Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a relationship with a toxic person.
Oh yup, that’s most – if not all – of us.
The best form of self-care when you’re in a relationship with a toxic person may be walking away and cutting ties. However, that’s not always an option or even a possibility.
So how do you take care of yourself and set boundaries when you’re in a relationship with toxic people? Here are just a few ways I have set boundaries and committed to self-care when I’ve been in relationships with toxic people.
Don’t answer the phone or text message when they call unless you want or NEED to.
The tendency is to answer your phone no matter who calls or what it’s about. That’s what you should do, right? Nah, girl! Stop “should-ing” yourself. That’s the voice of shame, and you don’t need that in your life. If you want to answer the call, do it! If you know the call is important AND urgent, answer it. However, metaphorically speaking, walking into a situation where you don’t know what mood the person is in or what they want from you can be incredibly painful.
Limit the length of interactions.
When I’m with someone (in person or via phone) who sucks my energy or is just straight up toxic, I put a limit on the length of the engagement. I usually max out at 45-60 minutes, depending on what’s going on in my world. If the conversation feels like it’s dragging on forever, I create a reason why I have to go. Hey, I’m so sorry but Piper is whining for me to take her out. I gotta go. Whoops, look at the time! I gotta be at an event in a few minutes. Have a go-to “reason” why you have to end the interaction, and peace out!
Saying no isn’t being mean. It’s a form of kindness towards yourself and being a faithful steward of all that God has entrusted to you. (Yup, I got that from good ol’ Chick-fil-A.) If a person – toxic or not – asks something from you and it’s not a hell yes, then allow it to be a hell no. Say no. No, I can’t go to that event with you. No, I can’t watch your dog for 2 weeks. No, I can’t loan you that money. No. No. No. Remember that you’re not obligated to offer a reason or excuse. “No” is a 2-letter sentence with a period at the end.
Set clear expectations.
Sometimes, you just have to be really blunt about what connection and communication you are and are not willing to have. Yes, I will come see you on Christmas. No, I’m not going to come over for every holiday. Yes, I will text or call on birthdays. No, I will not answer my phone every single time you call or text.
Commit to self-care after connecting with a toxic person.
If you’re spending time and/or energy with a toxic person, you’re probably going to walk away a little bit frazzled, in pain, and/or disconnected from yourself. You need – and deserve – to get back into a place where you’re feeling good and connected to yourself – mentally, emotionally, and physically. Take some time to shed all the negative energy that you felt when being around that toxic person.
Friend, you’re allowed to have boundaries. You’re allowed to have self-care practices. Setting boundaries at first can feel scary at first. They may respect your boundaries…
You may get pushback.
The toxic person may test the limit of your boundaries or ignore them all together.
They may question them or get defensive.
They may ghost your or give you the silent question.
When that happens, verbalize your boundaries and stand firm in your self-worth and in your boundaries.
You are worth having boundaries and practicing self-care.