Toxic relationships can occur anytime, anywhere and to anyone. The other person in your relationship may be making you feel humiliated, attacked or even just unsupported. Basically, any behaviour that makes you feel your wellbeing and values are being threatened can be a sign of a toxic relationship. Toxicity is a draining, continuous pattern of behaviour that perpetuates an unequal power dynamic in the relationship, making you feel small, helpless and even isolated.
There’s a big difference between having a fight with your significant other and continued cycles of manipulation. If you feel you’re in a toxic relationship, it can be hard to pinpoint specific behaviours and interactions that make you feel uncomfortable. Often, it’s difficult to speak out and defend yourself, because it looks like you’re overreacting or ‘making a big deal’.
Toxic relationships impact our sense of self, confidence and independence. You might feel like you are always walking on eggshells as you’re constantly worried about offending them.
Identifying a toxic relationship
It’s hard to come up with a universal list of signs of a toxic relationship as every relationship is different, however there are certain behavioural signs that hint at manipulation and power imbalances in a relationship. If you feel your partner is constantly disrespecting your boundaries and values, especially when they are not meeting your reasonable needs, you could be in a toxic situation. If this person encourages dangerous habits or destructive attitudes, and generally brings out the worst in you, this is another sign of a toxic relationship. Relationships are supposed to encourage you to be the best version of yourself. Someone could even be ‘gaslighting’ you. In other words, instead of taking responsibility for their issues and faults, they redirect the blame onto you, making you feel crazy.
How to manage and resolve toxicity
Toxic situations can easily appear in our relationships, due to our natural desire to be close to others. It is hard to completely avoid toxic relationships. However, if you want to steer clear of these types of relationships, the best thing you can do is educate yourself on the signs of toxicity, maintain assertiveness, and implement healthy boundaries.
Often, toxic people gravitate towards people who they believe can be easily manipulated. However, this isn’t always the case so remember that at times it takes two to tango - both people in the relationship can contribute to toxicity. It’s important to maintain open and healthy discussions about your relationship. Calling out concerning behaviours as soon as possible can be daunting but the other person needs to be aware of your boundaries.
Keep in mind that some relationships are unsalvageable. This is a hard pill to swallow, but you might be better off releasing toxic people from your life, because they may never change.
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How To Be a Person In The World by Heather Havrilesky A hilarious, frank and witty collection of responses from the “Ask Polly” column in New York magazine’s The Cut. From toxic relationships, to breakups, this book deals with all the modern challenges of being a young adult in the world.
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Revolutionary Road To escape their jaded lives, Frank and April, a seemingly perfect couple, decide to move to Paris. However, their marriage begins to crumble when April's pregnancy compels them to abandon their plan.
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