Over the years I have been witnessed to or a part of friend or family in toxic relationships. Whether it’s with a boyfriend/girlfriend, friend or relative, these kinds of relationships are not easy to deal with. It tends to heighten the stress level in a person’s life on top of the usual stresses and one may not even know it.
Sometimes toxic relationships are subtle and grow quietly in a dark corner like mold. Others are constantly explosive and situations can get as bad as serious verbal or physical abuse.
I have had friends who are in relationships that are toxic and will stay with the person no matter how bad it looks from the outside. I would hear the same story over and over again, give some sound advice and the cycle just happens all over. What do you do for your friend in situations like these?
What to consider:
Well, there are a number of factors to consider. One of them being: Do they have children? It is easy to just say “Why don’t you just leave him/her?” or “You deserve better and you HAVE to leave.” But when children are involved, it’s not that easy. Most, especially women, want to work it out for the children involved. Whether it’s fear of splitting up the family or for financial reasons.
Is it getting physically abusive? If you know it’s getting physically abusive, then you are in a peculiar position. You wouldn’t want to be too abrasive to your friend/family member that you believe is getting abused or you would risk them not confiding in you. If you or someone you know is getting abused, please contact the Domestic Abuse Hotline for help: www.thehotline.org
Is your friend/family member showing signs of depression? Have they withdrawn from social outings? Again, without sounding abrasive and risking your loved one from not confiding in you, is tough. Simple things as just letting them vent to you can really make a difference. Them knowing you are there to listen when they are down can really help.
I think about these questions as I listen to stories my friends or relatives tell me about their toxic relationships and before I give advice.
What you can do to help:
If things are bad but not getting physically abusive, I usually just listen and let them vent. I usually tell them my honest feelings about things but I know they most likely won’t leave the other person. It would take some life altering situation or that “AHA” moment. Lending a shoulder to cry on is the first thing you can do to help. Most times, just listening helps them get out their frustrations and sadness to where they can clearly reflect on their situation and hopefully make a sound decision.
You can also enlist another close friend or family member for help. Taking turns to check in and to lend another shoulder to lean on is a huge help. Having another perspective and insight is good, especially if your own frustrations with the situation is start to show. You love them and want them to be happy and it hurts you when a loved one is going through a difficult time.
The goal is with subtle persistence, a little bit of love and compassion, you can help your loved one overcome a toxic relationship and make the necessary changes in their lives to have a happy healthy relationship. Some of my loved ones are still struggling and I plan to be there for support.
If you or someone you know are in a toxic relationship, I would be happy to lend an ear and open a conversation about it! Tell a girl about it!
Until the next post!