Before we get into anything, I just wanted to say that you are not alone. You don’t have to go through whatever it is you’re going through alone. I am here for you.
This past year I have come in contact with a lot of new people and made new relationships. Many of them didn’t last very long and I’m now realizing that they were only supposed to be in my life for a season.
I have also been able to do a lot of observing of others and how they interact with people and even been able to take a look at the relationships that people are in. I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t necessarily know what a healthy relationship is. They are so fixated on merely being in a relationship with someone that they don’t know when that relationship is volatile or toxic.
These relationships don’t necessarily have to be a boyfriend or girlfriend. They can be a boss that belittles you when they are stressed or even a constantly criticizing mother-in-law. Volatile relationships come in all shapes and sizes.
This week I hope to shed some light on what volatile relationships are, signs of a volatile relationship, how to handle volatile relationships, and how to recover after being in a volatile relationship.
What are Volatile Relationships?
Volatile from Latin volatilis “fleeting, transitory” always gives the sense of sudden, radical change. Think of it as the opposite of stable. A person who is volatile loses his or her temper suddenly and violently. A volatile political situation could erupt into civil war. When the stock market is volatile, it fluctuates greatly. And in scientific language, a volatile oil evaporates quickly.
A great way to describe volatile relationships is the 90-10 rule. 90% of the time things are great. You’re both happy and communicate well and enjoy spending time together. Generally, you feel positively about your relationship, but the 10% is lurking in the background waiting for its opportunity to come in and ruin everything.
5 Signs of a Volatile Relationship
1. The smallest thing will trigger a big argument. Something that seemingly comes out of nowhere, but they get emotionally explosive quickly.
2. When things are going rough, one or both of you may say things you don’t mean, but they are hard to take back.
3. You experience days or even weeks of minimal communication or not talking at all. You avoid each other, not knowing how to find your way back to the person you know and love.
4. You feel isolated, lonely, and disconnected. The person you love feels unfamiliar, distant, and a stranger.
5. You think the worst and fall into hopelessness about ever working it out.
The good news is that the 90% can win. Recognizing the signs and establishing new, positive behaviors will help the relationship from going down a volatile rabbit hole.
How to Handle Volatile Relationships
1. Accept that you are in a difficult situation, dealing with a very difficult relationship
What works is to accept that your relationship with them is super hard, and also that you are trying to make it less hard. This does not mean that you are resigned to a life of misery, or that the situation will never get better. It simply means that you are accepting the reality of a difficult relationship and that allows us to soften. This softening will open the door to your own compassion and wisdom.
2. The other person will probably tell you that you are the cause of all their bad feelings.
Understand that this is just not true. You are not responsible for their emotions. You never have been, and you never will be. Don’t take responsibility for their suffering; if you do, they will never have the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves.
3. Tell the truth
When you lie, you become complicit in the creation and maintenance of their reality, which is poisonous to you. Lying is very stressful for human beings. Lie detectors do not detect lies, but they detect the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. Lying will not make the relationship less toxic.
Instead, just tell the truth. Be sure to tell them your truth and not your judgment, or what you imagine to be true for other people. It takes courage to tell the truth, because often it makes people angry. No matter what you do, they will probably be mad at you anyway. So why not just tell the truth? They almost certainly won’t like the new, truth-telling you —and that will make them likely to avoid you in the future. This might be a good thing.
4. If you feel angry or afraid, bring your attention to your breath and do not speak (or write) to the person until you feel calm
It’s normal to want to defend yourself, but remember that anger and anxiety weaken you. Trust that working on yourself is the only effective thing you can do right now. If you need to excuse yourself, go ahead and step out. Even if it is embarrassing or it leaves people hanging.
5. Have mercy
You probably won’t be able to get rid of your negative thoughts about them, and you won’t be able to change them, but you can make an effort to be a loving person.
Forgiveness takes this kindness to a whole new level. I used to think that I couldn’t really forgive someone who’d hurt me until they asked for forgiveness. I’ve learned that to heal ourselves we must forgive whether or not we’re asked for forgiveness, and whether or not the person is still hurting us. When we do, we feel happier and more peaceful. Forgiveness is an ongoing practice, not a one-time deal.
When we find ways to show mercy to even the person who has cost us sleep and love and even our well-being, something miraculous happens. We experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp. Our mercy boomerangs back to us. When we show radical kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance we start to show ourselves those things. We realize that we can love and forgive and accept even the most terrible aspects of our own being, even it if is only for a moment. We start to show ourselves the truth, and this makes us feel free.
This makes everything worth it. All of the tears, all of the arguments, all of the pain.
I went through a time when my dad and I weren’t seeing eye to eye on things. There were lots of times when we would lash out and say some truly hurtful things to one another. It got so bad that we didn’t talk for some time. Once I decided to open up and forgive him was when I truly felt at peace and our relationship now is amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
How to recover after being in a Volatile Relationship
Going through a breakup is always difficult, no matter the circumstances. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship either. Friend breakups can sometimes be the same or worse than a romantic relationship. Going through a volatile relationship break up can feel even worse than any of those relationship breakups. It is important to remember that you have support and it’s especially important to remember that a breakup is temporary.
Remember these 8 tips when you go through a volatile relationship breakup:
1. It’s okay to be sad.
Allow yourself to cry, eat that pint of ice cream and watch sad movies. Cry to your family and friends. Don’t think that it is better to hide your feelings and appear strong. It is healthy to release those feelings of pain so you can move on.
2. Don’t doubt what you did.
Stand firm in your decision to move on. You made the right call because you want to be in a healthy relationship
3. Stay out of contact.
You might be tempted to call or text them, just to check in. Resist the temptation and try being alone for a while. It’s better to be single rather than being back in a volatile relationship!
4. Get creative.
It might seem scary to try something new. Don’t let the doubts that were put in your head from that volatile relationship sink into your day-to-day life. Try joining a club, starting a project, cooking a great meal, learning a musical instrument or a second language. Do whatever you think will help distract you from the breakup and get out and enjoy life again.
5. Go back in time.
Get back to your roots and try your hand at some of the hobbies you had that may have stopped because of the relationship.
6. Spend time with others.
Sometimes, volatile relationships cause people to unintentionally sever ties with loved ones. If you haven’t spent as much time with your friends as you’d like, set up a date to hang out. The same goes for your family. Reconnecting with the people in your life that you love will remind you that you are not alone, and will establish new routines.
7. Focus on the present.
It can be very easy to dwell on the past, rather than thinking about today and the future. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen, and concentrate on what’s happening now. Are you enjoying yourself? What makes you happy? Just because one relationship ends doesn’t mean you can never discover a new passion or reclaim your life.
8. Love yourself.
What happened has happened. Don’t think you can go back and stop yourself from ever coming in contact with that person, nor can you go back and try to change them.
It is possible to move on from this. You are worthy of real love and happiness! The more you focus on self-love, the easier it will be to find someone who you can love again — and who will love you in return, in a healthy relationship.
You are the most important you there will ever be and you deserve to be here. Don’t let someone else steal your joy. Be the creator of your own joy.
Have you been in a volatile relationship or know someone that has, what tips would you add? Let me know in the comments!