Valentine’s Day is a time for many to celebrate their relationships, express love and care, and cherish these important bonds, whether romantic or not. However, not all relationships should necessarily be celebrated in the same way. While some may use Valentine’s Day to look at how their relationships have positively impacted their life, others may look at their relationships and recognize the need for change. Determining if a person is in a toxic relationship is crucial for each person’s mental and emotional health.
Further, recognizing the elements of a toxic relationship and using them to gauge each person’s relationships can empower them to make necessary changes or distance themselves entirely from these relationships to establish a healthier life.
What Are Toxic Relationships?
A toxic relationship can take many forms and thus can be difficult to identify. In general, a toxic relationship is any relationship where one individual actively harms another, either physically, mentally, or emotionally, and is characterized by an imbalance of power within the relationship or where one person’s happiness comes at the expense of their partner.
However, some toxic relationships may see both partners being actively antagonistic toward each other, compromising the well-being of both people. Even with the detriments that toxic relationships present, it can still be difficult for many to distance or remove themselves from these relationships for a variety of reasons, with professional support, as well as the support of friends and family, being necessary to identify and exit toxic relationships.
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Signs of a Toxic Relationship
Valentine’s Day should be a day of celebrating relationships. However, it is also when an individual may recognize some uncomfortable truths about their relationship. While non-toxic relationships are by no means perfect, fairy-tale situations, recognizing potential elements of toxicity can be a reason to meet with friends, family, or professionals to discuss these relationships and how they may impact a person’s mental and emotional health.
Some of the potential signs of a toxic relationship include:
- Frequent arguing or pervasive accusatory language
- Using belittling language that compromises self-esteem, either through insults or gaslighting techniques that cause a person to think less of themselves
- Manipulative behaviors, such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and more
- Overly critical comments or criticism in what should be celebratory situations
- Pervasive feelings or expressions of disrespect or distrust
- Controlling behaviors, from controlling where someone is going to what they wear, eat, say, and more
- Ineffective communication or a lack of trust makes it difficult to address concerns or problems
- Cheating, or a cycle of cheating, followed by love bombing and repeated lack of loyalty
- One-sided power dynamics, either through controlling language or controlling others by other means, such as through financial control
A relationship does not have to express all of these traits to be considered toxic, and noticing even a few signs or repeated expressions of these signs can indicate that change is necessary or that an individual would benefit from ending this relationship.
Toxic relationships can leave a person physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and many may feel as if they have to tip-toe around their partners not to cause drama, cause a reason to begin an argument, or otherwise upset them. Feeling this way, or as if an individual is being overly controlled or isolated from their personal friends, family, or even hobbies, are all signs of a toxic relationship.
The Effects of a Toxic Relationship
Toxicity in a relationship can be exceptionally difficult to get away from, especially when coupled with feelings of isolation or an imbalance of power. Reaching out for help or even talking critically about one’s partner can be difficult, either through fear of repercussion or the prevalent effects of gaslighting causing an individual to blame themselves rather than the actions of their partner.
This can even develop into compromised emotional well-being or mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression due to trauma, while others may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the toxicity, exhaustion, stress, PTSD, and more, especially if their support networks have been compromised or made difficult to access. As a result, pervasive mental health disorders can further introduce challenges, and addiction and substance use disorder (SUD) can also develop, further necessitating the need for professional treatment programs in Hawaii to help address the effects of these relationships.
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The Role of Treatment
While unfortunate, if an individual feels they are dreading the upcoming Valentine’s Day or their relationship due to concerns of toxicity, reaching out for help can be paramount. For many, talking to a professional at Hawaii Island Recovery, even over the phone, can help an individual validate their experiences, determine the toxicity of their relationship, and explore options for taking the next step.
Professional treatment programs at Hawaii Island Recovery are curated to the needs of each individual, addressing not just the mental health disorders and substance abuse that can manifest as a result of the emotional turmoil brought about by these kinds of relationships but also feelings of distrust, trauma, and more. This will ensure that their next relationships and next Valentine’s Day can be filled not with dread or fear but instead with a healthy approach to whatever kind of relationships a person has to celebrate.
Valentine’s Day can be a stressful time, and those navigating the complexities of personal relationships and toxic relationships may not be able to approach the holiday with positivity and peace. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the complexities of these relationships and how they can have significant effects on your mental, emotional, and even physical health. Our dedicated treatment programs in Hawaii can be customized to your needs and goals, addressing not just the use of drugs or alcohol or mental health disorders but also the complex web of influences, situations, and experiences that make up each individual’s situation. For more information on how we can help you take the first step toward healing, call us at (866) 390-5070.