Toxic Relationships - How To Determine If It’s Best To Walk Away

Toxic Relationships – How To Determine If It’s Best To Walk Away


Cherie Ha

Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach (BSc & MBA)
Cherie offers holistic health and life guidance and currently finishing off her book helping women navigate out of toxic relationships through discovering more about their talents, their body, their purpose and worth. She is also a business teaching assistant at Curtin University, loves collecting recipe books more than she cooks and a kid at heart when she is around food.


We all have our own belief system that is uniquely shaped by our past experiences and unhealed trauma. These factors influence how we perceive the world and how we treat one another, including the person we are in a relationship with.

Without awareness, we can project our insecurities and unresolved trauma or pain to the other even if we did not intend to. These can manifest in the form of – arguments about trust, feelings of jealousy, controlling the other in various ways, and loving them only with conditions.

If both individuals are aware of how they are influencing one another and dedicates the time to work on their own insecurities and personal growth, relationships are likely to be healthier and can last longer.

However, if arguments become the primary agenda when you meet up with them, you are feeling depleted after being together, and you are neglecting other areas in your life that are just as important, here is some reflection and confirmation to recognise that it may be best to leave the relationship.

The below checklist is to flag if your relationship is ‘toxic’ and that it may be best for you to leave. How many do you tick?

  • Are they consistently bringing the ‘worst’ out of you?
  • Are you feeling depleted, lack of energy, moody and emotionally unstable after spending time together?
  • Do they place restrictions on you where you’re not allowed to do certain things for example spend time with your friends or family?
  • Have you come across red flags already? (Eg. They’ve had past scary break-ups; they mistreat their parents)
  • Do they just disappear without notice or contact?
  • Are they struggling with their mental health and it’s also impacting your own?
  • Are you relying on the relationship for happiness or to escape your current reality?
  • Are you constantly worrying about them?
  • Is trust always an issue?
  • Have they stopped you from doing something you love?
  • Is your relationship in the present moment only based from what happened in the past when you first spent time together?

Here are some further prompts for you to explore and help you decide:

1. Get to know your values. Also, what are theirs?

Explore your values. We so often hear about values in a business sense but what are our own?

When we explore our values, that is where we can use this as our personal navigation system and choose to spend time with people who align with them.

Because when the ‘tummy butterflies’ settle and the feel-good dopamine hormone naturally reduce after spending more time with the other, your values and theirs need to be similar in order for the relationship to sustain.

Some of your values could be:

  1. A healthy balanced life
  2. Honesty
  3. Learning
  4. Family
  5. Being out in nature

Next, review the person’s behaviours and how they have been treating you. Do their values align with yours?  They don’t necessarily need to align with all of them, however, it’s important that there is some commonality or it’s going to be really hard to get along with them long term.

Which brings me to my next question…

2. Why are you in a relationship with this person?

We are often seeking things in others that we would like in ourselves. Reflect on why you are in a relationship with them.

Is it because you genuinely like the person, you have similar values and interests and/or want to spend more time with them?

Or is it somethings else…?

  • Is it to not feel lonely?
  • To prove to others you have a partner?
  • To distract yourself from various issues going on in your life?
  • To rely on someone else for support?
  • To fulfill your idea and story of what a relationship is meant to be?
  • To feel wanted, appreciated, or admired?
  • Is it just for fun?
  • Is it because they are good-looking?

Whatever the reason is, ensure that you are being honest with yourself.

When we are relying on something external in hopes to fill what is missing in our own life, or rely on others for happiness, we place expectations on them and will inevitably come with obstacles in the relationship because we cannot control the other.

For women, it is biochemically natural to opt for safety and security in a male counterpart however, it is important that you do not rely on them for this. If you are, then this is revealing that you are to attend and nourish other areas of your life and it could be things you don’t want to deal with.

Therefore, reflect on your true intentions as to why are you in a relationship with this person?

It is also important that the other is aware of your intentions of being in a relationship with them and clearly and consistently communicate this out.

3. Could you get along with this person even if they were just a friend?

We have been brainwashed by society, the media, and ‘Disney’ movies (I’m not hating) to believe that relationships occur the moment we feel the instant ‘chemistry’ of someone we first met. Well, that’s called a dopamine hit, a hormone released from the body when you see something new and enticing to your eye.

We can often jump from the moment of connection, a couple dates to being in a relationship before getting to even know them as a friend. We tend to dismiss the red flags that may come up along the way all because of the concoction of the feel-good hormones circulating our body when we spend time with someone new.

However, could you get along with this person if they were just a friend? Do you think they are genuinely a great person that you would want to be around?

Getting to know someone as a friend first also allows you to like them without conditions. You can develop trust in them like you would with your other friends and be genuinely supportive of them as they grow.

It can be confronting to realise that you may not think you could get along with the person you’re with even as a friend and the relationship you’re in has been based on other factors mentioned above. However, be honest with yourself and honest about what the relationship has been based on and what it is now. Grant yourself permission to walk away from the relationship to finally put your health and happiness first.

Who we choose to spend our time with mirror aspects of ourselves and indicate our level of self-worth. Being in ‘toxic’ relationships often call for our attention that we are to spend more time learning about ourselves and to find ways to love and nurture ourselves without depending on others to make us happy. As we learn how to accept and love ourselves, the quality of our relationships will reflect this too.