Toxic vs. Healthy Relationships

I’ve been in both. I was in an abusive, on-and-off-again relationship for about three years. I was depressed, anxious and now suffer from PTSD because of it.

I am currently in the healthiest relationship of my life, and it’s been almost a year and a half. I have never felt more supported, loved and respected in my life. I never knew that I deserved to be treated the way I currently am, so I want it to be clear that NO ONE should settle for anything that resembles any of the red flags below:

Red Flags:

Abuse is the biggest red flag that ANY relationship can present, romantic or otherwise. Although outright physical abuse may seem easier to identify, it is important to look out for the smaller warning signs of abuse. For example, if they grab your wrist, push you or pull your arm when fighting, those are red flags. Emotional abuse can take many forms, some of which are explained below:

Emotional Exhaustion 

If you feel like you need a break from them after every time you hang out, or you feel tired after being with them, they may be taking more energy from you than they are giving. Being in love/ in a healthy relationship should be a balance of give and take.

You Always find Yourself defending Their Words and Actions

If you are talking about your relationship with your friends and family, you should not have to constantly rationalize their actions and defend the ways they have hurt you. If your loved ones bring up something negative about your partner, remember they are only looking out for you. You should not have to keep explaining how they are a good person, they should be making it clear with how they treat you.

Gaslighting

Gaslighting is when someone makes you feel bad or crazy for feeling upset and communicating. Toxic people will consistently victimize themselves and refuse to take responsibility. Please never let anyone invalidate your expression of feelings and emotion.

Obsessive/ Extreme Jealousy

Partners that want to be with you all the time because they love you and want to cuddle? The best. Partners that get jealous and don’t want you to see or spend time with anyone else because they want all of your time and attention? The worst. It is necessary to have lives outside of your relationship.

Constantly Condescending

Emotionally abusive partners will talk down to you, comment on your insecurities, push your hard boundaries and try to lower your self-esteem.  

Narcissism

Is every conversation about them? Do they make plans only around their schedule? Do they ignore you for days, or call over and over again until you pick up? Do they manipulate you for their own benefit? Narcissists are obsessed with themselves, and generally have little regard for others. This one is hard to detect because many narcissists hide it very well. Being in a relationship with a narcissist can lead to emotional exhaustion.

Here is what I get and feel every day, and exactly what you deserve in any relationship:

Green Lights:

You Feel Safe

This one is mostly a gut feeling. Physically or emotionally, our brains can generally detect when we are in possible danger. The feeling of comfortability and mutual respect is the foundation for any successful relationship.

Regular and Honest Communication

This is a person that checks in on you, asks you about your day and admits when they are upset or frustrated. They don’t leave you on read for days and they let you know if they’re going to be busy. A healthy relationship looks a lot like a good friendship because you and your partner should be friends.

You're a Better Version of Yourself 

Side effects of becoming a better version of yourself may include but are not limited to: motivation, random acts of kindness, putting others before yourself, and taking care of your physical and emotional health. Be with someone that challenges you to be better without ever competing.

Random Compliments

Pretty self-explanatory. You deserve to feel loved and appreciated on a regular basis. Simple as that.

Supportive

A good partner will want to support your life outside of your relationship. Whether personal or professional goals, someone that loves you will support your future and do what they can to help you achieve everything you want and more.

Remember, you do not need to put up with anything other than green lights! These are not high standards, these are the baseline. You are entitled to and deserving of healthy and loving relationships, even if you haven’t known them before. I have finally come to that realization. And while you’re giving your love, time, and attention to others, don’t forget to love and care for yourself! Being single for a long-ish period of time was also helpful for me to learn who I was outside of a relationship. It allowed me to self-improve and reflect. Long story short, don’t let anyone treat you as anything less than you are and be kind to yourself.

If you or someone you know or love are currently in an abusive or unsafe relationship, here are some resources: National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474