Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships

Traci Stein offers a new way of taking stock of relationships, knowing when it's time to make changes or walk away altogether, and making those changes from a place of self-confidence, self-compassion and peace...Read on:

Relationship issues are among the most frequent topics that have come up for my clients, even if the main reason they came to therapy initially was for something entirely different.

This is because relationships are fundamental to us in so many ways. They can be a source of great joy, but also suffering, or confusion.  

For example, our identities can become tied up in whether or not we are partnered, or whether someone likes or approves of us. We can wind up feeling at the complete mercy of other people’s whims, but don’t feel entitled to make waves ourselves. We can be convinced that relationships are inherently painful, because what we attract, over and over, leaves us feeling uneasy, abused, or brings out the worst in us.

Why do people stay in relationships and patterns that leave them feeling more bad than good?  Many of us were raised to believe we needed to be “nice” (read: never complain), or self-sacrificial - that our worth lies in taking care of everyone but ourselves.

Or maybe we were not permitted to express emotion, or have a dissenting opinion, or otherwise rock the boat, and so we learned to communicate indirectly, if at all.


And if, when we were developing, no one responded to our needs or helped us understand and manage our emotions, we’re at greater risk for creating chaos when the pressure or frustration, the longing or the fear becomes too great to hold inside any longer.

If we grew up with parents who were overly controlling, ultra-needy, or super self-centered, you guessed it – we will continue finding some version of these difficult people in our friends, partners, and/or our bosses, until we realize that we can and must choose differently.

The good news is that we can unbind ourselves from unhealthy tethers, and enjoy relationships that are more in line with what our healthiest self really wants.

If you’re wondering if it’s time to make changes, ask yourself these questions:

•    Do I feel resentful, anxious, or taken advantage of in this relationship more often than not?
•    Does the relationship seem like it may be part of a familiar, distressing pattern?
•    Would I ever treat this person the way they treat me?

•    Would I want someone I love (e.g., my child, my best friend) to be in a similar relationship or situation?


Although we cannot change other people, we can change our own attitudes and patterns. We can change the types of relationships we seek, decide whether to set limits or walk away from some relationships altogether. And just as importantly, we can make change from a place of self-compassion, confidence, and peace.

Be Well!

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Check out Traci's new guided imagery audio program, Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships, carefully crafted hypnotic imagery and a clearing ritual to help you identify and free yourself from toxic, one-sided, or otherwise unhealthy relationships.