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Toxic Relationships: How to Handle Them

Ione Stevens obtained her bachelor's degree in English in 2016. She is now a library assistant for Stratford University.

No matter where you are in life, there will always be someone who will bring you down. Their actions/words could be bluntly obvious OR they could be subtle to the point where you barely even notice. Also, it doesn't matter who they are. It could easily be a co-worker you rarely associate with, a significant other you've dated for quite some time, or your best friend since high school. Regardless of who they are and what their place is in your life, one of these people are going to be toxic. However, it's up to you to decide how to handle it!

Toxic Partner Syndrome

Toxic Partner Syndrome: When the couple fails to successfully communicate on any and/or all issues that arise within the relationship. One of them (or both) will either use The Cold-Shoulder Method, The Manipulative Treatment, or The It's-Always-About-Me Trick. Regardless, all of these are toxic and they don't create real solutions.

When couples are deemed toxic, it can be very difficult to put the harshness to a minimum. In a romantic relationship, you have to be open and willing to compromise with your significant other. Communication REALLY is important! The more you are honest and up-front with your feelings and/or opinions, the more you will grow as a couple.

However, for example, if you are in a toxic relationship and your partner is the one who is unable to communicate, there are a few ways to change that:

  1. Ask them why they won't communicate with you. This is always the easiest one to do. Hopefully, your lover will see that you want to find a solution together and it will encourage them to put aside their negativity. Sometimes this option doesn't work, which leads you to the next one.
  2. Give them some space to breathe. In some relationships, the significant other communicates better and more efficiently when they have cooled down for a bit. It gives them the opportunity to think things over with no pressure. Usually they will return with a level mind and ready to discuss. However, with some, giving them space doesn't always cool them down. In fact, it could actually affect them in a completely different way.
  3. Present an ultimatum. I know that some people may think that this is a form of manipulation, but actually, it's not if you are completely honest through and through. Give your partner an option. State that if they are unwilling to communicate, then the relationship should come to an end. The ultimatum may actually work and they will be more inclined to communicate better with you. In some cases, unfortunately, your lover will not budge. They will be adamant in their opinions and stick to their side of the table. However, it's possible that ultimatums will cause them to be even more defensive.
  4. Call it quits. It's important to not lose yourself and what you stand for in the midst of a relationship. If your partner is doing everything in their power to make you feel guilty for not being on their side, then YOU DESERVE BETTER! Romantic relationships are about compromises and finding that happy medium. If they don't want to communicate and you've done all you can, then move on.

Toxic Friend Syndrome

Toxic Friend Syndrome: When two friends, whether they are close or not, are constantly fighting about everything. These so-called fights could include backstabbing, he said-she said bulls***, jealousy, and many other dramatic acts. Unlike relationships, it can be rather easy to bond with someone to form a strong friendship. When there are no romantic feelings involved and you get along with someone really well, it is much more comfortable to freely be yourself. True friends do not judge you for who you are as a person. They support you, stand up for you, encourage your passions, and understand you in a way that others might not. Friendship is a beautiful thing to have and it can be an absolute waste if it were ruined by toxicity. Here are a few ways to handle a toxic friendship:

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  1. Confront the wrongdoings. No matter who did or said what about the other friend, it is ALWAYS respectful and wise to handle the issue head-on. For example, if Sally was spreading rumors about you among your group of friends, the worse thing you could do is feed into it. Instead of adding fuel to the fire, just talk to Sally one on one. You don't need an entourage to witness your falling out. Communicate with Sally and figure out what the real issue is. If this fails and she refuses to talk to you, then let's move on to the next option.
  2. State your feelings, regardless. Many friendships fall short because neither knew how their actions affected the other person. So to avoid this, just tell Sally how her actions/words made you feel. Sometimes your friend may not realize how bad they have hurt you. When mistakes are made, it's easier to feel ashamed and to distant yourself from your friend. So if you tell her how hurt you are, Sally may be open to talk. If this doesn't incline her to communicate with you and she does not acknowledge your feelings, then it's time for the last option.
  3. Cut ties and move on. If your friend hurts you and feels no remorse for their wrongdoings, then they were never your friend to begin with. As much as it may suck, moving on is the BEST option for you. No matter where you are in life, you deserve to have someone in your corner. If that person continues to harm you, they are not worth your valuable time!

Toxic Stranger Syndrome

Toxic Stranger Syndrome: When someone you barely know or possibly don't know at all, never has a positive thing to say. These people will either approach you at school or at work with nothing but negative things to report. Such strangers can also be found within your own circle of friends and/or family. At some point, you will enter a conversation with a toxic stranger and you'll immediately feel down.

The gist about toxic strangers is that they probably don't realize how negative they actually are. 9 times out of 10 they are just talking to HEAR themselves b**** and moan! It's important to watch out for toxic strangers because if they talk to you for too long, they will grow comfortable. When someone listens to their negative banter, they are thinking you're a fellow complainer and that there is a possibility you two COULD be friends. For the love of God, do one of the following options to avoid socializing with the Toxic Stranger:

  1. Try to change the subject. Toxic strangers are known to complain about everything. Usually, their stories don't have a happy ending and their debates are known to be offensive as well. So to refrain from falling into these discussions, try speaking in positivity. It is never the wrong time to say something nice or even funny to lighten a dreadful conversation. Sometimes this option can work, but it may only last until the toxic stranger finds something else to b**** about.
  2. Kindly excuse yourself. I have found that it's best to leave a negative conversation than to participate in it. You have every right back away and to find someone else more interesting to socialize with. This option does work wonders, but if the toxic stranger is still around, it can be hard ignore them.
  3. Say your goodbyes and leave. I know what you're thinking. Why leave on the account of one person? Well, in some situations, that toxic stranger is aware that they are annoying you. When this becomes obvious and you know that they are purposely trying to bother you, it's just best to leave. Leave on a positive note, say your goodbyes with a hug and a smile, and promise to see the people you like again soon. Now, it's up to you if you'd like to say goodbye to the toxic stranger. Based on what I've learned, not giving them any of your time and energy sends them the message that you don't care much for their company. And there's nothing wrong with that!

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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