It’s only a mere few who find their true love, first time around, and live happily ever after.
For the rest of us, it’s more common for years of trial and error to go by before finally finding the real deal.
Most of us need at least one hand to count the relationships that didn’t work out.
Sometimes we know exactly where we went wrong, dating a bad boy or two for fun, or deciding to forgo personality for a trophy date, just to prove to your friends you could. Or believing you could change all those behaviours that should have been major red flags to run away, fast!
Sometimes we haven’t got a clue at the beginning, seeing only what we want to see and then one day finding ourselves in relationships that don’t serve us at all. In fact, they’re actually harming us.
I’ve been there. Stuck in love with someone who I didn’t belong with. Locked into a relationship that was nothing but unhappiness.
The relationship wasn't just unhealthy, it was toxic, but I couldn’t see that at the time. I thought I must have been doing something wrong. That I wasn’t good enough, lovable enough.
I kept hoping that if I changed something, anything, then things could get better.
But every single day I became more and more unhappy, more removed from who I really was as I tried to be what my partner wanted me to be. In the end I was a miserable, angry, tearful (and, I’ll admit, somewhat crazy) wreck. I remember lying on the floor of my spare room crying harder and more desperately than I ever had before and wondering if I perhaps needed some kind of (psychological) help. I was in genuine pain, in my heart and in my mind, as it dawned on me that my relationship was destroying me and if I wanted to get better, it had to end.
Are You In A Toxic Relationship?
But what was so wrong with that was making my relationship so toxic?
It can be hard to identify exactly what's going on, without really obvious issues like abuse or blatant bad behaviour.
But being physically or emotionally abused aren't the only ingredients for a toxic relationship. The signs, the feelings, the behaviours can be much more subtle. Even unintentional.
Even if you’re not fully aware of it yet, if you’re in a relationship that’s toxic it’s likely you’re already feeling things that tell you something’s wrong.
You sense a certain ‘offness’, a discomfort, a feeling of pushing against happiness, instead of being in the flow of it.
Perhaps you always feel like you’re wrong, or being picked on by your partner? Or that they just don’t really like being around you that much? And the times that should be fun or romantic with your partner are never that great. They feel hard, and there’s an unease that always seems to infect your time together.
It could be that there are just constant arguments, or niggles with each other. Often unnecessary or unwarranted. Just an edge that always brings out the worst in each other, no matter how hard you try to get along.
Maybe you constantly feel tired or exhausted and suffer from more illness than you usually would, with headaches, colds and stress type symptoms? You’ve started to feel a bit down about yourself as well. Your self esteem has dipped and you never feel as good as you should when you're with your partner.
Your relationship could be the problem here, not you.
Toxic behaviours can range from the mild, to the severe.
Do you have any of the following going on in your relationship? If you do, you're probably in a toxic partnership.
- Interactions always involve some form of belittling, criticism, judging, shaming or blaming
- Serial cheating or open 'flirting' beyond what is acceptable
- Physical, mental or emotional abuse
- Constantly keeping score and being right
- Passive aggressive and condescending comments
- Being overbearingly jealous or trying to create jealousy
- Constant threats to leave or deceive, devaluing the relationship
- Trying to control or manipulate to maintain what one partner wants or needs over what anyone else wants or needs
- Trying to fix everything about the other person
- Avoiding time together and putting everything else ahead of the relationship
- Lying, avoiding important conversations, being vague or purposefully obstructive
- Actively seeking conflict and arguments
- Always seeking approval, but never feeling like it is achieved
The Toxicity Will Kill Your Love In The End
Toxic relationships drain you of energy, rather than giving you life and filling you up with new energy, like fully and truly being in love should.
They feel like hard work. They are hard work.
Nothing feels simple and natural about them at all and no matter how you try, you just can’t seem to feel good when you’re with your partner.
You try everything. Being more, doing more, doing less, doing different.
Nothing seems to help.
Toxic relationships don’t feed your soul and fill you up with love, they wear you out and wear you down.
The only way for them to ever feel good is for things to change, for the people in the relationship to change and do things differently.
Which can be easier said than done.
Changing toxic behaviours can be difficult, especially when one or both partners don't realise they're engaging in them. We only do better when we know better.
If you feel like you might be the person contributing to the toxicity of your relationship, then maybe it's time to take a good hard look at what you can do differently. How can you move towards creating a healthier relationship for yourself, and your partner?
It may not necessarily save the relationship you're in, although I hope it does, but it will definitely help you to find a much happier and healthier love in the future.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.