When is a relationship toxic?

Toxic We all have a friend that is upset about someone too often.

Or maybe we are that friend. I know I've spent far too much time obsessing over certain people in my life. I think about how they treat me and how I treat them. Then I wonder how they feel about how they treat me for the way I treat them and so on.

It's a never ending cycle that steals all of your mental energy.

One of my friends has an ex-girlfriend that only starts talking to him again whenever she has a new boyfriend. I don't know what she is trying to do, it's not my place to judge. All I know is that every time he starts talking to her again he gets distracted and spends too much time and energy on her. And for what? Where is it leading?

I have another close friend who just found out that his girlfriend cheated on him. He is not very happy these days. Come to think of it, I don't remember any prolonged period of happiness throughout their relationship at all.

I can only speak for myself, but in the past I have become attached to people because I attach ideas to that person. I will tell myself that this person is the "One". The one I am supposed to be with, the one I love. But do I really love this person, or are they just filling a role?

The person you experienced everything with, the person who saved you, the person you almost had. All of these labels can cause you to be blind to someones effect on you. But how do you decide exactly when a person becomes toxic to you?

I believe that you know things long before you accept them.

I think somewhere deep down you know whether a person is good for you. You know this long before you come to terms with the fact.

You can step back and objectively weigh the pros and cons in the situation. I encourage you to do so, it's the smart thing to do. Though, if you are anything like me, your emotions at times will completely negate your ability to execute this approach.

You will just end up falling back on the reasons that blind you. BUT WE'VE BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH!

I have tried something different.

Imagine your relationship with this person is a path. Close your eyes and visualize exactly what this path would look like.

Is it a beautiful stroll on a sunny day with abundant wildlife and beautiful scenery, clear and straight forward?

Or is it a path through the unknown darkness with twists, turns and unexpected surprises around every corner?

When I visually imagine things it helps to get my mind out of the way. It allows the true nature of my relationship with this person to emerge. It often forces you to face something that you already knew in your heart.

Heck, I usually know the truth in that terrible stomach feeling, that weird ball in my throat, that pain in my chest. I think my whole body knows, but often my brain won't accept the answer.

You don't have to imagine a path.

You can imagine it is a plane ride. Is it bumpy, uncomfortable and frustrating? Or luxurious?

You can imagine it is a boat, a bike ride, or even a hot air balloon.

But in the end, you will always have to ask yourself one question. Is this leading me anywhere?

If you are only going in circles then the answer is no. If it is leading you to a bad place, then the answer is even worse. No one else can ever decide when the negatives outweigh the positives in a relationship.

Whether it's a friendship, or a romance, you have to make sure that it isn't poisoning you. Otherwise you will stay on the path for too long. Finding yourself right where you started.