Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Unhealthy Relationships

I want to talk a little bit today about unhealthy relationships. We've all heard them described before as "toxic" relationships, but I don't really like that term. It brings with it a connotation that there is someone in the relationship that is bad-- that they, themselves, are a toxic person.  Poison, if you will, and I just don't like that. Most of us aren't inherently bad people.

But, I do think that there are unhealthy relationships.  Much of the time, that comes in one-way connections where one person is giving everything and one person is taking everything. That's unhealthy. Maybe for a time, we can get by on that... but in the longterm, a one-way relationship isn't beneficial to either party. But, it's important to recognize that both parties are participants in that sort of relationship. Both parties are responsible for it becoming what it is. "What you put up with you end up with."

friends on bedSometimes unhealthy relationships began as healthy ones. But, for one reason or another, they've become unhealthy. Perhaps there's too much past to get over, too much to forgive that you can't forget. Maybe you've both just changed and what made the friendship possible in the beginning isn't a part of either of you anymore.

Did you know that it's okay to walk away? It is. But, I wish I had known that a long time ago. I bought into this belief that if I was a good person, I would fight for every relationship, every friendship, prolonging them as long as humanly possible until there was literally no other choice but to give up. And for some relationships, like your marriage, that's valid.  You made a promise and a vow and you have to fight for that.

But, not every relationship is a marriage. Sometimes hanging on as long as humanly possible creates more strife, more bad feelings between you, and is the last thing you should be doing. I can think of a few friendships in my past that I wish I had walked away from earlier.  And that isn't because they were bad people, or because I was bad people...  but the friendship had run its course.  It was over. By hanging on too long and trying to force it for too long, we created a vast ocean of resentful feelings between us. Resentment of each other that I'm not sure we'll ever really get over.

I wish I had understood about unhealthy relationships better, and I wish I had known that walking away didn't make me a bad person. I feel like I could have saved us both an awful lot of pain.


  1. Oh Jo, this last year has been so tough on me and un-healthy friendships, I normally never walk away, put at an arms reach yes, I have had two un-healthy friends just walk out of my life, and for the first time, I haven't tried to make it work, and I am at peace about it. I kinda feel bad writing that I sound mean, but I felt as if God was saying let them go. But I am not going to lie, it hurt. sorry I wrote so much,

  2. So glad I read this. Wise words, my friend. Walking away from a relationship this year was so very hard. But on the other side, it provided much peace. Thank you for your honesty. It is a gift to those who will read this!

  3. I wish I could remember this without feeling guilty.

  4. Very nicely put :) I think all of us have, at one time or another, been in unhealthy relationships... but very few of us learn to walk away in time to prevent hurt--to ourselves, to others we care about. Walking away is, indeed, not just ok but the only way to move forward--for both parties. Thanks for this reminder :)


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