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Taking Responsibility in Toxic Relationships

Toxic relationships are as poisonous as they sound, siphoning energy and dulling one’s perspective on life. But people do not come with warning labels, and it is possible for individuals to become invested in toxic relationships before recognizing the warning signs. If that happens, understand that your commitment does not mean that the toxic relationship should continue in its present form.

Toxic relationships can take many forms, but they all leave the partner doubting their importance.[1] They wonder if they are excessive – too forgiving, needy, distant, or available. If you are having similar thoughts, you might be in a toxic relationship with at least one of the following:

· Boundary encroachments

· Abuses of trust

· A pattern of failing to respect your needs

· Failing communication

Guilt and shame can result from the discovery, but know you are not alone. It is easy to miss red flags in the excitement of meeting someone new. Normalize the experience, but while it is not your fault, it is your responsibility. There is power in taking responsibility for the way you want to be treated.

Stephanie Barca, LMSW, counsels clients in relationships and transition at Benjamin Holmes Counseling.

[1] For more specific characteristics of toxic relationships, see Barnes, S. (2023). Think You’re in a Toxic Relationship? Here are the signs to look for + what to do. Mind Body Green. What Is A Toxic Relationship? Experts Explain Signs To Look For | mindbodygreen

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