No one gets into a relationship or a friendship expecting it to be toxic, but sometimes things can creep up on us before we know it. A toxic relationship can be incredibly damaging to our mental health, often leaving us feeling drained, anxious, and depressed. If you’re in a toxic relationship, it’s important to take action to protect your mental health. The good news is that, with the proper support, you can heal from the damage that has been done.
What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship makes you feel alone, trapped, and like you’re losing yourself. It’s a relationship that is harmful to your mental health. A toxic friendship can be just as damaging to your mental health as a toxic family relationship or a toxic marriage.
Emotional manipulation and narcissistic abuse are at the core of many toxic relationships. Mental health is negatively impacted. Emotional manipulation can make you feel alone and lost. It can be hard to trust yourself when someone has constantly been gaslighting you and toying with your emotions and mental health. As a result, you might feel like you’re not good enough or that you’ll never be able to make it on your own.
In toxic spousal relationships and even friendships, one person will usually try to control and isolate the other. If you’re experiencing these things, it’s important to reach out for help. Don’t suffer in silence. Your mental health is important.
Emotional abuse and manipulation are never the victim’s fault. You deserve to be treated with respect and love. No one has the right to control or manipulate you, or ruin your mental health.
Signs that you may be in a toxic relationship
If you feel like you may be in a toxic relationship, here are some signs to look for:
– You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around the other person.
– You feel like you’re constantly being criticized or put down.
– You feel like you can’t be yourself around the other person.
– You feel trapped and like there’s no way out.
– You feel like your mental health is suffering because of the relationship.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to a therapist, a friend, or a family member who can support you. Toxic relationships can be detrimental to mental health.
Common types of emotional manipulation
Emotional manipulation is a form of coercion that can be difficult to identify. It often involves one person making another person feel alone, guilty, or powerless to get what they want. This can happen in personal relationships and also on the job.
One common tactic is called “gaslighting.” This is when someone denies or questions your reality to make you doubt yourself. For example, a gaslighter might tell you that you’re being paranoid if you confront them about boundary issues like going through your phone or other private things. Or, they might say that you’re overreacting when you feel hurt by something they said. Gaslighting can be very confusing and frustrating, and it can make you feel like you’re losing your mind.
Another common tactic is called “guilt-tripping.” Guilt-tripping is a subtle and deceptive approach that makes people feel bad about themselves.
It’s not a terrible thing to convey hurt or anger at someone else’s behavior, but it becomes an issue when someone becomes passive-aggressive and manipulative about it.
Other means of manipulation can look like:
- Making you feel obligated to them
- Acting upset but refusing to tell you why
- Indirectly expressing negative sentiments about you
- Portraying you as a bad partner, friend, etc., to others and then making comments like “Even Jane thinks you’re too sensitive!”
- Withholding affection as punishment
- Passive-aggressive behavior
If you’re being emotionally manipulated, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault. No one deserves to be treated this way.
How to heal from the trauma of a toxic relationship
It’s not always easy to walk away from a toxic relationship. You may have invested so much time and energy into the relationship that you can’t imagine your life without the other person. Maybe you’re worried about being alone, or you don’t want to give up on the idea of having a happy, healthy relationship.
Staying in a toxic relationship will not do you any good. It’s important to remember that you deserve to be happy and healthy. If you’re in a toxic relationship, here are some steps you can take to heal the trauma:
-Talk to someone who can help: whether it’s a therapist, counselor, or trusted friend, talking to someone about what you’re going through can be incredibly helpful. This person can provide you with support and guidance as you heal from the trauma of your toxic relationship.
-Identify your feelings: it’s important to get in touch with the emotions you’re feeling. Acknowledge that you’re hurt, angry, sad, etc. Don’t try to bottle up your feelings or pretend everything is okay.
-Focus on taking care of yourself: During this time, it’s important to focus on taking care of yourself. This means eating healthy, getting exercise, and doing things that make you happy.
-Give yourself time: healing from the trauma of a toxic relationship doesn’t happen overnight. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to heal.
Moving on after a toxic relationship
First, it’s important to build up your self-esteem. This will help you feel better equipped to handle emotional manipulation when it happens.
One way to build self-esteem is by setting goals and working towards them. Accomplishing small tasks and seeing results can help increase your confidence and make you feel good about yourself. Another way to improve self-esteem is by spending time with positive people who will support and encourage you.
Avoid negative influences, such as people who are critical or judgmental. Instead, surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and help you reach your goals.
Second, try to avoid contact with the other person. If that’s not possible, avoid getting into arguments or engaging with them. Likely, they will just try to gaslight you or make you feel guilty.
One way to deal with a toxic person in your life is to implement the “gray rock method.” This means that you essentially become a dull, uninteresting person in their eyes. You don’t give them any emotional reactions; you don’t get angry or defensive; you just become a gray rock.
The goal is to make yourself so uninteresting to the toxic person that they eventually move on and leave you alone. It can be a difficult method to stick to, but it can be very effective in getting rid of toxicity in your life.
Finally, take care of yourself physically and emotionally by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. When you feel good about yourself, it shows in your appearance and attitude, boosting your self-esteem even more.
If you or someone you know is in an emotionally abusive relationship, please seek help from a professional or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7423).
If you’re in a toxic relationship or friendship and you need help navigating ways to remove yourself from the situation, call Serene Health. We offer a variety of behavioral health and mental health services and will be happy to walk you through the steps you need to get your mental health back on track. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit us at www.serenehealth.com to book an appointment.