3 Toxic Behaviours That Could Ruin Your Relationships

Watch out for these warning signs.


Chandre Davids |

Relationships are hard, whether they are romantic, friendships, or family – all relationships take work. But let’s face the facts, we’re not perfect and definitely mess up from time to time. Sure, in a moment of anger we might say things we don’t mean or omit things because we want to spare someone’s feelings. But what about when these behaviours become everyday occurrences and can actually start posing real threats to our relationships?  Leanne Burroughs, a registered Counsellor and Criminologist and Educator at SACAP, tells us three of the most common behaviours that could be turning your relationships into toxic relationships.

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Omission- yes, it’s still lying

Imagine your partner couldn’t get hold of you one evening. The next day, when you finally decide to answer their calls, you mention that you were working late at work, and went straight to bed as soon as you got home. But the real truth is, you did stay a bit later at work, but then you went to the bar with a few colleagues, where you hooked up with some other person and stayed out all night. Sure, you told the truth (you did go to straight to bed when you got home afterall), but only the parts that were beneficial to your story. “Omitting is just as good as full out lying,” says Burroughs. Burroughs goes on to explain that truth is the foundation of a healthy relationship. When trust is broken it can take a long time to repair. A relationship needs the dedicated commitment from both parties. So even omitting, should it come out, would shake the foundation of trust.

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Words can hurt – just like sticks and stones

A toxic person uses emotionally loaded words in order to hurt and manipulate. This could be a constant flooding of derogative and negative words. Now, this could be as simple as “a good boyfriend does this, but you don’t” or as hurtful as “you are worthless, no one would want to date you”. These words have power to them as it makes you feel worthless but keeps you with the toxic person as you start to believe their words. “There lies power in words. You hear it enough, it becomes the way you think about yourself, your thoughts become your words, and eventually direct your behaviour”, explains Burroughs.

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“It’s you, not me”- Blame-shifting

Someone who is toxic never takes responsibility for their actions. Whenever something goes wrong, it’s always your fault. Even when things do go right, it’s because of something they did, not you (even when it was all you). They make you feel that no matter what you do, you aren’t good enough. “Relationships like this become extremely draining for the person that gets the blame. It eats away at their self-esteem and self-worth and may after a while, cause them to start to believe it is actually their fault”, explains Burroughs.

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What to do to avoid toxic relationships

Burroughs explains that toxic relationships are not healthy and should be dealt with. These relationships slowly eat at your self-esteem and self-worth. It’s advised that you seek help from a counsellor or psychologist. They will walk you through the process of what to do. And whether the relationship is worth saving or if it’s time to let go and walk away. Talking to someone you trust is important too, as they can support you and help you get out of your situation.

If you are the one displaying the toxic behaviour, it’s important that you recognise that you need help too before your behaviour escalates. Talking to a psychologist will help you address the root of the problem and help you become a better person.

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