The Toxic Lover

The Toxic Lover

For the past few weeks, I have been processing life, really trying to figure out a few things, because it was beyond time for me to do so. In the process of my many moments in solitude, I had to be very honest with myself. I actually woke up today and washed my face. A metaphor I say when I am ready to address me and make changes I need. 

The way I held on and the way I loved was not healthy. The "depth" of my love was very toxic because I made my relationship at the center of my world. Everything about everything was based solely on the woman in my life.

Not only that, I attached my self-worth, existence, and well-being to the happiness of the relationship. When I failed on many days, I lost confidence and basically became an emotional vegetable. Unaware of who I was and what I was doing. Somewhere in the mix of it all, I became inoperable, unable to do basic functions as an adult because the world in my heart was toxic.

Now, to be deeply in love is not a problem at all, however, to do some of the things listed below makes you susceptible to all kinds of bullshit, brought on you by you. It is important to learn how to love and how to be loved in a healthy way. You don't have to be codependent in love. You don't need someone to love you in order to feel loved.

If you are honest with yourself, you know you have made someone responsible for your emotional pain and now that it's still not repaired, the damage that remains is proof of the toxic baggage we all need to unpack. 

I'm unpacking my truth and the toxic behaviors I called love. 

1. Calling your partner your “everything”

A friend of mine, after dating a girl for about six months, texted me and said, “She means everything to me.” Six months after that, he proposed, and now they’re married.

I’m sure they’ll stay “happily-ever-after” married forever.

But sometimes I still think about that text and feel a little like: Uh. OK.

When you make your partner your “everything,” you are saying that everything else — yourself included — is nothing.

You’re suggesting — like, out loud — that the rest of your life doesn’t mean anything. That without your partner in it, you’d be left with little to live for.

That’s not romantic. It’s not cute. And it’s definitely not healthy.

When you make your partner your ‘everything,’ you are saying that everything else  —  yourself included  —  is nothing.

2. Constant communication

Look, communication is good. Great. A real pillar of a strong relationship right there — good job.

Constant communication, however, is weird. And not okay.

One of my guy friends started dating this girl, and I don’t know if it was her or him or both of them (my money’s on both) but those two would talk on the phone like a dozen times a day. She would just call him sporadically with something that, the first few times, seemed like a legitimate important issue, and he’d excuse himself and be all, “brb” but then wouldn’t come back for like an hour.

And it would happen multiple times a day. Always.

And then he damn married her. And as far as I know, they still spend hours of their days doing this.

Fam, that’s not okay after like 7th grade. What the hell are you people doing with your lives? Emotional self-sufficiency goes a long, long way. You shouldn’t be relying on your partner for company or reassurance any time you have a thought or eat something.

3. Thinking all of your emotions are valid

Sweetie, I tell you this because I care about you: not all of your emotions have legs.

Yes, your emotions are real — nobody is telling you, you aren’t allowed to feel what you feel. Absolutely, acknowledge everything that you feel if that makes you feel good. But acknowledging that you feel something doesn’t mean those feelings need to be acknowledged and honored by everyone else.

Some shit should be self-managed.

Just like every thought that pops into our heads isn’t worth saying out loud, sometimes every emotion that you have isn’t worth saying out loud. Some of those should feelings are half-baked and better off regulated by yourself.

4. Asking them to *fix* your emotional issues

Similar, but the bigger picture.

Your partner is not responsible for your emotional well-being. Nobody can fix your emotional issues but you.

Your partner “not being there for you,” or being “unsympathetic to your crappy day,” or being “distant” during a hug, or going out with friends instead of comforting you — all examples of you expecting them to take care of you, instead of taking care of yourself.

“Blaming our partners for our emotions is a subtle form of selfishness, and a classic example of the poor maintenance of personal boundaries. When you set a precedent that your partner is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice-versa), you will develop codependent tendencies.”

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Take responsibility for your own emotions and expect your partner to be responsible for theirs.

There’s a subtle yet important difference between being supportive of your partner and being emotionally obligated to your partner. There’s a difference between coming to each other as individuals with free will, who add to each others’ lives — and depending on one another for care.

Don’t use each other to wipe your ass, emotionally. You can do better than that.

Your partner is not responsible for your emotional well-being.

5. Trying to make each other happy

Really just the “positive upside” of being responsible for each other’s emotional well-being. Because guys, it’s not good even when it’s “good.”

I once dated a guy who won me over by asking, early on, “How do I make you happy?”

Man, I thought this was like the creme de la creme of #relationshipgoals. And maybe it is, somewhere, with two healthy people with strong senses of self-sufficiency. But with him, what might’ve once been “sort-of-kind-of-could-have-been” love slowly eroded into some zombie remains of him basing his self-worth on my minute-by-minute state.

6. Doing everything together

Holy codependence, Batman.

There’s a trend here.

7. Being honest about everything

I don’t want or need to know that he thinks the intern is hot. I just don’t. Unless he just needs to air it — say it out loud — to bring it to light and drain the taboo from the situation (in which case it’s for him, not me), I literally have no need to know this. If it occurs to me that he might, I just acknowledge that he’s human, and probably does find her hot, and move tf on with my life.

This is one of those situations where, even if I might wonder if, I’d rather be permitted to be blissfully ignorant and willfully unaware.

Same goes for a drop in your attraction to them, or you having those normal “is this still what I want?” check-ins. Don’t bring all of that shit to each other. Just don’t.

8. Seeking “balance” by keeping score

And being “tit for tat.”

I know some people who tally up chores like they’re still earning star stickers in first grade. Or going through their picks for playground dodgeball — “I’ll take the laundry if you do the floors.”

I know couples who play-pretend at “one cooks, one does the dishes” households and have actually gotten into fights because “one of them” decides to bake cookies but “the other one” doesn’t eat any and refuses to do the dishes.

I refuse to fight about chores. Or splitting tabs. Or who gives whom more oral sex. I actually refuse to fight about a lot of shit, but I definitely refuse to fight about any tit-for-tat bullshit.

Because above any specific fight, I refuse to date someone who treats our relationship like baby games (“that’s not fair!”) or watches to make sure I’ve really got ten items or less in checkout.

9. Sugar-coating and never hurting the other person’s feelings

Holy shit, we do so much of this in our everyday lives as it is, I would go crazy if I had to pussyfoot around my partner like he was 8. That’s exhausting.

I’m not saying be an asshole. I mean, be a nice person — especially to your partner. And definitely (see above) take care of your emotional needs before you dump them on someone else.

But at the end of the day, if your partner can’t tell you, you have something on your face or they need a day alone, that’s your deal and not theirs.

10. Fairy-tales

And trying to buy your way into love.

Vacations, status symbols, a kid — and then another. Romantic gestures, mixing it up, public displays of affection… it’s all for show and it’s all for naught. You might buy yourself some time, but you’re also putting some substantial lipstick on an increasingly bloated pig.

11. Sticking it out

Yo, I know our grandparents did this, but you know a lot of the housewives of their time were (and housewives of our kin still are) drugged up and drinking at 11 a.m., right?

I mean. I’m just saying.

All 11 were my recent expressions of love mixed with other things. I'm ready to let go of all toxic things in my life... including the toxic me. 

Still growing to Be A Better Lover.


ParKer Bryant

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