How to Recognize & Stop Toxic Relationships!


[Rachel Strella]: 0:00

Welcome to episode nine of the Light Her Project Podcast. Real women,

[Vixen Divine]: 0:05

Real talk.

[Rachel Strella]: 0:06

I'm Rachel Strella.

[Vixen Divine]: 0:07

and I'm Vixen Divine.

[Rachel Strella]: 0:09

Thank you for tuning in today. Today's topic is how to recognize and stop toxic relationships. So before we talk, I should say we're not addressing abuse here. These are strictly our opinions. So please don't take any of this as professional advice from a mental health professional. All right. We're going to dive right in. Normally we start with our personal lives and we're going to do that plenty here. So we're going to actually start with questions.

[Vixen Divine]: 0:47


[Rachel Strella]: 0:48

Question number one, how do you know if a relationship is toxic? Are there red flags? Alright, well, absolutely there are. I could tell you about handful of them. I mean, I could probably tell you a hundred, but I'll tell you a handful that I've noticed in the past. Okay. So one of them is when you catch somebody in a lie. Liars, that's a definite red flag. Another one is self-importance. Maybe some narcissism there, that elevated sense of self

[Vixen Divine]: 1:29

Oh yes, for sure.

[Rachel Strella]: 1:31

Along that line that reluctance to show support. It seems like they only care about what's in it for them. You may have also noticed they are overly critical or judgmental about you or people in your life. And then the final one for me is if you ever feel like you're walking on eggshells.

[Vixen Divine]: 1:57

Oh, not comfortable.

[Rachel Strella]: 1:58

Yes, you're not comfortable. There's just something there. You know, so how do you, those are red flags, but how do I know it's toxic? I mean, that's a great question. Here's how I go. Once you've seen a red flag, be on alert. I'm personally someone who can forgive a one-time red flag. Everybody has a bad day.

[Vixen Divine]: 2:20


[Rachel Strella]: 2:21

If I see multiple flags, that's when I know it's toxic.

[Vixen Divine]: 2:26

Okay, I'm not quite that forgiving.[Rachel Strella]: I had a feeling you wouldn’t be. For me, how I know if the relationship is toxic or not is first of all, you have to recognize what is toxic for you. Because I have figured out that just because this person does something doesn't mean It happens to everyone. So because you can tolerate this and you're fine with it, doesn't mean someone else is. So for them, it's not toxic for you, it may be. So you have to recognize, first of all, what's toxic for you. So what's that problem? Is there a problem at all? And then there's the short and long-term negative effect. If there is a negative effect in what they ask you to do, then that's a problem. For instance, if you love to wear stiletto heels and you're dating someone Who doesn't want you to wear those and you don't feel good about wearing flats, that's a problem because you're not being you. You can't be the real person and the other person together. In other words, you then have to become a fake person to coexist with this other person. If you can't be your authentic self with the other person, you have to, like, you talk about eggshells or change what you do to be around this person or hide your inner you. That's, it may seem like very small at first, but it'll build and build and it can build into resentment. It can build into, oh, it builds into a number of things. So once you recognize what's toxic for you, some people, it won't bother them. They don't care. Oh, they got heels over there, but they don't care if they don't have to wear them. So what is toxic for you? Once you find out what that boundary is, you gotta stick to it or else it's gonna build and build and build and then like the volcano experiment in school.

[Rachel Strella]: 4:50

And that is something women would do. Let it build and then blow.

[Vixen Divine]: 4:55

Mm-hmm. So that's what I find.

[Rachel Strella]: 5:03

Well, so, you know, one question that arose was, have you ever lost a friendship, you know, partnership or a business relationship that didn't realize was toxic at the time that we were in it, but you recognize it once they were no longer in your life? That's a great question. I can say for me, uh, on the business side, I remember several business relationships and they're actually former team members. Um, those red flags that we described earlier were constant, but I kept thinking, I need these people. In retrospect, I think I was scared that if they left, I'd be dealing with a mess. And I will admit, when we parted ways, I did deal with a mess. But, um, I was much better off for it, and so was my team, and so was my business. As far as friendships or relationships go, I mean yes absolutely there too. I think sometimes it's hard to see things for what they are sometimes when you're in the moment. We have these blinders on to the people that we think are friends or partners and we don't want to believe there's an issue.

[Vixen Divine]: 6:23

Sometimes I feel like how that works out is in those types of relationships, your friendships, your partnerships, the friendships and things that you have on a daily basis like that, I feel like the best way to even realize it is that you don't. You have to listen to your friend who tells you, hey, you know what? Laura isn't right. There's something going on because you don't see it. You don't recognize it because like you said, you're in this and it has to be from the outside looking in and you're in at that moment and you haven't stepped back yet to see what's really going on. But someone else who's in your ear saying, hey, I see something. It's not that they necessarily are trying to break up your relationship or destroy you, but it's worth looking into. It's worth looking at that perspective. And then you'll know if someone is trying to break up your relationship or something, you know, but you'll have a good view to look because sometimes we just can't, most of the time, actually, we can't see it. So it's not, you don't need to dismiss when someone is telling you that. You need to have those good friends to tell you that, but don't dismiss it, look at it and see, and then judge from there. I mean, I'll tell you a story when my kid was young. There was this little boy down the street who would come up to play with my son. He'd never bring any toys, but he always played with my son toys. And he said that, you know, his mom didn't let him bring his toys outside. So, but he played pretty hard with my son's toys. So as the mom on the outside looking in, because my son, you know, he just had his friends, so he believed in reality, this boy only wanted to play with his toys. But he couldn't see that because this is a friend, you know, just he, this little boy's coming up to play with him and blah, etc, etc. Till I took the toys, I said, you know what, he's not going to be able to bring his toys out anymore either. So you guys could you know play other things you know. He never came around again.

[Rachel Strella]: 8:54

Go figure. Yeah.

[Vixen Divine]: 8:59

Well, we have some other questions. Our next question is, so after all of this, how do you get away from toxic people is the question. And there are a couple of ways to actually get out of this. You can actually change your environment. Now, what I mean by that, you can, let's take, something that usually happens on a daily basis. Like say you're in a business, a work environment, right? And your toxic person is Lisa at work. Oh my God, she's just terrible. And now whatever Lisa does, say at the water cooler, you know, she always knocks over your water, whatever it is, you know, that sort of thing. Okay, bring your own water. Don't go to the water cooler.

[Rachel Strella]: 9:55

Mm-hmm. Yep. Stay away.

[Vixen Divine]: 9:59

If you're into something, and I know there are some people out there, which is why I'm addressing this, if you are into drugs, because people are, we have the, we like them the sober workday people, and then they have to drink every day after work. That's, you know, that's a functional alcoholic, alcohol is a drug. Change your environment, you know, go somewhere else, go to the gym, go to something that occupies you. That is really, really a great thing. It's really easy to help yourself if you're not there because then after your habits will change. It takes a while, but your habits will change. And then one more thing, you have to cut off all communications. And this is the hard part for a lot of people because you've got Facebook. You've got your Instagram, you know, you got all these things, your cell phone, and don't just not answer their calls. I mean, cut off communication. Like take them out of your book, take them out, delete them completely. And you have to do these things, they say a habit forms in three weeks. So you have to do this for 21 days to form your new habits. What do you think?

[Rachel Strella]: 11:26

Well, I think that we have a habit of trying to please everyone, especially as women, and that thinking is false. I think that we need to show up as our best selves and support other people, but it doesn't mean that we sacrifice our well-being. So you know, the hard part is, is that we have to be honest with ourselves and recognize those red flags. And what you said earlier was really important about... you know, when other people are telling you things, you know, when that chirping in your ear, it's almost like you go into smoke, you have to defend your friend or whoever it is that is potentially toxic. And you push those thoughts even further down, you know, but truthfully, what I think don't realize is that there is a co-dependency going on. And I think as I get older, I recognize it a lot sooner. And I have more confidence and have ridden myself of those people, but it's never easy, it gets easier. Boundaries are key. You know, when you talk about cutting out entirely, that's also hard too, because then it creates a situation where they could go and start talking really bad about you, Oh this person just completely cut me off for no reason, that's the narcissist talking, you know. You have to be really comfortable with yourself that you're done with this person and you're not gonna care what they say about you to other people what they're gonna do online and[Vixen Divine]: And you know I don't care. Oh well Rome would be burning I know you wouldn’t care, but I think a lot of people would you know they think well man I'm worried this person's gonna go and blacklist me online. I'm gonna tell my friends, but you have to be in a position to say no this is toxic no matter what. I don't care what they're going to do. And I'm out. That is a really hard decision to make for most people that aren't Vixen.

[Vixen Divine]: 13:34

And you know what, that is something that takes a little getting used to. And I think sometimes that comes with age, you know. So for the younger people that are listening to us, I mean, I think they have the benefit of knowing it's coming. But at least if they're younger, then at least you know to try. Because it will benefit you in the end. If you have that, if you have that knowledge, if you have that point of view, that is freedom. That is freedom to do exactly what you need to do and not care about it. You need to do what you need to do for you. And with that said, so what if that toxic person is a family member? That is really hard. You just cut them out, right? Cause they're, they're still there. They're at the family reunion. They're at the Thanksgiving dinner. They're, you know, they are, they keep, no matter how much you cut them off, they keep popping up. So here's what you do in that. First of all, you have to stop feeling glued to people because they're your blood relatives. Have you ever heard people say, you know, you never loan money to family? Because family treats you different. Even under the same exact circumstances, family treats you different generally than they would other people. So there are things that family would do that you wouldn't do. So if you stop feeling obligated and glued to those people who are indeed your family, then they can go in that same category with those other people as far as cutting them off. I have a family member like that who I have cut off from the phone. I cut off through, you know, social media, family events. I can walk right by you, trust me when I tell you that. So if you, now there is an exception. There are some cultures where there are obligations that you have to fulfill and there are consequences when you don't. So in which case you will have to weigh, because in some cultures you do have to weigh, you know, are you willing to take those consequences if you do that and you don't fulfill those obligations because there are some heavy consequences in some cultures. So just a word for that. But generally speaking, other than that, I don't want you to really suffer because of this. Other than that, yeah, if you can understand and leave those family members as just people, instead of family, then I think you'll be better off.

[Rachel Strella]: 17:03

That is the toughest. I mean, especially if we're talking an immediate family member. I could say I've had toxic family members that were not immediate family. It was way easier to cut them off. Heck, that's one reunion I won't miss. But if it's a sibling or a parent, that's a lot harder. There is that sense of obligation. And hey, just deal with it because of family attitude. Or hey, that's just how they are. And this is not something that anyone can do, by the way, while they're still living with these people, while you're a child. It's not until you've grown up and you're away from that environment that you can actually start to see things for what they are when it comes to immediate family.

[Vixen Divine]: 17:55

Now, this conversation, I will say, I am talking about adults. I am talking about adults. Now, if you are an adult and you're living with someone, this does apply. If you are a child and you are not in control of your environment and your environment is really bad or toxic, you really should tell a teacher or someone that, you know, if you need intervention, because as a child, you don't have the rights and the strengths as you do as an adult. So if you're listening to this and you're like 15 or something like that and something really bad is going on, you do need to tell someone. But as an adult, even if you're living with someone like and they are, so they're an immediate person that you see all the time, you still, you have that power to separate yourself. You have that power to remove yourself from that environment. You have the power to do these things that I'm talking about. Yes, it's difficult. It is difficult and you do have to have a certain mindset to do it. But the fact that they are an immediate sibling, meaning like a sibling or a parent or immediate family, for me that still makes no difference.

[Rachel Strella]: 19:16

Well, and that's for, I mean, once you recognize that you have to make a conscious decision to protect yourself. And while you may never be able to completely cut that person out of your life, you can set appropriate boundaries and stick to them. I mean, we talked about co-dependency earlier, co-dependency at its finest at this stage is because you spent most of your life in this unhealthy relationship with this person. It's really hard to break that pattern, but it's something you have to do in order to get the most from your life. Toxic people, regardless of who they are, hold you back from being your best self. The sooner you recognize this, accept it, and make change, the sooner you realize it was one of the best decisions you've ever made. But it takes courage to do that.

[Vixen Divine]: 20:05

It is very, it is very, it can be, I can say, it can be very difficult depending on the person, you know, who it is first of all, how much you love them, you know, because sometimes that is the toughest love because you need to love yourself first. And sometimes we don't recognize that. You know, we're putting, oh, like you said, we're putting the, well, that's just the way they are. And, you know, well, you know, that's just so-and-so. That's just them. But we're just tolerating that, not recognizing how it's affecting us.

[Rachel Strella]: 20:48

Yes but how many toxic families tolerate behavior like that and justify it by saying, oh, that's just who they are. And that's so it's supposed to be accepted that person's an a-hole and that's OK. What's your problem? You're the one with the problem. It takes courage.

[Vixen Divine]: 21:12

It does. It does. I've seen that again when, this is a different friend and this is when he was like a teenager. Well, not quite, I guess a preteen, where now back in the day, before you let your kid go somewhere, you kind of met with the parents and kind of got to know them a little bit. So I was at a potential friend for my son and we were talking, the mother and I were talking on the couch and I heard upstairs she was a teenager, I think she was 16, slam the door and curse her mother out, say curse words and yeah like slam the door like was angry and you know what the mom told me? She said oh you know she's 16 you know that's how teenagers are.

[Rachel Strella]: 22:05

Yeah, no.

[Vixen Divine]: 22:06

No, that's not. No, no, no. So that again was not a friend that we went with because that is something if my son or picks that up and brings that home, no, no.

[Rachel Strella]: 22:25

Nope. No, nope, I'm with you. That's disrespectful. They obviously, if that's acceptable behavior to them, they're in the wrong family. They're gonna have problems later. That's all I can say. I mean, I get it, teenagers act out, but that's not. You say aw those teenagers, ew.

[Vixen Divine]: 22:43

Yeah, cultural obligations though, cultural obligations can be really, really harsh to the point where you can be shunned from families. It can be, in some cultures, it can be harsh. So you really do have to weigh those options, which is why I brought that up. And you are supposed to do this, this is how it is.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:06

Exactly. It's really hard to break free of that pattern. It takes strength and courage, but once you've done it once it becomes a lot easier.

[Vixen Divine]: 23:16

Yes, yes, and you do need to be prepared to do it. I believe in that situation, knowing what's going to happen.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:25

Let's talk about what we're seeing. Um, so, you know, I have all these young people on my team and they love telling me all these filters on TikTok and one was a red flag filter. Um, so that was fun. I tried it out. You know, I only wish it would have been a little more realistic, but I actually pulled from my profile and updates that, you know, create something more in line with who I am, but really it was just a random draw, whatever it felt like for fun. So I had to do it a few times to get something that was even closely relevant. And, you know, while most people would say that about recognizing their own red flags, I could say it wasn't until I tried the green flags, which were the good things that I realized that this game was rigged. But it was all for fun and games. I played it, it's on my TikTok from yesterday, but it's flag filters, who would’ve thought?

[Vixen Divine]: 24:21

Yeah, I really liked that last one that happened after I watched that. Yeah, I hadn't seen you do that. So, yeah. I think I'm more likely to do that than you are, honestly. I might do that, I might.

[Rachel Strella]: 24:42

It was fun. It was not something I normally do. I like to, you know me, I like my data and making informed decisions, some random luck of the draw, red flag is kind of like really? Ah no, no. I probably won't be doing a filter like that again. Like it was fun for one time.

[Vixen Divine]: 24:59

I might try it though. I might try the red flag. Remember, I don't really know how to do that. So I'm going to work on that. And I've seen filters that I wanted to try, but I just mess it up every time.

[Rachel Strella]: 25:12

That was funny because you're like, I don't know how to do that. I’m sending you step by step. But what's funny is I was trying to do it and I'm like, why is it just giving me a photo and not a video? I had to email Jessica on my team and say, what's going on? And then I'm like, wait, I figured it out. So you're not alone.

[Vixen Divine]: 25:31

I just chalk it up. I'm like, yeah, I'm older. It's totally, it's me. Yeah, it's definitely me.

[Rachel Strella]: 25:41

Alright, another thing that we're seeing, okay. You know how much I am a reality TV junkie.

[Vixen Divine]: 25:49


[Rachel Strella]: 25:50

I love reality TV. And it never really occurred to me why I love reality TV. I just love it if it's on. I'm there with popcorn, I can't stop. And you know, maybe it's this thing about, like it's drama that's not going on in my life. So it's entertaining, when it’s in your life is hell. But where somebody else's life is entertaining. But the reality of reality shows, I think, is that most of these are based on toxicity. And it brings drama and entertainment. And I think it even normalizes drama. And you're like, if an episode doesn't have tons and tons of drama and toxicity in it, this was a crappy episode. And you know, I thought that Jersey Shore is my favorite one. Love Jersey Shore, I can't get enough of it. The hairdresser and I, we start talking about it and we can go on for days. And right now, we're in another kind of a season where they have this summer vacation, where they have a lot of these different things. And they're bringing in cast members who used to date like years and years and years ago. And they don't even know that the other cast member is going to be on the show. Both of them left the show. And the relationship was toxic, obviously, during the time they were together. So, you know, this is just like heating up what's going to happen here. Um, you can't tell me the producers didn't stage that. I mean, I've read so many stories behind the scenes of reality TV shows and they say they put you in these scenarios and they tell you what to talk about. Um, all of these things that will just get the juicy stuff flowing.

[Vixen Divine]: 27:33

Oh yeah.[Rachel Strella]: Um. So it's not really reality, but Sort of[Rachel Strella]: it's still their

[Rachel Strella]: 27:37

lives. It's still their lives, you know, they still gotta deal with this stuff every day.

[Vixen Divine]: 27:43

Well, see, I'm okay with that because they get paid to have drama. See, in our lives or in, you know, we're not, that's not part of our paycheck. There's no paycheck in having drama. So the least amount of drama is good unless now these people volunteered to come on set, getting paid to have the drama. So that's why I don't feel bad about that, about their drama, because I know they're getting paid, and in some cases pretty handsomely to do this. So yes, and I think I believe you're right in the fact where they give you like a subject matter or that kind of thing, and they kind of do things on purpose to like push your buttons almost. And then they film it. you know, whatever your reaction is. But you're right, the thing that brings people that negative and the toxicity, is it's entertaining for it to be someone else. And, but you have to understand that it's good for actually to be on TV and not you so that you don't have to experience it.

[Rachel Strella]: 29:04


[Vixen Divine]: 29:05

You can feel that drama. in someone else's life and not experience it in your own. So that's kind of good. You're kind of getting out where the adrenaline is running, but it's not yours. And you can turn it off.

[Rachel Strella]: 29:19

Kinda like riding a roller coaster. You know, you know you're not in any real danger. It's just that percieved feel. You know, it's not really scary. You're gonna be fine, but if you're like in a real fear situation, that's way different. So I can totally see that. I still love reality TV. And I hope that Sammy and Ron on Jersey Shore. I hope that they all end up okay. That's all I gotta say there.

[Vixen Divine]: 29:48

I think they'll be okay.

[Rachel Strella]: 29:51

But I hope all of the youngsters watching these shows are not thinking that this type of behavior is normal. This is not normal.

[Vixen Divine]: 29:58

I do think that they understand that it's a television show and not.

[Rachel Strella]: 30:07


[Vixen Divine]: 30:08

The first reality shows were daytime TV. Years and years, forever and ever have been on. And people actually did get attached to the characters. Like when they saw the people in person, they really think that that's them.

[Rachel Strella]: 30:26

Mm-hmm. Yep.

[Vixen Divine]: 30:27

So that was a thing. But I don't think they do that with reality TV. I think they recognize that it is their lives, but they are on a television show.

[Rachel Strella]: 30:38

But everybody kind of resonates with somebody on a reality TV show. You know, you're always pulling for somebody or you loathe somebody. They're calling us out. Okay, well Well we’re coming to the end of our podcast here. Vixen, is there anything you'd like to add on this topic?

[Vixen Divine]: 30:52

You know what, I think we covered it pretty thoroughly for the time that we have, because we could go on about this. But I just want people to realize that the toxicity may come to you a little bit and a little bit at a time. The more you stay there, the more you stay in that situation, the worse it's going to get. So when someone whispers in your ear, hey, you know what? Something isn't right about Louise or whoever it is. You need to not dismiss that. You need to take a look, step back and have a look and see what's really happening. And then you can decipher if that person is just being mean or if there's really a problem because you're not usually gonna see the problem yourself

[Rachel Strella]: 31:42

Very, very true. Listen to other people. Listen to your intuition too. I think, okay, so this is a podcast for women and you know, it occurred to me, you know, are toxic relationships kind of isolated to women? So I did a little research and found out that 84% of women and 75% of men report having a toxic friend at some point in their lives. So this means this is not isolated to women. However, since this is a podcast for women, if you want more information on having a healthy relationship with other women, check out episode seven called navigating female friendships of our podcast. Well, thank you for tuning in to the Light Her Project podcast. You can always follow the conversation online with our hashtag. In the meantime, keep it real, real women.

[Vixen Divine]: 32:34

Real talk.

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