In many cases, a child's first concept of how to interact with others is formed by watching their parents. Unfortunately not everyone has a positive example. To that end, knowing the signs your parents have a toxic relationship is crucial when it comes to building your own romantic relationship. After all, you don't want to mistakenly recreate their drama in your own life.
As the name suggests, a toxic relationship is one that causes more harm than good. Sometimes the signs are obvious, such as physical abuse. In other cases, however, the toxicity takes a more subtle turn. One partner who is constantly undermining the other's efforts to improve, for instance, could also point toward a toxic relationship.
For what it's worth, there is not really a hard and fast definition about these more subtle signs of toxicity. For one family, loud screaming arguments may mean one partner is bullying the other with fear and harsh words. In another family, yelling is just another mode of communication. Some of these factors may depend on context.
Whatever the situation, it's wise to be aware of the way your parents raised you. If their choices were not conducive to a healthy life, then you don't have to repeat their mistakes. Read on to learn what behaviors are best avoided in any relationship.
1. The Dole Out Constant Criticism
No one likes to have their every move monitored and derided. And, according to The Gottman Institute, criticism can point toward some serious flaws in a relationship. Constantly attacking a person's character, instead of addressing a specific behavior, is harmful and cruel.
2. The Engage In Pointless Arguments
Have your parents repeated the same unresolved argument since 1997? Arguing itself isn't harmful, but arguments with no conclusions can be. As noted in HuffPo, healthy arguments involve listening and acknowledging one another's point of view. But going through the same old script again and again doesn't help anyone.
3. They Constant Blame Each Other
Do your parents play the blame game a lot? It's a game no one wins. If one partner blames the other one for everything under the sun (and sometimes bad weather itself), then it's not a healthy setup.
4. They Tease In A Cruel Manner
Sure, plenty of partners use teasing in a playful, fun way. But as noted on Health, if this "teasing" includes sneering sarcasm, or remarks with the sole intent to wound, then it's veering into toxic territory. Most everyone can tell the difference between playful banter and what's basically bullying.
5. They Ignore One Another
Phone snubbing is a real concern, but some people take ignoring one another to the next level. As noted in Psych Central, if one or both partners actively ignore one another's existence, then it's not a good sign. Do your parents live separate lives within the same house?
6. They Are Highly Dramatic
Are your parents still carrying on with petty jealousy and angry tantrums? It's concerning to be a full adult and deal with parents who act like they're stuck in a middle school mentality. Your own love life does not have to look like something out of a soap opera.
7. The Exhibit Addiction & Enabling Behaviors
These are more serious red flags. According to the Foundations Recovery Network, if one parent is dealing with an addiction, while the other enables this addiction by blaming others or lying to protect the addict, then this is a very toxic relationship. This is one set of behaviors you do not want to replicate in your own life.
8. They Cheat
Sometimes long-term relationships can weather an affair. As noted by Psych Central, serial cheating is a different type of problem that can stem from underlying feelings of low self-esteem, intimidation, or even hangups about attractiveness. Chances are, no one wants to find themselves on either end of a relationship with a serial cheater.
9. They Lie
As noted by HuffPo, honesty about finances, fidelity, and most everything else in life is a requirement for a solid relationship. If your parents are habitual liars, then you probably already have firsthand evidence about how damaging lies can be.