5 Toxic Relationships We Give You Permission to End Right Now

heart on fire
"I shouldn't have made her so mad." "He didn't mean to hurt my feelings -- again." "I know things between us will get better." These thoughts ring a bell? Then you, my friend, may be in a toxic relationship.


ICYDK, a toxic relationship "is where you feel like you have no choice," explains Jeanette Raymond, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Los Angeles. "In order to get any love and attention, you have to put up with denigration, manipulation, being used and then pulled in for a burst of affection, adoration, and exultation, only to be denigrated ... again."

If you grew up in some sort of toxic relationship, there's a good chance that you'll experience this dynamic as normal, Raymond notes.

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For instance, "if your mother was abused by your father and she took it, then you will not see it as toxic ... if it happens to you," she says. "That's the biggest reason why people can't recognize and leave so-called toxic relationships." 

But you should, of course, before it takes more of a toll on your psychological -- and perhaps even physical -- health.

Here are five toxic relationships that you should say adios to -- ASAP.

1. The "Things Suck Now, but They'll Get Better" Partnership

Tell us if this sounds familiar: A person you like/love keeps you attached -- not with their current actions, mind you, but the potential of a much better future.

To wit: "They offer promises of future love, time, attention, and engagement but never fulfill that promise," says Raymond, "all while keeping you hanging on, doing their bidding and keeping them happy." Spoiler alert: That happy future where things are "fixed" ain't happening.

2. The Relationship of St. Nowhere

Being in any relationship is tough. And true, sometimes you accidentally step on each other's feelings. But that's WAY different than your partner genuinely getting off on your pain.

And in a toxic relationship, says Raymond, you may be thinking that if you're just "good enough" – i.e., a martyr -- you'll transform your bully into a genuinely caring guy.

In reality? "You're setting yourself up to be treated as less than human, because you're trying to be a saint," she points out.

3. The Bond of Self-Doubt

Your partner accuses you of flirting with your boss. You weren't. But after a while, you kinda start doubting yourself. Maybe you really were ... right? "Toxic relationships are crazy-making," says Paul Hokemeyer, JD, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York. "In them, we question our truths and doubt our reality."

More from CafeMom: 5 Heartbreaking Reasons Women Stay in Toxic Relationships

4. The Friendship That Makes You Wanna Nap

Having cocktails with your bestie 'til 3 a.m. will leave you exhausted the next day. But we're talking about next-level fatigue: the emotional kind.

"Relationships are supposed to fill us up," Hokemeyer says. "Toxic relationships deplete us. They leave us feeling emotionally drained." If you can barely hear yourself think after spending time with a particular person, let us assure you: Your "toxic relationship" alarm IS going off.

5. The Dynamic That Makes You Feel Like S**t

A co-partner who goes, "Oh, I thought your project was going to be good." A mom down the street who's all, "I wouldn't dare wear a bikini if I were you." If a person constantly makes you feel inadequate or inferior, says Hokemeyer, damn straight that you should steer clear.

But here's the thing. Not surprisingly, Hokemeyer points out, "toxic people are incredibly difficult to break company with."

Keep in mind, he says, that doing so will be intense and stressful. And although it would be soooo much easier if they were they one who ended your relationship, nope. You're going to have to be the one to call it quits.

To do this, "set boundaries that are clear, consistent, and enforceable," Hokemeyer notes. This will, of course, depend on the nature of the relationship.

"If it's an abusive romantic relationship, then you need to have a hard exit," he says. "If it's a work relationship, you're going to have to put parameters around your exposure to that person and gradually move away from them."

Difficult, yes? But trust us. You'll breathe so much better once you do. 

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