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Why You Keep Getting Into Toxic Relationships (And How to Stop)

Why You Keep Getting Into Toxic Relationships (And How to Stop)

Although it seems like an unsolvable mystery, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Yes, there is an underlying pattern to always getting into toxic relationships, but in order to break this pattern, you must take a look at the bigger picture…

For example, you may end up getting into toxic relationships if you rush into the relationship and commit too soon before knowing the other person well enough, ignore the red flags, or are part of the vicious cycle.

But once again, you must take a look at the bigger picture. These simple points won’t help you understand the depth of the issue.

In this article, we will take a look at the underneath reasons, as well as the solution to this frustrating and persistent problem.

Case in point, there are two main reasons why we repeatedly end up in toxic relationships:

  1. A wrong concept of what a relationship must be
  2. Our own unresolved emotional conflict.

Both problems arise from that deep-seated, cultural aversion to deal with emotions… because we don’t know how to do it. But more on that later.

Let’s first take a look at why having a wrong concept of what relationships should be can send you to the wrong person’s arms.

A Wrong Concept of a Relationship

Think about it for a moment, how is it that toxic relationships evolve? From beginning to end.

My model goes as follows and you can see this patter in all toxic relationships:

First comes infatuation. We often base relationships on physicality. And once physical, sexual attraction is covered we have sufficient elements to start a romantic interaction.

With little knowledge of how the other person behaves in a serious relationship, we delve into the next phase of toxic relationships: The honeymoon phase.

Now, I am not saying that attraction and the honeymoon phase are in themselves toxic. No, they can be perfectly sane, but you will see how this gives room for the future toxicity to slip by unnoticed…

Phase two is the honeymoon phase, and here the usual is to overlook the toxicity. To hide traits of personality that we know may be a problem for the other…

But it’s all right! We’re “falling in love”, right? It is ok to hide undesirable aspects of ourselves. This is how love works.

Wrong!

Our whole social conditioning is wrong here, because, in stark contrast to what you may be thinking, love is rational. Of course, it is mainly emotional, but if we forget about the rational part, everything is lost.

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We allow toxic behaviors. We ignore the red flags… and all in the name of love.

But that’s part of the next phase. The honeymoon phase of idealization and omission is unsustainable. And so, the toxicity will start spilling over. That’s when the next phase begins…

The masks-off phase.

This is when, after feeling a certain security in the relationship, we allow the toxicity to show.

There is enough trust, we are more invested in the relationship and we no longer bother in hiding or concealing the toxicity.

As an example, this often happens after marriage to couples who don’t have enough experience with the other person in terms of coexistence.

But it can happen earlier and without necessarily being married. The important thing to remember is that it is a phase where the toxic partner starts pushing boundaries.

And lastly decay and separation.

You already know what that is: conflict, deterioration and eventual separation.

But what does this have to do with constantly getting into toxic relationships?

The fact that this whole model is wrong and you cannot rely on it.

This model is socially ‘normal’ and we think things must be this way. But you must reject it and instead, use a model that allows for honesty and transparency.

Instead of rushing into commitment after every light turns green (physical attraction, then honeymoon phase, then increased commitment), you must take your time to get to know the other person — to really know them deeply and honestly.

Step 1: Take your time to know the other person and never rush

Never follow the same “requirements” for a relationship.

If a successful honeymoon phase is enough for most, demand more of yourself and the relationship. Don’t deepen the commitment unless you know the honeymoon phase is over and still, the love is there.

Step 2: Never ignore the red flags

Or, to put it in better terms, to remember that love is rational.

If you ever find yourself justifying an unacceptable behavior, a harmful reaction, a damaging attitude… you are in front of a red flag. Don’t lie to yourself.

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If your relationship stays rational, if it stands the test of what a non-toxic relationship is… that’s good.

And you will realize you don’t need to rush. You can extend the period of knowing the other person for as long as you want, until you are convinced it is something you want.

This doesn’t mean you have to avoid feelings. Not at all, feel as much as you want, enjoy love to its fullest… but don’t call it love when it is hurting you.

That is not love. That’s just lying to yourself and fostering a toxic relationship.

Remember that it’s never late to end a relationship that is not good for you.

If you failed to see the red flags, if you rushed through the process and are now involved in a toxic relationship, take the step and end it.

Yes, there are cases when the relationship can be repaired, but honestly that is very rare.

It is much better to be patient and to get to know the other person fully before taking a step in the wrong direction with them.

In this day and age, we are in desperate need of honesty in all aspects.

That’s what you must ask of the other person… but how can you expect honesty? How will you know if the other person is transparent and honest?

You cannot know it. But the best thing you can do is to first bring that to the relationship.

Be the change you want to see may sound like a cliché, but it woks wonders in relationships.

That’s another thing that is wrong with how we conduct ourselves in relationships. We take honesty for granted. But in reality, people are flexible in this aspect.

Step 3: Remove the ambiguity

We assume the other will be honest and never talk about it. We never make a big deal of it.

And the same goes for love. Maybe honesty is there, but if love is not we can end up with an abusive partner.

The cornerstone of a healthy relationship is made of both love and honesty.

Love may be taken away at moments to condition or manipulate the other.

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And when dishonesty starts appearing, it does so in small ways. That’s part of the masks-off phase.

It starts as little things that can be overlooked. And where do you think this all ends?

Exactly! In tortuous and complicated relationships destined to failure!

What I mean with this is:

Make honesty a big deal. Make love a big deal.

And be the change. Be both loving and honest.

Be explicit about it, talk about how important honesty is for you and how you are going to bring it to the relationship and you expect the same thing from everyone around you.

Most, if not all, toxic behaviors depend on dishonesty, so if you go to the root of toxicity you leave no room for it in the relationship.

And now comes the real challenge: Dealing with our own unresolved emotional conflict.

Our Own Unresolved Emotional Conflict

As difficult as it may seem, you may very well be part of the problem. No, not as in “it’s your fault”, but more as in “be aware of where your actions and decisions lead you”.

I’ll explain:

Although it may seem like our inner conflict can only affect ourselves, it always, always ends up surfacing and affecting part of our external reality.

This subject is too complex to be dealt with here, as it all depends on personal experience.

But we can still talk about the pattern of your behavior that can lead you into toxic relationships.

Nobody likes to talk about this because responsibility is something we avoid, but if you want to have healthy relationships, this is a must.

We are talking about how unresolved emotional conflict will be “translated” into a toxic relationship. And the best way to talk about this is through real-world examples…

Think about this:

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If I had low self-esteem, I could more easily tolerate neglect and toxic behaviors. Because my inner voice would tell me “it’s not that bad” or that “I deserve it”…

But what if I was insecure instead?

Well, that could likely push me into the direction of a manipulator.

Someone who could easily play with my insecurities and just use me, with no love necessary for this happening…

And what if I confused drama with emotion?

Yep. I would end up involved with a person who equally likes drama. And this would not be a victim-abuser case. We would both be more or less responsible for the toxicity.

Like I said, this is more complex because it depends on your individual experience.

Still, this is something you must look into, because your inner conflict can, and most likely will end up reflecting in our relationships.

Either we tolerate toxicity because of our inner conflict, or we ourselves become part of the toxicity.

This is why it is often stated that one cannot love another if one doesn’t love oneself first.

Too few words if you ask me, but it’s true anyways.

If you’d like to learn more about how to love yourself, take a look at this article: Why Is It Okay To Love Yourself First

Summing It Up

If you want to have healthy relationships, you will follow the steps outlined in this article:

Don’t you ever rush. Take as long as you want to know the other person, making sure this goes beyond the honeymoon phase. See who they really are after the “spell” of the honeymoon phase.

Remember love is rational, and never ignore the red flags — Never. Doing so is just lying to yourself. If you see behaviors that should not be there don’t lie to yourself. You will not succeed at changing the other.

Make honesty and love the cornerstone of your relationship. Be outspoken about it. Don’t let ambiguity lead you into a toxic relationship. If any of the two are taken away… have the courage to end it, because it will just get worse.

And also, you will work on yourself.

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

More by this author

George Alonso

Mental Health Expert, creator of the Transcendental Mindfulness Therapy.

9 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Calm Your Mind Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional? How to Handle Relationship Fights to Connect Deeper with Your Partner Why You Keep Getting Into Toxic Relationships (And How to Stop)

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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