Wondering if your relationship is it? I have a few questions to ask yourself to see if it’s true love or a toxic relationship.
Up until a few years ago, I consistently found myself in some bad relationships. Bad relationships with family members, boyfriends, friends, bosses, etc. It felt like I was a magnet for people who wanted to be mean. Want to walk on a doormat? Call me, I’m here 24/7! But I’ll be the first person to tell you when I see others are taking advantage of you. It was one of those “Do as I say, not as I do,” life situations.
When I was 28 and finally started taking some personal responsibility for my life, mainly my relationships, I realized through therapy I was a codependent. Never having heard the term before, it was the clouds parting from my eyes as I checked off all of the characteristics. Poor at setting boundaries? Check! Dependent on controlling others for my own happiness? Check check. Consistent fear of being abandoned? Grab me that red marker. A lot of people pleasers are actually codependent, out of fear of abandonment.
Tons of therapy and years later, I’m happy to say I’m now more than ever in positive and healthy relationships. I have such a close knit of friends that I’m forever grateful for. My dad and I can actually talk without screaming at each other. And my boyfriend and I can actually go a few days without talking now! I’m not perfect by any means. My relationship with my cat is full on serious and I can be self-focused at times without realizing it. I have a hard time listening. But I’m working on it and I’m working on letting people know not to talk to me or if I don’t want to do something.
I tell you all this dear reader because as women, and especially Latinas, we carry the world on our shoulders We run our households thinking we must say yes to everything and be the rock, just like our mamis. The reality check is, 'We will never be everything to everyone and if we try, we’ll run ourselves into the ground.' @accordingathena Click To Tweet It’s up to us to decide who is on our team and to let the others go. But we don’t know who to let go because half of the time, we don’t even realize it’s toxic. That’s why I want to share the following questions with you to help you decide just that.
How does this person make you feel?
First things first, nobody is perfect 100% of the time. This includes you (I know, don’t cry.) There are days where I’m snappy and I need to give myself a time out. But for the most part, I try to be kind, listen and be my fun-loving self. This is the same for everyone.
In the book “Every day Is A Friday” by Joel Osteen, he shares that you must have a wide support system because we can’t always be there for others. As someone who used to be all about other people, and never about myself, I was consistently let down by others until I learned that it’s impossible for one single person to always be there for you.
On the flip side of this, if someone is never there, or makes you feel like shit 95% of the time, why bother having them in your life at all? You don’t need anyone being rude to you or taking out their own issues on you for whatever reason. You deserve to surround yourself with people who are happy and make you feel the same.
Are there things you don’t tell this person?
I remember having lunch one day with my friend and expressing my anger over a friend who gave me her unsolicited opinion about a relationship in my life.
My friend, chewing on her salad, swallowed and said, “Athena, don’t talk to her anymore about your relationship. There are certain people who you talk to about certain things and others you don’t.” As a chronic oversharer, I nodded and really thought about what she said. And then I decided that I wasn’t going to share anything else with that person about that area of my life.
I was hurt more than anything in the situation up mentioned above but I learned that other people can project their issues onto you and can make you feel like shit. What I learned, even more, was life’s too short to have to walk on eggshells around people who are supposed to be your friends and watch what you talk to them about out of fear they’ll be nasty to you.
Do you catch yourself lying to them?
I don’t like the outdoors. I don’t like renaissance fairs. And I don’t like watching sports UNLESS it’s a Notre Dame or Dallas Cowboys football game. There, I said it. But for the longest time, I’d pretend to like everything someone else did too out of fear they’d leave me. Now, I happily tell people my hobbies include hanging out with my cat, drag queens and serial killers. I also enjoy drinking at my local dive bar and taking over the jukebox.
The point is, we lie to ourselves and we lie to others. We’ll lie about stuff we shouldn’t lie about, such as our wants and likes, because we’re afraid. We lie about our opinions out of fear people will talk shit to us. We lie to protect ourselves and we lie to keep the peace so the toxicity stays in. Guess what soul sister? There’s no band-aid big enough for that.
Is this person judging you or are they supportive?
Everyone has a different approach to how they think they should interact with others, especially those they care about. For me, I joke with you if I like you because I feel comfortable. If I really care about you, I’ll call you out but I would never intentionally be spiteful. And if I hurt feelings, I always am sure to apologize.
So, how do others make you feel when they talk to you? Are they really motivating or hurtful? Do they say spiteful things to make you feel bad? When you confront them, do they make excuses for their behavior or try to deflect? Not everyone communicates the same way and that’s fine, we are all different. But what’s not fine is someone in your life talking down to you and making you feel worthless.
Relationships are a two-way street. No one is ever going to be 50/50 in a relationship either. People go through things and sometimes, that person may take up more of the relationship. But a relationship should never be one-sided and equal effort must be on both sides.
You should always strive for relationships that help you feel secure, calm and inspired. Don’t be with others who make you feel less than. People need you to wake up and be your best self. And you owe it to yourself to do the same.