A Compassionate Approach to Ending A Toxic Relationship
Contrary to what people believe, a toxic relationship isn't always a romantic one.Toxic friendships can be just as devastating. The problem is how to get out of the relationship, or at least minimize it, without hurting the other person. The fact is, in most cases, one or both of you will grieve over the loss.
Although being honest may not lessen the blow, it will give you both the time to talk things over. If things get heated, don't play into the argument. Fighting normally just makes things worse causing both parties to say things they don't mean. This creates harsh feelings that will do neither of you any good.
Sharing your honest thoughts and feelings may require you to say things that could potentially hurt the other person's feelings. This is OK. Be sure not to be intentionally hurtful. Being honest does not have to mean being cruel.
Put yourself in their shoes
When you realize that a relationship you are in is toxic, it is common for your desire to leave the relationship to take priority over everything else. Realize that your decision to move on, though healthy for you, may take the other person by complete surprise. They may see you as an important part of their life that they don't want to lose. When that is the case their pain will be very real. This doesn't mean that moving on from the relationship is not something that is best for you both. What it does mean is that it is important to consider their feelings as you communicate your desire to see the relationship end. In this situation, three words should remain at the forefront of your mind.
Compassion. Compassion. Compassion.
Putting yourself in the other person's shoes and compassionately understanding how your decision might feel to them, is key to ending a toxic relationship with minimal long term damage.
One thing many people forget is that each relationship is an opportunity for growth even if there were toxic elements. Acknowledge what the other person has taught you, both good and bad. Try to help them understand that even though the relationship is ending, it doesn't mean that the time spent with one another is regretted in any way. It may not be right now, but hopefully, in the future, your friend or lover may begin to realize the positive things they gained from the relationship.
If necessary, leave the door open for communication
In some cases, even though a toxic relationship ends, both parties may still have to communicate. The other person could be a co-worker, a family member, or perhaps you travel in the same social circle. Whatever the case may be, if the person is someone with whom you have to interact with from time to time it is important to keep this in mind when distancing yourself from the relationship. Even though the context or future significance of the relationship may change, you can still remain civil, creating space for positive future interactions.
When ending any type of relationship it's important to try and do so without compounding any existing negativity. Although there are times when it will be impossible to end a toxic relationship without some degree of pain, it's better to be as compassionate as possible, allowing you both to move on separately towards healing.