In all types of nature, whether man or animal, it is the parent's responsibility to teach their young how to live. When a youngling needs to walk, their arms are held as they are guided in step. When a youngling needs to communicate, words are sound out or other forms of communication are taught. When the youngling needs to eat, they are taught ways to make sure they grow healthy and strong. No matter the situation, parents are constantly teaching their offspring, in a hope that they will survive long enough to do the same.
Teaching children about the ways of life is instinctual. It is proprietorial. It is necessary.
Yet, in this insistent need to ensure the survival of children, parents most often forget to teach the most vital thing in life. The thing human beings crave so desperately they spend their whole lives searching for it. Often finding it in the worse, darkest places. Parents often forget to teach their children how to love and how to be loved.
As people, we are never explicitly taught how to love. Instead, we are expected to take on the world with the hopes that we will "know it when we feel/see it". Or that it'll play out like the rom-com we memorized as kids, or the song that we couldn't but fall in love with. As a result, this desperate need to be loved, results in 1 of 3 young people falling into an unhealthy, toxic relationship. Which results in far worse outcomes on the physical and mental health.
When a new relationship begins, everything feels like you're on the top of the world. Everything your partner does is seen with the brightness of the sun, covered by the smell of lilacs and daisies. After a couple of weeks of dating, that brightness dims and the smell fades, but the view still remains lovely. In relationships with intensity, that's not exactly the same painted picture; instead, those relationships with strange intensity go from 0 to 60 on a European bullet train. The excited feelings associated with the bright sun and encompassing lilacs and daisies are overtaken by a sense of being overwhelmed. Everything in the relationship seems to be going too fast and despite your insistent foot on the brakes, it picks up speed. Before you know it, they're saying "I love you" on your third date. Three months in, they are talking about moving in when you are still deciding how to be with them.
You're not on the same page, or even in the same book. And your partner refuses to give you the necessary chapters to catch up.
Yes, relationships are intense in the beginning. Anything new is, but it's about how the relationship evolves not how it starts. If the relationship evolves from excitement to overwhelmed and chaotic, consider the healthiness of your relationship.
Isolation is one of the easiest ways to be pulled into a toxic relationship, mainly because it is unnoticed until it is too late. At first, the relationship started off with a designated day of when you would spend time with your partner. It was a day that you two planned with one another in hopes to make time. Then, that one day becomes another. Then, another. Then...soon you forgot what it was like to hang with your friends. And when they want to schedule time to hang out, your schedule is booked for months with only your partner in mind. In more extreme cases, spending less time together could create issues between you and your partner, so much so that you succumb to the isolation to avoid confrontation. In even more extreme cases, sometimes that partner does something drastic, like move the two of you to a new city. Family is forgotten. Friends are lost. You're tethered to your partner without another support system in sight.
Don't get me wrong. Scheduling time with your partner is essential, but scheduling all your time with your partner is another thing. Especially if they're constantly requesting it, and guilt you the one time you claim your independence. Being around your partner is important, but having your independence and a life outside of them is important, as well. When your partner chooses to monopolize all of your time, consider the healthiness of your relationship.
In extreme jealousy, your partner becomes more demanding. Like a ward, they want to control: what you wear, how you choose to style your hair, how much makeup you can have on, even who you talk to or spend time with. Every second of your day becomes monitored. As if on probation, you must explain every action you make and every action someone makes onto you.
Mistrust seeps in and it seems that no matter what you do, you're at fault.
It's your fault you're so desirable. Your fault someone else is attracted to you. Your fault for their insecurity which has led to their over-the-top jealously. The truth is: it is not. Their unnecessary jealousy resides in their insecurity, not yours. If you have given them no reason to distrust, it is not your responsibility to ensure that trust remains consistent. It's theirs. When you partner starts displaying extreme jealousy, consider the healthiness of your relationship.
In toxic relationships, it is common for berating and belittlement to sneak into everyday language. Words that used to envelop you in warmth and comfort, now cut like a knife. Words are used as weapons to make you feel less than and insecure. Either shouted to you or spoken to you calmly, they leave you feeling less like yourself and more like a punching bag. When addressed, they accuse you misunderstanding their intentions and being sensitive to their humor. You never deserve to be berated or treated like you're worthless. When your partner starts displaying berating and belittling behavior, consider the healthiness of your relationship.
In toxic relationships, volatility appears in several stages. First, everything is an upward roller-coaster of good vibes, before quickly plummeting into a downward spiral. Only to repeat over and over again. In relationships with volatility, you are just as likely to break up as you are to get back together. Arguments occur almost every day and apologies/promises are given without the intention of a follow-through.
The most unfortunate thing about volatile relationships is that if in it too long, one could begin to crave it.
Sensing that a relationship has gone well for too long, leaves those in toxic relationships to seek the discomfort. Often creating confrontation for the sake of confrontation. When your relationship starts displaying volatile characteristics, consider the healthiness of your relationship.
Negative Financial Behaviors
"My hard earned money is my own. Your hard earned money is also my own."
This is the philosophy of a person in a toxic relationship with negative financial behaviors. They want to control what you do with your money, while spending their own carelessly. When they use all of their funds, it's your job to provide for their unhealthy habit and nothing else. They must see where every piece of your money goes to while ignoring the true hypocrisy of it all.
Often, they force you take on financial responsibilities you were not responsible for creating. In addition, they leave you dependent on them when the truth is they depend on you. Eventually, you become dependent on them and the vicious cycle repeats. When your relationship starts displaying negative financial behaviors, consider the healthiness of your relationship.
Sing it with me: "Why you always lying? Why you always lying? Oooo Oh my god! Stop f-"
Most toxic relationships are built on the foundation of lies. Whether dressed up in something beautiful or showing its true face, dishonesty is as important to a toxic relationship as the air one breathes. As if a reflex, partners lie to one another about their whereabouts, infidelity, and much more for the sake of doing so. Then, if they are caught, they throw it back in your face. You're completely wrong. Or you're imagining things. You're behaving too sensitively. You're misunderstanding everything that was said.
Dishonesty is their first language and gaslighting is their second. And it makes you feel...uneasy, uncertain, paranoid, and crazy.
You stop trusting your own judgment, despite your judgement being the actual truth. Listen to your gut, follow the what you know instead of what you hope. The lies don't hold up when you stop giving it the power to. When your relationship starts displaying dishonesty or "gaslighting", consider the healthiness of your relationship.
Lack of Support
In a healthy relationship, your partner is your biggest cheerleader. Always the support system, they encourage you to face your fears and push you to strive to be the best. A good partner helps you achieve your goals. A good partner gives honesty and provides the shoulder for you to cry on.
In a toxic relationship, it is naturally the opposite. Instead of a cheerleader, they become your enemy. Your partner becomes the number one obstacle in your way. They insist that they help you climb the highest mountains and push the first chance they get. They are often the reason why you're crying and they are often nowhere to be found when you need help. Their support comes with conditions and, no matter what, you'll never be able to pay it. When your relationship lacks support or has support with condition, consider the healthiness of your relationship.
Chronic Stress and Anxiety
The world is filled with various forms of stress and anxiety. Between work, upholding friendships, necessities, health, families, and whatnot, chronic stress is inevitable. Though, it shouldn't be in your relationship.
If the idea of being with your partner does not bring you peace, consider finding peace elsewhere. Relationships are hard, but it shouldn't be to the point that it brings you stress and anxiety.
You shouldn't fear the person you're with or find them draining. If that is the case, is the relationship truly worth holding onto? The idea of relationships is to find someone who brings you peace and happiness. Don't settle for chronic stress and anxiety when there are other options. When your relationship is filled with chronic stress and anxiety, consider the healthiness of your relationship.
Physical violence is never acceptable or warranted. Everyone deserves to be safe within their home and within their relationships. If your relationship exhibits physical violence, no matter how extreme, consider consulting a specialist. With the assistance of the specialist, they can consult you on safe ways to leave the home. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, who can help victims and survivors of domestic violence: 1-800-799-7233.
If any of the above characteristics are displayed within your relationship, consider calling a specialist to determine the healthiest way to leave your situation (1-800-799-7233). Our parents might not have taught us how to effectively love, but this does not mean we have to accept love in any and every form.
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