Among my friends and colleagues who teach and/or practice yoga, it’s considered very common that, as part of embarking on one’s yogic journey, relationships may change or end as the yogi deepens their self-knowledge and starts to replace negative habits with positive ones. This applies to all relationships: with partners, friends, family of origin, and even with food and drink.
If you’ve started to reflect on the value and impact of certain relationships in your life, you might be noticing some that you think might be unhealthy. Finding a great therapist is a really smart strategy for exploring relationships. But in the meantime, in the spirit of self-reflection, read on for five signs that you might be in a toxic relationship.
1. It Involves Physical, Sexual, or Verbal Abuse
If you’re in a relationship where your partner physically harms you (e.g. pushing, punching, pulling hair, grabbing your arm, etc.), this is abuse. Examples of abuse also include sexual violence or threats of violence, as well as put-downs and name calling. Not only does this type of abuse break the foundations of trust on which a healthy relationship is built, it puts your life at risk.
It is imperative to seek support. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline to have a confidential conversation with a counselor who can advise you on next steps. Dial 1-800-799-SAFE to seek help.
2. It Makes You Sick
Yogis quickly learn to come into a more intimate relationship with their own bodies. When you practice yoga, you start to feel more. You might, for example, notice that a persistent tension in your lower back feels so much better after a yoga class. Similarly, you might become more sensitive to how your body responds to different people.
If you are in a relationship that causes your body to tighten up, recoil, or experience physical pain, listen to your physical sensations and carefully consider their source.
3. It’s All About Them
It’s normal to become infatuated with a new relationship, whether it’s a friendship or a love affair. For a while you might bail on other plans in order to spend time with this new person. But after that initial period of time has passed, if you find that you are still constantly putting your own plans and needs aside to be with this person, take some time to reflect on whether that is what you really want from your relationship.
A healthy relationship involves reciprocity and balance. A supportive partner or friend will encourage you to invest in yourself and to spend time with other people on a regular basis.
4. It’s Moving So Fast That You Have Motion Sickness
Love at first sight can be romantic and intoxicating. Notice what word is contained within intoxicating? Toxic! Take a closer look at any relationship that moves at warp speed. True intimacy takes time to grow.
While there are certainly countless examples of fast-moving relationships that have stood the test of time, in many cases this happens when someone is looking to fill an emptiness inside of them with another person. If you aren’t sure, slow things down. If it’s meant to be, it will stand the test of time.
5. It Feels Like You’ll Die Without Them
Codependence is defined in a lot of different ways. One of my favorites is “the disease of the lost self.” You become so focused on the other person that you forget who you are. It can very literally feel like if they were to leave your life, you would cease to exist.
People who are codependent are drawn to toxic relationships, but it is possible to break those habits and find happiness. CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous) offers a 12-step program that helps codependents to heal. Visit their website to find a meeting near you.
When considering your relationships, it can help to reflect on the first two yamas (ethical guidelines) outlined in the eightfold path of yoga: ahimsa and satya. Ahimsa translates as non-harming: A healthy relationship helps you instead of hurting you. Satya translates to non-lying: Are you able to be honest about who you are in your friendships, familial relationships, and romances?
Yoga is the science of living a happy life. By applying these concepts to your life, you’ll be able to release what no longer serves you in order to create space for bright, loving, new energy.
Image Credit: Nicole Wise