The Anatomy Of A Toxic Relationship And How To Escape It

Life is full of different relationships -- some are bad, some good while others are just toxic. Here's how to know if you're in one and what to do to get out.

Mental health advocate, founder and CEO of Afea Care Services, Esha Oberoi told 10 daily that a toxic relationship "brings out toxic emotions and responses in us and often leaves us feeling emotionally drained."

A toxic relationship can impact our self-worth and confidence or can bring out clouded thinking and detrimental behaviours.

These relationships are born from insecurity, lack of emotional intelligence, self-centredness and a need for dominance and control, Oberoi explained.

The best thing you can do for your physical and emotional wellbeing is to end the relationship and show that person the door.

Staying in one can have a number of negative effects.

"You’ll likely end up playing one of three roles: a victim, persecutor or rescuer," Oberois said.

According to her, any of these roles are unhealthy and will zap your energy.

"You may even find yourself switching from being a victim to persecuting to rescuing -- all of this is energy draining and impacts your ability to be the best version of yourself in the world," she said.

READ MORE: Ireland Just Criminalised Emotional Abuse. Here's Why Australia Should Too.

The warning signs

How do you even know that you're in a toxic relationship in the first place?

Not every toxic relationship looks the same but there are some commonalities. You'll know if you are in one if you find yourself doing things like making poor judgement calls, feeling overcome by anxiety or questioning your values.

Here, Oberoi flags some warning signs to look out for:


"You may feel really anxious and unsafe being around this person or just uncomfortable with their negativity," Oberoi said.


You might find yourself being inauthentic or hiding your true self -- something which Oberoi calls, "operating outside your values system."

Trying to validate the relationship

People in a toxic relationship might find themselves questioning the benefits of the said relationship, but according to Oberoi this is actually "a good warning sign."

"If you are questioning the purpose of the relationship then it’s usually a sign that you shouldn’t be in it," she said.

If you are seeking to validate the attachment you have but know deep inside that it’s not good for you, it’s a smart move to start thinking about an exit.

"You should never have to be trying to count the reasons to keep someone in your life," Oberoi explained.

Getting out

When you're thinking about ending a toxic relationship, the first step is to recognise your behaviours and emotions when you are either around the person or have just spent time with them.

Ask yourself, 'how do I feel? Energised and expansive or drained and demotivated?'

The key, in Oberoi's opinion, is to recognise if you are playing out a role that is not authentically you.

"Once you know in your second brain, your gut, that this relationship is stifling you from success in areas of your life, it’s time to start removing yourself from being with this person," she said.

If a family member is toxic

If the toxic relationship is with a family member it's likely that you won't be able to avoid them entirely, so the best thing to do is have real conversations with them on what is going on and how it makes you feel -- without blame or shame.

"Recognise that you both don’t feel good and you need to work on the relationship and introduce healthy conversations and positive behaviours that lift you both," advised Oberoi.

If a friend or partner is toxic

If you're in the toxic relationship by choice then at the end of the day you don’t need to be in it, Oberoi told 10 daily.

Instead, start filling your time with healthy habits and experiences -- book in self-care routines instead of engaging or socialising with the person. Set some boundaries for yourself.

"Over time the relevance of the relationship will die out," she said.

READ MORE: How Soon Is Too Soon To Move On After A Breakup?

Learning from the pain

Once you've taken the big step of ending a toxic relationship, it's time to work on the most important person in your life -- yourself.

In many cases, we actually allow for these relationships because we don’t believe at the core of our being that we deserve better, so one of the basic fundamentals is to get into a really good self-care routine where you are putting your mental, emotional and physical needs first.

Prioritising your needs makes it less likely that you'll compromise them by getting into another toxic relationship in the future, Oberoi explained.

Get clear on what it means to have mental health and wellbeing -- ask yourself, 'How does this look for me?'

"Emotional well-being might mean harmony and stable connections while physically well-being might mean putting your physical body first, thinking of it like a temple that you need to care for and nurture," she said.

Feature image: Getty.