Recovery is a time of new beginnings.
Often, this means taking a look at your relationships and determining if it’s wise to continue to remain in contact.
At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, we encourage the development of strong social ties as part of the recovery process. This includes finding ways to deal with toxic relationships that pose a threat to your newfound sobriety.
Maintaining Healthy Relationships in Recovery
As part of your recovery journey, it’s important to work on building healthy relationships so you have the support you need to stay sober. This process takes time, but there are some key points you must remember in your interactions with others:
- Your past doesn’t define your future.
- You are free to make your own choices.
- You are worthy of love.
- You deserve respect.
When you’re in a healthy relationship, you enjoy spending time with the person. You listen to and support each other. You’re not afraid to share your feelings and you trust them completely.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
There are many different types of toxic relationship behaviors. Romantic partners can be toxic, as can friends and family members. You might be in a toxic relationship if the person:
- Makes you feel bad about yourself
- Makes you feel guilty or ashamed
- Won’t let go of your past mistakes
- Creates unnecessary conflict or drama
- Is a constant source of negativity
- Gossips about you to others
- Ignores your thoughts and opinions
- Minimizes your achievements
- Pressures you to drink or use drugs
- Encourages you to engage in unhealthy lifestyle practices that put your recovery at risk
- Doesn’t respect your commitment to your recovery
- Is a source of stress and tension in your life
Toxic relationships can be dysfunctional from the beginning, but this isn’t always the case. Some may also start out as healthy relationships that take a wrong turn over time. This can happen when small problems aren’t addressed promptly and the dynamic begins to shift as a result.
Options for Dealing with Toxic Relationships
Every relationship is different, but there are generally three ways to handle a toxic relationship.
- Confront the person about their behavior. Sometimes, people act inappropriately because they don’t realize the repercussions of their behavior or they are preoccupied with stressful situations in their own lives. If you think the person might be open to change, confronting them to discuss the problem openly and honestly might help you save the relationship.
- End the relationship completely. When you don’t believe a toxic relationship has any hope of improvement, ending the relationship may be the best choice. Depending upon the circumstances, you might tell the person why you don’t wish to remain in contact or you might let the relationship naturally end by no longer making an effort to stay in touch.
- Minimize contact. Sometimes, it’s not possible to end a relationship without creating additional problems. For example, disconnecting from a friend who is part of a mutual social circle, a family member who lives nearby, or a problematic coworker often isn’t a realistic choice. In this case, it’s best to simply minimize the contact you have with the person. Try to avoid spending time alone together whenever possible. If you can, enlist supportive individuals to serve as a buffer in your interactions with the toxic person.
Relationships evolve over time. As your life circumstances change, you may find yourself feeling less connected to certain individuals and more connected to others. There’s no need for you to feel guilty about making decisions that will help you live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.
How Safe Harbor Recovery Center Can Help
At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, we emphasize a holistic approach to recovery. In addition to helping clients recognize triggers and deal with cravings, we urge the development of positive communication strategies that strengthen relationships with family and friends. If you’re struggling with a relationship that you think may be toxic, our experienced counselors can help you determine the best way to handle the situation so you are free to move forward in your recovery.