I am a lifestyle enthusiast. I believe that with few positive changes in lifestyle we can improve the quality of our life and health.
We share everything with our close friends, but certain healthy boundaries have to be maintained—especially as far as their personal life is concerned. There is a certain line which cannot be crossed unless it is absolutely important.
My friend Rita, normally a happy person, became sad and was always lost in her thoughts. She rarely had a smile on her face. We had been close friends since our school days and shared everything with each other. Lately, she hadn't been speaking much and was often unavailable. I was starting to worry about her.
I knew she had relationship problems that she did not want to discuss with anyone. She turned defensive when I asked her about them. She said she could sort things out by herself and did not want to bother anyone. It was painful for me to see my best friend go through this stuff. It was then that the idea of an intervention occurred to me.
A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dream, or your dignity.
— Mandy Hale
What Is a Toxic Relationship?
A toxic relationship in one in which there is constant conflict, jealousy, and competition. They do not support each other, but rather try to undermine or cause harm to one another. The term was first coined by Dr. Lillian Glass, in her 1995 book Toxic People. Dr. Glass is a communication and psychology expert based in California.
Characteristics of a Toxic Relationship
No relationship is perfect, and relationship ups and downs are normal. But when there is consistent unpleasantness and when negative moments far outweigh the positive moments, it is categorized as a toxic relationship. Such relationships are mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically damaging to one or both parties, according to Dr. Kristen Fuller, a renowned mental health specialist based in California. There is often a lack of trust, lying, and controlling behavior in the relationship.
What Are Red Flags in a Relationship?
Dating psychologist Madeleine Mason Roantree defines a red flag as “something a partner does that indicates a lack of respect, integrity, or interest towards the relationship”.
Some of the major red flags in a relationship according to Dr. Jill Weber, a Washington-based clinical psychologist, are:
- Lack of communication
- Lack of trust
- Controlling behavior
- Abusive behavior
- Wanting different things
- Not being able to be your true self
- Friends and family don’t approve
- Possessiveness, jealously, and a bad temper
In my friend's case, all the parameters seemed to match. I felt an intervention was needed to save her from the negativity of the toxic relationship. When I asked her about all the red flags, she confirmed my fears.
Read on to learn how I helped her.
It's Important to Be Direct
I thought that there was no point in beating around the bush when I knew my friend was going through something difficult. I told her straight away that I needed to talk to her about something concerning her life. At first she was taken aback and started saying everything was fine and she was alright. I assured her that I did not want to interfere but felt the need to help her by just talking to her about it. I was intending to give her any advice or lecture her about anything. I assured her that it was just a friendly chat.
Stick to the Point
I decided to be precise and on point. A lengthy conversation with ifs and buts would not solve the problem. Someone who is upset can take in only so much information at a time, especially negative information. I told her my main concern about the issue and gave her time to respond. When her response was favorable, I continued the conversation.
Be a Good Listener
I knew that the first and foremost rule of intervention was not to be aggressive but rather sympathetic. I realized that being aggressive would only push her away. The best thing I did was listen to her story patiently. I did not push my beliefs onto her, but rather shared experiences from my own life.
I made her understand how, since I didn't ignore red flags in my past relationship, I was able to get out before things got really bad. I allowed her to to come to her own realization naturally, and never once suggested that she break up with her partner. I assured her that I would always be there for her, no matter what the situation.
Remove yourself from people who treat you like your time doesn’t matter like your feelings are worthless, or like your soul is replaceable
— S. Mcnutt
Boost Her Self-Image and Self-Worth
My friend's morale was down because of the relationship problems. The constant negativity and frequent fights had broken her confidence. I tried to lift her spirits by boosting her ego, reminding her of all her achievements. I comforted her by saying that this was just a phase that would pass eventually.
Facing constant criticism and blame can cause a severe dent in someone's self-image. I tried everything possible to boost her self-esteem. I encouraged her to have confidence in herself and reminded her that no matter what anyone thought of or felt about her, she should always know her worth and not believe in others' opinions about her.
Listen to Their Reaction Patiently
At first, she tried to brush it off completely. I realized that she was in denial and was very uncomfortable. She kept repeating that I wouldn’t understand so let it be. The key is to not judge or react to your friend’s response.
I was patient and heard her out, giving valuable input whenever necessary. I was neither judgmental nor critical about the situation. I advised her to read books and watch movies that deal with the subject so that she could check for similarities to her situation. I advised her that the psychological trauma that she'd been subjected to could affect her physical and mental health.
If It Doesn't Work the First Time, Try Again Later
The first time I spoke to her, I did not seem to get through to my friend. But I did not worry. I gave her some time to heal and tried to talk about it again after a few days. The second and third conversations are often more crucial than the first.
I checked on her regularly, lest she develop depression. I knew that she would give in and talk to me about everything and start sharing relevant bits of information. Whatever it was she was going through, I did not pressurize her to divulge any more information than she was comfortable sharing. When she saw me as someone she could trust, she started to confide in and shared her problems with me. The most important aspect of an intervention is to not judge your friend. Do not approach them aggressively. If you do, they may be unwilling to talk.
I was able to convince her to consult a counsellor because only a professional can be truly unbiased and non-judgmental and help find solutions to such problems. I am glad that my intervention helped my friend and she was able to make a decision.
It’s better to be healthy alone than sick with someone else.
— Dr. Phil
Is It Possible to Mend or Fix a Toxic Relationship?
It is possible to mend a toxic relationship, but only when each partner is keen on trying to make it a healthy relationship. Here are some tips for mending a toxic relationship:
- The relationship should be mutually beneficial for it to remain healthy.
- Both partners must be willing to see a therapist or counsellor.
- The partners must be willing to forget the past and make a fresh start at a healthy relationship.
- They each should have compassion for each other and support each other at all times.
- They should give ample space for each other to heal and grow mentally, emotionally, and physically.
- Good communication is the key to a healthy relationship and should be practiced.
- Both parties have to work towards winning each other’s trust back.
- It helps to be honest with each other and discuss the expectations each has of the other.
- Each should keep up with their own interests and hobbies without infringing on the other's interests.
- Both parties should ardently follow the advice given by a therapist. A skilled professional in the field can provide new solutions by analyzing the challenges faced by the couple.
Relationships are categorized as toxic when there is a lack of trust, controlling behavior, and frequent lying. They often involve one partner dominating and belittling the other, refusing to work on the relationship. Toxic relationships can be healed only when the partners are willing to adjust their behavior and strive toward making it work.
If allowed to continue, there's a chance that the relationship could turn unhealthy and abusive. When there is violence of any sort, be it physical, emotional, or sexual and when one partner is forced to live a life lacking in human dignity, it is termed as abusive relationship.
It is up to an individual to recognize the red flags early on and seek intervention. They must decide whether to continue with the relationship or end it. Abuse of any sort should never be condoned. A person in an abusive relationship should seek immediate help.
When a person is in an abusive relationship, it is best to seek help and make a plan to leave before it is too late. When we see that someone we love is in an unhealthy relationship and feel that they are prone to danger—whether with the risk of self-harm or harm from another person—it is best to alert the authorities, even at the cost of displeasing your friend and making them feel betrayed. Saving a life is far more important than anything else.
- Toxic Relationships: Signs, Help and What To Do | Time
How to tell if you're in a toxic relationship with a romantic partner, friend or family member and what to do about it.
- 38 Signs of a Toxic Relationship and Tips For Fixing It
The idea of toxic relationships gets thrown around a lot, but what actually makes a relationship toxic? Learn how to recognize the signs and build a healthier relationship.
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.
© 2021 VIDYA D SAGAR
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on June 16, 2021:
You are absolutely right Devika. The victim carries on in the relationship hoping that the other person changes one day. But It only gets worse. The best option is to come out of it when there's time. Thanks for the visit and comments. Much appreciated. Take care.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 16, 2021:
Toxic relationships aren't worth having I learned that years ago and will never go back there. Sometimes it is best to come out with it and don't be in a toxic relationship. It hurts when you stay longer and not talk about it.
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on June 15, 2021:
Thanks Flourish for the visit and comments. Much appreciated. Intervention helped my friend. There are many who do not receive help and suffer being stuck in a toxic relationship. Have a great day.
FlourishAnyway from USA on June 15, 2021:
It's good that she at least heard you out. I liked the topic and your account.
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on June 14, 2021:
Thank you so much Pamela. Much appreciated. Many women suffer silently due to social taboo and other reasons. They fail to see the red flags and carry on hoping things will improve. They never do, but only get worse.Timely intervention can save many innocent lives. I am glad I was able to help my friend at the right time. Have a great day and stay blessed.
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on June 14, 2021:
Thanks Rawan. Happy you liked it. Have a great day. Blessings.
Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 14, 2021:
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 14, 2021:
This is a very well-written article with excellent points about toxic relationships, Vidya. I like your suggestions for those toxic relationships. I am glad you reached out to your friend.
The points of a healthy relationship are so important also. It is so important to know where your relationship stands always.
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on June 14, 2021:
Thanks Rozlin. I am glad you liked the article. Have a great day. Blessings.
VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on June 14, 2021:
Well said Misbah. Love, trust, compromise, and sacrifice all are the key elements of a healthy relationship. Many women get stuck in toxic relationships and many times even in abusive ones due to reasons like children, lack of financial independence etc. Social stigma makes them suffer in silence. More awareness need to be created and more resources allotted to protect women from abusive environments. More people need to participate in campaigns to protect women. Have a nice day my friend, stay blessed.
Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 14, 2021:
It's always important to help out friends and anyone who is in need. Many people don't share their stories with others just because they don't want themselves to get judge by others. They hide and die inside. No doubt, Society plays a very big role. I believe, Relationships only work if there's equal effort by both people in it. If, you feel bad or burdened both partners should discuss it with each other. Love, trust, compromise, and sacrifice all are the key elements of a healthy relationship. I think that One should know when to stand up and when to kneel down.
Thanks for sharing your friend's story. I like this quote: It’s better to be healthy alone than sick with someone else.— Dr. Phil
Many Blessings to you, Vidya
Rozlin from UAE on June 14, 2021:
Hi, Vidya. This is a very informative, helpful and well researched article.
Thanks for sharing.
Blessings to you.