Valentine’s Day is an occasion where we celebrate our love for the special relationships we have in our lives: partners, friends, and even ourselves. Although it is important to acknowledge those relationships, one’s health and well-being must always come first. We must evaluate the relationships we have with ourselves and those around us. Who are we prioritizing, them or us? We need to evaluate whether we’re in a healthy, or toxic, relationship.
A toxic relationship can be identified by the behaviors of those in the relationship and whether the relationship
is mentally draining, or even dangerous. Although a healthy relationship can boost our confidence and self-esteem, a toxic relationship is the opposite.
School counselor Barry Goldman mentioned, “I think [a toxic relationship is] one that’s built around negativity. The idea that maybe both people are feeling negative about the relationship, but for some reason, they feel stuck in it and don’t know how to move forward, or maybe one side feels more negative and the other person doesn’t preserve that and the individual doesn’t know how to move forward.”
Sometimes we choose to see the good in others, but we end up making excuses for their bad behaviors. It’s important not to sugarcoat the signs of a toxic relationship. Some signs may include dishonesty, disrespect, and even a one-way relationship.
Another thing that can contribute to a toxic relationship is if a person doesn’t know what they want from a relationship. When one party wants to enter a romantic relationship, but the other just wants to stay friends, this is when things can become confusing and can become toxic, especially if one party is forced to enter a relationship they don’t want to.
“Sometimes it’s healthy to step back and think about what are my expectations, what am I going to give to this relationship and what are my expectations of the other person to give to me,” Goldman mentioned.
Although it’s important to care about those around us, when it comes to our mental well-being it’s okay to be selfish and speak up our minds. If one isn’t sure about a relationship, it’s okay to step back and say ‘I’m not ready,’ and it’s okay to be honest.
Along the lines of speaking up, what do you do when you see someone in a toxic relationship, but you don’t know how to help them?
There are several things you can do for that person.
“I think, with anything, whether it be in relationships or if a friend is concerned about how someone’s doing we go back to ‘see something, say something’. One, as a friend, it starts with being a good listener…and just be a good supporter,” Goldman mentioned.
Furthermore, seeking help from a trusted adult such as your counselor, teachers, or even coaches is always an option. Or if you are not comfortable coming forward, there’s a hotline posted below.