When is it Time to End a Toxic Relationship?

September 22, 2015

We all like to think that “love conquers all” and when things go wrong in a relationship, we must continue to work at it and stick with it. Although this can be true, there comes a point when putting work into a relationship becomes detrimental. This is when a relationship can become toxic. This is when one begins to live in a state of sadness, anxiety, tears, suspicion, distrust, and other difficult feelings and emotions.

So, the questions stands: when it is time to end a toxic relationship?

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

All too often, people stay in relationships that are unhealthy and toxic for them. These relationships can become what most call ‘toxic’. Toxic relationships can involve one person doing everything in their power to stay with the other person and do whatever it takes to make things work, which can be very draining. This may include forgiving their significant other over and over for the same mistakes (i.e., infidelity), being treated in a lesser way than they deserve and are worth, living in a state of anxiety and sadness due to their partner being inconsistent and untrustworthy.

What some don’t realize is that toxic relationships can affect you not only emotionally, but also mentally and physically.

In terms of physical effects, those in toxic relationships can cry more often and feel a higher level of stress. As such, the body begins to activate more cortisol (also known as our stress hormone), leading to elevated levels of stress. Higher levels of stress can cause individuals to cope in negative ways such as drinking more, eating more unhealthy foods, engaging in risky behavior, withdrawing from people, and feeling a constant state of sadness and lowness. It can also affect the immune system, the digestive system, and one’s heart rate – all dangerous for the human body in high levels. Mentally, toxic relationships can have a very negative effect. It can lead to severe levels of depression, anxiety, and overall mental instability. It can also cause lower self-esteem and self-confidence, which can negatively affect an individual’s psyche. One can begin doubting themselves, blaming themselves, and having other damaging, negative thoughts.

Counseling, whether it is couples, marital, or individual, can be a helpful tool to people in this situation. This can provide a safe space for one to express their concerns or allow two people to be heard when they are usually not heard. However, if a relationship feels as though one person lacks empathy, cannot and will not listen to the other when they would like to express their feelings and thoughts, or if one individual is holding back another, it may be time to end this toxic relationship. Ending a relationship is never easy. It can be a difficult transition and adjustment, but in the long-run this can greatly benefit the individual struggling the most in the relationship.

Always remember: it is important to listen to your inner voice and take care of yourself!

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