Okay, so I may be wrong, but I feel like most of the relationships I'm in ends at the hand of the other person. Or at least, even if I end it, it's their fault.
I'm right, aren't I? Or am I…
Apparently, I can only rant to my friends for so long before they start to gently remind me that the common denominator in all my relationships – other than men pejoratively being trash – is me.
Interesting, isn't it, how one's bad behaviors can sneak up on us.
Well, other than refusing to believe the truth in front of my eyes, I did grab a cup of tea and sit down with my thoughts for a minute.
Scary, I know, but we've got time
What I found was that I have a selection of a few bad habits that not only interrupt each other but actively make for an emotionally repressed and yet superficially eternally available persona that…
Truthfully…. Isn't at all conducive to a healthy relationship.
I've distilled the (many) summit meetings that we held following the awkward realization that I was, in fact, the toxic source of all my issues. And they say ignorance is bliss for a reason…
First of all, along with my forehead and nose, I inherited a disinclination towards expressions of physical affection from my parents.
Gestures of affection are and have always been my cross to bear. It stems from a deep-rooted discomfort with myself (as we are all instructed to have in society) and, therefore, an unwillingness to put myself out there for fear of rejection.
I reckon we can all relate to low self-esteem issues
Yes, vulnerability, I know that's something that everyone and their cat suffers from because to be human is to be vulnerable, and yet everywhere we isolate ourselves out of fear.
That notwithstanding, it meant that it took lots of legroom and effort and talking through things for me to be comfortable with another person touching me. And this, I recognize, took no small amount of time on his part.
Maybe I never gave the guys I was with credit for that, so used to internalizing my own issues that I lost sight of battles other people were fighting. Maybe that also made a lot of the relationships more centered around me.
I demanded attention in a way that I didn't realize I did. But, again, upon reconsideration and some firm – but kind – words from my friends, it is maybe true that I wasn't the most sympathetic to him when he was struggling.
I am woman enough to admit that, being new to relationships as I am, I put myself first in a way that was prohibitive to culturing an atmosphere of compromise and safety.
My loved ones deserve better
It was a safe space for me, but perhaps my partners felt the bitter end of a toxic relationship at my hands. Unable to speak their minds or communicate their fears and woes at the end of the day.
I was so used to having to walk on eggshells in other situations that it never occurred to me that I could be doing the same thing.
Sometimes, coming out of a toxic romantic relationship yourself, you can swing too far in the other direction when reclaiming your power in a relationship. Occasionally, this forms a new cycle of dangerous behaviors.
While I never felt myself to be controlling, I had control issues over the terms of the relationship. Again, before consulting relationship experts and gaining valuable perspective and distance, I didn't realize how similar these two traits are.
I need to take responsibility for this and move forward from past bad relationships.
I also tend to draw more lines in the sand than are strictly necessary. Again, with experience, establishing boundaries will get easier and more natural.
But essentially, I need to learn to share
To allow myself to leave dishes to 'soak' overnight because I can't be bothered to wash them. This is all a part of your shared emotional well-being.
To let myself know that it's okay to drop the 'act' of being a perfect partner before I start resenting myself and the relationship. Particularly when no one is asking me to do these things.
We are only held to our own standards, but if we don't discuss this with our partners, who will we talk to?
There's also a key distinction between being honest with your partner and downloading on them after a long day. Aggressive honesty is not the same as vulnerability, particularly when it involves you just unloading all your toxic, invasive thoughts to get them out of your system.
That's not fair on him, and you shouldn't expect him to do this without at least offering the same in return for when things go wrong.
However, it doesn't mean to not tell your partner when you're stressed, because we all need to get better at letting people help us. Humans are inherently social animals, but we just need practice.
This doesn't just mean sending text messages from across the world: we need human contact.
We need to learn about each other
Our boundaries, needs, telltale signs, and dreams. Sometimes it does mean that we guess or try to surprise people or take a risk that doesn't pay off.
I have no other suggestion other than to accept past mistakes as part of the territory.
You aren't a toxic person for making mistakes. There is time to learn and build a healthy relationship.