By Raven Fon
Growing up, we learned almost everything we would need to have a gratifying and prosperous life- everything except how to cultivate a healthy relationship. As we get older, we are given very little guidance as far as relationships go- well, very little helpful guidance. There are always reality shows and beauty magazine quizzes.
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We have unattainable romantic notions filling our heads from a young age with no clarity on the reality of it all. Fairy-tale endings of “happily ever after” are dreamt of and discussed more frequently than the rationalization of relationship complexities. On top of that, we learn to treat our friends and lovers as assets and protect them like they are our personal property. Look around, it seems like a normal thing for people to objectify their relationships instead of regarding them with love and emotional support.
So how do we grow beyond these toxic behaviours that were ingrained in us so long ago? We need to learn to recognize them for what they are, which is exactly what I am going to tell you how to do. Here are 8 toxic relationship behaviours that mentally strong people avoid:
1. CONTROLLING THE RELATIONSHIP
When one person is in charge of a relationship, it’s toxic. Period.
A healthy relationship consists of both members making an equal effort. If you find yourself taking orders (or giving them) more often than not, there is a problem which needs to be addressed. Love is about freedom, and a healthy relationship allows you to utilize that freedom. By meeting your partner halfway and working with them, instead of trying to control them and the situation at hand, you will strengthen the bonds that brought you together.
I can not stress this enough- balance is vital for any relationship to flourish.
2. NEEDING TO BE FIXED
A common romantic fallacy is that you will find the man (or woman) of your dreams and all of your insecurities, sadness, and boredom will instantly vanish. Of course, this isn’t true.
While a healthy relationship will undoubtedly bring moments of joy, it isn’t your partner’s responsibility to make you feel whole- it’s yours.
When we feel a longing to be fixed, or completed, it’s because we are lacking something within ourselves. We shouldn’t expect someone else to make us happy if we can’t create it for ourselves first; it is unfair to the people we love.
3. NEEDING TO FIX OTHERS
Each and every one of us is perfectly imperfect. That is what makes us unique, and it is what brings us together. Trying to force someone into a perfectly re-imagined mold of your own creation is asinine at best.
Your partner is not you. They will not respond, understand, share, or love like you do- and that’s okay. Let go of your expectations of “the perfect guy” or “the perfect woman”, and start appreciating the beautiful differences between you two.
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4. EMPLOYING PAST-BLAME TENDENCIES
The past belongs in the past. Bringing up mistakes from long ago to blame someone for the current situation is toxic behaviour. What’s worse is when both people in the relationship continue to place blame and cycle through previous wrongdoings, because then it becomes a competition of who is “less wrong.”
There is no winning a fight which both of you have already lost. The moment you decided to be in a relationship with your partner is the moment you chose to accept them for who they are. That includes everything in their life up until that point.
5. LYING AND MANIPULATING
Trust is what all healthy relationships are built on. So, when someone lies to you or tries to manipulate you in any way, they are displaying toxic behaviour. Even when people choose to omit certain facts instead of speaking directly, they are partaking in lies and manipulation. It is better to have an honest adversary than a partner you can’t trust.
I’ve said it a hundred times before- actions speak louder than words. This instance is no different. Listen to the words your partner says, but more so, pay attention to what they do. Their actions will shine light on the truth, and the truth will set you free.
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6. UNFORGIVING AND UNWILLING TO REBUILD
Once trust has been broken (which does happen in long-term relationships) it requires hard work to repair it, but it can be repaired. As long as both people are prepared to go through the mud- together.
However, being with someone who is unwilling to put forth the effort required to forgive and rebuild will only cause more resentment later on in the relationship.
It’s important to understand that while having your trust broken is a painful process, it is one that you can heal from and learn to forgive. Working together through the tough times is what helps healthy relationships prosper.
7. COMMUNICATING WITH PASSIVE AGGRESSION
Obviously passive-aggressive behaviour is toxic, but if it is the main form of communication in your relationship, toxicity is the least of your worries.
We need to be able to communicate openly with our loved ones, share our deepest desires, and confront our fears together, without judgement. If someone employs tactics such as belittling remarks, constant sarcasm, or attention-directing behaviours when confronted with anything communicative, they are displaying toxic behaviour.
It’s important to understand why someone acts this way. Oftentimes, it is due to fear of criticism. Make it clear to the other person that, as unique individuals, you are entitled to your own ideas and opinions and show support accordingly. If you’re the one being passive-aggressive, try to find out where the fear is coming from, then confront it head-on. Fear has no place in a healthy relationship.
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8. AVOIDING LEGITIMATE TIME TOGETHER
Every single healthy relationship requires time spent together where the focus is solely on the people involved. Avoiding this time together places the importance of the relationship relatively low; as importance dwindles, maintenance fades.
Cultivating a healthy relationship is akin to growing a mighty oak. It requires dedicated time and unwavering patience to survive and thrive. It needs to be watered daily by developing an intimate connection- even if only for a few minutes.
Look your loved one in the eye when speaking with them, put down the phone, and place the world on hold for a short while. There is nothing more complimentary than giving yourself, your time, and your undivided attention to someone. To fully be present with the one you love is a gift for both of you.