If only people could come in packages with warning labels. It would be so much easier to prevent heartache if we could choose which packages we're willing to open, and which warnings we'd rather not touch.
But since that isn't the case, sometimes, a toxic person will weed themselves into your life without you noticing.
So how can we tell when someone is toxic? And more importantly, how do we let go of that toxic relationship? Learn the signs of a destructive relationship and use these tips to let them go:
1. Toxic people need to be in control of the relationship
The easiest sign that your relationship with someone might be toxic is their need to be in control.
I used to have a friend who made all my decisions for me and when I didn't want to do something, he made me feel guilty for it. Afraid of being lonely or missing out, I tagged along, though I didn't really want to. I wasn't necessarily happy, but I was with someone I cared about so I went along with it.
Don't fall for this trap. Stand up for yourself, even if they still try to take control. Remember that you have the bigger say in this kind of relationship.
2. They're jealous
Toxic people never feel secure in their relationships. Remeber, this doesn't have to be just a romantic relationship - it can be a friendship or even a relationship between family members. Jealousy arises when they think you don't spend enough time with them.
This can lead to you feeling like you owe an explanation anytime you do anything or go anywhere without them. They'll make you feel guilty if you're not dependent on them.
3. They take advantage of you
Toxic people are naturally drawn to kind people with big hearts because they know they are the easiest type of people to walk all over. They'll expect you to put your life on hold to take care of them because they know you'll do it if they ask. If you feel like someone is taking advantage of you, they are probably toxic and should be removed from your life so you can move on and be happy.
4. They make you feel self-conscious
Somehow, they manage to make you feel like it's your fault you're treated like this. They'll make you feel bossy or domineering when you're just trying to stand up for yourself. They'll also make you feel guilty. If you try to end the relationship (whether that's by drifting apart or breaking up), they'll make you feel like the bad guy for hurting them. They'll play the victim and tell you how much they need you.
When you've got a toxic person in your life, they'll make you feel like there's no winning - they'll just make you wish you could change.
5. They make empty promises
I don't believe my friend was intentionally trying to keep me submissive. I don't think he was even aware of what he was doing, but that's one reason toxic people can be so dangerous. It's difficult to stay angry with them for too long because they're not trying to hurt you.
When you point out a problem you've been having, sometimes they'll genuinely feel guilty and try to apologize for their behavior, promising that they'll change. And maybe they do, for a while. But eventually, they slip back into old habits. To really be free, you need to end the relationship for good.
6. Learning to move on
Now that you can identify toxic relationships, it's time to move on. I felt lonely when I decided to let my friend go. But truth be told, it wasn't difficult at all. When you have a toxic friend, you'll be the one making all the effort so when you decide to stop staying in touch, they'll usually let the relationship fizzle out.
But it doesn't mean this won't hurt. When I let my friend go, I so badly wanted him to reach out to me, but he never really did. However, it did prove to me that, while I had been investing so much of myself into this relationship, it was pretty one-sided.
Letting go of toxic people means you have to be a little selfish. You're going to have to let these people go for your own happiness and mental health. You're going to feel lonely, and occasionally you're going to feel like you've made a mistake in letting these people out of your life, but in the long run, you'll be happier for it. And you'll have more room in your life for people with whom you can establish long, healthy and loving relationships.
It will be difficult, but having a conversation about why these people can't be in your life and moving on without them will mean you'll be happier and healthier.
Emily Brady is a member of the FamilyShare content team. She studied Communication with an emphasis in journalism. She loves photography and finding a good book to read in her hammock on a sunny, breezy day.