1) You feel exhausted or drained after spending time with them.
Someone who is toxic is typically demanding and self-centered, which can understandably deplete your energy, causing fatigue. Spending quality time with someone you are close with should make you feel energized and leave you looking forward to your next meeting.
2.) You are not able to be vulnerable or authentic in your relationship.
Always being concerned with how your actions will affect the toxic person's mood or behaviors inhibits authenticity and the ability to open up in the relationship. You may not feel like you are free to express your own thoughts and feelings without backlash.
3.) You find yourself playing the role of a therapist or a parent.
You often find yourself being responsible to care for the toxic person instead of being their partner or companion.
4.) You find yourself setting boundaries that are never respected.
The toxic person may struggle with adhering to clear physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries which you have expressed cause you discomfort or pain. This leaves you feeling disrespected, unheard, and distrustful.
5.) You feel isolated from friends and family.
The toxic person may take steps to seclude or isolate you from friends or family members, especially those who may challenge their control over your time and energy. This level of control is abusive and leaves people feeling alone, depressed, and hopeless at times.
All relationships have their highs and lows. However, a toxic relationship feels like a constant battle. It can be mentally and emotionally damaging. Toxic relationships are defined by attributes of control, fear, and deception. If you feel you may be in a toxic relationship, it may be time to re-evaluate whether the relationship is worth saving. Outside support from someone you can trust can be helpful. Individual or couples counseling can help explore patterns of poor communication and emotional immaturity for which new skills and patterns of behavior can be developed.
Couples counseling can be an opportunity to learn more about your partner, to explore relationship issues together, and to adopt mutual strategies for healthy growth. However, it will not be easy. Relationship building requires one to be emotionally prepared, self-aware, and open to change. Dedicating time for personal reflection and goal setting can be beneficial. Change is hard, but know that you are worth it!
Audrey Keeton is a licensed clinical social worker working with children, teens, and adults in Wilmington, NC. Audrey is passionate about celebrating diversity and strengths in her office. People describe her as compassionate, empathetic, and authentic in creating a welcoming environment for each client she meets. You can find out more about her by visiting her bio.
There typically comes a time in our lives where we have crucial decisions to make. Whether it’s a new job or position, learning a new hobby, or joining a new extracurricular activity, these decisions can bring up a variety of emotions and uncertainty.
Recently, I was faced with a decision to go part time at my job to grow as a professional and became licensed to teach Zumba. I remember feeling scared about what the future held and had so many questions about if I would be able to handle the change financially, what my schedule would look like, would I be “good” at my new position when there are so many other people out there who do a great job in this same area, and so many other thoughts/ presumptions that plagued my mind. During these times, if we let them, our negative cognitions will take the wheel and drive us to a place that causes us to remain complacent and not take any risks.
John Maxwell states, “If we’re growing we are always going to be out of our comfort zones.” When it comes to these big life decisions that cause us to step outside of the comfort zones in our lives, it is critical for us to have a positive mindset. We need to be able to say to ourselves, “I am enough,” “Why not me,” and “Who better than me” rather than finding the many excuses we can tell ourselves to justify why we should remain in a place where we feel safe, even though it’s not exactly where we want to be.
Once we learn to drown out the doubts with the positives, we will be able to live a life in which we feel free because we have filled up our own cup rather than listened to others about what we “should” do. We will be able to have the confidence within ourselves to know that we are truly enough and be able to state why not me for this job/ position, new hobby, or extracurricular activity. Do whatever it is you love, without hesitation, and don’t let whatever doubt comes your way ever stop you!!
If we're growing, we are always going to be out of our comfort zones." ~ John Maxwell
Crystal Fussell Guarascio is a licensed professional counselor in Wilmington, NC. Crystal works with adolescents and adults looking to manage intense emotions like anger that is causing unwanted behaviors and patterns in their daily life. Crystal is relatable and down to earth, and she loves working with people who are ready for change! Crystal also teaches Zumba and is a singer in two local bands. Learn more about her in her bio.
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Musings from the other side of the couch