Let me start off by saying – there is no handbook or guide on how to be in a perfect relationship. There is also no such thing as a “perfect relationship.” While we can’t learn overnight how to be the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, we can implement ways to ensure that we aren’t abusive and/or toxic to ourselves or our significant other.
There are plenty of people who think they know “everything about love.” From dating advice columns in magazines to the self-help section of the book store, when you feel really sh*tty about your love life – you’ll turn anywhere for answers.
The truth is – every love is different. People love in different ways and see love from different lights. While everyone is unique in their own right and no two relationships are the same – there are several things that are universal when it comes to being in a healthy relationship.
It’s not always going to be the “sun and moon and stars” kind of love – because it’s just unrealistic for people to experience that and still remain in a healthy relationship. But, while society perpetuates the notion of love being this gut-wrenching, overemotional and almost damaging experience – we start to blur the lines or what is healthy for us and what is toxic.
1. The “tit for tat”:
In relationships, people think it’s normal to look back on things that have happened in the past and use them to establish a better future for you and your significant other. For example, many people will use past issues to establish the foreground for an argument that happens in the now. While you may think this gives you an advantage to your side of the argument and think it’s valid to use a partner’s past mistakes against them, it’s actually doing more harm then good.
If the two actions are not connected in any way, there is no reason to bring something up from the past that has been resolved just to help your current argument. It’s selfish, bitter and toxic to you and your partner. It shows that you haven’t grown past the past situation or argument, giving you both an even larger issue to deal with.
Plenty of times in relationships, people will try to “buy their way out of things.” When someone has a solid income, they feel as though they can substitute guilt with material possessions. For example, you were really disappointed that your significant other forgot an important occasion in your life – whether it be an anniversary, a holiday, a job promotion – they didn’t congratulate you or celebrate in the way you had expected or wanted. After you cried or moped about the situation, they return home with flowers, an expensive piece of jewelry and your favorite food. Immediately, all has been forgiven because they went out of their way to spoil you.
This isn’t healthy in your relationship because it is putting a blanket over bigger issues. If you are disappointed in the way your partner handled a particular situation, it’s vital to address it and discuss how to change their behavior – rather than allowing them to mask their guilt. The more you perpetuate this behavior of purchasing rather than progressing, your relationship will be at a stand-still and the disappointment will only continue, especially because they know a way out of the dog house now.
3. Becoming an F.B.I. agent:
For some reason in society, women and men both believe that it is perfectly okay to go through their partner’s phone, email, social media and/or belongings. While you may be involved romantically with your partner and be in a solid, long-term relationship – that does not give you any right to invade their privacy. Just because someone loves you does not mean that they are not entitled to have their own independence and privacy. In fact, they deserve it.
When you begin to invade your partner’s privacy, you are spelling out the fact that you do not trust them and do not want them to have a life separate than the one you are involved in. It’s important in keeping a relationship healthy that both partners have independence from each other. In order to do this, there must be absolute trust. If you don’t trust the person you are with enough to have a password on their phone or not know their social media account logins – you should reconsider being with them.
Dating columns will often tell you that it’s healthy and normal to vent to your friends and family about your relationship – especially when there are problems in paradise. You’ll turn to those you love and trust to guide you in how to figure out what to do next when everything seems to be crashing down on your relationship. It’s essentially toxic for you to turn to anyone else but your partner – because, no one else is inside your relationship and understands the dynamics and love between you both. As well, these people do not have to live, suffer, or endure the consequences of their advice and what they insist you should do.
The only exception to this toxic behavior is in terms of abusive relationships – both emotional and physical – in which case it is vital to seek outside support in order to recover and move on from the trauma and experience.
5. Bottling it up:
Whenever you’re mad at your partner, but it’s late and you’re not in the mood to fight – the go-to answer is always “I’m fine,” when in reality – there is a storm brewing inside of you. You are enraged, angry and ready to go TKO like Muhammad Ali via words. But, instead of speaking your truth, you decide being passive aggressive and bottling up your emotions is easier than arguing until 2 a.m.
If you’re unable to say how you feel and why you are angry or hurt, you’re only going to become even more frustrated with yourself and your partner. This is how resentment grows between two people in a relationship. The more anger you harvest inside of you, the sooner you grow tired of being with someone and start to find nit-picking issues that push you away from each other. Speak up and speak loud instead of holding everything inside.
6. Compare and contrast:
People often say that you learn from your mistakes in life – nothing is a mistake if it has taught you a lesson. In relationships, people believe this reigns the same. They believe that you should go into new relationships with a past knowledge of what you like and dislike, how you want to be treated and what you will accept – according to your relationship with your ex. While you should remember what you deserve – you should never compare your current significant other to your ex and use things against them that have absolutely nothing to do with your relationship with them.
This is unfair and selfish – and, your significant other has to suffer at the cost of someone who may have done you wrong. Sure, if someone cheated on you, you may go into a new relationship with trust issues – but if your partner has not given you any reason to not trust them, you can’t constantly throw it in their face.
7. Throwing it out the door:
Everyone fights in relationships – even if two relationships are never alike, it’s no secret that couples inevitably argue from time to time. There are specific relationships, however, where partners will “hold the other person hostage,” in a verbal communication sense – not literally. For example, when you argue, your significant other immediately believes that the argument is vital enough to end the relationship altogether or insinuate that the relationship is not valuable enough to withstand said argument.
There are times in which the argument may be grounds to end the relationship – if it is about issues that you two cannot come to terms upon or ever see eye-to-eye on – but, it should not be an “every fight” occurrence. Not only does this create immense drama, it shows that you or your partner are flighty and do not value the relationship as a whole as much as they/you say.
8. Blame game:
Society tells you that when you’re having a bad day, your partner should be there for you “extra” with more TLC than usual. They should drop everything and listen to you complain, whine or moan about a friendship problem, a work issue or school stress.
Your partner cannot control the weather – and just like they cannot control the weather, they cannot control the way you feel or react to things. If you’re having a bad day, you cannot expect them to be there waiting on you hand and foot. Of course, it’s important that your significant other can be understanding with you and be your support when you need it, but, you can’t get angry when they have other priorities such as work, school or other things to deal with. Taking things out on someone and using them as your punching bag will only push them away from you and create an awkward outlook on you whenever something goes wrong.