Spring Cleaning: Know When It Is Time to Say Bye-Bye to Toxic People

    Springtime is the season of blooming, warmth, and growth. The flowers are blooming, children are running around parks, dresses and shorts are being broken out of the depths of your closet. Spring is often associated with a new wave of growth. The barren trees of fall grow new leaves paralleling relationships-- perhaps the arrival of spring can symbolize the need to grow and rid yourself of toxic relationships. Read on to see how you can do a spring cleaning of your emotional well-being by identifying signs of toxic people and ridding yourself of toxic relationships in your life.

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  1. 1. Sign #1: They criticize you.

    If you have ever been a victim of a toxic relationship (friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, etc.), you may notice that they often criticize you. The criticism might start off small, such as comments like, “Your hair is too long, you should cut it” or, “Wow you really aren’t flattering in a crop top” but may soon escalate into more drastic criticisms, such as your inability to be a functioning adult. These criticisms can snowball into making you feel bad yourself. If someone is constantly putting you down, then they classify as a toxic person.

  2. 2. Sign #2: They isolate you.

    Toxic people like to have control. They like to control you and control your relationships. It would be quite difficult to control someone if that someone has a strong support system. So, a toxic person will try to isolate you by manipulating you to spend all your free time with them. By creating an isolating environment, the toxic person is ensuring that they are your only source for emotional encouragement and support.

  3. 3. Sign #3: Your self-esteem declines.

    Going back to Sign #1, a toxic person will try to criticize you, which can consequently lead to a decline in your self-esteem. Your self-esteem is a reflection of your own self-worth. Do not give anyone the power to plant themselves in your mind and control YOUR thoughts about YOURSELF.

  4. 4. Sign #4: Selfish Tendencies.

    I believe that all relationships should be based on reciprocity. I will be there for you, and you should be there for me when I need you or sometimes I buy dinner, other times you buy dinner, and so on. A toxic person will demand more of your time, money, emotional support, and more while giving you nothing in return. If you feel that you are constantly being drained without receiving any form of thank you in return, maybe this person is selfish and toxic.

  5. 5. Sign #5: You Doubt Yourself.

    You may find yourself doubting your decisions, your actions, and your self-worth. This person may drill into your head that you are always wrong and they are always right. Soon enough, you might feel stupid or not good enough all of the time. These feelings can snowball into you doubting your own values.

  6. 6. Sign #6: You Find Yourself Falling Into Bad Habits.

    If a toxic person is manipulating you, you may find yourself falling into bad habits to cope with the stress. For example, you may find yourself doing activities that you may not normally enjoy just to cope with the anxiety and stress caused by the toxic person. Remember that there is a difference between pouring yourself a drink for enjoyment, and pouring yourself one too many drinks because you are overwhelmed.

  7. 7. Sign #7: You Avoid Them

    If you find yourself dreading to talk to them or make plans with them … well, there’s a reason for that. This person doesn’t make you feel good when you are around them, so maybe that’s why you dread spending time with them.

 Use the bloom of spring to turn over a new leaf for yourself. The signs above can help you identify some signals of a toxic person in your life. Now that you can recognize those signs, you can take the proper actions of removing them from your life. Remember that you are the owner of your own life. No one has the ability to make you feel bad about yourself or control your life unless you give them that authority. Sometimes the best thing to do for your own mental health is to walk away from a toxic person.

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**Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

**If you are a member of the Rutgers University Community, you may also reach out to the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Crisis Intervention line at (848) 932-1181 for free and confidential crisis intervention services.