Why do people stay in toxic or dysfunctional relationships?
You’re smart. In other areas of your life you can make things work and people are around you scratching their head wondering why you’re in the relationships you are. And even you have asked yourself on numerous occasions, ”Why the hell can’t I break free from this person? What is this magnetism that I’m drawn to?”
Of course, there are many reasons people stay in toxic or dysfunctional relationships, but I am going to outline 3 of them.
The first reason I think that people stay in a toxic relationship is because they don’t know they’re in one.
They will use words to describe their partner like self-absorbed, mean, controlling, selfish, insecure or entitled. They’ll use these words instead of toxic, abusive or dysfunctional.
And I find this especially true if this person grew up in a dysfunctional family. Often, this leads to questioning what’s healthy or normal in relationships.
Sometimes, we just think of these toxic people as people “difficult” or “complicated.”
Another thing I find among those who grew up in toxic households is that we cultivate an ability to make sense out of people’s crazy.
But just because you can make sense of people crazy doesn’t mean that you should live inside the crazy.
Maybe you end up rationalizing or making excuses for their bad behavior. You say, “Well you know that they’re having a really hard time right now” or ‘“They just grew up kind of jacked up so they behave this way because of that.”
This may or may not be true. This issue is it borders into this area of what I called Toxic Compassion, which is your innate ability to make sense of other people’s bad behavior, giving you an excuse to tolerate said behavior simultaneously,
What we need to do when we’re dealing with a toxic or dysfunctional person is to call a spade a spade and actually start calling it what it is~ Toxic. If you still have questions as to whether or not they are toxic, go over to www.LoveCoachHeidi.com where you will find the common traits.
The second reason that people stay in toxic or dysfunctional relationships for my perspective, is because they internalize the toxic person’s behavior
You theorize that if you would just say or do the right thing, they will change. You think if you could behave better you can bring out the best in that person.
But let’s be real. Sometimes the best just ain’t there!
I think our environment of toxic positivity really screws this up here because we are told that everybody has the potential to be wonderful and kind and loving.
No honey, no they all don’t.
You know there are locusts and there are honey bees and they both serve a very good purpose in this world. One creates and another destroys. Humans mirror nature.
You can’t hang onto potential and hope a locust will turn into a honey bee.
And you can only see people clearly if you stop internalizing their behavior.
If the toxic person is also gaslighting you to make you believe it really is your fault, this only makes matters worse. They may say things to you like, “I never would have behaved that way if you hadn’t done what you did.” “I didn’t really hurt you.” “I didn’t really say that to you.”
And if they’re a person who uses drugs or alcohol and is abusive they may say, “That’s not the real me. I would never do that if I didn’t have a drink in me.”
The truth is research shows that abusive or toxic people are abusive and toxic and alcohol just exacerbates it. Alcohol doesn’t create abusive people. Drugs and alcohol aren’t the reason that somebody’s abusive. People are abusive and use drugs and alcohol and abuse people.
We have to stop rationalizing and justifying unacceptable behavior.
We’ve all heard hurt people hurt people. NO. Not all hurt people hurt people. Some hurt people help people. Toxic people hurt people.
We have to stop internalizing somebody else’s behavior and making their bad behavior a reflection of something we’re doing or not doing and stop scrambling and hustling in an effort to be a better human being so we can make it go away.
Did you ever notice that even when you seem to be on your best behavior and doing all the right things that they’re still mean and cruel to you? And then scratch your head and wonder why they treated you that way?
If you find yourself asking questions like “What did I do to deserve that?” That’s a really big clue that you’re in a toxic relationship. This is a locust my little honey bee.
Okay now you’re not a victim here, are you? Once you’re aware of what’s happening you become a volunteer.
Once we see the light we can’t keep signing up for somebody’s bulshit the same way we have been over and over because once we know better, we do better.
I want you to understand, I’m not talking about an abusive relationship where you feel unsafe. If you’re in an abusive situation, I don’t advise you to like to jump up and start speaking your truth and making big moves. I advise you to go to www.thehotline.org and get support right now.
But if you are not in a situation where you feel unsafe to make some changes, you can certainly do so now.
Let’s say you are starting to see the toxic person clearly and you are able to stop internalizing their behavior but you’re still stuck. Why?
The third reason we stay is because of trauma bonds.
At the end of the day, your magnetism to “Jack” or “Suzie” isn’t really about Jack or Suzie. It’s about an unresolved issue that has been triggered up in you.
It’s at this point that my clients say, “But Heidi. I’m an extremely strong, independent, person. I’ve worked through my stuff. Everybody did the best they could. I’m over it. I have no desire to go back and look at any of that stuff because that’s in the past. thank God. Seriously. We don’t need to do that. Everyone did the best they could. It really is just this person.”
Look, I get it I get it. I know what you mean! You have intellectually made peace with the past. But trauma lives in the body and takes the form of compulsive self destructive patterning that keeps sucking you back into hurtful scenarios.
So how do you identify and confront that pattering? You get with someone who is qualified and equipped to help make sense of it all.
I’d certainly love to be the one to come alongside you and help you.
I’ve Created an entire program to heal all of this. It’s called LYFE School and you can find out more information at www.LoveCoachHeidi.Com
In the meantime, awareness is always step one before we take action.
You can’t fix what you won’t face.
Take the next few days to look at your relationship. What is the truth of your situation?