7 toxic relationship patterns you need to break immediately

Here are 7 of the most harmful relationship patterns you need to break if you want a healthy, long-lasting relationship with your partner.

1. Ghosting/Clinging when you are fighting

Arguments are normal. If handled well, they can make you stronger together. But couples tend to fill two roles when they’re fighting: they either go silent or become clingy and pushy.

According to Dr. Paulette Sherman, therapist, and author of Dating from the Inside Out:

“This is one of the most common patterns in my practice. One person will feel like their comfort zone is distance, especially after an argument, while the other will feel like they need to talk right way.”

Do you fill one role while your partner fills the other? If so, you’re probably not resolving your issues the right way.

And when these issues go unresolved, they tend to become the big elephant in the room.

So how do you fix it?

Dr. Sherman advises you to try and communicate using your partner’s pattern.

“People think “if you loved me you’d connect the way I do. It’s better if the person who wants to feel closer would just ask, “What would be a good time for you to talk? That way, the other person has the time they need to regroup.”

2. Blaming your partner

Ah, another familiar one. Are you fond of playing the blame game with your partner? Is it always their fault and not yours?

According to psychologist and dating coach Samantha Rodman:

“Some couples are in the habit of blaming each other for their own mistakes, no matter what. Example: ‘You left the water running…’ ‘Oh, that’s because you called me away in the middle of washing my hands.’

“This is a toxic habit because when partners are so busy defending themselves and blaming their partners, they lose the chance to be kind to each other and to feel close.

“The opposite of blaming is taking responsibility for your own actions, and that is the hallmark of a mature and emotionally healthy relationship,”

Instead of falling into this habit, try to take accountability for your actions, and talk it out with your partner. Nothing good ever comes out of blaming each other.

3. Complaining to your friends instead of your partner

Your friends are the perfect soundboard. They are always on your side and it feels good to vent it out. But to your relationship, it does more harm than good.

It puts your partner in an irredeemable light. Not only that, you can create a rift between your friendships and your relationship.

Andrea Syrtash, author of Cheat on Your Husband With Your Husband, has some advice:

“Take the issue directly to your partner and discuss it directly, discussing both or your wants based on your individual experiences and values.”

4. Bottling up your feelings

Relationships are hard in a sense that, you never want to willingly rock the both. And perhaps you feel like your concerns are more “complaints” than anything.

So what do you end up feeling?

You stay silent to keep the peace. You would rather keep your opinions to yourself than potentially make your partner angry.

But that’s wrong.

A healthy relationship should feel safe enough for you to be honest about how you feel. Open communication is essential in every relationship.

Psychotherapist Jude Treder-Wolff, believes the following:

“Communication is the lubricant in the gears of a relationship, which is a dynamic thing that is something bigger than the people involved. When communication breaks down — whether that is intentional, happens through lack of skill, or fear about what will happen when we open up — the relationship begins to lack the buoyancy and flow that is possible when people are clear and open with one another.”

5. Showing off too much on social media

There are studies that suggest that frequent use of social media has a negative correlation to people’s levels of relationship satisfaction.

What this means is, the more you try to show off your relationship, the bigger your need is to prove that the relationship is strong. But hey, maybe you just enjoy the dopamine your body receives when you receive that stream of “likes” and “comments.”

Most likely, it runs deeper than that. Maybe it’s your way of compensating or covering up the uncertainty you have about your relationship.

Either way, try to fix your issues rather than oversharing things on social media. Focus all that energy on something more productive.

Happy couples spend less time posting on social media, and more time creating great memories together.

6. Threatening to leave or break up when things get rough

When you constantly threaten your partner, what does it say about your commitment to your relationship?

It says you’re not really in it for the long haul. And nothing can break a bond more than such a lack of commitment.

Sure, it might feel good to do this when you’re trying to put a point across, or when your partner refuses to listen. But in the end, it just makes you both feel like the relationship is not worth it.

It makes your partner feel “disposable,” that you’re not fighting enough for the relationship.

Avoid doing this at all cost. It’s a dangerous pattern to fall into.

7. Being controlling

We all have our issues. We’ve had our hearts broken before. And we all have emotional and mental traumas from our past. But no matter how much you’ve been hurt before, you have no right to control someone else’s life – even if they’re your partner.

It might be cute when you tell your partner to come home early because you’re worried for their safety. But when you deliberately create rules or establish ultimatums that change their life, that’s toxic.

Don’t use your past relationships or emotional baggage as an excuse to control your partner.

Instead, deal with your own problems and let your partner live their life. It doesn’t mean they’ll be taken away from you. Giving each other space, having your own identities, friends, hobbies – they’re all essential to having a healthy relationship.

The moment you start playing god, that’s when you start losing someone you love.

How to get out of a toxic relationship

If you believe that you might be in a relationship with a toxic person, it’s crucial that you come to terms with the reality of your situation as soon as possible.

Here are three reminders to help you escape this relationship as painlessly as possible:

  • Do not blame yourself. It isn’t your fault that the relationship became so toxic; it’s theirs. You’ve been tricked into believing that everything is your fault
  • Be kind to the person who matters most: you. Accept that you deserve better, and give yourself the freedom to run away from this relationship as soon as possible
  • Reclaim your identity. It’s about remembering who you were before your partner psychologically manipulated you, and reclaiming that person you once were

The end of any relationship is hard.

When you add an abusive, toxic partner, breaking up can be even harder.

Logic tells us that leaving an abusive relationship should be easy, but reality doesn’t always follow logic.

The end of a toxic relationship should be celebrated, but it’s usually just exhausting and trying.

Toxic relationships affect people that can last a lifetime; some people never recover.

Here’s how you can love yourself even after you’ve left a toxic relationship.

1. Get the help you need when you need it

Everyone needs someone to talk to, especially following a bad breakup.

If you have just gotten out of a toxic relationship, you need to find someone who can help build you back up.

Whether you seek out professional help or your best friend fills the void, it’s essential that you have someone you can lean on.

Professionals and even friends can help you see things from a different perspective and provide you with a sounding board so that you can get clear on the fact that none of what transpired was your fault.

It’s easy to blame ourselves for things falling apart, but when you are the victim of a toxic partner, you are never to blame.

2. Get your thoughts out

Take time to write down what you are thinking and feeling so that you can make sense of how you are processing the events of your breakup.

Make sure you are going easy on yourself and reminding yourself that you are not at fault. Journaling can help you reconcile feelings and thoughts that are holding you back from moving forward.

It’s hard to imagine moving on when you are hurting so much, but it’s important to process your worth and how you want to change things in your life.

When you write, you benefit from cathartic activities and a chance to organize your thoughts and make a plan for your next move.

3. Decide to be good to yourself

Above all else, it’s important that you take time to care for yourself.

After leaving a toxic relationship, you need time to normalize again and realize that toxic relationships are not the norm and that you have a right to be happy.

You don’t need to be beaten down for someone to love you.

You can be happy all your own. It’s a decision you need to make. You can decide to be happy and move on with your life, or you can decide to mourn a relationship that wasn’t good for you in the first place.

It’s better to choose yourself over someone else in these circumstances.

4. Bring joy into your life

Whatever may come, you need to find joy in your life again. Take a road trip, hang out with a good friend, do something nice for yourself.

As part of loving yourself again after leaving a toxic relationship, you need to revisit what makes you happy.

Do more of what makes you happy and let the joy back into your life. You’ll tell yourself that don’t deserve to be happy or that you can’t live without someone, despite them being mean to you.

Ask yourself what you used to do, what you used to like, what used to make you happy and pay attention to those things.

Redirect your focus away from things that take your joy and refocus yourself in directions that are important to you.

5. Commit to seeing it through

Regardless of how you feel, you need to commit to doing what is best for you.

It might feel easier to just go back to your toxic relationship, but the truth is that it’s uncomfortable to see it through.

It’s just your old thoughts and ways that are dragging you back into that relationship, and you can overpower them and move on with your life.

Still want the relationship to work? Ask yourself these 7 questions

Are you in a relationship that feels like it’s going nowhere?

Do you feel like you are spinning your wheels and trying to figure out where this thing is going?

You’re not alone.

Relationships are complicated and make people feel crazy most of the time because of the unknown and the fear that they are screwing things up.

If you are in a relationship and you are worried about the future, it’s time to get crystal clear about what is important to you and whether or not this relationship is giving you all of those things.

It’s not about whether or not the other person makes you happy – that’s not actually their job.

Great relationships are about trust, love, comfort, safety, and teamwork.

Here’s how you can get clear about your toxic relationship and decide if it’s where you want to be at this point in your life.

1. Are you kind and are they kind?

The first checkpoint for your relationship is to determine whether or not you and your partner are kind to one another.

Are you treating each other with respect and love? Or are you just going through the motions trying not to be mean to one another. That’s not the same as kindness.

2. Are your beliefs aligned?

If your partner’s beliefs do not align with yours, you’ll run into trouble down the road.

This might not be an issue right off the bat, but you’ll find that as time goes on, you’ll have trouble meeting each other halfway and you’ll get tired of compromising on your beliefs so they can have things their way.

3. Is there trust?

You need to trust your partner in order for your relationship to last.

If you find yourself feeling jealous of others in their company or you can’t talk about past relationships with them, it might be a sign that things are not as safe as you once perceived them to be.

Ask yourself if you trust your partner, and more importantly, can your partner trust you?

4. Do you feel like you are part of the team?

Relationships are not about just one side of the story. If you are going to be in a relationship you are going to be a part of a team.

Both parties need to feel seen and heard in order to make these things work.

Ask yourself if you feel like you are contributing to a greater good by being together with this person or if you are giving up a part of who you are in order to appease them?

5. Do you think your relationship is successful?

Would you say your relationship has a long-term shot?

Do you think about what it looks like if the two of you were to break up?

Do you wonder how you would divide assets and who would spend time in the house or apartment?

If you find yourself trying to problem-solve for problems you don’t even have, it’s likely that your relationship won’t last long into the future.

Consider how you think about your relationship’s future as a sign of whether or not you think it is going to be successful and long-lasting.

6. Are negotiations open?

Is it all or nothing in your relationship? Do you listen to one another or do you push your views on your partner without any room for negotiation?

Likewise, do you feel like you can’t have a say and they are running the show?

Relationships are about negotiation and trying to find a way forward with the two of you as happy as possible in the decisions you make together. One should never make a decision for the other.

7. Is there friction?

Do you have friction that causes your relationship to run the risk of failure? Do you fight a lot without recovering well from it?

Do you carry spite or mistrust? Do you wonder when your partner will just up and leave and fear for the day that happens?

This isn’t a solid foundation with which to build a relationship. If you feel like things aren’t going well now, it’s likely that they won’t improve in the future.

The more you focus on the negative, the more negative there will be.

Pay attention to the status of your relationship to be clear on whether or not it’s the right one for you. If you are doubtful about any of these things, it’s time to talk to your partner to find out how he or she feels about the long-term stability and success of your partnership.

Final thoughts

Toxic relationships can really harm you and your mental health. It can send you into a downward spiral of confusing emotions, which can take time to work through once you leave the relationship. With that in mind, it’s important to give yourself a break, especially if you didn’t pick up on these warning signs at the start. Remember – toxic people are often good at distracting you from their harmful behavior.

Relationships are supposed to uplift you and bring you contentment and happiness. Your significant other should be willing to grow with you and be open to working on themselves. An ideal partner will support you, build your confidence and take joy from seeing you succeed in life.  Anything less than that is definitely not worth investing your time and emotions into.

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Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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