Is Your Relationship Toxic?

What does it mean to be in a toxic relationship?

Nobody wants to admit that they're in one and the scariest thing of all is that most people who are in one think it's normal.

Many of the behaviors that we've witnessed in our families and in relationships of the past have been highly toxic. In dating, people look at toxic behavior as just a "part of the game" and it gets normalized and even joked about.

You usually don't expect too much from relationships, you expect too little. And because most people don't know what they should expect from relationships, they will justify toxicity and even defend it to their friends and family.

No matter how good of a person you really are, it can still happen to you and when you're in the middle of it, it can be very difficult to recognize. That's why we've put this post together. We are going to illustrate some of the most common toxic behaviors so you can easily identify if your relationship is, in fact, toxic.

1. In every conflict, they turn it around on you.

We're not suggesting that your partner should never point out any of your "stuff" or call you out. In a conscious relationship, you will want your partner to point things out that you can improve on individually and as a couple. You know each other better than anyone, and if you're looking for insight on how to improve the relationship, no one will know better than them.

But in a toxic relationship, this looks very different.

A toxic person will be absolutely unwilling to accept accountability for themselves and they will always make it your fault.

As soon as you bring up a concern, insecurity, doubt, or challenge for the two of you to address together, they will immediately turn the attention back on you and you'll end up wanting to defend yourself while their behavior and the issue you wanted to discuss get overlooked entirely.

A toxic partner will want to set up the relationship so that they never have to assess their own conduct. If they can make you constantly look at yourself, they won't have to look at their own behavior. What can be very confusing about this is that they will bring up valid points, so you may tend to think that they are right. The validity of their points is not what we are questioning. Their points may be valid or not.

What is in question is that they invalidate your points.

For example, you might say to your partner something like: "Honey, it seemed like you were flirting with that other woman and that made me feel uncomfortable."

And he might respond with: "What are you so insecure about?" or "Why are you accusing me of that?" or "Why don't you trust me?" What he is doing is putting the attention on you and removing his conduct from questioning. Even more so, he is attempting to invalidate your experience and take away your voice in the relationship.

Perhaps there IS some area of insecurity for you to look at, but if he's using that as a way to deflect accountability for his own actions, to avoid considering how his actions might be affecting the relationship, this is toxic behavior and you will not be able to feel safe in the relationship.

An accountable and understanding response would show you that he is interested in your experience and he'll want to know how he can help you feel safe in the relationship.

He would respond with something like, "That wasn't my intention Love. I apologize for making you feel that way, and I can pay closer attention to my behavior in the future," or "Tell me more about that. What was it I did that made you feel that way?"

When you bring something to the table for the two of you to look at, a Loving partner will be open to looking with you. If you cannot voice a concern and discuss it without having it thrown back on you, you will never be able to feel safe in the relationship.

2. In disagreements, they seek to hurt you.

All disagreements are an opportunity to grow closer to each other by teaming up to overcome your differences. In a relationship, you want to work as a team to resolve these challenges in a way that you both feel safe, seen, heard, and honored.

Disagreements are guaranteed, there is no way around them. Don't try to avoid them, but rather as a couple, become skilled at working through them and you'll grow closer to each other on the other side of them.

A toxic person will use disagreements as a way to hurt you and in doing so, gain power over you in the relationship. There is no "wrong" in a relationship disagreement, there are simply two different points of view. Conscious couples recognize this and they don't feel the need to make the other person wrong. In fact, because they understand that both perspectives are valid, they seek a resolution that validates both points of view without dishonoring their partner.

A manipulative partner will make your point of view "wrong." They will even go as far as to insult and attack you for having that point of view. Namecalling, insulting, and personal attacks are toxic behavior. Period.

Their goal here is power and control. They aren't considering what is "right" in the situation, only what will give them the upper hand. They want to "win the fight," and to do that, they try to disempower you by causing emotional pain.

They want you to feel so bad and wrong about your point of view that you apologize and ask for their forgiveness. At this point, they will often become kind, tell you it's OK, that they love and forgive you, but you'll feel small because you could only get their love by diminishing yourself. Other times, they'll continue to punish you for it and make you continue to beg for their forgiveness.