If you realize that you are the toxic person in your relationship, it is important to remember that awareness is the first step toward making a change. It is possible to move away from toxic behavior and towards healthier, more positive relationships. If you are willing, to be honest with yourself and make the necessary changes, you can improve your partnerships. Here are some steps to help you do so:
1. Stop Assuming You're Better Or Worse Than Anyone Else
If you find that you constantly compare yourself to your partner and either believe that you are superior or inferior to them, it may be a sign that you have toxic tendencies. This jealousy and self-esteem can lead to unhealthy behavior. Instead of focusing on power dynamics, try to see your partner as an equal. Recognize that they are a complex and unique individual with their strengths and weaknesses and that they are neither better nor worse than you.
2. Take Some Time For Yourself
Codependency, or the belief that you need a partner to feel whole or satisfied, can be toxic to a relationship. When you have unrealistic expectations of your partner, it can lead to disappointment and conflict. One way to address this issue is to spend some time on your own, getting to know yourself and your own needs. This could involve taking a break from the relationship or simply carving out some alone time. It is important to remember that your well-being should not depend on another person, and taking time for yourself can help you learn to find fulfillment independently.
3. Seek Therapy Or Some Sort Of Structured Support
If you have been exhibiting toxic behavior, it may be due to unresolved emotional issues or past trauma. This can be especially true if you did not have positive role models for healthy relationships during your childhood. It is important to remember that seeking help is a brave and necessary step toward healing. A therapist can be a valuable resource in helping you to work through these issues and make positive changes. If you have already become aware of your toxic behavior, the next step is to take structured and proactive action to address the root causes and make lasting changes.
4. Practice Meditation Or Breathing Exercises To Cool Your Emotions
I am a big fan of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, also known as DBT. Its founder, Marsha Linehan, is a Zen Buddhist and has incorporated techniques from spiritual practice into DBT, which has been helping people for thousands of years. One of the challenges of dealing with toxic emotions is that they can feel overwhelming and difficult to control. Anger can seem uncontrolled and sadness can be devastating. Meditation and breathing exercises are effective ways to bring yourself back to the present moment and to physically slow down your body at a cellular level.
5. Be Honest With Yourself
Admitting that you have toxic habits takes a lot of self-awareness and courage. To heal, it is important to continue being honest with yourself. Toxicity often has many layers that need to be addressed. Your toxic habits did not develop overnight and they will not go away overnight. Keep working on yourself and making progress.
6. Lean Into The Messiness
Recognizing that you have been acting in a toxic way is just the first step. It will take continuous effort over months and years to improve your relationships and behavior. No one has perfect relationships, but if you are trying to change your toxic habits, it is normal to make mistakes and sometimes fall back on old behaviors. What's important is that you are making an effort to improve. Embrace the messiness of the process and keep working towards a better version of yourself.
7. Take Responsibility For Your Actions
It is normal to make mistakes, and you may have made many in the past. The important thing now is to take responsibility for them. A simple apology is not enough. Your apology should be accompanied by a genuine commitment to change your behavior and stop causing harm to others.
8. Do The Right Thing, Not The Easy Thing
It is easier said than done, but step seven in the 12-step program is about getting rid of negative character traits. To start to break away from old patterns and eventually overcome them, you must practice doing the right thing instead of the easy thing. For example, when your partner talks about a female coworker, instead of making a passive-aggressive remark (which may be your usual reaction), try to be neutral. It may be difficult to be neutral, but even grudgingly doing the right thing is better than continuing a harmful pattern.
9. Bite Your Tongue
Your words may be the cause of many of your problems. You might lash out when you feel insecure or criticize others under the guise of "being honest." Whatever the case, your tongue is quick and sharp, causing a lot of pain. Practice holding your tongue. You don't even have to say anything nice, just try not to say anything at all.
10. Know That You Are Not Broken Or Unlovable, You Just Need To Heal
It can be hard to accept that you may have caused harm or problems in your relationships. It's natural to feel self-hatred and to blame yourself in these situations. However, it's important to remember that you are human and you are doing the best you can. You are not inherently flawed or unworthy of love. You just need some time and space to work on yourself and heal. It's okay to make mistakes and to take the time you need to grow and improve.
What Are The Signs You're The Toxic One In The Relationship?
If you sense that there is an issue in your relationship but can't quite identify the cause, it may be worth considering your behavior. If you recognize any toxic patterns in your behavior, it's important to address them and work on making positive changes. These steps can help you improve the dynamic in your relationship and prevent further harm.
1. You're All Take And No Give
Your partner is always trying to make sure you are happy and well taken care of, and you appreciate their kind gestures. However, you rarely return the favor. It may appear to others that your relationship is unbalanced, with your partner doing most of the work and you not contributing as much in return.
2. You Use The Silent Treatment Rather Than Communicating How You're Feeling
Instead of openly expressing your feelings when you are upset or angry, you tend to keep your thoughts and emotions to yourself and give your partner the silent treatment. It is not clear why you do this - whether it is to make your partner aware of your anger or to punish them for upsetting you - but this behavior is harmful to the relationship and makes you the toxic partner.
3. You Hold Grudges
Your partner sincerely apologizes when they upset you, and you know that they are genuine in their remorse. However, you continue to hold a grudge and bring up their past mistakes every time you argue. This toxic behavior is damaging to the relationship. If you are not willing to truly forgive your partner when they make mistakes, it may be best to end the relationship.
4. You Lack Trust Despite Your Partner Being Completely Trustworthy
If you frequently accuse your partner of infidelity or flirting with others, even though they have always been loyal and trustworthy, it is important to address this behavior as soon as possible. Accusing someone of something they have not done is not only hurtful and frustrating, but it can also potentially drive them to do that thing in the future because they feel they are already being blamed for it. This kind of behavior is extremely toxic and harmful to the relationship.
5. You Always Have Something To Criticize About Your Partner
While you may view your constant criticism as playful nitpicking, it will eventually start to wear down your partner. Continuously expressing negative opinions about their appearance, actions, speech, friends, or any other aspect of their life is not only disrespectful but also rude. If you have such negative thoughts about your partner, why are you in a relationship with them? This behavior makes it clear that you are the toxic partner in the relationship.
6. You're Jealous To An Extreme Level
A small amount of jealousy can be normal and even flattering, as it can show that you value your relationship with your partner and appreciate their affection (and you hope they feel the same about you). However, too much jealousy can be unhealthy and toxic. If your jealousy becomes so intense that it causes concern among your partner's friends and family, it is a sign that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
7. You Try To Control Every Situation
In a healthy relationship, both partners are equals and work together to meet each other's needs and ensure mutual happiness. Refusing to compromise and trying to control every situation to suit your preferences is toxic behavior that should be addressed. Remember that you are not the only person in the relationship, and if you continue down this path, it could lead to the end of the relationship.
8. You Expect Them To Spend Every Waking Second By Your Side
At the start of a new relationship, it's normal to want to spend all your time with your partner, getting to know them and enjoying each other's company. However, as the relationship grows and develops, it's important to maintain a sense of independence and individuality. If you struggle to spend time apart from your partner and expect them to neglect their other responsibilities and relationships to be with you, this is a major issue that needs to be addressed.
9. You Never Take Responsibility For The Things You Do Wrong
No one is perfect and it's normal to make mistakes. The important thing is to recognize and learn from your mistakes, apologize sincerely, and try not to repeat them in the future. However, if you consistently place the blame on your partner and refuse to take responsibility for your actions, you are being toxic in the relationship. It's important to recognize and address this behavior.
Toxic behavior can have harmful effects on both individuals and relationships, but it can be addressed and corrected. If you recognize that your behavior is causing problems, you can work to change it. Seeking the help of a therapist or psychologist can help understand the root causes of your actions and find healthy ways to address them. It's possible to make positive changes and improve your relationships.
Here is a video from Dr. Tracey Marks that explains how to identify if you are in a toxic relationship: