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Toxic relationships how do you know you are in one?

Toxic relationships come in all kinds. A toxic relationship can be a relationship with a boss, a co-worker, a friend, a parent, or a significant other. The difference between a toxic relationship and a violent relationship is that a toxic relationship is more emotional and takes place over a period of time. A violent episode is usually quick, and you recognize the hurt. Toxic relationships are often subtle. You can walk away feeling uncomfortable, and questioning themselves about how they feel. Some of the thoughts that might accompany this questioning is “What did she/he mean by what they said?”
As children we are often taught not to trust what we feel, we are taught to look towards others to validate how we feel. This sets the stage for the development of a toxic relationship. In a toxic relationship there is some kind of attachment between the people involved. This attachment can be a romantic relationship, a financial one such as an employer, or a friendship. This attachment this desire to be liked, to be respected, and to be valued is used as a tool to get what the other person wants.
The tools of a toxic person are name calling, controlling, verbal abusive, and manipulation. The name calling is often done in a subtle way often using ethnic remarks, or comparisons to others. An example would is “Lazy people read books all day” knowing that the other person likes to read one the weekends. It is coached in an all people way but is directed to the listener. Controlling is another way a relationship can be toxic. This often happens between friends, or co-workers. In one instance a friend told another friend that if she went out to the dance she would lock the door, and not let her in. A co-worker might say it has to be done this way even if it is not in policy. When the co-worker does not do it her way, she refused to talk or interact with her. These are all behaviors associated with toxic relationships.
The verbal abuse is often hidden in subtle ways, also. This often happens between couples and bosses/employees. In an employer/employee relationship it can be something like you always screw up. “Why do you have to be a screw up?” In couples it can be when one person calls the other person, a bitch, a jerk, and other names.
Manipulation is the hardest to understand when it is happening. It is not until after the fact that you realize you have been manipulated. This happens in all relationships. The easiest way to understand is when you say no, and end up doing it anyway.
Now we recognize the tools of toxic person that is used in toxic relationships, how do you remove yourself from the relationship? Wouldn’t it be easy if I could give you a magic formula or a special button that would change everything today right now? Wouldn’t be even better if I could change everyone else’s bad habits so you didn’t have to change?
It’s not that easy. You cannot change other people. There is no special formula. You have to take the time to work with a therapist. The therapist will help you create boundaries, and strengthen the ones you have. The therapist will help you work on self esteem. This means being able to feel comfortable in your skin when someone disagrees with you or dislikes you. Once you have completed these tasks recognizing a toxic relationship will be easier, and you can get out sooner.

Toxic relationships are not as easy as this to recognize.
Photo by U.S. Coast Guard/Getty Images
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