Toxic Relationships: Knowing When to Love from a Distance

Remove yourself from people who treat you like your time does not matter, like your feelings are worthless or like your soul is replaceable – S. McNutt

Are you engaged in relationship that is draining your energy and leaving you depleted? It may be time to set boundaries/ or and learn how to love from a distance. This can be difficult to do in relationships where there is an unhealthy emotional attachment and codependency issues.

In such relationships, boundary setting can seem unachievable, but it can be done. The initial step is understanding your own personal boundaries and the importance of establishing them. Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others.

To establish healthy boundaries, communication is paramount as you will need to articulate the impact the relationship is having on you and your need for space. Do not be afraid to assert yourself. It is your right to self-preserve when a relationship has become toxic and unhealthy. There is nothing selfish about wanting to detach yourself from dysfunction and drama. Sherrie Campbell , a licensed California Psychologist and author of the book “Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person” stated, “sometimes we spend years sacrificing our mental and emotional health in abusive relationships under the notion that we have to because these people are our family.” When family and friends begin treating you poorly, it is time to protect yourself from ongoing mistreatment and stress.

My struggle was shouldering the burdens of my loved ones and allowing their negative energy to consume me. I seldomly said no or communicated how my health and feelings were suffering under the weight of their constant problems and toxicity. I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings or be perceived as uncaring. However, I could not continue giving of myself to those who were incapable of reciprocation. A line had to be drawn. Setting boundaries was necessary to maintain my own physical and mental health.

In an ABC News article written by Genevieve Shaw Brown, 7 Signs It’s time to cut (Toxic) family ties, Sherrie Campbell stated the following reasons to distance yourself or terminate relationships with family:

  1. When the relationship is based in manipulation, overt or covert, you are being used and abused mentally, sexually, verbally, or emotionally. When you are living in constant anxiety never knowing or being able to predict how any engagement is going to turn out.
  2. When the only contact you have with them is negative. The contact you have with them serves to bring you down or make you feel you are not good enough, or you have not done enough for them.
  3. When the relationship creates so much stress that it affects the important areas of your life at work, home or both.
  4. If you find yourself obsessed with the gossip about you and trying to right wrong information, and you are constantly being ostracized to the point you are losing sleep over it.
  5. When the relationship is completely all about the other person and there is no real reason why the other person cannot make any effort toward the health and maintenance of the relationship with you. One sided relationships are set up for your failure.
  6. When the relationship is only about borrowing money or needing money.
  7. When no-win games dominate the relationship such as silent treatment, blame games, no win arguments that spin around on you. These kinds of verbal interactions are set up to be their way or the highway. if these are the negative consequences you receive each time the person or people do not get their way, it is time to go.

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