February 14th just passed and we all know what that means: Valentine’s Day. Although my wife and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, we know many people do. People rush to buy things for their significant other: flowers, candy, and jewelry and while it brings happiness to some, it can bring sadness to others. Feelings of being left out can creep in so much that some people get into unhealthy relationships just to experience the feelings of temporary and momentary happiness that goes beyond just Valentine’s Day.
These unhealthy relationships can be toxic. A toxic relationship is one that can become dangerous. It isn’t necessarily physically abusive, but it can be hazardous to your emotional and mental health. The word toxic means “anything containing poisonous material capable of causing serious sickness or even death.” A toxic relationship can drain the life out of a person and leave them worse off than when they got into it.
One of the most evident examples of a toxic relationship in the Bible is with Samson. Samson was a man of great strength who married a woman named Delilah. His enemies wanted to know the source of his strength so they could weaken him. They sought Delilah for his secret. She agreed and when she finally got the answer from Samson, she told it to his enemies. They were able to seize him and with his strength gone, he was under their control. Because of his relationship with Delilah, he was made weaker and suffered the consequences of it. It was unfortunate for him, but all the signs were there. There are many ways to tell if a relationship is toxic or not, but some of the main ones are:
- A toxic relationship keeps you unproductive.
- A toxic relationship makes you weaker.
- A toxic relationship leaves you worse than when it started.
Healthy relationships do the exact opposite. When you’re in a healthy relationship, you are more productive. The other person talks about ideas, not people. They call you higher. Healthy relationships make you stronger. Even when it is uncomfortable, the other person stretches you and causes you to grow. Because of this, they leave you better than when you met them. They see things in you that you may not even see in yourself and cause you to rise to that higher version of yourself.
Healthy relationships don’t just pertain to husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend romantic relationships. A relationship can be healthy or toxic with friends or family, too. If you find yourself in a toxic relationship, the first step is to confront the person. (This does not apply if your life is in danger. If this is the case, you should get out immediately). Any relationship, good or bad, has the potential to turn into a toxic one if not maintained properly. During the confrontation, create the right environment and communicate how you feel. Confrontation doesn’t mean you have to be combative or argumentative. It just means that you’re addressing an issue in an attempt to come to a resolve. After the conversation, you choose how to move forward if the relationship should continue.
We’re all made and built for relationships. It’s how we’re wired. It’s an innate desire we all have. In our rush to get into relationships, it’s important to pause and think: Does this relationship make me feel energized or drained? Am I loved and accepted by this person? Do I feel good about myself when I’m around them? Do we share the same values? Relationships are a wonderful thing when they are done the right way. Soulful connections require an investment of time and energy, but when they are done with the right people, it is all worth it.
For more on toxic relationships, how to identify one, and how to move forward, be sure to pick up a copy of “Toxic Relationships” in the Revolution Bookstore!