Toxic relationships can include family, friends, co-workers, intimate partners, spouses, just about anyone. Even an acquaintance. Though toxic relationships tend to seem okay on the surface, they are often destructive.
You can identify a toxic relationship with some questions. Do you tend to override your instincts? Do you find yourself in a relationship that overrides your own judgments? Do you often surrender your peace of mind to keep the peace? Do you feel obligated to someone most of the time? Do you feel you allow others to push your normal limits of loyalty? Do you feel like you can never do enough for someone else? Do you feel confused about your relationship? Do you often feel like you’re unsure of yourself after a conversation with a person?
If you are able to relate or have answered yes, chances are high you are an emotionally manipulative or toxic relationship. A relationship filled with transactions that require you to do a lot of work to prove yourself, where you set yourself up for being used for what you’re able to provide to the other person. If you’re just realizing this, don’t despair. There is a lot you CAN do and there is a lot to learn.
The First step is to notice if you’re in it. The second step is to understand how you have been managing the relationship, by involving yourself in the intricate transactions. Lastly, only you can choose to take your powers back in order to change the dynamics of the manipulative relationship. After all, once we become aware of what’s happening or what we’re doing to INVOLVE ourselves in an emotionally manipulative relationship, then we can make a change.
Manipulation is not the same as a loving, supportive relationship. The difference appears subtle, but the emotional cost is never subtle. Healthy relationships are based on mutual trust, not in creating the illusion of closeness, but true, genuine closeness. True intimacy cannot be purchased, impressed, competed for, bartered, or traded. Mutual respect is about dignity. Seeing and recognizing the dignity in yourself and others.
Have you you ever felt like a situation was awkward or overly “forced?” This is some of what happens n an emotionally manipulative relationship. Somehow the naturalness of just “being” is almost non-existent. You might say to yourself, “It seems nice, but I don’t really feel that it’s real.” Or “I just don’t get it.” The next thoughts are, “Maybe it’s just me.” This is the manipulator’s opportunity. When you know you are feeling a preference in your gut, in every bone in your body, but you find yourself going along with what seems like a harmless request. The request in fact, might even have a carrot dangling in front of it from the manipulator. “I’ll do this, offer that, if you do this for me.” The next thing you know, you have BUY-IN! Buy-in that you aren’t even aware of….nor even really needed. Somehow, it sounded good at the moment.
Healthy relationships do NOT involve nor require your emotional bankruptcy. You can learn how to identify self-abandoning behaviors that leave you feeling obligated, depleted, and shocked about how you have ended up in an emotionally manipulative relationship. Healthy relationships do not require puppet masters. You don’t have to play the game. You are free to choose all your options. You CAN become capable of a relationship that feels comfortable and safe. Where you don’t have to constantly feel the burden of feeling emotionally bankrupt to prove your love and loyalty.