The wellness trends sweeping Instagram often send me into crisis mode: "If I don't drink collagen, will I die?" or "Is an almond a toxin?" and always, "I have cancer." There's nothing wrong with expunging the toxins from your body, but when I troll the wellness 'grams, I end up with a bout of anxiety that can only be calmed with a Sour Patch Kid and a text to an ex. Clearly, relationships are a part of my life I need to manage better. Unlike making the switch from almond to oat milk, the toxic people you're dating can affect you in the here and now and are worth doing something about.
Can I be really honest for a second? I'm not even exactly sure what qualifies as a "toxin" when it comes to food and drink. A quick Google search led me to discover that a toxin is both a Marvel character and a man-made product like a waste product or a pesticide. But I digress with this further critique of wellness-blogging land.
When it comes to love, I don't know what constitutes a "toxic" relationship either. So I decided to speak to clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio Show Dr. Josh Klapow about what types of toxic people are out there. Here's what he shared with me about personality types to look out for.
1. The Needy Partner
We've all been needy on occasion, and we've probably all had a partner who was needy as well. Sometimes, it's necessary, and even important, to be needy — jobs are lost, family members pass away, and it's important to be there for our partners and vice versa. However, if your partner constantly requires your time and energy while reciprocating nothing in return, pay attention. When someone is needy in a toxic way, "their relationship with you is there to fulfill their needs, their weaknesses, [and] solve their problems," Dr. Klapow tells Elite Daily. This can be hard to grapple with and admit to yourself, but a relationship must be a two-way street.
2. The Indecisive Partner
As the queen of indecision when it comes to everything, from choosing a bar to drink at to choosing a new toothpaste, I initially took offense to this toxic relationship personality. However, being indecisive about the actual relationship is what makes this type of person toxic. "Their relationship with you is tentative on all levels. They can’t decide how they feel about you [and] how they feel about other relationships in their lives," explains Dr. Klapow. We all deserve to be with someone who is certain they want to be with us.
3. The Controlling Partner
This was the first toxic partner type that came to mind when I began this piece — probably because this type of partner is entirely awful! Controlling partners "feel they own you," says Dr. Klapow. "You are there to serve them. The relationship is there to provide them with what they need, when they need it." In real life, this might mean that your partner doesn't like you going out without them, or that your partner might tell you what to wear or how to do your hair.
4. The Partner Who Is Always Seeking Validation
As with all of the personality types listed here, you can have a partner who seeks validation at times without being entirely problematic. We all desire compliments and affirmations from our partner, and validation is honestly one of the perks of being in a committed relationship. A toxic partner, however, takes this to an extreme. "They need someone to give them meaning, affirmation and purpose," explains Dr. Klapow. "They are not looking for a relationship that is honest, but rather, one that is reinforcing all the time." They probably aren't sending affirmations back your way, either.
Dr. Klapow explains that if you find yourself in a relationship with a partner who causes you to "think, act, or feel different than you normally do," or feel uncertain or scared in the relationship, you should reevaluate your relationship. You deserve so much more.
And it doesn't only apply to romantic relationships. "Toxic patterns exist in platonic relationships and work relationships," says Dr. Klapow. "Recognize these persona types, and recognize the signs described above, and you will be ready to defend against any sort of toxic person or relationship." This usually requires the courage to leave, even though that means starting over.
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