So, the phone rings, you check the caller ID, you don’t want to answer, but you do. An hour later you feel drained and ask yourself, once again, why do I put up with this?

Everyone, no matter how relationship ‘savvy’ has had to bow out of a ‘friendship’ which is really no friendship at all. If you are at the start of your spiritual healing path, it is likely that more than one relationship in your life is unhealthy.

How do you know a relationship is toxic? Here are some, but certainly not all, the signs of a toxic relationship: You are guilted into spending time with the person and do things out of an overwhelming feeling of obligation. Your requests for boundaries are routinely ignored – i.e. you can never get off the phone, they never leave your house and they have a way of accidentally mentioning private information to others. If this is a highly toxic relationship, you may have a general feeling of unease around this person which may present itself in extreme people-pleasing behavior, i.e. changing your opinions or even altering your overall personality in the hopes of not incurring disapproval or anger.

You may be the person on the other side of this coin. You may have a relationship that triggers in you the desire to wear down the weaker person to give you whatever you want. You may be preying on a pushover and feel a rush of power when you drop by unexpected and stay until YOU are ready to leave. Perhaps you look for security by being sure your friend allies all of their opinions with yours.

Most people in a pattern of toxic relationships have played both sides of this uneven table. The first step is to accept fully that though you may care for, or even love the person, you cannot accept their behavior anymore. You must drop the romanticism of potential. A skunk has the potential to smell great – but the reality is it stinks. Embrace the truth that you are worthy of healthy, supportive, fantastic friendships. You must be willing to enjoy your own company rather than give up your time and emotional energy to someone who does not give to you in a healthy way.

In most cases, the one who appears weaker will be the one to end the relationship. However, sometimes the more dominant one will see that their domineering behavior is triggered by the company of the other and bow out. Either way, the loss of a toxic relationship is the greatest gift you can ever receive. For every toxic relationship lost, two healthy ones grow in its place. This is because the energy to sustain a bad relationship is twice the energy to sustain a healthy one. If you need help ending a relationship, reach out to your friends for accountability and support. If it’s too scary to end it altogether, try giving yourself a break for one month. Chances are, the loss of you as an audience for the drama will solve itself. If this person is a true friend, they will give you the space you ask for and inquire about YOUR welfare with genuine care when the month is up. If the heart is really there, absence will make it grow stronger. If this is based on selfishness, it will collapse under its own weight and vanish.

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