Toxic traits can appear in anyone. They can be hard to identify in your partner and relationships, and even harder to identify within yourself. It can be extremely difficult to reflect on different aspects of your life, relationships, and yourself. However, it could be beneficial to reflect on some qualities that can be considered “toxic.”
You may (or may not) be wondering what a toxic relationship is exactly. It might be helpful to first define a healthy relationship. In healthy relationships there is communication, collaboration, and things tend to work out in everyone’s favor. This isn’t to say that healthy relationships don’t come with their own bumps in the road and arguments (all relationships do), but generally you get along with your partner, and enjoy each other’s company when in a healthy relationship. On the other hand, there are toxic relationships. In these types of relationships you can generally feel drained and unhappy after being around the other person. Things are no longer enjoyable, yet you still have a lot of love for your partner. Healthy relationships can turn into toxic relationships. By realizing this shift, you can work with your partner in order to get it back to the healthier side. Toxic doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is over (even though sometimes this is the case), it can also mean that some work needs to be done. The first step to doing the work is recognizing there is a problem in the first place. Which leads us to the next part: recognizing the signs.
What toxic traits look like in a relationship:
- No support- you no longer or never have felt supported or encouraged in your day to day life. It can also feel like they won’t show up for you when you need it
- Toxic communication- there is little kindness in the way they speak to you. There is a lot of criticism and rude remarks.
- Jealousy- jealousy happens, and it’s a normal feeling to feel. It’s when jealousy turns into negative thoughts and comments, as well as sabotaging behaviors.
- Controlling- this can look like your partner constantly keeping track of where you are and what you are doing, or getting upset when you don’t immediately answer them.
- Lying- being dishonest and making up lies about important things
- Stressful- When you find yourself constantly feeling stressed even when there are no outside sources influencing that (death in the family, finances, etc.).
- Not getting your needs met- this can look like constantly doing what your partner wants and never doing what you want. Doing things that go against your comfort level just to make your partner happy, etc
There are more aspects that can signify a toxic relationship, but ultimately it’s important for you to listen to yourself and how you feel while in a relationship. If you feel that more often than not you are drained, uncomfortable, hoping that things will change, or even just holding on to that love you have for them when everything else is missing; it might be time to have a conversation with your partner.
The next part can be even harder to do than recognizing toxic traits in your relationships. It’s recognizing toxic traits in yourself. Self-awareness and self-reflection is key in recognizing that some of your behaviors may not be the healthiest. Nobody is perfect, but being able to change when you realize something you are doing could be hurting those around it is super important.
- Negativity- you may not even realize that this can be toxic, but having a constant negative outlook on life and events that happen can have a negative impact on those around you. We all have bad days and that’s okay! However, constantly dwelling on the negative can be toxic not only for yourself but for others
- Judgemental- having constant judgements on other people can be toxic. This can be on how other people are living their lives, what they look like, etc. Overall, being judgemental does a lot more damage than good.
- Gaslighting- It can be normal to take the defensive when it comes to being confronted. However, invalidating someone’s feelings and emotions because you are upset is not healthy for any relationship
- Manipulation- manipulating someone to get something you want or to get them to stay isn’t a healthy trait. Manipulation can also manifest itself in making things all about you, using people to get what you want, and guilting others into doing what you want.
Overall, anyone can have a toxic trait, and anyone can be in a toxic relationship. Take some time to reflect on yourself and the relationships you are in, in order to get the best and most fulfilling experiences from life and your relationships.