Relationships can be tough. Emotions are the stuff of mystery, because they are just so darn hard to understand. Relationships are full of drama and fights. You and your significant other will have rows. You will hate each other passionately for a few hours. You will wish you weren’t together. You will say hurtful things, and break each other’s hearts. All these are normal. Even best friends fight, and romantic couples are no different. I mean, you guys in all probability, are from different backgrounds. He might be an introvert, while she’s all the rave on the party scene. There are bound to be differences.
What isn’t normal, however, is toxic behavior. The concept of toxic behavior is something most of us in the dating world have all come across. Toxicity in a relationship includes abuse; verbal, physical or emotional. Toxicity could involve manipulative behavior, narcissism and passive aggression.
What most of the articles address, however, is how to cope with a toxic partner. You get helpful tips teaching you to recognize the signs in your significant other, and how to deal with it. What many relationship experts fail to address, is the possibility that YOU could be the toxic one.
I know you might be shaking your head now as you read the last sentence. But it is true that we might exhibit some behaviors without being aware of it. I read somewhere recently that, “you are the villain in someone’s story of life”. So before you dismiss this thought, take a look at the points below and see if you fall into any of these categories.
11 Signs you are the toxic one in your relationship:
1. Criticizing: Okay, okay. So you are a perfectionist. You love a neat house. You hate dirty dishes, and the sight of badly made hair makes you itch. You dwell a lot on your partner’s flaws and you put them under a literal microscope. And when you’re asked, you say it’s because you want them to be the best they can be.
Please stop it. You’re wearing your partner out psychologically. You’re making them insecure, and unsure of themselves. It is poison to their hearts. Of course you can ask for corrections and improvements. You shouldn’t be forced to live with slovenly behavior. However, you should correct with love.
2. Manipulating: you know, crying, threatening to leave if something does not go your way. Sulking until your partner begins to feel guilty. Withholding affection, money and communication. This is something that is so mainstream in relationships that you might laugh while reading this. Stop it. It is unfair. Mind games can mess with your partner’s feelings. They also backfire, the moment s/he decides that they have had enough of being manipulated. Nobody wins, least of all the manipulator.
3. Aggression: what do you do when you are angry? Do you become violent? You don’t become a physical abuser only when you break bones and leave scars. Do you hit your partner in any way? Slapping, pinching, arm twisting, punching, and kicking as a way of subduing your partner are super toxic behaviors. So toxic in fact, that if you do this, you need to seek help immediately. Get counseling and learn to keep your emotions under check.
Domestic violence leads to loss of self-esteem, physical injuries, and eventually, perhaps death. This toxic characteristic is not gender specific. Many men are victims of domestic violence, and they don’t have the courage to tell anyone for fear of being mocked.
4. Playing hurtful pranks: Maybe you’re a practical joker with a penchant for pulling pranks. How does your significant other feel about being the recipient of constant falling down, embarrassing YouTube videos and other annoyances? This might seem trivial, but the moment your partner starts complaining, it is becoming toxic. Don’t let your extreme humor kill your beautiful union. Moderation is key in all situations.
5. Using your significant other (s/o) as the get-together ice-breaker: The age old, “let me tell you about the time when…” Only this time, you’re not cracking a joke about yourself, but about your partner’s failings or misfortunes. Telling friends or random strangers about your s/o’s flaws is toxic. Don’t use your partner to shine. This also goes for those people who like to criticize their partners in public, or act patronizing and superior. It is toxic, and extremely painful. Nobody likes being humiliated, and it is the ultimate act of betrayal when that humiliation comes from a trusted partner.
6. Refusing to solidify your relationship: if you belong to the category of people who have no plans for the relationship, and live in the moment, then you may be toxic to your partner. The best part of being a couple, is having plans that sync with each other’s. When your partner shrugs off discussions on the future of your union, it points towards a lack of focus. Don’t be that person who leaves your s/o feeling insecure. Talk about plans, and actually execute them. Stagnancy in a relationship is unhealthy and should be guarded against.
7. Cheating/keeping your options open: Do I really need to publish any long notes on this? Cheating creates deep psychological injuries in a person. Through your irresponsible behavior, you are creating deep trust issues, low self-esteem and pain in the mind of another human being.
And worse still, are people who claim that they don’t cheat, but they have a plan B. What? A plan B is unfair to both people involved—your significant other, and the option. This shows a marked lack of respect for both people. It is toxic, and will ultimately end badly.
8. Keeping Grudges: sure, it is fun to sulk occasionally, and have your partner fuss over you asking what’s wrong. Where it becomes toxic, is the moment you start bringing up every mistake your partner has ever made, especially that painful memory from six months ago.
The inability to let go of issues and to forgive can mar a relationship very badly. Every time you are tempted to bring up that error from the past, remember that there are good memories too. In every argument, focus on the issue trending currently. Don’t go back to yesterday. That way lies toxicity and you really don’t need that
9. Nearly Bipolar Behavior/Hot and cold: Mood swings. Anger issues. The need for space. Call it whatever modern sounding/social media friendly name you will. The fact is that, switching personalities every two days, or even in a space of hours is unsettling. You are messing with your partner’s emotions. You are like a walking time bomb. No one knows when you will explode. One moment you are friendly and smiling. The next, you are yelling or simply spaced out, refusing to talk about whatever is bothering you. Toxic, toxic, toxic. Hot and cold behavior is frankly unattractive and is reminiscent of a mental illness. If you do this all the time, seek medical counselling. Seriously.
10. Acting distant: detached, cool, too unbothered. Your partner had a shitty day, and all you can say is, sorry, dude, or something equally enlightening. There is a life changing decision to be made, and you reply with “k, do what you think is best”. This attitude may not be as toxic as the other traits listed above, but it is still hurtful.
A relationship is about give and take. Your partner should not feel alone, that is the main point of two people coming together. Paying attention to your partner’s emotional needs is not uncool or clingy. It simply indicates maturity and high emotional intelligence.
11. Being over possessive/clingy/jealous: being clingy can sometimes be cute. Everyone likes being needed and even obsessed over. The question is, when does needing someone cross over into being clingy? And obsession into being nominated for classic stalker behavior?
The moment you begin to question your partner’s movements, follow them everywhere till they have zero personal space, and throw a tantrum every time they talk to someone vaguely attractive. That’s when you know your deep, warm love has become a toxic pit of despair. Seriously, melodramatic words aside, you need to allow your s/o be an individual. Pursue your own goals and be your own person. It makes you more attractive and less of a serial killer in the making.
The above are eleven unlovely ways to destroy a relationship that you value. Do you identify with one or more of these traits? That doesn’t make you outright toxic (apart from domestic violence. That’s messed up. Seek help). Change is the only constant in our fast evolving world. Every trait can be worked on and improved upon or erased totally. A healthy relationship takes effort, and a willingness to acknowledge flaws and do better. Once you are working on yourself, hopefully your partner will take the cue and do the same too. In a perfect world, toxicity in every relationship would be extinct pretty soon with these tips (we live in hope).