Why Do People Stay In Toxic Relationships?
What if someone is struggling with a problem, mental illness, or physical limitations, and you decide to terminate the relationship? Does this make you a “bad” person? What if this person is toxic? Do you stay because they still need help? At what point do you say enough is enough?
I am a huge believer that it is our job to be supportive and lend strength to family and friends when they need it. To stand by them through their hour of need, and help in any way that we can, big or small. What’s the point of relationships if we can’t be there for each other during the downs and well as the ups? We are meant to be around others and need other people in our lives, especially when struggling with personal issues, whatever they may be.
However, what if this family or friend who is struggling has toxic behavior? What if your relationship is toxic? Do you simply stay put because they are struggling? Is this supportive narrative promoting staying in toxic relationships because that person is struggling? Are we pressured into staying in a relationship with toxic people because we need to support and offer strength?
Generally speaking, those who have toxic behaviors tend to not be emotionally or mentally healthy. They tend to be manipulative, narcissistic, tend to victimize themselves, be jealous, surround themselves with drama, and are unwilling to seek help professionally or from family and friends. This then causes us to be emotionally affected, dread or fear to be around them, and have bad or shameful feelings of ourselves. This is not healthy nor is it productive of any kind of happiness.
So again, I ask, is it morally wrong to distance yourself from someone who behaves this way? Even if they are depressed? Or are making bad decisions that are affecting their life? How much of ourselves can we sacrifice for someone else before we decide our mental and emotionally health is more important?
To be honest? It is perfectly okay to move on from someone in your life who is dragging you down—who makes you feel anxious, ashamed, fearful, numb, controlled, or confused. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s worth it. Even if this person is a parent, sibling, friend, or significant other. It’s not right for someone to treat you this way, and you have every right to stand up for yourself and demand they not treat you this way. Create boundaries and tell them what you expect. However, if they can’t stand by those boundaries, kindly and lovingly set them aside and move forward.
Please don’t feel guilty if you have to move forward in life without this person. Do not feel like it is your job to fix them. And guess what? It doesn’t have to be forever. I had to move forward in life with an important family member whose behavior was (and is) toxic. It’s been five years of healing and becoming stronger. Because I took this hiatus, I’m discovering that having a relationship with this person again might be okay. I can start fresh with new boundaries. If they continue this behavior, guess what? I can back off again. Because I am worth more than how they treated me and shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving them behind.