Tag Archives: unhealthy

contributing toxic

Is Your Behavior Contributing To Your Toxic Relationship?

It is always difficult to admit we might not be behaving in the best way. It is hard to own up to the idea that you might be the one making your relationship toxic. But, the only real way to grow as a person is to be accountable for your actions. You need to first recognize your wrongdoing before you can begin to make changes. 

In the same way, it is difficult to admit wrongdoing, it can also be difficult to see the negative parts of yourself. You might feel like what you are doing is right, when it is actually very harmful. 

What are some signs that your behavior is contributing to the toxicity of your relationship?

1.) Making Affection Conditional — Are you withholding affection because you want your significant other to do something? For example, maybe you are upset about how often you have to clean the house or how little he/she/they are helping with the children. Maybe you want them to agree to move into a different home or buy a new car, whatever the reason — affection should never be used as a bargaining tool. It shouldn’t hinge on getting something you want. Of course, you NEVER have to be affectionate when you don’t want to be but don’t make it a bargaining chip.

2.)Frequently Passive Aggressive — We all have moments when we are passive-aggressive but it is not healthy, and not helpful to a relationship. If you are frequently getting angry with your significant other and not telling him/her/they why you are mad, then you are halting communication efforts. Communication is necessary for any healthy relationship. If you can’t talk to each other that needs to change. 

3.) “Test” Your Partner — If your relationship is healthy then you do not need to “test” your partner’s reactions to things. If you find that you are making them jealous or playing with their emotions in other ways to see how they might react, that is not healthy. If you trust each other then there is no need for mind games. Maybe this insecurity stems from something unrelated to your partner, maybe you need constant affirmation because of another deeper rooted issue. Regardless, this type of behavior needs to be seriously looked at. 

There is help

If any of these sound like you, it is ok. There is help. You can change. The first step is acknowledging that these are serious issues that need your attention. A licensed professional counselor can help you to work through these problems and get to the root of why you might be behaving in this way. They can help you turn things around. 

toxic relationship

Are You In A Toxic Relationship?

Toxic relationships happen. You fall in love with someone and things take a turn. It can be hard to recognize that you are in a toxic relationship simply because you don’t want to be. Your vision is clouded. You think “my relationship if just fine.” But, toxic relationships need your attention. They can harm you emotionally and physically. They can deeply impact you on every level. 

What makes a relationship toxic? How do you know if you are in a toxic relationship? Here are some signs to look out for:

1.) Your partner is stripping away your self-esteem: They are always finding something wrong with you—the way you dress, your haircut, your teeth, your weight, the things you do, your personal preferences, etc. Whatever it is, it feels like nothing is good enough. 

2.) There is a power imbalance: Relationships are supposed to be unions. There is give and take from both partners. While not always equal, they ebb and flow. Sometimes you might give more and sometimes your partner might. But, if it always seems like you are not in control of your life and you are always the one giving, then there is a clear power imbalance and that is not healthy. 

3.)Your partner is jealous and controlling: All healthy relationships need trust. Without trust, your relationship needs some work. If your partner is always jealous or wants to control who you spend your time with, where you go, etc. that is a warning sign. 

4.) You aren’t taking care of yourself: This is not necessarily related to your partner but you can’t possibly take care of your relationship without first taking care of yourself. If you can’t find time to get away from your partner to do things for yourself, then make time. If he/she/they won’t let you get away for self-care or engage in self-care at home, then see number 3.

5.) You don’t feel like you can be yourself: When you are in a relationship you should be free to be you. A partner is someone that you can feel comfortable with. They know you, all of you, and they love you for it. If you can’t be yourself then you might want to consider finding someone you can be yourself with. 

6.) They don’t bring out the best in you: Constant put-downs or arguing, negativity is a drain on your emotional health. Laughing, feeling loved and safe, those things are part of a relationship. If you don’t feel like your relationship is bringing out the best in you, then it might be toxic. 

7.) You are always making excuses for their behavior: Yes, we all have bad weeks. We all have bad months. But, your partner should at least be making an effort. If you come to he/she/they with a concern they should listen and try to make it right. If you find yourself constantly saying to yourself “well he had a bad day at work,” or “she has a lot going on right now” then it might be time to reevaluate. 

These are just a few of the many signs of an unhealthy relationship pattern. Toxic relationships and abusive relationships borderline on each other, so if for any reason you fear for your safety get out. A licensed therapist can help you evaluate your relationship, regain confidence, and break free. You deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you, who appreciates you for all you are.

Grudges vs boundaries: the powerful difference

Grudges and boundaries can often be perceived as similar — but they are so very different from each other. 

Grudges are a form of punishment. It is constantly holding something over another person’s head, not letting them recover for a past failure, it is not accepting that people can grow and learn from mistakes. Grudges are toxic to relationships. We are all human beings, meaning we are all going to do things that others are not ok with at some point or another. When a grudge is established it leaves the other person stuck, unable to recover from that action or actions that injured the relationship in the past. It is a lack of forgiveness and acceptance. 

Boundaries are an act of protection for your personal self and the relationship you are in. They are away to help keep the relationship on a positive track so neither partner gets burnt out or overwhelmed by past issues. It involves growth, acceptance, open communication, understanding, and in some cases compromise.

Boundaries are about love

Grudges often lead to burn out because they are established by internalizing strong feelings and not determining solutions to move forward. It is like stepping on a piece of gum and not being able to move forward without that bump on the bottom of your shoe. A boundary is wiping that gum off, accepting the evidence that it was once there, but moving forward without that bump. 

Maybe your partner forgot about an important dinner which left you feeling upset and hurt, a grudge would mean you are always bringing it up every time a dinner is planned and you are overwhelmed with worry that he/she/they will forget. A boundary would be telling your significant other how upset you were, finding out what happened to them and why they missed the dinner and then figuring out how to make sure it won’t happen again. Maybe they need a morning reminder, or an alarm on their phone, whatever it is work together to solve the issue rather than tucking it all away.  Grow and learn together and you will be making your relationship stronger.

People-Pleasing Versus Generosity

Do not mistake the two. They might seem similar but they are far from it. There are some big differences between people-pleasing and being generous with people.

People-pleasing is an unintentional behavior that often leads to avoidance, anxiety, resentment. It is full of fear of rejection and potential judgment of others. It comes from a place of wanting to fit in, to not make others mad, and to come off as someone different than we are. People-pleasing is often a factor in low self-confidence and feeling like we “have” to do something in order to make others like us.

Being generous comes from the heart. It is intentional. It is something we want to do. It is an action done not by trying to fill a void but because we genuinely enjoy doing it. 

People-pleasers are the ones who never say “no.” They often stretch themselves so thin that they have nothing left for themselves or for the things they really do want to do. This behavior often leads to an unhealthy lifestyle, and the placing of “self-care” on the back-burner indefinitely. People-pleasers rarely show their true feelings. They always have a smile on their face.

People who act out of generosity live a more fulfilled life. They feel good about the things they are doing. They don’t feel like they need or deserve, anything in return because the real return is in the value of what they are doing. 

So, while being generous and people-pleasing can both be seen as acts of kindness on the surface one is a healthy action while the other can lead to a toxic lifestyle. Make the decision to change your people-pleasing ways and live a happier, calmer life. Make 2019 the year of you. Do what makes you feel good. Be yourself, stop pretending, and appreciate you for all the beautiful things about who you are.

Let’s end the habit of decoding other people

Imagine a life that didn’t revolve around what you think another person is thinking. Or what you think another person wants or expects from you. It’s called people-pleasing and let’s make the conscious choice to end the habit. 

Imagine how less stressed and overwhelmed you would feel if you didn’t put so much energy into making sure everyone else is happy. There is a difference between doing things out of the goodness of your heart and doing things just to “look good.” Rather let’s stop hiding behind our fears of potentially upsetting someone, or not coming off as “perfect” as we think others should see us — and be ourselves. 

Ending people-pleasing means more time for ourselves. It means less worry over the upcoming get-together, the side dish you are bringing to dinner, the outfit you want to wear because it’s comfortable. When you do things because you truly want to do them they leave you feeling good, whereas a life of people-pleasing generally makes us feel resentful, bitter, and stressed. People-pleasing keeps us up at night. It makes us dread events, meetings, occasions that don’t have to cause us stress. 

Let’s start by being more self-aware. When you feel overwhelmed, stressed reevaluate the reasons why you feel that way, chances are much of it is because of the intense energy you are putting into pleasing others. Recognize what you need to do for yourself and stand up for you. It is ok to say “no” if something is stressing you out. It is ok to not perform an action in the exact way someone else expects you to. It could be as simple as choosing to not answer the phone or staying home to read a book instead of attending a party. 

Rebound Sex: is it bad for you?

Chances are you have either been in a situation, or know of a friend, who has had sex in order to “get over the pain” of a breakup. This is called rebound sex. It is meant to be casual, no strings attached, but that can be hard when you are talking about such a personal thing as sex. While it might seem like a quick, fun fix, it is not the healthiest route. 

Don’t get me wrong, sex is great. It increases feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. It can give you a nice high. It is a lot like taking morphine for a sprained ankle. It is a temporary, addictive, avoidant fix. It is not something that myself, or any other therapist would recommend to “heal.” If anything it will cause more stress and frustration and it will definitely not “fix” the situation. 

Distracting from true feelings

I often hear from my clients, “it is a nice distraction,” “it will help me forget,” “it will help me to move on.” But in reality, it is just another way of distracting yourself from your true feelings. In the end, those true feelings always come back up to bite you. The best way to handle them is to face them. Talk to a friend, a family member, a mental health professional. Work through them and when you are ready to begin a meaningful relationship with another person then put sex back on the table. 

As a coping mechanism sex can be messy. It can leave you, or the other person, feeling bad about who you/they are. It can cause you, or them, to feel dirty or used. Those feelings just compound the pain you are already feeling from your break up. My best advice is to seek out support from trusted friends and family to help you through this tough time. Facing your feelings rather than trying to pretend they don’t exist will help you to truly heal. Come to terms with your new reality before delving into another deep, personal endeavor.