Are you looking for answers on how to stop being toxic in a relationship? You are not the only one. How many of you have been in toxic relationships and how many of you have been accused of being toxic by your significant other? That count is almost equal. In every difficult relationship, there is one wrongdoer and one sufferer. If you are either of those, then you have arrived at the right place.
First, allow me to explain what a toxic relationship is in plain words. It’s when a relationship drains you, both physically and mentally. You constantly feel unhappy when they are around you. If you feel suffocated, disrespected, under-loved, under-valued and everything about your relationship seems unenjoyable, then there are high chances of you being in a toxic relationship. You still love your partner but you are filled with negative thoughts.
When reached out to Dr. Aman Bhonsle (Ph.D., PGDTA), who specializes in relationship counseling and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, for his insights on being a toxic person in a relationship, he said, “Unfortunately, the toxic person thinks they are always right and that they are perfectly all right. They think there is nothing wrong with them. The others are wrong. They will know they are toxic when they go beyond the parameters of their regular behavior.”
5 Signs You Are The Toxic One In Your Relationship
“You will know you are the toxic one when people stop hanging out with you, when people make excuses to get out of a meeting with you and when people keep a distance from you. You will begin to feel that something is going wrong somewhere. Your selfishness will begin to impact all the relationships in your life,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
The point of any romantic relationship is to make your partner happy and feel loved while feeling safe in their presence. To feel loved, happy and comfortable with them. It’s always easier to blame the other person for all the bad things that have happened between the two of you. It’s wise to stop and ask yourself, “Am I toxic in my relationship?”, because you need to introspect yourself as well rather than always blaming it on your partner or the circumstances.
There’s no shame in acknowledging that you are the toxic one and asking how to stop being a toxic girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s the first step to change. Dr. Bhonsle had an extremely poignant insight to share on this matter. “When you find out you are the toxic one in the relationship and seek out to change the course of your actions, don’t look for immediate results. Instead, look for change. Change is not a guarantee of success. It’s a guarantee of momentum,” he says. If you want to know if it’s you or your partner, then read the below signs and find out:
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1. Do you have a superiority complex?
Superiority complex is when someone has an inflated view of themselves. They think they are better than others. A person with a superiority complex also brings this line of thought to their romantic relationships. They think they are smarter, cleverer and more important than their significant other. If you have a superiority complex and you assert that superiority in your relationship, then you could be the problem. It’s a good thing you are asking questions like, “Am I toxic in my relationship?” and “How to stop being toxic in a relationship?”.
This complex is mostly seen in people who try to conceal or hide their insecurities and their feelings of inferiority. It’s not easy to live with a person who has a superiority complex. The one-sided perception of yourself will eventually get the better of you. If you have this complex, now is the right time to ask, “Am I toxic in my relationship?”, whether it’s affecting the bond you share with your partner as fixing a toxic relationship requires a lot of strength and courage.
2. Do you tend to manipulate things?
Manipulation is often known to range from gaslighting to lying to hiding information from your significant other. To use emotional manipulation on someone is to try and gain power over them. It is sort of a mind game that amounts to being a toxic person in a relationship. The end goal is to use that power to control the other person.
If you want to stop being a toxic girlfriend or boyfriend, then you need to stop manipulating your partner. Stop twisting facts. If you make your significant other feel sorry for expressing their concerns, then you are being a master manipulator and you need to immediately start asking questions like how to stop being toxic in a relationship or how to know if you are toxic in a relationship.
3. Is the relationship all about you?
This is the best answer to your question, “Am I toxic in my relationship?” When the entire relationship becomes about your wants and needs, from food choices to movie choices to where you want to go out for dinner, then it’s just a one-sided relationship. You command and your partner obliges. This is one of the warning signs of a toxic relationship and you being the toxic one in it.
Every relationship demands equality and respect, but when you make everything about yourself, you send out a message that your needs matter more than the other person’s and you don’t attach importance to theirs. This could also become a reason for not prioritizing them, which will result in an unhealthy relationship.
4. Are you a control freak?
Healthy relationships are based on mutual understanding. They are built upon the foundations of communication and compatibility. But if you tend to tell your partner what to do and make decisions for them, then you’re being a toxic person in a relationship. And you need to figure out how to stop being a control freak. You can’t take love as an excuse to control someone. If you are wondering, “Am I toxic in my relationship?”, introspect about whether to try to dominate your partner. If the answer is yes, then you’re displaying signs of toxicity.
If you make your partner live by your rules, then you need to look for answers for how to stop being toxic in a relationship. Control freaks tend to go to an extent of not just telling you what to do or making all the decisions by themselves but also governing who you can be friends with and whom to hang out with.
Related Reading: Moving On From A Toxic Relationship – 8 Expert Tips To Help
5. Do you demand attention 24×7?
If you are someone who demands a lot of attention and time from your partner and tends to get needy, then there are chances you are being a toxic person in a relationship. This is also called “high maintenance”. Look for the signs if she is a high-maintenance girl or boy.
When you fall in love with someone, it’s not necessary to make them the center of your universe and it’s not necessary to demand the same from them. It could make your partner feel trapped and suffocated. If you want to learn how to stop being toxic in a relationship, then accept that they cannot cater to every single need of yours, and you shouldn’t expect them to give in to all your demands.
How Does You Being Toxic Affect Your Relationships?
“When you are toxic in a relationship, it becomes hard for people to love you, rely on you, trust you and find comfort in you. There’s a certain value that you bring to all your relationships, and when toxicity begins to creep in, the relationship gets wrecked. Toxicity can also be in the form of hostile behavior, being negligent, selfish, vindictive, and also being clingy,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
Being a toxic person in a relationship can cause a lot of problems because such a dynamic is marred by a pattern of negativity. The pattern becomes quite clear over time. You find ways to cause harm in some ways, be it intentional or unintentional, and then find yourself using emotional manipulation to take control of the situation.
When you engage in such tactics, you might end up damaging your relationship beyond repair. It will impact the quality of your romance. It will affect your relationship in many ways such as lying, lack of trust, lack of communication, and all kinds of abuse — emotional, verbal and physical. Even though a lot of damage has been done, it is never too late to change yourself for the better. The journey of that change begins with addressing a rather uncomfortable question: Am I toxic in my relationship?
11 Expert Tips To Stop Being Toxic In A Relationship
You can love them dearly and still be a toxic person in a relationship. Despite your best intentions, you might be the cause of problems. And more often than not, relationships become toxic even when neither partner is bad on their own. The problematic behaviors that lead to toxicity in a relationship stem from deep-seated insecurities and complexes, which could be rooted in your childhood or early life experiences. Below are some expert-approved tips on how to stop being toxic in a relationship:
1. Go to therapy
Without the help of mental health professionals, it could be difficult to understand the nature of your toxicity. Only a therapist will help you unravel your behavioral patterns and discover the reason behind them. They will show you the path to healing and becoming a better version of yourself. And also help you move on from what happened to you in the past. All of these processes are integral to how to stop being toxic in a relationship.
“Therapy becomes a crucial aspect in this situation because the person who thinks they’re being toxic in a relationship needs a neutral person to understand the entire scenario. Many couples have shared their experience on how talk therapy helped in their relationship. A licensed professional will know how to handle the situation and how to guide the person in stressful situations.”, says Dr. Bhonsle.
If you can relate to the signs that indicate that you’re the toxic one in your relationship and are looking for help to break your behavior patterns, Bonobology’s panel of licensed and skilled counselors is here for you.
2. Shift from blaming to understanding
This is exactly what happened in my previous relationship. There was constant blame-shifting and I was always at the receiving end of it. When I was blamed for something, I’d accept it as constructive criticism and tried to do better by understanding his standpoints. But when my former partner was blamed for something, he refused to come to an understanding and would take it as an insult. He would blame me for blaming him. The irony here is quite amusing, isn’t it? I realized how blame-shifting in relationship harms it.
If you are wondering how to know if you are toxic in a relationship, then look at how you assign blame. To figure out how to stop being toxic in a relationship, you need to find ways to be more understanding and not take your partner’s concerns as an affront. Take a step back from the blame game and look at the entire situation from another perspective.
3. Own your actions
If I have learned something in my relationships, it’s how a simple act of taking accountability can change things for the better. The answer to how to stop being toxic in a relationship will come to you when you start taking responsibility for your actions and realize their reaction is a consequence of your actions. It’s exactly as Newton said, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
If you said something to hurt or offend your partner, be sure to own it up. That’s one of the ways how you can stop being a toxic person in a new relationship. Apologize as soon as you realize that you did wrong and make amends with your significant other. Every relationship gets tested every once in a while. Don’t drag the fights, apologize and don’t hold grudges.
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4. Bring an interest in self-growth
“Look for self-growth. Compare where you were last year and where you are now. Compare all kinds of growth, from financial to emotional and relationship growth. Everything matters in the making of you as a person. If you don’t see yourself growing in any aspect of your life, then it’s time you build yourself up.
“Ask yourself some important questions: Am I stagnant? Have I grown or evolved in my career or as a person? If you are not growing, ask yourself why. What’s preventing you from becoming a better version of yourself? Ask what you are doing wrong and where you are being inefficient,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
5. Show love
Have you ever stopped and wondered why we love the way we love? It’s because most of the time, even subconsciously, how we love our partner is the way we wish to be loved. Each has a different way of loving. Some women buy expensive things for their partner and some men show love without saying it. At the end of the day, you both want to be loved by each other. And if you continue being a toxic person in a relationship, neither of you has the chance of giving or receiving love.
6. Communicate your worries
If you are still asking, “Why am I toxic and how to change it?”, then communication is the answer for you. Stonewalling will never resolve any of the problems you are facing with your partner. In fact, it will only create more. It’s hard to find out how to know if you are toxic in a relationship. It’s even harder to accept that you are the major contributing factor behind your relationship going downhill. You can change the trajectory by communicating you’re your partner about this without having to worry about being judged.
Communication problems in relationships are quite common. All you have to do is communicate all your worries, troubles, sadness and frustration openly. But be mindful of the words you use. Make sure you don’t hurt or offend your partner in the name of an open discussion. Open communication allows you to speak out about the things that bother you. It will help you to stop being a toxic girlfriend or boyfriend.
7. Cultivate empathy
Empathy is the backbone of every healthy relationship. Toxicity is nothing but a manifestation of a lack of empathy in a relationship. When you learn to see things from your partner’s perspective, you will stop being a toxic person in a relationship. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try to be empathetic.
Without empathy, it will get difficult to bond and build a meaningful relationship with your partner. Once you cultivate empathy for others, questions such as “Why am I toxic in my relationship?” and “How to stop being a toxic girlfriend/boyfriend?” will begin to dissipate.
“One of the ways you can learn to cultivate empathy is by spending time with those less fortunate than you. Spend time with people who are differently-abled or can’t make their ends meet. By spending time with unfortunate people, even the most ruthless will begin to feel empathy and kindness. Get involved in kitchen activities or explore activities that you’ve never tried your hand at before. Some people are so stoic and stubborn that they will never find empathy for anyone but themselves,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
Related Reading: Here’s How To Stop Constant Arguing In A Relationship
8. Let go of your ego
You will know how to stop being toxic in a relationship when you decide to let go of your ego. A toxic person is known to maintain a certain image. When they feel that image is at risk, they tend to become defensive. Learn to put aside your ego. We all have our flaws. No human can maintain a perfect image all the time. Forget your ego to stop being toxic in a new relationship or long-term one. Ego leads to fights and it is high time you let fights become more important than relationships.
Dr. Bhonsle says, “Nothing scars a relationship like ego. Ego is basically a giant wall that comes between two people. When you create that wall too high and too strong, nobody can break it down. Nobody can even climb that wall to reach you on the other side of it. Ego is this – I come from a rich family and I need things to go my way. I am a man. I am in control of the relationship.
“The only time you will know to let go of your ego is when that ego is damaging your relationship or has already done the damage. An egoistic person prevents from asking for any kind of help. If he wants a promotion at work, his ego will prevent him from asking for it. An egoistic husband will refuse to ask for his wife’s help. An egoistic wife will never ask for sex.”
9. Assume positive intent
I want to talk about the things I dragged in from my past relationship into my new one. When I got out of a toxic relationship, I completely changed as a person. I began doubting everyone’s intentions. I began to harbor toxicity toward my current partner who did nothing but love me.
These negative thoughts and the constant questioning of my partner’s intent in my current relationship damaged the foundation that I laid so dearly in the hopes of having a better future for myself. I found myself constantly asking, “Why am I being toxic in my relationship?” I realized it’s because I haven’t healed from my traumas yet. If you keep questioning your partner’s intents, then you will start thinking that maybe you are in a negative relationship.
I realized I kept judging him without removing the lens of my past relationship. When you assume negative intent, you become skeptical of every action your partner takes. I stopped and asked what was happening, why am I toxic and how to change that. I realized when you look for the worst in people, that’s what you will find. A person drowning in flaws. But when you look for the best in people and assume positive intent, life will get easier and more peaceful.
10. Invite feedback
“Invite feedback from key stakeholders in your relationships. Whether it’s your partner or your parents or your siblings, ask them for feedback if you think you are being toxic in a relationship. If you find yourself lost and in need of support, ask the people who love you to find the lost parts of yourself. People who love you know what you are like. They will find out if you are screwing up in life or being uneven with yourself. All you have to do is reconnect and relive,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
11. Maintain your personal space
One of the significant ways to stop being toxic in a relationship is to make time for yourself and be alone. Most toxic people tend to have low self-esteem. They radiate their toxicity toward others as a way to boost their low image of themselves. You will learn how to stop being toxic in a relationship when you start practicing self-love. Learn to cater to your needs all by yourself.
Pay attention to your toxic patterns and be mindful of them. Concentrate on self-care and healing. Firstly, congratulate yourself on asking the question, “Why am I toxic and how to change that?” It’s the first and the most difficult step to take. And you’ve conquered that. The rest will come naturally if you focus on adopting positive habits.