5 Ways Toxic Relationships Are Ruining Your Life

02/06/2016 09:49 am ET
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We are created for relationships. We long for connection, and often this longing can lead us to settle for less than healthy relationships. Even worse, we may be so hungry to belong, or desperate to connect that we continue in toxic relationships when they are actually ruining our lives and happiness.

Toxic means poisonous, damaging or deadly. A toxic relationship drains the life from you, damages your self-esteem, or kills your dreams. While this sounds deadly, toxic relationships can be subtle and do vast harm before we realize it.

I have the scars of being in toxic relationships and for a long time I believed if I just tried harder, I could "get it right." Boy was I wrong! I didn't realize how these toxic relationships were ruining my life, until I got away from them and I was stunned by their wake of damage. See if you can relate to any of these examples.

  • Your bags are packed for the never ending "guilt trip" and blame game foisted on you each time your friend or family member is disappointed.
  • You brace yourself for the self-help friend who is always trying "fix you," by making subtle, disparaging comments about your personality quirks or ways you are different from them.
  • You leave your needs, emotions, and personal stories at home because your relationship is always about the other person and their wants, needs, and feelings.

If a relationship leaves you feeling degraded or criticized, "less than," and like you can never get it right or if you hide your authentic self and consistently scramble to please the other person, then the relationship is toxic. And toxic relationships ruin your life in these 5 ways.

1.Toxic relationships destroy your self-esteem and self-confidence.

Our self-image is deeply impacted by our relationships. Spending time with friends and family who enjoy you, affirm your talents, embrace your personality and celebrate your uniqueness, inevitably improves your self-esteem and fuels your self-confidence. When these are high, not only are you more successful, life is more enjoyable. Toxic relationships ruin your life as they most dangerous poison your self-concept, eroding your self-confidence like drops of rain wear away at a canyon wall.

2.Toxic relationships consume your energy.
A toxic relationship is often a marathon of your effort geared toward making sure the other person is happy. Your mind is always on hyper alter scanning their moods and needs while seeking to anticipate anything that could upset or disappoint them. The time you spend together is "all about them," with little to no room for you to share your thoughts or feelings, let alone ask for their support. Toxic relationships leave us woozy and weak-kneed like exiting a roller coaster ride; sure footing is gone and our energy is consumed in navigating uncertainty.

3.Toxic relationships breed negativity.

Toxic relationships are negative. Something is always wrong with you, the situation, their friends or family, the economy, the weather, and you feel pressure to make it better, even when the situation is beyond your control. Your mindset and mood are impacted by their negativity and unhappiness like being slimed like a Nickelodeon Game Show contestant, with none of the fun.

4.Toxic relationships form a template for your other relationships.
We learn by example and experience. Toxic relationships, while unhealthy, can become so familiar that you seek similar ones with others. Additionally, you may not be able to recognize when a healthy relationship comes along. Toxic relationships foster skepticism and disbelief when someone treats you well.

5.Toxic relationships increase your stress level which negatively impacts your health.
No matter how old you are, health is important for a good quality of life. While you may not be able to control all the contributory health factors like DNA, or family history, you can make choices about the stress you allow in your life via relationships. Toxic relationships are emotionally, mentally and physically stressful, and Psychology Today calls stress "the silent killer."

Toxic relationships are dangerous. The toxicity may not be obvious, but like poisonous gas, it is deadly. A difficult relationship is not necessarily a toxic one, but if you are experiencing any of the 5 ways toxic relationship can ruin your life, you may want to reassess the relationship. Be honest with yourself about your relationships and be courageous enough to make a change. Your quality of life and your happiness depend on it!

We become like the 5 people we spend the most time with. Do any of your top 5 fit into the category of toxic relationships?