All of us want very different things from our relationships, and that’s okay. Some of us want partners that hold our hand on grand adventures, and some of us are looking for something more simple. Whatever you’re looking for, the way you see relationships as a whole will go a long way into defining your closest and most intimate partnerships. The secret is knowing what you want, and cultivating the behaviors and traits that you would like to see in an ideal partner.
Our partners don’t rescue us and they don’t change us. We are the only people who can do that for ourselves. For this reason, it’s important to come into our partnerships open, well-adjusted and whole — but that asks of us to face our emotional baggage and deal with the insecurities of our pasts. If we want to build better relationships, we have to be better partners. That’s a transformation that can only come from within, however, and it can only come as a result of hard work and a commitment to change the way you see your partner and partnerships.
Forming our relationship perceptions.
The relationships that comprise our inner circles can make a huge difference when it comes to how we see ourselves and the world around us. Boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands and partners offer us everything from emotional support to companionship, but it is possible to find ourselves giving little pieces away until we’re compromised past the point of return. Avoiding this means building better relationship perceptions, and that’s a journey that begins within.
Our romantic relationships are complex and dynamic. We fall in love quickly and we can fall out of love just as quickly. When we love, we love deeply and that can often cause us to overlook critical red flags and warning signs that are best faced head-on and in the moment. Part of forming happy and lasting relationships is learning how to confront issues in those relationships as they happen, something that takes both time and understanding to carefully manage.
Though we often claim to be blindsided by our good love gone wrong, more often than not, there are a number of critical moments we ignore along the way. When our partners aren’t right for us, they have a funny way of showing us that truth, but it takes a dose of radical honesty to see these warnings for what they are. To see these red flags for what they are and accept them, we have to start loving ourselves and setting boundaries both inside and out. Only when we learn how to love ourselves can we truly start loving others and receiving the love we deserve.
The toxic relationship types we should always avoid.
Not all relationships are created equal. While the right relationships can bring joy, tranquility and even a sense of security into our lives, the wrong one will unravel it in a number of ways. From controlling relationships, to outright abuse, these are the most toxic types of partnerships that are to be avoided at all costs.
One-sided relationships are toxic, and leave little room for both parties to create transformative or meaningful experiences within their partnerships. When one partner takes all the control, they take away the independence and value of the other party. Though we all want what’s best for our partner, we also have to respect their right to be who they are and express themselves in the way that is natural to them.
Ever had one of those relationships that light you on fire from the moment you meet? More often than not crazy, over-the-top and passionate relationships burn hard and fast, but they can quickly lead to something toxic that burns down the rest of our life. When we lean too hard into these types of relationships, we can find ourselves getting obsessed and quickly losing sight of our own strengths and individuality.
Bullying in relationships isn’t natural, normal or healthy. If your partner demeans, belittles or otherwise pushes you around — you’re dealing with an abusive relationship, not a passionate one. Though a bully might try to conceal their tactics beneath the guise of “care”, their main priority is keeping power, and they’ll use whatever tactics they need to achieve that end. Bullying is a favored tactic of abusers and narcissists alike.
Critical relationships aren’t comfortable, and they cause us to doubt ourselves and the way we see partnerships in general. A partner who constantly criticizes you is looking to demean your sense of self and increase your dependence on them and their opinions. In order to build equitable and healthy relationships, we have to respect one another and offer only critiques that are necessary, wanted, kind and warranted.
Dramatic relationships full of explosive arguments and constant blow-ups are a waste of time and distracting to the journey that we’re on. When we engage in relationships that are based all around the drama, we find ourselves battling tough emotional turmoil and constant fallout that can lead to a doubting of self and a doubting of our partners and relationships. Drama doesn’t indicate true love — it indicates true dysfunction.
Found yourself obsessed with someone after only knowing them for a short time? As tempting as it might be to consider this the real-deal, obsession is not love, and should be avoided at all costs. Obsession is unhealthy, and can force us to absorb into our relationship in a way that completely destroys our sense of purpose and self. Without direction, we flounder whenever we’re separated from our partners and fail completely when faced with challenges on your own.
The enabling relationship is an especially toxic one, and one which can quickly turn into something far too codependent. Enablers encourage toxic behavior in their partners, or go out of their way to ensure that they continue in patterns that keep them chained to the same place in life. This might be due to their own insecurities, but it may also come from an insidious need to keep you controlled or otherwise weakened, vulnerable or reliant.
Punitive parenting occurs when one partner assumes the role of a “parent” within the relationship, monopolizing control and dishing out punishment whenever their demands aren’t met. The punitive partner isn’t concerned about the other person’s needs, or even communicating — effectively — about their own needs. It’s only a matter of time until the resentment builds between both partners, leading to inevitable implosion.
Way too comfortable
Though we should feel secure in our relationships, we shouldn’t feel comfortable enough to give up on ourselves, our dreams or our values. Relationships that feel like your favorite pair of slouchy sweatpants feel nice at first, but in retrospect you realize that they were keeping you and preventing you from achieving better opportunities for yourself. Comfort doesn’t equal happiness and vice versa. Being too comfortable can hold us back from real love.
Lies on lies on lies
Truth and authenticity are the cornerstone of any solid relationship, and without them — cracks are guaranteed to show. It’s impossible to work together and grow together as a healthy couple when one (or both) partner(s) are cloaking reality in their omissions or outright subterfuge. When we lie to each other, we can’t identify problems and we shut down the channels of communication. Without trust, no one can move forward in good faith.
Why we fall into toxic relationship traps.
We learn our bonding behaviors when we’re young, and we continue to test and refine those patterns over time. The things we take on in childhood can follow us throughout our lives, but there are also a number of other places that we learn the toxic relationship patterns that keep us stuck, scared and searching for some shred of happiness in eternal night.