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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Emotional abuse and toxic relationships

June 23, 2021


Toxic. Just the word sends chills down my spine. Now you can only imagine how this trait may be portrayed in a relationship. Toxic relationships incorporate damage and emotional abuse to a partner induced by the “toxic” individual who carries out repetitive behaviours. As Mark Manson puts it, “A toxic relationship occurs when one or both people are prioritizing love over the three core components of a healthy relationship: respect, trust, and affection. The result is an unhealthy relationship that leaves one feeling isolated, imposing the responsibility and blame on themselves, insecurity, and a never-ending cycle of trying to “change” or “fix” the other.   

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3 signs that may determine you have encountered a toxic relationship as per Relationship Expert, Stephanie Cornwell. 

1. You constantly feel drained; mentally, physically, emotionally. Drained from giving and giving without receiving parallel or even some decent effort in return.

2. You are always overthinking and coming up with excuses to cover for the other’s behaviour. This is almost as though you are trying to convince yourself that they are not as they seem and are only behaving a certain way because they have a lot going on. We all deal with life, but someone’s constant irrational treatment towards you cannot solely be justified by “well, they’re having a bad day”.

3. You frequently experience feelings of worthlessness. It’s as though you feel that you are never enough and subconsciously plan changes that you would like to make about yourself. “If I just change this, if I had a smaller nose, a smaller waist, etc., I’d be perfect.” What we fail to see within these lines is the faint hope that if you made all these modifications, maybe just maybe they would love you and accept you. 

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Understanding the empath and narcissist dynamic. 

Individuals often fail to recognize that they have been caught up in a parasitic relationship as an empath and their associated narcissist as explained by the psychologist: Dr. Rachel Partali. 

She explains that an empath is an individual who holds a strong sense of intuition and deeply feels the emotions of others, hence finds themselves drained by negative energy and emotions. As a result of this cycle, they find themselves needing time alone to recharge and regroup as they digest their whirlwind of emotions. 

On the other hand, a narcissist holds little to no regard for the feelings of others, empathy, and simply thrives off the need for admiration as a means of validation. They fail to see people as unique individuals and instead view others as objects. These objects are sources of love, and attention and a narcissist will often use manipulative strategies to withdraw love and regain it from the empath, especially when the other person starts to realize the treatment they receive isn’t fair. 

This situation can put the empath in a conflict between providing the narcissist with love in hopes that “enough love” will change them, and/or giving themselves this love that the narcissist fails to return. Feelings of confusion, anxiety and insecurity are inevitable in this situation. Did you ever find yourself or a loved one describing their partner/friend/companion etc. as either “truly amazing or just terrible”? Well, there may be an empath and narcissist relationship at play. 

Now the question is why doesn’t the empath just disassociate themselves from such negative energy and leave? The truth is, it isn’t so simple. The reason behind the divine, hope-filled attempts of the empath at fixing the narcissist is due to wanting love because their self-worth is deeply rooted in receiving this love. The empath's unconscious desire is simply if they can love me, then I will be validated. Digging deeper into the reason beyond this need can include a variety of past experiences, but most notably it may be a childhood relationship dynamic at play where love was not received by a caregiver. 

 

How can we evolve from toxic relationships?

While I am not a certified psychologist or psychotherapist, I have learned a lot from Shannon Thomas in her book, “Healing from Hidden Abuse” and will be using it as a source to express how you can take steps toward healing.

I would like to begin by saying arriving at this step is a symbol of strength and a sign of courage. You were able to recognize that something may be wrong with your life, more specifically your relationship(s) and for your betterment, you want to take steps to resolve this issue. Amazing, I’m proud of you! 

To truly bring an end to any toxic relationship or more specifically that of an empath and narcissist, the empath has to recognize their worth. They must work to no longer acknowledge the narcissist and make themselves unavailable to their attempts at gaining attention. Carl Jung put it so well, “one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but through making the darkness conscious”. The empath needs to acknowledge, accept and create a bond with the pain that lies within themselves. Through processing and understanding one’s wounds and hidden traumas, the process of healing can begin. Rather than seeing the darkness of the narcissist as their responsibility to alter, the empath needs to recognize what’s best for me? Sooner or later, everyone will arrive at this conclusion of loving themselves because they will realize that this love and support is unlikely to arrive from the narcissist unless they change- which of course is only possible by their conscious self-reflection and not the attempts of an outside source. 

Learning to love yourself is so important. You often hear others say, learn to love yourself before you love others. I strongly believe this because it's important to understand that you matter! As long as you are satisfied from within and there is no war at play in your head against yourself, your insecurities, etc., no negative outside source will be able to harm you because you’ll realize that their words are just an opinion, not a fact! Remember, you matter, you’re important and if you don’t like the way life is playing out, you have the choice to act to alter it for your betterment. 

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