What are the signs of being in a dead-end, toxic relationship? How can we know for sure if it is just a temporary set-back type of situation or if this relationship is truly toxic and not going to ever go anywhere? If these questions are floating around in the back of your mind, here are 3 main signs that you are in a toxic relationship and strategies to help you begin the process of getting out NOW!
Sign # 1 – If you find yourself overriding the checks in your Spirit all the time in order to stay in the relationship.
Speaking from my own experience of being in toxic relationship with a minister several years ago, no matter how much praying, believing, interceding and speaking the Word of Faith over the relationship, I absolutely could not shake the underlying sense of anxiety and turmoil I felt. Later on, as time progressed, I understood that the reason why I could not hold onto my peace was because I was deliberately overriding the prompts of the Holy Spirit as well as the evidence from my own two eyes that this man was not honest and did not really love me as he said he did. If you find yourself always overriding the checks in your spirit that you are getting about this person, then this is a sign that your relationship is toxic. Overriding the prompts of the spirit in spite of clear red flags and warnings causes you to compromise your integrity. Our choices in love relationships directly reflect the level of integrity that we are walking in. If our love relationships are ungodly, shady, suspect, secret, or compromising, then it indicates a lack of integrity. On top of that, we choose not to receive the integrity that Jesus died for us to walk in. The reality is that when we make deliberate choices to entangle ourselves in relationships that do not enhance our wholeness but bring further brokenness, we are living a lie. Integrity is walking in and living in the truth – your truth. Because I loved him and wanted to be married so badly, I kept ignoring the nudges that God gave me in the Spirit about this relationship and I compromised my integrity, thus I was unwittingly living out a lie.
Sign # 2. If you find yourself always trying to fix, help, and heal a man because of his potential or to get married.
Another that sign you are in a toxic relationship is if you find yourself always trying to fix, help and heal your man. For me, I saw all the potential he had on the inside and I so badly wanted for him to walk as the man of God that he was called to be. Often as godly women, we want to be the exceptional woman that can take an unhealthy, malfunctioning man or a man who simply is not serious about us and create the healthy relationship we envision. We want to live out that image in our heads of how this man could potentially be and what this relationship could potentially become. The problem with this is that you absolutely cannot afford to live in potential for an indefinite period of time without reality soon catching up. The tension between what could be and reality is what creates the anxiety and the angst. It is the ultimate indicator of a toxic relationship. Because of my fantasy and desire to be married, I romanticized the idea of helping my man rebuild his life so that we could be a testimony of what God could do as we rode off in the sunset together. I had to learn the hard way that as a purposeful, godly woman was not wise to spend a lot of spiritual, emotional and mental energy to bring healing or to fix someone for the ultimate purpose of marrying them. God did not call us to nurse a wounded man back to health (emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or financially) and then turn around and marry him. Yes, a godly sister can be very instrumental in helping a brother get back on track, however, there is a difference between allowing God to use you to minister to your brother in Christ in a healthy, balanced way while he is in need and ministering with mixed motives or underlying feelings.
This was my situation. It was reflected in my choice to stay in a toxic relationship for way too long. I had my wounded man and I was determined that with my help and love, he would become healthy and strong again. But I lacked wisdom and had plenty of my own issues to deal with.
From my toxic relationship, I learned that a man needs to acknowledge, seek after and receive his own healing. I kept enabling him at the expense of my own healing and growth. Living like this over a long period of time left me emotionally and spiritually depleted, because I could see no tangible results for my ultimate desire which was to be married, but instead the only results I saw was that he was getting better, but at my expense. I could feel bitterness and resentment creeping in because I began to feel very low emotionally with nothing left to give. If you are in a relationship where you find yourself feeling emotionally, mentally and spiritually depleted to the point of resentment and bitterness, then you are in a toxic situation.
And finally sign #3, if you find yourself always in a state of confusion, not knowing where the relationship is going.
For the first couple of years of my relationship, I was okay. I thought that this was a reasonable time frame in which people who loved each other needed in order to prepare to be married. The remaining three years of the relationship, felt like a region on the border of hell! I had no hope or progress in this relationship. I felt confined and confused. I felt like I was neither here nor there but kind of just sitting there, waiting on this man to get his act together. In reality, all I had to do was make a decision myself to end it, but yet again, I did not want to lose all of the time I had spent. I felt like the time I spent should count for something and I wanted a return on my investment! I had to finally suck it up and call it quits when I realized this man could not deliver and for my own sanity, I needed to walk myself out of this toxic situation before I lost my mind. Because I was always strung out in underlying anxiety, tension, and nervousness all the time, I could not properly focus on walking in my purpose. I spent the bulk of my emotional energy wondering where this confusing relationship was going to go.
If you recognize any of these signs #1) you find yourself always overriding the checks in your spirit and compromising your integrity, #2) you feel a need to always be fixing, helping, healing him at your own expense and finally # 3) there is always some ongoing confusion and lack of inner peace then you are likely in a toxic relationship. In order to begin the process of releasing the toxic situation I did three things:
- Get Real. Being honest is the first step. As the Word of God says in John 8:32, the truth will set you free. I say it is the truth that you know AND do that sets you free. This means taking the blinders off, humbling yourself and asking God to show you the truth no matter how painful it is.
- Get Healed. Once you get real, you are well on the road to being healed. As it is written in Col 2:10 in the Amplified version, we are in CHRIST, and have been made full and have come to fullness of life. To be truly healed is to begin walking in the fullness of Christ more and more on a daily basis. I had to realize that to attract a whole full man and have a whole, full vibrant relationship that I had to become spiritually and emotionally full for myself.
- Move On. I wasted five years of my life in a toxic relationship by making it an issue of faith and hanging on anyhow until it was so very obvious that he was with other women. Do not make hanging on to a toxic relationship an issue of faith, claiming that God is going to change him if your agenda is just to be married
You must be clean and free from the effects of the toxic relationship before you can rightly walk into your new season. Any residue still lingering on your soul will keep you toxic as you move forward. It will also prevent a whole, full relationship from showing up as well. Not only must we shake the residue of that toxic situation off of us, we must now return to the dreams and visions that God planted inside of us. As indicated in Isaiah 52:2, we must shake the dust off and return to our rightful place by rising up and getting back on our thrones as the women of God we are called to be. Shake the dust off that business idea. Shake the dust off that book that you have half-written. Shake the dust off those desires and things that you have been intending to do, but put on hold because you were “waiting” on that man to get his act together so that you could finally get married. Christ is the one who specializes cleaning out the toxins. He is well able to clean you up and prepare you for what is next. Seek Him First!