Love is a beautiful thing and you can find it all around you. It’s in commercials, in the movies you watch, in the books you read, in the stores you shop in, and on social media. You cannot escape all the love and romance that is thrown your way. The message is clear: you need to be in love. But at what cost?
Thanks to social media, we are constantly bombarded with varying images of what it looks like to be in a relationship with someone. From turbulent and shaky relationship woes between entertainers to beautiful and healthy marriages between our favorite actors, we see it all.
While some may need professional help and time away from social media to deal with their mental and emotional well-being, these relationships are indicative of many Americans, both young and old, that are dealing with toxic relationship habits that are causing problems in dating and eventually in marriages. Loving someone shouldn’t cost you your mental or emotional well-being or being in a toxic relationship that will change your personality so much that you lose yourself.
It’s Giving Toxic
Nobody truly celebrates being in a toxic relationship because they can become very damaging and harmful to those involved. Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D, explains, “A toxic relationship is one that makes you feel unsupported, misunderstood, demeaned, or attacked. On a basic level, any relationship that makes you feel worse rather than better can become toxic over time.” Many people are currently in toxic relationships and may struggle to get out of them for whatever reasons, but if you recognize that you feel any of these emotions, then you could be in a toxic relationship. Notice the red flags early on and know that there is a way to help yourself.
Here are 5 ways to keep yourself strong and to avoid toxic relationships when you start dating someone:
1. Have Interests Outside of Your Partner: Make sure you and your partner have friends outside of one another. Your partner should not have access to only you nor should they limit the access your friends have to you or vice versa. Both you and your partner should be able to have a social life, entertainment, and interests outside of one another. Otherwise, you could see signs of control, manipulation, and isolation.
2. Setting Clear Boundaries: Placing clear boundaries in your relationship with your partner is a sign of respect. It lets your partner understand and know what lines not to cross, what you will not do, and your expectations up front. By making these boundaries known, your partner cannot claim ignorance and there cannot be any miscommunication. Clear boundaries make things easier in the long run.
3. Self-Awareness & Self-Esteem: Having a strong sense of self-awareness and self-esteem is key in establishing relationships in general. By having these two things, it makes it harder for people, but, especially a partner, to make you feel unworthy or useless. If you have good energy and a strong support system, then you will not be swayed by the negative or toxic energy of a partner’s insults or put downs when they come your way.
4. Know Your Value & Deal Breakers: Know who you are, what you deserve, and what you will accept for your life and future. If your partner does not fit within that description, then you must not move forward in a relationship with that person—it’s just that simple. Dating is not permanent—it is a process. If someone doesn’t fit in with your goals, then take them out of your bigger picture.
5. Communicate Effectively: One of the best things that you can do with your partner is simply talk to them about how you are feeling in your relationship. People do not know what you don’t tell them. Learn how to effectively communicate what you want your partner to know about them and about your relationship. If it is working beautifully, then tell them. If it is not, then tell them. Communicating saves relationships from becoming toxic.
Toxic love is not real love. It’s not supposed to hurt, either. Remember, love is patient. Love is kind. Love is beautiful and it don’t cost a thing.