Remaining Vigilant Facing Unhealthy, Toxic Relationships

A toxic relationship, as defined by Thomas L. Cory, Ph.D. in his article at, is “a relationship…(which) drains energy…(and) is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control.”  

Dr. Cory also defines a healthy relationship as one where the people involved show “mutual caring, respect, and compassion, an interest in (the other’s) welfare and growth…a shared desire for each other’s happiness.”

We find ourselves in toxic relationships in friendships, with romantic partners, in working environments, and in families. 

I have lived through my share of these types of relationships. Truth be told, I have been just as toxic at times in my lifetime.

We humans work through our issues over time. We grow up watching the people that influence us in our upbringing as they controlled, manipulated, guilted, shamed, and influenced us in ways that doomed building healthy relationships until we learned better ways to behave. Each of us has been party to less-than-desirable interactions.

We learn and emulate some of the same behaviors, and find people who are just as damaged as we are. We enable one another to live in the muck and mire we know so well. We, like those before us, do not know any better.

At some point as we mature, we begin to recognize what we do that is unhealthy and we choose to live some things differently.  We begin to understand our triggers, and what makes us behave as we do. We see our patterns, as we recognize patterns in others.

As we begin to explore, learn and grow throughout life, we come to an understanding about what it is we want, what it is we know, and what we believe is best for us. The choices we make in our careers, our friendships, our romantic partners, etc. start to evolve, as we leave behind that which no longer works well for us.

We start to move past that which is not good for us. 

There are some people, however, that stay stuck in the past.  They cannot or do not move on. They refuse to get help, or to look in the mirror recognizing the part they play in the pain and heartaches they experience. They are quick to blame others or situations or their G/god for their “lot in life.” They become toxic to themselves and to others around them. 

Over the years, I have struggled to learn how to recognize those relationships that are life-affirming, and rid myself of those that are damaging to me. It took many years working with coaches and counselors to learn how to set boundaries, and to minimize the guilt I felt taking care of myself.

I find myself tested every once in awhile.  I am a firm believer that we will continue to get the same lessons until we learn them. This past week, I have had one person from my past trying (in triplicate, thus far) to work (his/her) way back into what I feel would be doomed to failure. 

I have moved on from this relationship, but it does not make it easy to ignore the manipulation.  Instead, I write articles–“Moving On from Toxic Relationships”–to say what I need to say.  

Who am I targeting? Convincing? Reminding?  

I know that I need to be vigilant in setting boundaries, and keeping steadfast in truth. I cannot change others, nor can I help another who cannot yet see.  

So, the reminders are for me to continue to stay-in and seek-out healthy relationships of all kinds, and to avoid or eliminate those interactions with the people and situations that are toxic and damaging to me.  

Genuine relationships depend first on a healthy relationship with ourselves. ~Sonia Choquette




Photo credit:  CC0 Public Domain, Pixabay



  1. Sharon Epperson

    I have had these types of relationships. Right now, I am dealing with one that I am going to just have to cut out of my life. I don’t like to have to, but I can’t handle all the stress that comes with this person.

    1. Coral Levang Post author

      I know that it is not easy, and I don’t envy you the process. Always trust that you will make the best decision for yourself.

  2. Gil Camporazo

    An unfeigned love is an antidote for a toxic relationship. A love that is founded in charity, the pure love of Christ. It is difficult to practice, but it is possible.

    1. Coral Levang Post author

      Genuine love / charity is always the antidote. However, not everybody will respond from that Sensibility. As well Kama I have known many who claim to be Christians who do not love as Christ would have had you love. And there are many of us who do not believe as you do who show more kindness, and love than those who say they have all the answers through their gods.

    2. Gil Camporazo

      That is what we call as hypocrites. As what the Bible says that they often say Lord, Lord. But deep in their hearts, they are exemplifying the Christlike attitude.

  3. Priscilla King

    Sometimes I wonder…although of course divorce is preferable to murder, some people do seem to find themselves letting one marriage go bad, then “moving on” into another one where they reproduce exactly the same problems. Wouldn’t it be *simpler* for them just to separate, face up to the problems within themselves, and go back to the original spouse and other parent of the children?

    My husband really had learned something from a previous marriage to a bad person, and did better by me. My sister wanted to believe my no-good brother-in-law was the same way…I love those of The Nephews that are related to this guy, so all I’ll say is, she was wrong. Not only did he describe her to #3, ten years later, exactly as he’d described #1 to her, but after *that* he tried to come back to my sister making the same complaints about #3! (At least this sister, #1, and #1’s children have become friends.)

    1. Andria Perry

      There are so many kinds of bad relationships, some mental abuse some physical.

      Some you can never escape.

    2. Coral Levang Post author

      The answers are never easy, that’s for certain all we can do is the best we know how to do with a knowledge and understanding that we have

  4. Andria Perry

    I know about this type of situation better than some but I cant relive all that.

    I ask God for guidance and let it be.

    I shared this on twitter

  5. Ruth Cox

    I have learned to avoid new toxic relationships but still find myself somewhat mired in a few family relationships that are toxic but necessary to be a part of.

    1. Coral Levang Post author

      I am finding that I recognize them more quickly and I’m able to set my boundaries easier with the new ones. It’s the older ones that can get a little dicey!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *