Have you ever experienced a toxic relationship? If you’re alive and kicking, chances are a resounding yes.
Whether through a parent, ex-friend, school acquaintance, coworker, boss, or love interest, we all eventually learn what it feels like to be around a toxic person.
But did you know that many other toxic behaviors lie hidden in plain sight? Behaviors that you or your partner very well might be promoting without ever knowing? These are covert seeds of chaos that, when planted, create dysfunction in an intimate relationship, no matter how strong it once was.
They’re not the kind of blatantly toxic behaviors you might generally associate with a poisonous person, but they still have a similar, albeit more subtle, effect. However, it’s how hard they are to notice that is the real issue. Once these behaviors take hold, it’s often too late to undo all of the damage.
If you’ve found someone amazing and you hope to keep your relationship strong, you need to prevent these harmful habits from growing and create an environment of love, respect, and trust.
There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Here are five relationship habits you didn’t realize were toxic:
1. Projecting blame
Most of us are under a lot of stress. Some of us have healthy ways of dealing with it. Most of us don’t. Of those who don’t, a lot just bottle it down. However, others project that pain off onto their close ones and place the blame on them when they don’t deserve it.
After a long day, our partner has plans to visit friends and we get frustrated that they don’t plan on spending time with us. So, we lash out and blame them for how we feel when the reality is, this pain arose long before this incident.
This might be an unintentional behavior, both reactionary and unconscious, but it’s toxic nonetheless. You need to work on gaining clarity about what’s going on internally so you can catch this habit in the act. If you develop self-awareness, it’s pretty easy to stop this behavior.
2. Not giving your partner enough attention
Some of us are emotionally unavailable by nature. That’s fine, but it’s not going to help you develop a strong relationship. It’s like having a goal to become a professional at something, never doing any work to get there, and then expecting results. If you want a strong relationship, you need to do the work.
If you’re naturally emotionally unavailable, or can sometimes be a bit distant for one reason or another (I get like this at times because of the intensity often required to write), you need to actively work to connect with your spouse, express your affection, and make plans to spend quality time.
If you don’t, over time this can plant a seed of resentment in your partner, or vice versa, and once this has gone too far it’s very difficult to come back from (but not impossible), so stop it now before it becomes a real issue.
Dating expert Noah Van Hochman shared some advice in a recent Bustle interview: “Clinginess, or being overly needy, is one of the great relationship killers nobody really pays attention to until it’s too late.”
“This could entail calling person numerous times a day for no other reason other than to ask where they are,” she said.
“Not being able to make simple decisions without first asking your partner is another sign of being too needy. People need to have some space, and by taking away that space you are creating a toxic environment that generally pushes people away.”
A relationship is a delicate balance of seeking to meet your own needs while listening to, and fulfilling, the needs of your partner.
You might want to spend every waking minute with the person (I get it, you’re excited), but they might need to take it a bit slower. It’s your job to feel this out and adjust based on their needs and wants to keep each other happy.
4. “Loving” jealousy
Loving jealousy is when you, or your partner, get into the habit of constantly hounding over the social life of the other person, freaking out when you make any sort of contact with the outside world from talking to texting, meeting, calling, posting, and even just checking social in some cases. Your partner attempts to control your behavior because of their own feelings.
They might be doing it because they (supposedly) love you, but what they’re really doing is something much more toxic: controlling your life because of their own internal challenges.
This might at first appear to be typical jealousy. You might even like it in the beginning because it’s a sign that your partner cares. However, don’t accept this kind of behavior (and don’t dish it out yourself) as it’s nothing but toxic and is sure to ruin a relationship fast.
Jealousy is natural, we all know that. But you need to allow yourself to be a bit vulnerable and trust your partner. If you can’t do that, your relationship will never survive, so as uncomfortable for you or your partner as it may be, it’s necessary if you both want to rid your relationship of the toxicity.