There is a difference between toxic and abusive relationships, and oftentimes that line is clearly drawn. However, when it comes to healthy vs. toxic, noticing and navigating these types of connections is often difficult, as they are more challenging to recognize. In this week’s VulnerABILITY Podcast, host Marisa Donnelly and guest Abe Lopez dive into difficult relationships, specifically tackling the topic of ‘should you stay or leave.’

In traditional—read millennial—culture, oftentimes people are encouraged to walk away from anything that doesn’t feel right. People learn not to settle for less than they deserve (which, yes, is often a good thing). But on the opposite end of that, relationships start to fall apart as neither party wants to fight to make things work.

In this week’s podcast, Abe and I talk about this. We discuss how to determine whether a relationship is toxic (warning signs). We also talk about how to prioritize yourself enough to make sure that you’re not falling into something negative by accident.

When it comes to boundaries, Abe takes a strong stance, saying there should be a line drawn for what people tolerate. I argue that it’s not a ‘line’ but an acknowledgment of self-worth. Once you know your self-worth, you are less willing to compromise or lose parts of yourself to fix what’s ‘broken.’

*PS: Listen for bonus guests: my dog and a chorus of friends. 😂

Highlights From the Episode:

[2:15] “I think more of the issue came, not from the fact that it was happening, but the fact that I was denying to myself that it was happening.”

[3:00] “What becomes our normal is what we are surrounded by… Sometimes we don’t even identify what we’re in as toxic because it’s just something that we’ve either experienced or seen. Or you just get wrapped up in the love, or wrapped up in the moment and you don’t realize that it’s actually unhealthy.”

[4:10] “[There’s] this idea that if you’ve been in something so long and you’ve invested so much time and energy… [you] don’t want to give up on it.”

[6:30] We’re in denial… but under the surface, we know that something is toxic… That’s the first moment where we can recognize something isn’t right: when we have to convince ourselves that [it’s] good.”

[7:10] “We live in a society that sort of condones it, ‘Oh, you can fix him,’ ‘You can fix her… But it’s not anybody’s job to fix anybody else.”

[10:25] “There’s a difference between having somebody’s back and being there for them through thick and thin versus putting up with toxic behavior. And that is literally the key when it comes to knowing whether you should stay or leave.”

[20:35] “Is this person capable of changing on their own? Or am I just sitting here, trying to force something to happen? …If you’re sitting there and trying hard to make love work, if you’re trying to get somebody to love you — that’s not love.”

[26:50] “You have to value yourself enough to know when you can go. If you don’t value yourself enough, you’re going to stay in a crappy thing forever.”

The Biggest Takeaway:

There is a difference between being there for someone through it all, and letting yourself be trampled by toxic behavior.

To listen to more episodes of the VulnerABILITY Podcast, click here.