Walking with the Wise…..Avoiding Toxic Relationships and Being Healthy

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There is a proverb that goes something like this:  ” Become wise by walking with the wise”    Hang out with fools and watch your life shatter into  pieces.  This is what I keep telling a friend who is struggling with life right now.  This friend is in a toxic relationship that has caused  her own career to plummet into the nadir of despair, and that has caused her personal life to be reduced to a pathetic existence.  Absolutely pathetic.  She is living an existence that she never would have envisioned for herself.  Not ever.  I have known this woman for more than 20 years, and she is almost unrecognizable at this point in her life.   Her partner has imposed an emotional noose around her neck, even to the point of dictating her religious beliefs.

These relationships begin in an exciting way….and usually with great sex.  At the time, there seems to be lots of passion. Big highs. But also lows. This drama cycle can easily be mistaken for True Love. A deep connection. Intense intimacy.  It isn’t.  The intensity comes from deception, in most cases.  Someone has a need and will put whatever strings it takes to fill that need, even if it means playing a fake “passionate sex” card temporarily….but as the relationship becomes toxic, so does the sex life.  In many cases, it dwindles down to nothing, or when it occurs, it is just bad.  Of course, in any relationship, there are things that are black and white and there are grey areas.  This is a given.   However, when one person begins to try to control the other, the beginning of a toxic relationship is born.  Everything goes downhill from there.

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People can be health conscious and read labels, eat nutritious foods, make their environments as safe and healthful as possible, but if they are involved in toxic relationships, their health is going to fail as much as it would if they ate junk food every day of their lives.  Creating a toxic internal environment for oneself is tantamount to inviting depression, stress, anxiety and even heart problems into one’s life with open arms.  Being in a toxic relationship invites problems, not only including the events that transpire from day-to-day, but also ones that can end up literally killing that person.

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A long term study that looked at the adverse affects of living in unhappy relationships found a distinct correlation between toxic relationships and heart disease.  The 1985 study followed a group of more than 10,000 participants for an average of 12.2 years. Participants consisted of both men and women and ranged in age from 35 – 55 years old. Researchers controlled for psychosocial factors (depression, anxiety, worry, stress) as well as lifestyle, social demographics (age, marital status, sex, employment status,) and biological factors (high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and cholesterol levels).  Researchers only evaluated the relationships which were identified as being the closest by the participants.

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The overall, study results suggested that participants whose closest personal relationship was negative were at a greater risk of a cardiac event, including a fatal cardiac event, than their counterparts whose close relationships were not negative.   In other words, toxic relationships can be toxic to our heart health.  A good way to tell is this….Look at your life when you first started a relationship.  If you are a doctor, was your practice thriving?  If you are an artist, were you getting lots of shows?  Did you have steady work?  If you are a teacher, were you involved with many colleagues, working on projects, thriving on the job?  NOW look at your life.  Are you failing, not only in your career…but also in your personal life?

I pray for my friend’s heart.  It is a good heart.

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8 responses

    • Thanks. It is really hard to see someone you care about going through something like this. I find myself so interested in the psychology of what makes them stay. I think a lot of it has to do with the toxic partner making the other person feel like he or she can’t leave….instilling insecurities in them and putting them down to the point that they feel like nothing. My friend has been in a toxic relationship for years. I have watched her go from being a successful person to being someone who has to be on guard at all times for fear of upsetting her partner. She can’t thrive. She can’t do her job. She can’t be happy. It is very sad. She spends a good deal of time being sick or sleeping, just so she won’t have to get out of bed and face the never-ending bitching.

      • It is indeed. I’m not sure if I’ve been toxic or not in the past (probably – I’m a man!) but I’ve been in bad relationships where I’ve felt afraid to do the right thing and make the break that would’ve been best for both of us. Sometimes it’s easy just to ‘settle’ even though it’s not the best for either partner but thankfully now I have the best wife in the universe and all is grand! 😀

  1. First, I’m happy that you’ve found someone with whom you are happy. That is SO important in life! I think you have a good point about people just settling for what they have. Sometimes, it can be frightening to make a change, especially when one doesn’t know what the future will hold, and if you have that toxic significant other harping about how worthless you are all the time, it undermines the other person’s security and they are afraid to leave. They incorrectly believe that a bad relationship is better than NO relationship, but I have found that making oneself happy first is the most important element in a good relationship.

    If you can make yourself happy, you are happy with or without someone else. If you are basically unhappy at your core AND you find yourself in a toxic relationship, then things just spiral out of control.

  2. I think I’ve tried to cut the toxic out of my life for years,but sometimes you love too much and what was once a good relationship becomes toxic.its hard to recognize until you realize that you’ve lost that connection ,there’s no honesty and communication no longer exists.i struggle with that.the pain of a soulmate who became a chronic cheater,who cheated on the people he cheated with.my blindness.and the betrayal as you suddenly become the excuse told to the women he cheats with, all of whom think this is justifiable behavior. It’s very hard to have that person continuously tell you he loves you but offers you nothing and to tell you he’s terrified to live alone and will stay where he landed rather than work to cure himself of his demons.i’m not sure what you do with that..you try to get happy,but it’s a long road and lots of backsliding into the abyss.

    I guess you can’t ever know what will happen.sometimes, it’s just not obvious.

  3. Michele, I guarantee this. Once that cheating asswipe is finally out of your life for good, you will find that your life is suddenly much rosier. He will always be miserable. It is inherent in that particular breed of pound dog.

  4. Amen to getting out of a toxic relationship! How do you know it’s toxic… you feel drained instead of energized. It’s pretty much a no-brainer

    • Yes, I agree. Sometimes, the liabilities outweigh the assets in a relationship. If a relationship isn’t making you smile when you wake up in the morning, if you have to sneak around, bug the other person’s phone, go through his or her things, force that person to do this or that to give the public APPEARANCE that everything is ok, then it’s time to start thinking about making a change.

      Likewise, if a relationship has caused your career to take a nosedive or if you are making decisions about your life that you wouldn’t normally make, then it’s time to get out….also, if you find yourself having to lie because your partner doesn’t accept you or your friends, then it is time to move on. No relationship is perfect, but if you find yourself unhappy in one more often than you find yourself happy, then it it time to let go and find greener pastures. My friend claims to be sick all the time or stays in bed and sleeps just to escape.

      It’s just so trashy to stick in a bad relationship and gain the reputation for fighting all the time. (The only culture some people have is bacteria!)

      Thanks for your comment, Genie.