My friend Brandy would be the first person to tell you that a side of her comes out a few months after dating someone that is outright mean.
“I don’t know why, but after the initial honeymoon phase, I will start losing it on the person I’m dating. I think I'm testing them because I was hurt in the past, but it’s not okay, and I know that if I don’t change, I’m never going to be able to have a fully healthy relationship.”
Brandy’s words resonated deeply with me. I began my current relationship with undeniably toxic behaviors. Therapy and work helped me get to a much better place, but I don’t think my partner and I would still be together if I hadn't taken the time to work on myself.
Even if you don’t realize it, there is a high probability that you are bringing toxic patterns into your relationships. Here are five examples of the most common ones that I have witnessed and personally been guilty of committing.
#1. Allowing issues to turn into blazing fires instead of dealing with them early on
My best friend has a rule that I absolutely love.
When something bothers her, and she becomes annoyed with her husband, she reflects on it until the next day. If it is still bothering her, she brings it up. If she wakes up and it’s been forgotten, she doesn’t believe it was worth talking about in the first place.
There have been far too many times when I have started an argument over something irrelevant or unimportant. In those moments I have kicked myself for not waiting and really figuring out if it was worth picking a battle over.
#2. Leaving any doors slightly open, causing you to cross a line
Many of us have had a person in our lives that brings up a certain feeling. Whether it was the one who got away or an ex that stirs those sentimental memories, it can be difficult to cut them out of our lives fully.
That being said, leaving those doors even slightly cracked can is extremely dangerous. Down the road, when you and your partner fight, or when times are hard, it can be easy to romanticize those relationships.
Imagine that you are frustrated with your partner and reach out to someone else to talk about it. The next thing you know, you are using them to escape from your relationship, and it can be all too easy to do something that could be detrimental.
#3. Holding everything in until you explode
When I was growing up, my father would absolutely lose his temper every six months like clockwork.
There was often no real explanation for the outburst. All that I knew was that it was often triggered by the smallest of events and that he would end up taking it out on my mother more than us kids.
Words can never be taken away. The moment they leave our lips, they take up the air in the room and can taint years of happy memories. Communicate with your partner as much as you can, and if you need to take a walk to cool off, let them know that you need space.
#4. Assuming you know what your partner is going to say instead of listening
Recently my partner and I went on a walk, and he was telling me a story about an incident at work.
Throughout the duration of telling the story, he would pause, and I would guess his thought, believing I knew what was next. Not only was I assumptive, but I was also downright annoying.
Whether or not you believe you know what your partner will say, don’t finish their sentence. In this instance, my partner chose not to call me out on my behavior, but I recognized that he could eventually stop confiding in me if I kept interrupting.
#5. Expecting your partner to be your entire social life
My best friend in college, Amanda, is married and has a child. From the moment she started dating her now-husband, she stopped putting really any effort into her friends.
Her wedding was the last time I saw her, as she asked for me to be a bridesmaid. Our relationship was very one-sided, and I realized that this was a pattern. The moment a new love interest appeared, she would only call me if she needed something, and her relationships always came first.
Having other relationships not only is healthy, but it allows for the two of you to miss each other. If you are together, it is going to affect your relationship and not a good one.
Time after time, my relationships ended the same way, and it became apparent that plenty of the blame fell on me.
I have been guilty of every one of the toxic behaviors listed above at one point or another.
Until we recognize and face the toxic patterns we are bringing into our relationships, we will not change them. Set yourself up for success and take the time to look within and identify what needs to change.
After all, the more that we put into ourselves, the more we will have to give to the people we care about the most.