How to let go of a toxic relationship

Learn to recognize the signs of a bad relationship, plus how to move on and seek emotional support if you're involved in one.

By Gehna Singh

Learn how to let go of unhealthy relationships
Toxic relationships can drain your self-esteem and your energy, and isolate you from your loved ones. Perhaps you have encountered a toxic coworker or family member, or have been involved in a toxic romantic relationship.

No matter what, toxic relationships are harmful for both your mental and physical health, so it's important to recognize when you are involved in one and get help accordingly.

What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is one that makes you feel consistently bad about yourself. You may find yourself fending off subtle jabs or downright insults, dealing with unreliability or perhaps even deceit. A toxic relationship leaves you feeling anxious, unrewarded and unaccepted.

We asked Dr. Jorhdin Banner, a Toronto-based psychotherapist, for her take. "In a toxic relationship, you either end up doubting yourself or having paranoid-type thoughts about your actions and their impact," says Banner. And toxic relationships are a lot more common than you might realize.

"Unfortunately there aren't as many people who are in healthy relationships as you may think," says Banner. There are some clear signs that you are involved in a toxic relationship and, fortunately, there are steps you can take to withdraw yourself from the negative situation.

1. Don't ignore a gut feeling
We often know something is wrong far earlier then we care to admit. Perhaps an anniversary is forgotten, a friend has been dishonest with you, or your partner calls you names. "Our body will react to this," says Banner. "It's the most amazing tool we have and yet sometimes we choose to ignore it."

Start paying attention to your reactions, says Banner. How does your body react in any given moment? Are you fearful? Do you recoil? That's your body giving you some important information. "We generally like a quick and easy solution," says Banner, so we tend to sweep things under the rug when things get difficult.

2. Don't let your past cloud your judgment
All of us have our own individual filters, says Banner. "As children, we look to our parents as models of relationships. And those relationships are also influenced by cultures and personal history," says Banner. And they impact how we act in our relationships today and what we interpret as being "healthy" or "unhealthy."

Page 1 of 2 -- Start with having faith in yourself, then find more advice on how to slowly let go of unhealthy relationships on page 2



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