In my three-plus decades of existence, I have had friendships and love interests, and have stepped into many different roles: mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and in-law. Some of the relationships in my life have been positive ones that have infused my life with encouragement, while others have been draining and detrimental to my health and wellbeing. Sometimes those same relationships that once brought life no longer do and they peter out, while others try to drag you down.
Is Your Relationship Healthy or Toxic?
God calls us to fellowship with others, but sometimes we have to love people from afar because we have to create healthy boundaries. We have to protect ourselves from toxic people. Here are five red flags to watch for in your relationships.
T – Taking advantage of you.
Toxic people are usually only out for numero uno, and they will take advantage of your good-natured self. They will use manipulation tactics to make you feel guilty for not helping them or doing it for them as well.
O – One way.
The entire relationship is one-way, like one-way traffic. They insist that you call them, you text them, you come to see them. You do all the work for the relationship while they never reciprocate.
X – Exhausting.
A toxic relationship exhausts you mentally, physically, and emotionally with every interaction.
I – Interjecting constantly.
You’ll be mid-sentence telling about your recent promotion at work and they just start talking over you, interrupting you. Normally with a one-up story, telling about something that someone else did to try to one-up whatever you were sharing with them.
C – Control.
This is their favorite tactic. They can only be in a relationship with you if they hold the upper hand. They want to make sure that they control who you are around when you are around. Manipulation and control are major red flags in toxic relationships.
Not all relationships are toxic, and sometimes people are just having a rough day or season. This can be a longer-term assessment, but other times you just know that it’s not a good situation. Positive relationships give us peace whereas toxic ones always make us anxious, uneasy, or negative.
The attributes normally found in positive relationships include:
P – Praise.
They are able to give and receive praise. They don’t claim all the praise for themselves but offer it lovingly to you.
E – Encouragement.
These relationships build you up rather than tear you down. Whether it is with an encouraging phone call or an atta boy/girl, the relationship adds value to your life rather than exhausting it.
A – Accommodation.
If you can’t make dinner on Saturday night, that’s no problem. These people want you to be around so they will try to accommodate your schedule as well. It’s not “my way or the highway” kind of relationship.
C – Care.
The positive relationships share happy times with you and are there when things aren’t so great. They have compassion for you and want you to be successful in what you do. They are willing to pray with you and love you, right where you are.
E – Equality.
In a positive relationship, you both have a role, an equal role. At times one of you may carry the other but that is not a constant. You may go to them one time and the next time they come to you, you both can call or text. It’s not just one of you doing all the work.
It’s easy to get sucked into a toxic relationship, the toxic people in my life require me to set boundaries. It’s been hard at times to keep these boundaries but in other instances, the boundaries have literally saved my life and sanity. Boundaries aren’t bad when they are done out of love and good intentions not out of manipulation.
I encourage you to pray today over your relationships and ask God to show you the ones that you need to limit in order to be in obedience to Him. Ask for wisdom when creating boundaries and when interacting with toxic people.
- Zoe Shaw’s podcast – Ep. 224: It’s Not Normal, It’s Toxic
- Good Boundaries and Goodbyes by Lysa Terkeurst
- Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
- Don’t Give the Enemy A Seat At Your Table by Louie Giglio
- Sandpaper People by Mary Southerland
- Relational Reset by Dr. Laurel Shaler