3 toxic relationships to let go of in your 20s
Dealing with other people is difficult. But unfortunately the way that we are wired (especially if you’re a nice person) and the way the world works means that we can sometimes be in a relationship of any kind with someone who isn’t the best for us.
The problem is that once we are in that situation, it can be incredibly difficult to recognise the bad symptoms and even harder to get yourself out. Once you get into a rut, it takes so much energy and mental strength to climb out of it. If I can do anything to help, it’s to help point out red flags to look out for, and remind you that you’re never alone.
The toxic friends
Toxic friends come in all shapes and sizes. And when you’re younger it’s “cooler” and seen as better to have a big group of friends. But as you get older you realise it’s more about the quality of friends rather than the quantity.
When you’re in high school and college, it’s easy to believe that you’ll be friends with people throughout university and long into your adult life. wow! We’ll be each other’s bridesmaids/groomsmen at our weddings and we’ll go on holidays together and our babies will be best friends forever too. While that does happen, it’s rare, and the reality is that many childhood friendships don’t last past the uni years. Again, there are exceptions that I know personally and it’s wonderful to see those friendships still going strong to this day.
Speaking from my own personal experience, I realised it’s much better to let go of friends who aren’t the healthiest for you. The people I held so close to me and would have done anything for, I’ve come to see, weren’t friends really. They wouldn’t have done anything for me, they would whisper my secrets to others the minute my back was turned, and they were incredibly judgemental. It’s damaging, manipulative and you shouldn’t be afraid to let it go. It’s hard, I know. But it’s better for you in the long run.
I don’t have a lot of friends as an adult, but those I do have are trustworthy, non-judgemental and I know they will be there for me when I need them. Those are the kind of people I want in my life.
The toxic relationship
Much like friendships, our view on love and relationships when we are young can be somewhat naive. At 16 years old it’s difficult not to think that the world revolves around this one person, that you’re star-crossed lovers who are destined to be together and that you’re going to be together forever and in love until death do you part.
Not to crush your dreams or anything, but that very rarely happens.
Don’t get me wrong; some high school / teenage relationships last. But for the most of us, they don’t. Unfortunately the only way to learn this is to go through the heartbreak yourself – who knew what teenagers don’t listen?!
But it’s not just teenage puppy love that can break you. Many adult relationships are just as toxic and dangerous.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of a rut, where you convince yourself that the changes you make are for you, not them making you to do it. Not every abusive relationship has to be physical; emotional abuse is sneaky and can creep in where you least expect it. I only recognised this behaviour for what it was when I left this relationship, and it’s not something that is easy to talk about. But if you find yourself behaving, acting, dressing, or whatever in any way that is not how you used to, ask yourself is it for you or for them?
As hard as it may be to walk from something that is familiar and comfortable, I promise you that a bigger and better love is out there for you that gives you everything you could ever want and need. I did it and found mine.
The toxic family
I’ve saved this one for last because it’s by far the most difficult to let go of. And bear with me why you read it, as I understand there may be mixed reactions.
There are so many unwritten “rules” and almost like a stigma attached the idea of family. Many people believe that just because you are related to someone by blood, you have some kind of obligation to them, should forgive everything and that you owe them some kind of space in your life.
And I’m here to tell anyone who is battling with a toxic family dynamic of any kind: this is not true.
It is not an obligation for you to let someone into your life, no matter who they are. That is a privilege. And if someone doesn’t respect you, treat you well and abuses you, then you should feel no guilt whatsoever in cutting them out of your life. Your own mental health and sanity comes first and if burning that bridge is what sets you free then you have my blessing to do so. Not that you need it, of course.
It’s hard, I won’t lie to you. Some people feel entitled and will try to emotionally manipulate your actions, but if this is something you feel strongly about then it’s the right thing to do. So many people put up with emotionally abusive, and often physically abusive, family members because they feel they “owe” them something. It’s not true.
DNA and blood does not make someone your family. Unconditional love, mutual respect and trust is what does that. I’ve learned that over the years and I’m much happier for it.