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Ronica Arnold Branson, Ph.D. | Keys to Avoiding A Toxic Relationship
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Keys to Avoiding A Toxic Relationship

Jul 03 2019

Keys to Avoiding A Toxic Relationship

Most relationships generally start off with an air of excitement and a genuine interest to gain companionship and happiness. Although the honeymoon phase is wonderful, there are usually signs to look for when the relationship starts to move in the wrong direction. As Benjamin Franklin once stated, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. There are some simple intentional strategies we can use to keep our relationship from going in the working direction.


Although the past can be a predictor of future behavior, people can change through the use of intentionality and awareness. Although you or your partner may have been in a toxic relationship in the past, be aware of the signs of toxicity so that you won’t repeat the same negative patterns.

  1. First, remember that each relationship should be seen as a new start. Don’t judge someone based on what has happened in previous relationships. Even though you may have had bad experiences in the past, use these experiences as lessons not as excuses to judge your new partner.


  1. Don’t keep a record of wrongs. Often times, toxic people tend to blame others for all of the negative things that happen in their lives. Couples in healthy relationships know the importance of forgiveness and allow room for mistakes. Relationships are a learning process, both individuals are human and everyone makes mistakes. As long as we can use these mistakes as learning experiences and don’t continue to do the same things, there is room for a relationship to flourish.


  1. In addition, allow your partner to be themselves. Know that each person is an individual and you will have common interests, which help to strengthen your relationship, it is also important to remember that  you will also have different interests. Ever heard the term, opposites attract? if anxiety starts to kick in, ask yourself the question, Would YOU want to date a clone of YOU?


Our differences are what make our relationships exciting. You can introduce new things to your partner and they can introduce new things to you, but be willing to respect their need to continue to be their own person.


  1. Even if you don’t agree with your partner’s goals, voice your opinion in a loving way, and be supportive of their endeavors. Never put your partner down, belittle them, or use abusive language. These toxic behaviors could definitely destroy trust and a relationship.


  1. Always keep an open line of communication. Using forms of punishment such as not speaking to your partner for extended periods of time, showing kindness to others and intentionally not showing kindness to your partner and/or blaming them for everything that goes wrong in the relationship is a from of emotional abuse and abuse in any form is highly toxic. The old adage that communication is key is vital, but open, positive communication is even more effective.


What words or mistakes should you avoid?

All of the toxic behaviors including blaming, isolation, any and all forms of addiction, never admitting guilt, putting your partner down in front of others and behind closed doors, obsession and control, using authority or power to control or punish your partner are all mistakes that partners should avoid if they want a chance to have a healthy and successful relationship.


Agreeing to Disagree

Past experiences can influence present behaviors. When some people are involved in toxic relationships, they sometimes tend to get back into relationships with people who have the same negative patterns and the cycle continues. It is very important to remember that the cycle can be broken. It’s going to take some work, but it can be done. First, it’s important that you should begin a relationship with the intention of not arguing, but settling differences in a respectful and calm manner. Many people think that they must argue in order to get their message across or to be heard, but this can be one of the most damaging things that happens in a relationship.


When disagreements do occur, always remember to stay calm. If you need to take a breath before saying something that you regret, take a moment to retreat and walk away. It is important to know your triggers and know what helps you to remain calm and in control. When we are in the heat of the moment, we often say and do things that we regret, so before it gets to this point, know thyself and take the necessary steps to calm down and diffuse the situation without harming yourself or your partner. This can help to avoid a lot of future regrets. Sticks and stones may break my bones and words certainly can hurt. So before you say something you regret, ask yourself the question, what impact will this have on our future relationship. One word can make or break what took so much effort to establish. Think twice before saying something negative. Remember, nice is always the best option.

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