I’m writing about toxic relationships because I think this is a topic that isn’t seriously taken but is majorly affecting our lives. We live in a society where I’ve seen women and men spending their entire lives with this one person in fear of “log kya kahengay?” and fail to realize how toxic people and relationships actually damage their own selves. More importantly, these are signs that most people fail to recognize. This isn’t about coming from a high and mighty place and telling toxic people there’s something wrong with them. In a relationship, we all come with imperfections. We come with flaws. We come with insecurities and wounds. The whole point is that you need to come to a relationship to meet a team player who is also imperfect and you can help heal each other. You’ll find that this doesn’t just apply to someone you’re engaged or married to, it also applies to colleagues, bosses, friends, and family. These rule that can apply across the board in our relationships in life and they’re very important to have a check on. No relationship is perfect, in the personal or the business sphere. But for the most part, good relationships make you feel secure, happy, cared for, respected, and free to be yourself. On the other side of the coin are toxic relationships–the ones that make you feel drained, depleted, and sometimes even distraught.
So I have five ways that I’ve thought about that really indicate if someone is poisonous in your life.
- In an argument, they look to inflict damage not solve problems. When you’re in a toxic relationship, generally speaking, they try to inflict damage. They’re not trying to solve problems they are trying to protect themselves. When you’re doing something that makes them feel insecure they won’t come to you with that vulnerability. Instead, they’ll, make it a fight and then go to one-upmanship or revenge. So now they’ll go out but it’ll be about one-upping you, do something that will make you even more upset than they feel right now. Another way of looking at this sign is the “relationship scorecard”. Famous self-help writer Mark Mason describes this as:
The “keeping score” phenomenon is when someone you’re dating continues to blame you for past mistakes you made in the relationship. If both people in the relationship do this it devolves into what I call “the relationship scorecard,” where it becomes a battle to see who has screwed up the most over the months or years, and therefore who owes the other one more.
- The second sign is a hostile atmosphere.When I’m saying hostile this does not imply screaming and shouting. The toxic person doesn’t need to raise his/her volume to create hostility. It’s the choice of words. The subtle expression of dislike. This slowly erodes you mentally. It makes your senses stagnant. Constant anger is a sure sign of an unhealthy relationship. You should never be around hostility because it makes you feel unsafe. A toxic person treats everything like it’s an attack. You may come to them in a completely civil and rational way and choose your words very carefully and say, “Listen I just wanted to talk to you about that thing this week”. You’ll find that they will meet that with aggression. A relationship like this leaves you completely drained. If instead of feeling happy and productive, you’re always mentally, emotionally, and even physically drained, it’s time to re-evaluate.
- Always undermining. If a relationship can’t be reassuring, it’s failing a crucial test. They make YOU the root of all evil. So whenever there’s a problem, whenever there is something going wrong, they will ALWAYS make it about you and your problems and what you’re doing wrong and why you don’t understand it. So now, instead of admitting that something is actually their fault, that they need to change something, they’ll make you the problem and convince you that the problem is coming from you. Remember that proximity is power and if you let someone too close and they keep affecting you and telling you that things are your fault, even when they’re not, you WILL begin to believe that and it will erode your confidence over time… It’s an insidious thing negative relationships do: They leave you feeling you don’t deserve any better. They instill vibes of entrapment in you. Is the other person a positive force in your life, or are you there because you don’t see any way out?
- They’ll show you the most LOVE when you are HURT. So it’s this kind of schizophrenic behavior where they’ll go super aggressive. They’ll make you feel like crap. They’ll make you feel insecure. And when you’re so insecure that you’ll need their love and you’re sorry, you just need someone to lean on, you need them as a crutch, then they’ll show you love and here’s why: Because at this point they feel like it’s safe to do so. They feel like they’re in Toxic people tend to have ceaseless control issues. This is a sign of vicious nonstop narcissism. If the other party’s interest in the relationship is really just a reflection of him or herself, it’s impossible to achieve any kind of balance.
- Diminishes Self-Worth: When you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t acknowledge your value, it can be hard to see it yourself. When you do well and you have an achievement, they won’t celebrate it with you and get excited with you. They’ll brush it off. They’ll change the subject relatively quickly or they’ll find a problem. You’ll come home saying you got a promotion and they’ll say, “Well won’t that now be a lot more work?” Because there are two ways people go. Some people get aggressive and vicious and say, “You don’t care about me anymore”. They go down that road. “You’re doing all these things now”. “You don’t care anymore”. They try to make you feel guilty for something you should be happy and proud about. Or they just act like they don’t care anyway and you’ll find that they get distant from you when things are going well. They start spending more time with other people giving more love to other people and giving less love to you. This is accompanied with their constant judgment. In judgmental relationships, criticism is not intended to be helpful but rather to belittle. A nonstop barrage of criticism never helped anyone improve; it’s not about making things better but boosting the critic’s ego. This leads to persistent self-betrayal. If you find yourself changing your opinions to please someone else, you’re in a damaging relationship. It eventually lowers your standards. What was a once unacceptable act starts to be acceptable to you?
Lastly, I’d like to say relationships are important, and a toxic relationship can cost you dearly in time and energy that you could be putting to much better use. Any relationship if toxic brings out your worst. If you are constantly being your worst, you cannot be your best self.
Stay true to yourself and your values, listen to your heart, and be strong if you need to extricate yourself from a toxic relationship. Kick them out of your life without a second thought to the forever dream killing line “Log kya kahengay”!