In Part 1 of this article, we talked about happiness and some of the things you can do to achieve a happier life. It is possible to change your outlook, to provide better self-care, and to become a much happier and healthier person on all levels—mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. However, if you are letting toxic relationships into your life, you will find that it can cause some serious problems and undo a lot of the happiness that you have.

How Do You Know If You Are In a Toxic Relationship?

Whether they are friends who are toxic, or you are in a romantic relationship with a toxic person, it’s very hard to be happy. When you treat someone with love, kindness, and respect, you should expect to be treated the same way by that person. This is a two-way street.

How do you know if you have a toxic relationship with someone? There are obvious signs of being in a toxic relationship, such as abuse. Whether it is emotional, mental, verbal, sexual, or physical, it is toxic and you should leave as soon as you can. However, other times, it might not be quite as clear that you have a toxic relationship with someone.

Think about how you feel when you have interacted with them. After the interaction, do you feel better or worse about yourself? Are you happy that you are no longer interacting with them, or are you happy about the interaction you had? Of course, there are ups and downs in all relationships. Even in healthy relationships, there will be disagreements or arguments from time to time. These aren’t toxic. Relationships where you feel unhappy when you are with someone, when you feel worried for yourself, or controlled by them, are toxic.

Is the person passive-aggressive? Do they celebrate your successes, or do they try to make you feel less accomplished? Do they attempt to undermine you or do they hurt your self-esteem? These are signs of toxicity in a relationship. When they try to bring you down, they aren’t doing you any favors.

Setting Boundaries in Relationships

Sometimes, you have invested years into a friendship or relationship, and you don’t want to give it up even though the other person might be considered toxic to you. In these cases, if you don’t want to eliminate that person from your life, you need to make them aware of their behaviors. Dr. Gougouris called this type of communication HOT, which stands for honest, open, and transparent. If you care about and love these people, it is important to start using this kind of communication.

You want to use a loving and friendly approach, but you need to be honest, open, and truthful. Let them know that when you have interactions with them, you walk away feeling worse than you did before speaking to them. Let them know that you want to have a different type of relationship with them where you both treat one another with love, kindness, and respect. Let them know that if they don’t reciprocate, you will call them out on it. You need to let them know your boundaries, and they need to respect them just as you would. You should also let them know that if they can’t do that, then you will be spending less and less time with them. Eventually, you won’t spend any time with them because you don’t want to deal with the negative effects of toxic people or toxic relationships.

What About Your Ex?

When you are going through a divorce, toxicity is unfortunately common. It can be difficult for exes to get along when they see one another, even when they have children and are trying to do what’s right for them. While it is easy to fall into the toxic trap for both spouses who are snipping at one another, it can be just as easy to make changes. You simply have to work toward those changes both on your own and collaboratively.

Think about the way that you are dealing with your ex. Are you approaching the situation with kindness, love, and empathy toward them or are you engaging in toxic behavior of your own? The first thing you have to do is be honest about your own behavior and make changes if needed. You might not realize that you have been toxic toward them but making the change can make a major difference.

You can also let them know about their own behavior after you have corrected yours. In some cases, they will be willing to listen and to change. It’s healthier for them and they will be happier for it going forward.

Remember to be kind to others. Help those who need it whenever you can. Living a kind life will help you to be happier, and it can affect those around you. They will often respond with similar kindness. This includes your ex.

Of course, it’s not always easy to mend a toxic relationship with an ex. They may not be willing to make the needed changes and will continue to be bitter and unhappy. If they won’t change, there is nothing you can do that will make them turn over a new leaf. They will have to do it on their own.

Be mindful of how you think and what you do when you are interacting with your loved ones, your children, your ex, and everyone that you meet in life. Being kind will make you feel happier and using the techniques above will help you find and eliminate toxic relationships in your life.

Work with an Attorney

When going through a divorce, whether you have a toxic ex or not, you need to make sure you have someone that has your back. Working with an experienced divorce attorney will help to ensure you have help from the start of your divorce and through all of your family law issues.

If you need to catch up on this article, read Part 1 here.