Spotting a Toxic Relationship
A toxic relationship is tough to identify. While its qualities aren’t always synonymous with conventional abuse, the negative impact can weigh just as heavily. Toxic behaviors can exist in any form of relationship, whether it be a romantic partner, family member, or friend. In terms of your overall happiness, it is so important to analyze each these relationships to make sure you are receiving the healthy love you deserve, and surrounding yourself with positive influences.
Love--romantic, familial, and platonic--should always be two things: unconditional and supportive. Conditional love occurs when a loved one takes advantage of your loyalty by applying rules and conditions to your relationship. An example of this? A loved one making demands for a change or a sacrifice, and threatening the existence of your relationship as a punishment for not complying to those demands. Many people will justify changing significant parts of themselves or sacrificing something that makes them happy for somebody because they love them, but that isn’t healthy nor fair. If you are properly loved by somebody, they will love each and every part of you without expectation of change, and that love with last through any flaw, mistake, or disagreement. If conditions show up in a romantic relationship, it is probably because your partner loves the idea of you, not who you truly are.
Speaking of proper love...it will always overcome envy. Jealousy is a natural human emotion, but if you genuinely care for somebody, you will not use it against them in any form. Have you ever felt hesitant to share an accomplishment with your loved one because you know they will dismiss you, compare it to their own as being less, or point out negative elements of it? I have often felt this way in female friendships, which are bred to be competitive. No matter who it comes from, you should never feel put down for what you are proud of by somebody who is supposed to love you, support you, and encourage you.
I can usually point out negative people in my life by asking myself one question: do they allow me to be the best version of myself? Your loved one should encourage you to make the best decisions for you, even if it doesn’t benefit them. I’ve been in lots of relationships where my partner wanted to mold me into a version that was fitting for their life. It wasn’t my best version, but it was good for them. I felt like I was being the person they needed me to be, rather than who I really was, and that is not a healthy mindset to fall to. If your loved one knows what is best for you, they should push you toward that.
It’s hard to remove yourself from existing toxic relationships, because you usually don’t recognize their toxicity until you’ve left them. That is why it is so important to take a moment to consider everybody you have allowed into your life, and assess whether you are receiving the love from them that you give. Ask yourself if each of your relationships is unconditional, supportive, and lifting you to the best version of yourself--that is the love that we all deserve.