect from them. This isn’t always going to be neat and nice. There are going to be broken hearts, and sadness that comes to some of these endings. Just remember that you are doing this for your health!


You may be feeling like your life is going to fall apart, that you won’t be able to move on or that you have severely ruined the other person. While some of these may be true, sometimes this is what you needed to have happen in order to have a happier, more rewarding life. A life where you aren’t being drained by anyone and you feel like you are receiving as much as you are giving. You will get through this. I can’t tell you how long it will take but just remember that you are resilient, kind, intelligent, motivating, amazing, funny and WORTH IT!

How have you ended a difficult relationship?

Sometimes hearing about someone else’s courage helps us overcome our own fears.


*Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net