Humans are social animals. In order to satisfy the needs he has to enter into relationships with his fellow beings. Needs may be physical, emotional or financial. If the needs can’t be satisfied there will be a break in relationships. In every relationship people usually adjust and compromise certain aspects of their life personality because they want so much for it to work. Perhaps some relationships do not work. Some couples move apart. Some friendships turn sour. All these happen when people consider relationships as ownership. In such cases it is really hard to conduct a healthy relationship. The love or harmony cannot flow if only one person has control over all and not treating the other as equal. We should change the mindset that relationships are not ownership yet it is a partnership. The reality is that relationships are easy if we accept it as a partnership or as a team, based on mutual respect, caring and helpfulness. Harmonious relationships can reduce stress and have been connected to overall health.
Studies have proven that those who have healthy social relationships have 50% greater likelihood of survival. There are a lot of factors to a healthy relationship. If the partners have the knowledge of understanding emotions and their subsequent behavioural outcome, then relationship would flow with happiness and success. One who considers and understands the emotions can be able to predict the needs of themselves and their partners. Relationships are all about feelings. Good relationships have both positive and negative feelings. No relationship is perfect. Disagreement and arguments occur in the best of relationships. What matters most is how we handle those arguments and imperfections of the other person. In every relationship we feel the highs and lows. Sometimes the strongest relationships are the ones where you cannot see colours and glitters. In fact some relationships are toxic. Research points to the fact that relationships are characterised by lots of conflicts have a negative impact on health. These negative relationships are referred to as “toxic”. Any relationship can be toxic like colleagues, friends, relatives, parents, spouse, etc. Here are some characteristics of toxic relationships.
- Always put you down: Some people put you down because they are trying to convey the shortfalls so you can do better. Constructive criticisms are good for a person to grow. On the other hand some people constantly put you down without any reasons. They are toxic.
- Always attempt to control you: Some people want to control everything and everyone around them. They will take control over where you should go, whom you should interact with and other things that are important to you. In short they want to be in charge of what you do, what you say and even what you think. Be alert with these types of people.
- Rarely apologize: Toxic people rarely apologize because they always feel that they are right. They refuse to see other points of view entirely and ensure that their side of an argument is the right.
- Rarely see others as equals: They often think they are the smartest person in the room. They criticise you in public and ridicule you every chance they get and later say “it was all in fun” or “learn to take it as a joke”. Always remember a well-wisher would laugh with you and not at you.
- Never appreciate: They always try to minimize other people’s accomplishments, success or happiness. They feel indignant and resentful instead of noticing other people hard work to attain their success.
- Burst with anger: Constant anger is a sign of toxic relationship. Expressing anger by raising the voice or using abusive words or physically making harm is not healthy.
- Giving silent treatment: keeping silence is a sign of toxic relationship. Without communication there is no relationship period.
It is easy to say that one should always stay away from toxic people. Sometimes it cannot if it is present in those we care about. Ending the relationship may be painful, particularly if you have a long history with the person. So it is important to identify whether these characteristics are present in those people or even in ourselves and how to rectify it.
How to turn a toxic relationship to a healthy one
- Accept & understand that the whole person is not toxic, rather their behaviour is toxic or your relationship with the person is toxic
- If you cannot tolerate, taking a short break from the relationship and following no contact rule for 3 or 4 weeks. This helps both parties to think about when things started going wrong and what is your mistake for turning the relationship toxic.
- If there are faults on your side, accept it but don’t take the blame of the other person’s emotions and reactions when it is not your fault.
- Talk to the person about your love, needs, and feelings which hurt in an assertive way.
- Set and maintain boundaries. This helps to protect yourself from their unhealthy behaviours.
- Focus to build up your support system by developing strong relationship with friends, family members, colleagues and neighbours
- Focus on your ‘me’ time. Practice self-love and care a priority. People who have self-love tend to know what they think, feel and want.
- Be patient. It takes time to change one’s behaviour. If things are going well, do not expect 100% change in the person. Accept that every person in this world is unique.
If the person’s toxic behaviour doesn’t change or the relationship is just too toxic for you it is time to meet a counsellor. Counsellor can help the people to fix their relationship difficulties by expressing the care and concern towards the person. Through different sittings they can facilitate a person’s personal growth and positive change through self-understanding.