Wifeys & Gentlemen,
I swear I love Fridays! While Sundays will forever be my favorite day of the week, there is that same type of strange bittersweet emotion that you feel on a Friday. For many, it’s the last day of the work week or the last day of classes. It brings the promise of extra sleep, stress release, and the allure of awesome weekend plans. For me, my Friday routine usually consists of getting into and out of work earlier than normal, catching up on filing and paperwork, and listening to dance music in my headphones while I do it!
This week (today) I was particularly invested in my musical selection, choosing the TGIF playlist on Spotify based solely on the fact that it said “The weekend if finally here. Let’s Party!” This, of course, got me extra pumped to finalize plans for my birthday party AND (in true Ms. Renai fashion) make a vain attempt to seem “hip” by keeping up with the popular dance hits the kids are listening to these days. (Side note: I find the older I get the less and less I know about who some of these “artists” are and it’s SCARY wifeys…it’s scary as hell!)
So, what’s the point? Honestly, I could have spared you all the extra 200 words in this rambling introduction, but I was really suffering with some intense writers block this morning and the song ‘Intoxicated’ by Martin Garrix started playing not 5 minutes before I started writing this post. Somehow, this lead my stream of consciousness to think about the difference between love, infatuation, and obsession and from there, I bounced into the idea of toxic relationships.
Now this might seem like a stretch, but go with me for a moment. At some point, we have all found ourselves intoxicated by toxic relationships. At times, maybe YOU were even the one who was toxic or dangerously obsessed yourself. No matter the situation, many of us chose to stay in these relationships because we think deserve them. Many of us (women especially) think that love is supposed to be painful ad challenging. Some of us might be infatuated with a lifestyle or idea of who a person is to them. And, perhaps even more frustrating, there are a great deal of us who have no idea that our relationships are even toxic at all! *gasp*
Toxic relationships (romantic or otherwise) show up in our lives in many different forms. Someone (a lover, a family member, a coworker, or friend) shows up into our lives and (like a parasite) takes and takes from us (literally and metaphorically) leaving us drained, used, and wondering what we did to deserve being treated that way.
The good news?
It is possible to identify these kinds of relationships and take steps to eliminate them from your life! We can’t resolve any of our problems without awareness and acknowledgement, and while there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to characteristics of a toxic relationship, I have outlined a few general concepts that might help you recognize one when you see it in action.
- Everything is ALWAYS about them and rarely about you. You can’t ever seem to please them
In a toxic relationship it’s often easy to forget that you actually have thoughts and feelings of your own. Your partner (or whomever) doesn’t often listen to or acknowledge the things you say and is dismissive of how you feel. Two-sided conversations have likely become nonexistent and your ideas are written-off as stupid, crazy, or unimportant. Even if it isn’t said outright, he/she still manages to have every major decision or situation focused exclusively on them. Furthermore, toxic people are excellent at putting you down and making you feel like you’re doing something hurtful to them, just by existing. They might mock your personality or physical characteristics in an effort to make you feel ashamed or judged and will try to make you think your behavior deserves that response. Sound abusive? Many times, toxic relationships are abusive ones, but since there might not be any physical pain or violence, it is more difficult to decipher.
- You find yourself unable to have a “good time” with this person.
I had a friend who was in a relationship that was so toxic that she couldn’t even have a good time WITHOUT her boyfriend, let alone with him. She would go out for a girl’s night or spend time with friends out of his presence and he would make her feel really bad about it afterwards. Several “fun” moments were sadly ruined as a result of this and he would do so by causing arguments, calling her names, and constantly accusing her of cheating. It was exhausting! & even began to make me feel guilty when I wanted to invite her out.
If you find that spending time with (or without) a certain person is rarely fun, you might be in a toxic relationship. Do they find reasons to get upset with you when you’re out together or with friends? Do they ignore you in social settings or make fun of you when other people are around? Consider carefully, even toxic people know how to have a good time! But if the “good times” are rare and hard to find, start asking yourself why. What patterns do you notice when you and this person try to have fun together? Apart?
- You’re uncomfortable being yourself around this person
In any relationship, we all want to feel safe being exactly who we are. With a partner, good friend, or significant other, this becomes even more important. We like to feel like the one we love accepts all of our flaws, quirks, and annoying traits with no reservations.
A toxic person will make you feel like you can’t (or shouldn’t) have faults. More than that, toxic people will do what they can to make even your most positive traits negative ones. I once had a boyfriend who was really mean and nasty to me whenever I would want to clean up or make things tidy. He would yell at me for folding his clothes or spending “too much time” cleaning the common areas! I would avoid cleaning when he was visiting me, just to avoid a big fight. It took me a very long time to realize that this was not a ‘normal’ response to my cleanliness!
- Your partner/friend often holds your relationship “hostage”
When one person has a criticism or complaint about another and uses their relationship as a means of ‘blackmailing’ them into changing, there is a HUGE problem! Emotional blackmail and manipulation is neither romantic nor sexy and creates tons of unnecessary stress and drama in a relationship. If your partner is always threatening to leave you because of something you are or are not doing, not only do they have a hard time with commitment themselves, they are trying to control you. Another of my friends was involved with a girl who would disappear for hours at a time and then get angry with him when he would check to see where she was. She would always say “I don’t think I can be with a guy who feels like need to check up on me all the time!” even after 1 or 2 text messages and it made him feel really bad. He eventually stopped checking in, even on nights when she didn’t’ bother coming home at all.
- Your partner blames you for their negative emotions
Lastly, has someone ever said, “I wouldn’t get this way if you would just stop doing ______”. Sometimes people use this phrase in a regular argument and it DOES NOT make them toxic. However, if you feel like this has become the norm in your relationship, things might be going downhill, fast. Jealousy, anger, frustration, and sadness, are all normal emotions that come over us at different times for different reasons. We are not perfect and there will be times when something we say or do might seriously hurt or offend the one we love. If and when that is the case, I would like to hope that my wifeys & gents know how to own up and atone for their behavior.
However, If your friend/partner is always blaming you for when things aren’t going right, it means they are comfortable placing their own emotional needs above your own while also demanding (perhaps not overtly) that you fix whatever is broken in them. You are NOT the continuous source of someone’s bad mood or bad luck and it is cruel and unfair for anyone to make you feel otherwise.
Believe me, I know this “list” is pretty general. Unfortunately, it is hard to pinpoint specifics when it comes to toxic relationships. Sometimes, things are simple and clear:
- You always loan the same friend money and they NEVER pay you back or are willing to help you when you need it.
- Your “bestie” is always making fun of your clothes or your weight both behind your back and in social settings in front of you.
- You’re friend only calls you when he needs a favor
But many times, toxic relationships build slowly overtime and can take months (or years) to recognize; a time where feelings have been invested and your emotions have likely been broken to the point of slow repair.
Please know, there is hope! While the decision always starts with you, there are friends, family, and resources (like me) who want you to feel good about yourself and want you to be surround by people who love, support, and accept you! If referring to some of my previous posts about break ups and self-love aren’t enough, This GREAT ARTICLE on PsychCentral is worth the 5 minute read.
Next week, I have a bit of a surprise! I’m super excited and I hope you like it!!!
Carry On Wifeys,