Joey Hadden / Hilltop Views

Tackling toxicity: How to fight the monster in all of us

Imbalance. This is how it starts. A relationship of any kind should form in a manner that the people involved are equal to one another. Unfortunately, this is not how all relationships begin, and it is not how all relationships grow. Some people don’t value one another, and some people don’t value themselves. The perfect combination of this can lead to something so poisonous on the inside.

Toxic relationships tend to be kept behind closed doors and swept under rugs. They are seen as shameful things that only happen to a handful of people.

However, 43 percent of college women report experiencing some kind of abusive behavior when it comes to dating. Having almost half of a population report the same kind of behavior means that this might not be such a small problem.

Instead of being ashamed of toxic behavior, the first step is to bring these kinds of relationships to light. Not only does this apply to dating, but it can also apply to other relationships, be it friendship, familial or work related.

For someone that has never experienced what it’s like to be in some kind of toxic relationship, it can be hard to understand why someone won’t leave the relationship. It can also be hard to tell if someone you know is experiencing the signs of a toxic relationship.

At the same time, some people may not realize they are involved in a toxic relationship, especially those who may not have had an example of a healthy relationship in their household growing up.

For example, one study found that over a three-year period, about three-in-ten (31 percent) children younger than six had experienced a major change in their family or household structure, in the form of parental divorce, separation, marriage, cohabitation or death.

This can lead to children growing up without a good example of what a healthy relationship looks like. Without personal experience to guide them, it makes it harder for them to recognize toxic behaviors.

Some signs of a toxic relationship include the following:

Disrespect. Disagreements are a normal and healthy part of any relationship, but when it borders on being disrespectful towards another person and putting down their opinions and interests, this might be taking things too far.
Sexual violence. If one person is forcing or pressuring another person into doing any remotely sexual that the other person doesn’t want to, this is absolutely a sign of a toxic relationship. Consent is key in any kind relationship.
Control. This is usually demonstrated by one person wanting to control what their partner does or who they hang out with. It can also hand in hand with dependence and distrust.
Dependence. Holding another person responsible for happiness and fulfillment in life can lead to false attachment.
Dishonesty. Being dishonest with someone creates a wall between two people that is only visible to the liar.

The last thing someone needs is your judgement if they do not feel ready to leave a toxic relationship. Be patient and don’t feel the need to pressure them into doing something they are not ready to do.

Personally, I think we’re all a little bit toxic, and recognizing that fact is key to conscious decision making in a relationship to keep it as healthy as possible.

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