Fortunately, there’s been a lot of scientific research into healthy and happy relationships over the past few decades that have allowed people in the know to build their mental strength against toxic relationships and toxic relationship behaviors.
1. Relationships run by one person.
A relationship is toxic when one person is running it. Period.
When you feel out of control or a little lost it can be tempting to look for someone willing to take charge of your life for you, just to alleviate the pressure. But before you do consider this: If you put a collar around your own neck and hand the leash to someone else, you’ll have no say about where they lead you in life.
2. Relationships that are supposed to “complete” you.
Our culture, which is predicated on fantasies of romantic love, often suggests that once you meet “The One,” you will be lifted out of your misery or boredom and elevated into a state of perpetual wholeness and bliss.
So, it’s easy to believe that it’s your partner’s job to make you feel joyful and whole. But the truth is, while a healthy relationship can certainly bring joy, it’s not your partner’s job to fill in your empty voids. That’s your job and yours alone, and until you accept full responsibility for your emptiness, pain, or boredom, problems will inevitably ensue in the relationship.
The longing for completion that you feel inside comes from being out of touch with who you are. Nobody else in this world can make you happy. It’s something you have to do on your own. And you have to create your own happiness first before you can share it with someone else.
3. Relationships that rely on codependency.
When your actions and thoughts revolve around another person to the complete disregard of your own needs, that’s codependency, and it’s toxic. When you set a precedent that someone else is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice versa), then you both will develop codependent tendencies. When someone begins to get upset, all personal needs go out the window because it’s now your responsibility to make one another feel better.
The biggest problem of developing these codependent tendencies is that they breed resentment.
4. Relationships based on idealistic expectations.
You don’t love and appreciate someone because they’re perfect, you love and appreciate them in spite of the fact that they are not. “Perfection” is a deadly fantasy – something none of us will ever be. So beware of your tendency to “fix” someone when they’re NOT broken. They are perfectly imperfect, just the way they should be.
Bottom line: Any relationship that’s real will not be perfect, but if you’re willing to work at it and open up, it could be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
5. Relationships where past blame is used to justify present righteousness.
When someone you’re in a relationship with continues to blame you for your past mistakes, your relationship is toxic.
When you use someone else’s past wrongdoings in order to try and justify your own present righteousness, it’s a lose-lose situation. Not only are you dodging the current (valid) issue itself, but you’re digging up guilt and bitterness from the past to manipulate the other person into feeling wrong in the present.
6. Relationships built on daily lies.
Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and when trust is broken it takes time and willingness on the part of both people to repair it and heal. If you’re covering up your tracks in any way, it’s only a matter of time before the truth is revealed and trust in the relationship is broken.
7. Relationships that lack forgiveness and the willingness to rebuild trust.
Failing to understand that broken trust CAN be repaired leads to a grim future.
When trust is broken, which happens in nearly every long-term relationship at some point, it’s essential to understand that it can be repaired, provided both people are willing to do the hard work of self-growth.
8. Relationships in which passive aggression trumps communication.
Passive aggressive behavior takes many forms but can generally be described as a non-verbal aggression that manifests in negative behavior. Instead of openly expressing how they feel, someone makes subtle, annoying gestures directed at you. Instead of saying what’s actually upsetting you, you find small and petty ways to take jabs at someone until they pay attention and get upset.
9. Relationships governed by emotional blackmail.
Emotional blackmail is when someone applies an emotional penalty against you when you don’t do exactly what they want. The key condition here is that you change your behavior, against your will, as a result of the emotional blackmail. In other words, absent the emotional blackmail you would do differently, but you fear the penalty so you give in. This is extremely toxic behavior.
The solution, as with passive aggression, is simply better communication.
10 Relationships that are always put on the back burner.
Failing to carve out quality time for important relationships is one of the most toxic relationship mistakes of them all, and yet it often goes unnoticed… at least for a while… until everything starts falling apart.
The truth is, relationships are like any other living entity: they require dedicated time in order to survive and thrive. Make time every week to focus only on those you care about, and time every day to pour even just a few minutes of quality interaction into your closest relationships.