Toxic friends are one thing, but a toxic relationship with a significant other is a completely different thing. Most people that are in a toxic relationship don’t want to be told they are since deep down they KNOW they are and don’t want to admit it. Family and friends can beg, plead, scold, and roll their eyes all they want, but there’s almost no way to really get through to someone that’s in a toxic relationship until they come around on their own, if they ever do. The sad thing is that some folks never wake up and spend their lives searching for this type of relationship. Even worse than that is the fact that some folks see healthy relationships all around them and STILL don’t try to find such a thing. There are reasons for this, and I’ll go over a few of them.
The most obvious reason is that people in toxic relationships are drawn to this type of life.
It’s frustrating, there’s no doubt, especially if you happen to be the one in a healthy relationship and want to give a friend or a family member a few pointers. The reason a lot of us don’t is that they either won’t listen or will show resentment if we so much as open our mouths. But there are a few reasons why a person would be drawn to this type of life.
- They were raised by parents who were in a toxic relationship. This can happen far more than people think it can since people do grow apart, they fall out of love, or they are in love but it’s so competitive that they can’t do anything without putting each other down. In a healthy relationship there’s bound to be competition between one person and another, but being happy for another person’s achievements instead of resenting their success is how people grow and learn to appreciate one another. The alternative is getting pissy when your boyfriend/girlfriend does something great and you don’t have anything equally great to talk about. That’s pretty miserable.
- The individual gets satisfaction out of bringing people down. In some cases this might mean they were never taught about empathy or sympathy, or they’re just a jerk that needs a wakeup call (oh, if it were that simple), but some people thrive on the pain of others either because they’re home life is unsatisfactory, or they’re psychopaths in training. Don’t laugh, it does happen. A healthy relationship is about letting your feelings out now and again to show the people around you that you do care. You don’t have to be a weepy mess every time something bad happens, but it’s important to let people know that you do value them and care about their issues.
Trust is a big thing in any relationship.
Let’s just put it simply, if you don’t have trust, you don’t have a relationship. My personal motto is that trust isn’t a bedrock principle for me. If I feel I can trust someone, then there’s nothing I won’t do for them, but if they break that trust and make it evident that they don’t deserve it, then they don’t generally get a second chance. That’s close to being toxic, but not quite, since trust is something to value and hold onto. Breaking it tends to mean that the person who did the breaking doesn’t value much.
There are entire books on the issue of trust, and believe me, some of them are worth reading. Others are a bunch of sappy, self-help hooey that some people might value and see as a life-changing lesson that they needed. Hey, to each their own, but the thing about trust is that when it comes to relationships it’s important that you can trust someone, since if you can’t, then the toxic fumes alone will destroy any chance of creating a healthy bond.
Believe it or not, alone time IS healthy.
If you’re single then you probably have a lot of alone time, unless you’re always with friends. But even that can be toxic since being clingy and needy is a sure sign that you’re afraid to be alone. Fear, anger, despair, leads to the toxic buildup that can ruin a relationship or a friendship. I could rattle off an anecdote for you but…nah. Let’s just say that spending time with the person you’re in a relationship with is great, it’s grand, and it helps you build a level of trust and it can help you bond in a way that’s important for both of you.
But you’ve got to give each other space sometimes. A person can’t grow as easily if they have someone hanging on to them ALL THE TIME. There are moments when you’ve got to get out and find your interests and do something that helps you to invest in YOU, not just the person you’re with. It’s fine to do things together and have a great time and show how loving and caring you can be. But don’t rope someone into doing everything you want, and don’t let someone do it to you. A healthy relationship tends to see both partners getting into their own thing and both being supportive of that thing. You can even do the SAME thing but give each other space. In a healthy relationship, you don’t need to be attached at the hip.
A healthy relationship will change over time, a toxic one will not.
A lot of people fight this tooth and nail because they don’t want to change who they are, what they do, or what they believe. They want the world to remain in the comfort zone that they established, and that’s just not healthy, especially for a relationship. A healthy relationship will change, and perhaps even end at one point as people continue to grow and express different interests. Those in a toxic relationship don’t tend to grow much, if at all, and want things to be just the same. One person might want to change, but the other will refuse and try to hold their partner back as much as they can. There are times when it’s healthier to leave someone and experience personal growth than to be duped into staying because they start crying or even stating that they can’t live without you. That’s not the truth, they can’t live with the change that would come, and they don’t want to admit it. A healthy relationship might end, and it will hurt, but it will benefit both people in the end, while a toxic one will just keep going and going like some demented battery bunny, only the drum has been replaced by a chalkboard and the mallets will be replaced with nails. You get the picture.
WTR? (Why’s That Radass?)
As a person, we all deserve a certain amount of respect, and we deserve to be treated correctly so long as we’re willing to do this for others. If you feel that you’re in a toxic relationship and can’t get out, throw a line to someone you care about, talk to a person that’s willing to listen, and be ready to change if it’s on you, or be ready to walk away if it’s them.