With the start of a New Year and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a lot of people are reflecting on their relationship status this time of year. I’ve had many Relationship Coaching clients come to me to help search for their perfect mate. Often they come to me after they have tried “everything”- online dating, blind dating, speed dating, and they routinely attract the wrong people, or they will date someone for much longer than they should, only to be worse off than they were before they started dating this person.
As a certified coach for Calling in the One, my job is to help my clients recognize these patterns and break the vicious cycle so they can find true love. And it always goes back to the basics: looking in the mirror and starting with the self first. To attract the love that we want, we must know the type of love we deserve. And to do that, we have to let go of those relationships that are holding us back from being our best selves.
How Do I Know if I’m in a Toxic Relationship?
Toxic relationships creep up everywhere in our lives. They can be romantic partners, family members, co-workers, and/or friends. Many of these relationships carry similar characteristics, and once you know what to look for, it’s easier to begin doing the work of self-reflection and healing.
In her book “Calling in the One, 7 weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life”, Katherine Woodward writes about “blinding FOG – Fear, Obligation, and Guilt” as three markers of “toxic tie” relationships. We fear no one will ever truly love us as we are or that we are undeserving of true love. This fear leads us to ignore healthy boundaries and to set the other person’s need above our own. We feel an obligation to meet their needs to keep them in the relationship. Or we feel a sense of guilt and shame about past actions and feel the need to constantly make it up to them to keep our partner from abandoning us.
It can be hard to notice these patterns at first, and the behaviors can creep in slowly. When partners exploit our fears and weaknesses to have their own needs met, we are not in a loving relationship. To break this pattern, we must end these toxic ties to create space for the true love that we all deserve.When partners exploit our fears and weaknesses to have their own needs met, we are not in a loving relationship. Click To Tweet
Amy came to me as a client several years ago when she felt like her life had fallen off track, and she couldn’t figure out where she went wrong.
She had been in a relationship for almost two years, but things had been steadily getting worse. She mentioned that when they first started dating, things had been good and fairly care-free, but slowly little behaviors crept into their relationship that created a fairly toxic situation. At first, it was small things. Her partner would often work late and push their plans an hour or two later than they had agreed. After dating for a few months, they were regularly spending the night together, but he always insisted they stay at his place because he would be working so late. At first, these little things didn’t bother her, but after awhile they became a regular occurrence. Instead of saying anything, though, Amy would just restructure her time and adapt.
Slowly but surely, these small things began to wear on her. As an elementary school teacher, her days started early and the late nights were causing her to lose much-needed sleep. Also, her boyfriend’s apartment was further from her work and staying there every night was adding extra time to her morning commute.
After tending to the needs of her partner for so long, and constantly making small accommodations, it started to become difficult for Amy to do her job well. Teaching already took a lot of energy and her students demanded a lot her attention. By the end of the day, she was exhausted and had nothing left to give herself.
When Amy found me, she was feeling like a failure at work and in her relationship, and it was no wonder! She was stuck and couldn’t see a way out of the cycle. She was afraid to leave her boyfriend because she had invested so much in the relationship. After talking with her about some of her family histories, it was clear that she was following patterns set forth by her parents where her mother had set her many of own aspirations and needs aside to care for her family and husband. This was the only model that Amy knew. But by not voicing her own needs and boundaries, her partner was taking everything and feeding off of her fears of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
I told her that she had the power to experience true love, but that to do so, she would have to make space for it. A relationship built on a foundation of fear and manipulation is not true love. She had to let this relationship go. Then the real work began.
Commit to Yourself First
Toxic relationships drain us of our energy and our life force. We can only attract true love if we are our whole selves first. In order to do that, we must deem ourselves worthy of such love and break the ties with those that deplete us from loving ourselves. This is not a time to blame others for what they have done to us, but rather a gift to ourselves that says “You are worthy!” As Katherine Woodward says, “Releasing [toxic ties] requires the courage that comes only when one’s commitment to love is greater than one’s fear of being alone.”
Commit to putting yourself first. Each day chose one action that demonstrates loving kindness to yourself. This could be in your thought patterns, or by setting a boundary, or voicing your wants and needs out loud.Click To Tweet
If you are ready to attract your one true love, then I encourage you to take some time to reflect. First, identify a relationship in your life that may qualify as a “toxic tie.” Think about these questions and jot your answers down on a piece of paper, so you have them in front of you:
- What are fears dominating me in this relationship?
- What obligations do I feel compelled to fulfill?
- In what ways am I allowing myself to be manipulated through feelings of guilt and shame?
- What does this relationship reflect on my relationship with myself?
- What can I give up to restore my sense of personal power?
- What boundaries can I set that may increase health and wellness in this relationship
Finally, you must commit to putting yourself first. Each day chose one action that demonstrates loving kindness to yourself. This could be in your thought patterns, or by setting a boundary, or voicing your wants and needs out loud.
Are you ready to break your cycles of toxic relationships and find your path to true love? Join me on Saturday, February 10th at my Calling in “The One” workshop. We will examine how to change your journey in love by understanding how YOU have the power to change your experience. By the time you leave, you will feel empowered – confident that you can and will – manifest the love of your life.
Accept nothing less than the best for yourself this Valentine’s Day.