You only need a combination of chemistry and good timing to ignite a relationship.
When it comes to making it last, however, the equation becomes exponentially complex.
Each partner brings their own emotional baggage into the mix.
When the road gets difficult, it’s often because that baggage is causing one of you to act in a less-than-desirable way.
But while it’s tempting (and comforting) to blame your significant other for *always* messing things up, there’s a chance you share some of the blame, too.
If you display these 6 behaviors, you’re the toxic one in your relationship.
Taking responsibility for your noxious tendencies is the first step to personal growth.
1) You demand to know where your partner is at all times
Whenever I date someone who wants to know my whereabouts 24/7, I think of Ross and Emily from Friends.
Remember their breakup scene?
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Ross does something incredibly dumb that makes Emily not trust him.
She overcompensates by trying to control every aspect of his life from a distance, and she admits that she’ll be even more controlling when they’re finally in the same room.
It’s the moment they both understand that it’s over.
You can’t make a relationship work if you don’t trust your boo.
Granted, you probably want to know where they are at all times, what they’re doing, and who they’re hanging out with because you’ve been burned in the past.
A former partner cheated on you or broke your trust in a significant way, and you’re trying to protect yourself.
But not all people are the same. History doesn’t have to repeat itself.
Most importantly, your partner needs space to be who they are.
If you can’t grant them that, you can’t exactly blame them if they decide to break free.
2) You employ subtle manipulative tactics to get what you want
When you resort to manipulation to get your way, you’re the toxic one in your relationship.
Rather than being open and honest about how you feel, your behavior would be best described as shady:
- You guilt-trip your partner when they do something you disagree with
- You only share partial truths to control the narrative and gain the upper hand
- You withhold affection in an effort to convince your partner to cave to your demands
- You repeatedly portray yourself as a victim to gain sympathy from your partner and convince them to do things your way
- You use emotional threats to get what you want (e.g. “I’ll leave you if you don’t do this” or “My life is over if we break up”)
These tactics don’t build a positive and respectful connection.
In fact, they have the opposite effect.
3) You’re passive-aggressive
Passive-aggressive behavior undermines effective communication. That makes it toxic in my book.
If you choose to only express your feelings indirectly, you create a hostile space rather than a safe one where both you and your partner can be who you really are.
Passive-aggressive remarks lead to misunderstandings, unaddressed issues, and emotional distance.
Additionally, by not voicing your concerns and emotions directly, you build resentment over time.
This is unfair to your partner, who you can’t fault for not understanding what they did wrong.
I used to be guilty of this because I’m a recovering people pleaser.
I wanted to keep the peace in the relationship and not make a scene, so I would convince myself that my occasional anger or disappointment with my boo would resolve itself.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t. The negative feelings simmered under the surface and showed up at the most inopportune times.
Don’t follow in my footsteps.
Now, I try to be as open as possible, even if doing so leads to an uncomfortable conversation or a fight.
I’m a work in progress, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.
4) You convince yourself things will go wrong
Speaking of being a work in progress, expecting things to go wrong used to be another thing I struggled with in the past.
Somewhere along the line, I internalized the belief that I was unlucky in love.
Whenever I would date someone new, I would spend the entire honeymoon phase waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It didn’t matter how well things were going; I was sure that an obstacle was just around the corner.
So much so that I would frequently end up engaging in a bit of self-sabotage to prove myself right.
See, the belief that something will go wrong can influence your behaviors and actions, inadvertently leading to the very outcomes you fear.
For instance, past experiences make you afraid that your partner will be emotionally distant and won’t fully understand or support you.
In anticipation of this, you’re guarded and hesitant to express yourself fully.
Your partner, sensing your hesitancy, becomes more reserved in their interactions with you and less likely to dig deeper than the surface, maybe out of fear of pushing you too far.
You interpret their reluctance as emotional unavailability.
In other words, the initial fear becomes reality. A self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will.
Breaking this cycle would require open communication, vulnerability, and a willingness on your part to challenge your negative outlook.
Are you up for that?
5) You have unrealistic expectations
No relationship is perfect, and no human can meet your each and every need.
Expecting your partner to do so sets you two up for failure and can lead you to act in toxic ways:
- You pressure your partner to meet impossible standards, so they never feel valued or accepted for who they are
- If you believe your partner should inherently understand your needs without explicit communication, you’re giving them the short end of the stick
- Focusing on what you perceive as lacking means you don’t appreciate the positive qualities and efforts your partner brings to the table
- Your partner may feel stifled or constrained by the pressure to conform to an unrealistic standard, preventing them from exploring their potential
- If your partner feels like they are letting you down, it becomes more challenging for them to open up and establish a deep emotional connection.
Your partner will make mistakes. They won’t be able to read your mind. They won’t agree with you on everything.
Embracing differences and respecting individual opinions is key if you want your relationship to evolve.
Sulking every time your partner falls short of whatever impossible standards you’ve set for them, on the other hand, gets you nowhere.
6) You don’t take accountability for your mistakes
Speaking of mistakes, your partner isn’t the only one who occasionally messes up.
Chances are, you’re guilty of blunders as well.
If you refuse to take responsibility for them, I hate to break it to you, but you are the toxic one in the couple.
Accountability is essential for building and maintaining trust.
(And as we’ve already established at #1, you can’t have a healthy relationship without it.)
When you skirt responsibility, you put up a communication barrier, making it difficult for your boo to address issues constructively.
Moreover, by denying that you messed up or shifting blame, you’re robbing yourself of the chance to learn from it.
You’re robbing your partner of the chance to forgive you.
And you’re robbing you both of the chance to grow closer.
So many missed opportunities!
A real shame.
If you identify with some of the points above, it’s never too late to make positive changes.
We all have red flags, but not all of us are willing to work on our behavior.
Instead, we repeat the same mistakes, sabotaging relationships before they have a chance to bloom.
It’s time to break the pattern.