Rekindling Toxic Relationships

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those contemplating retirement find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after they retire. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking on this link: Click here for her website:

Now, on to my blog:

Two dogs fighting 1Have you ever had a friendship or relationship end because it was too toxic, often anxiety provoking, or the cons greatly outweighed the pros–you know the drill? It has probably happened to all of us. It might involve a relative, a friend, a spouse, a significant other, a parent, a child, etc. When you look back, you realize that you’re better off out of that relationship. Some time may pass, years even, and without him or her in your life, you become aware that you’ve grown–you’re healthier.

But, when life gets boring or you feel lonely, you may think about reaching out to that person.  After all, there was something about the relationship that was magnetic, that brought experiences or qualities into your life that you craved.  Conversely, one day the other party might reach out to you, trying to rekindle the relationship? They, too, probably miss what they gained from their involvement with you.

Perhaps you’ll get a phone message, a Facebook friend request, a letter, or some other means of communication. Maybe you’ll have mixed feelings, remembering the good times as well as the painful ones. If it happens when you’re in a vulnerable place in your life, however, you might start focusing on how nice it would feel to bask in the warmth of those sunny days again. The temptation is great to click that “accept” button on the friend request.  After all, what harm can a little social media communication do?

Before you jump back in, take a breath or two or ten or a thousand. Assess why the relationship fell apart in the first place. Remember how the bad times began to dominate. Do you really think the other individual has changed enough to no longer behave as they once did? Have you changed enough to no longer let it bother you? What benefit is it to you to resurrect the relationship? Might it soon devolve into the toxicity that characterized it the last time? There are all kinds of expressions describing this scenario including, “let sleeping dogs lie.”

The most important thing is for you to remain healthy. The pain following the termination of a close relationship lasts quite a while and regurgitates regularly as experiences spark memories. If you have finally reached a point of well-being, why would you want to put yourself back in that stressful position?

“Well, people can change,” you might say. Yes, that’s true. However, there is a limit to how much anyone can change. Consider if that particular person could have changed enough to become a positive rather than a negative influence in your life? Think about how many people you know or know about who keep reconciling only to split up again and again.  Be careful before you grab at hopes and wishes which are not now and never were reality.


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2 responses to “Rekindling Toxic Relationships

  1. How true. You just can’t go back

  2. Alan Levine

    At this point, life is to short to waste energy on someone who caused me stress. Not worth spending the time or energy even if one was a little lonely.

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