5 Strong Relationship Habits that Sometimes Appear Toxic
For All Those Times that We Just Needed to Highlight the Issues in Our Relationships that Strengthen Instead of Hurt
1. Knowing When to Spend Time ApartIt happens all the time: you start to see less and less of your friend who has suddenly started dating someone new and never seems to have time to spend with you anymore. They choose to invest everything into their new relationship in hopes that their dedication to this new person is romantically rewarded. So where do friendships come in?When we get into a new relationship, we develop a desire to spend all of our time with this new person. We allow ourselves to become consumed by their lives, and it feels intoxicating, addicting even. This is where the problem starts. There is a dangerous underlying issue that comes with being closer to your partner, and it involves changing parts of yourself and your day-to-day in order to accommodate this new person into your life. Overtime, you eventually become someone that your partner didn't in fact fall in love with in the first place, and the dynamic between the two of you starts to change. In order to counteract this, it is important to remember to take time for yourself to maintain those hobbies and passions you had before you found your relationship. Take a vacation by yourself, or with some close friends. Give yourselves some space to remember why you fell in love with each other in the first place. When you let in the oxygen, the fire will keep burning. But without the space to breathe, you'll suffocate it.
2. Know how to appropriately hurt each other's feelings.My boyfriend is the kind of man who enjoys wearing a suit. He's recently acquired an array of really sexy dress shirts, and while I'm sure his office thanks him for them, we all know they should be thanking me instead. "Babe, how does this look?""I like the checked red top, but not the black pants."At this point, we're already running five minutes late. Following this, he'll turn back towards the mirror, curse a bit, make a frustrated, frumpy face, consider the image again, defend the black pants for a while, but switch out to khakis instead. 30 minutes in:"OK, how about now?""Better. Brown shoes?""Yeah.""Nice. Good job, love. Now we're late."Don't get me wrong: I think he would still look great in anything he wears. But sometimes he doesn't, and not being afraid to be real about it to him shows him that he can depend on me for those kinds of situations, even if we're running a little late. It is stereotypical for couples to lie to one another in relationships just to make the other person happy. How many couples do you know who would have said yes to the black pants, even if they didn't like them? In simple scenarios like the one above, I don't. Honesty is more important in my relationship than just trying whatever it takes to make someone happy. If there is only one person I can be straight up and honest to in the world, it should be my partner.
Ironically, my boyfriend is on the same page as I am and will call me out on my bullshit too: I'll probably try to argue about it with him for a while, storm off in a huff because he's bruised my ego a bit, but it usually only takes a few minutes or so before I come sulking back after realizing that he was right all along. I hate hearing it, but he makes me a better person by seeing things about me that I can't see for myself, and I'm grateful for that. In our relationship, we've placed honesty above making each other feel good. By doing this, we're able to be real with each other and more importantly, ourselves. By prioritizing our values, trust in each other, and the needs we know we need, we automatically allow an opening for other emotions and feel good vibes to be a part of our lives. If my boyfriend needs space, he isn't afraid to tell me and I'm not afraid to give that to him. We don't place any blame on anyone or assume anything, it just happens. If I'm feeling unresponsive one day, I won't be afraid to tell him that I don't feel like talking, and he'll respect that and question nothing. Even if it might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, it is this kind of relationship that builds a strong safety net in one another when it really comes down to it.
3. Acknowledging Attraction Outside of the Relationship
Admittedly...I've never been the jealous type. I get that it's stereotypical of women to be insecure and jealous while she is in a relationship, but I like to appreciate the human body, and I suppose I'm naturally a flirt when I meet people in general. But the usual suspects can probably relate when I say that some folks would compare any wandering thought, emotion or slightest image of anyone other than their partner to the act of committing treason. It's just not allowed, and she's not prettier than me, is she?!At the start of a relationship and as we work through the honeymoon phase, we play with the idea of being enamored and infatuated by someone in which we want to spend every waking moment with them, breathe their air, eat their food... but eventually the novelty wears off. It's science. We are perfectly capable of finding multiple people attractive, and that's absolutely OK. What is not OK is if you choose to act on it. All our lives, we're taught that once we're in love, that's it. That's the end of the line, there's nothing else that comes afterwards. If someone so much as flirts with us or walks by with a wink and we feel good about it, then something must be wrong with our relationship, or us. And while I'm sure by now you can probably see how this just isn't the case, it is, however, our responsibility to let these feelings work their way through us in order to exit peacefully. By suppressing these feelings inside you, your emotions will dictate how you react and the pressure will start to expand, just as any scientific compression will. Allowing those feelings to be free and simply choosing not to act on them already gives you more strength over these feelings than you had before. When you choose to suppress the feeling, there is a higher probability of you most likely giving in and suddenly finding yourself in a predicament you instantly regret once you realize that you're kissing your boss under the desk. Then you'll go home and project those conflicting feelings onto your partner, pitting unwarranted jealousy onto them while doing everything in your power to draw their attention and affection whenever possible. The next thing you know, you're suddenly wondering what happened to your relationship and all the love that was there at the beginning...At the end of the day, we cannot control our thoughts and feelings, but what we can control is our actions. Breathe it in, then let it out.
4. Knowing When to Let Go of the Relationship When It's OverIn our day and age, they say things like 'Romance is Dead'. Not ideal, but unfortunately in this situation, I would have to agree. Hear me out.Take Romeo and Juliet as an example. The lengths that these two young characters go through in order to be with one another is rather silly, taking the ideal of 'til death do us part' to a whole different level. Yet this is still considered romantic, if not the first story that comes to mind when you think about love. But I think this ideal leads couples who are in poisonous relationships to think that the right answer is to try to stay together for unnecessary reasons in which their pain is suppressed in order to fulfill the 'til death do us part' storyline.
When a relationship has become too damaged, it is important to know when to recognize that it's time to let go. The willingness in both partners to be able to see that life can be two separate branches moving side by side instead of all on the same, single branch means that both people in the relationship have a chance to live and grow individually and still have enough room to build a solid relationship. When we worship our relationship over everything else, we become blind to our own values and needs and we stop growing. Suddenly, we're no long accountable to ourselves for the things that we need to accomplish in our own lives, and that becomes toxic for our relationship with ourselves as well as our romantic relationships. We have no reason to work on ourselves because our partner is there for everything in our lives, and our partners have no need to work on themselves because we become everything in their lives. This stillness in discovering ourselves only brings misery into your relationship, and that heavy dependence upon one another is the biggest contributor.
5. Understanding and Accepting Your Partner's Weaknesses
The common thread in most relationships that don't work out often comes down to one of two things — either we are constantly looking for the perfect partner and never feeling as if we are finding them, or we already believe our partner is flawless and cannot be faulted. Dysfunctional relationships will tend to lean towards trying to 'fix' the other person in order to try to mold them into their ideal partner, or convince themselves that their partner is already perfect. The reason why these kinds of relationships don't last is because the truth is, everyone is flawed and we cannot force change upon someone else outside of ourselves, therefore meaning that in order for a relationship to be successful, we need to find a partner who has flaws that we can live with, or learn to live with. How much you love and admire your partner's imperfections is the ultimate way to measure how much you truly love your partner. At the end of the day, if it is our perfections that attract us to one another, then let it be our imperfections that teach us the best ways to stay together.