Sometimes, especially in relationships, we say dumb and insensitive things. It happens and typically we learn from it. But when does it go from "foot in mouth" to completely toxic? It's actually really important to spot the signs before getting into a bad relationship in the first place.
Typically, in the initial stages of getting to know somebody, everybody is on their best behavior. So it's not so easy to know whether or not the relationship will regress and become more incredulous over time. Here are three tips:
Tip 1: Check for Emotional Awareness
Emotional Intelligence, or 'EQ' starts with with the ability to recognize emotions in others. To do this, you must be self-aware of your own emotions as well. When you are with your significant other, and you display an emotion, do they recognize and acknowledge it? For example, if during a conversation you feel ashamed of something and disengage (looking down, protective posture or crying), do you see them adjust? Even a simple, "Are you OK?" is a healthy indicator. If they just keep talking, this is a sign of things to come.
Tip 2: Share Your Emotions and Observe
Try this. Instead of sharing what you think, share what you feel. Most people mix it up. For example, "I feel like you are not listening to me," is actually what you think. Instead, try saying, "I feel angry because I think you are not listening to me." See what your partner does. Again, if they acknowledge your feelings, you have a foundation to work from. But if they invalidate your feelings, and turn the conversation into who is right/wrong, then you will potentially be in a win/lose pattern for the rest of the relationship.
Tip 3: Acknowledge Their Emotions and Observe
Here is one way to bring more emotional intelligence into a relationship. Try acknowledging their emotions, follow up with an invitation to discuss, and see how they respond. For example you can say, "You seem angry right now. Want to talk about it?" If they are willing to engage, then you have a starting point to work from. Just make sure you acknowledge and validate what they say. Don't try to correct, fix or even teach them anything. Just listen and empathize.
You Decide How much to Tolerate
No relationship is perfect. We all have to grow in emotional and relational maturity. But it is important not to put yourself in a toxic situation and get stuck. This benefits nobody. So use these tips to decide how to better avoid bad relationships before they begin.
What do you guys think?
This post hits close to home. While I haven't been in such a bad relationship, I have seen, this past year especially, many friends deal with this type of toxic relationship. And even though I would advice my friends to be aware of red flags you mentioned here, Ed, I found that, while they agreed with me, they still held on to the belief that the other person would change. I often asked them, "if the situation was reversed, what would you tell me?"
"Well of course, I'd tell you exactly the same thing you told me. But..." There was always a but: "But, we've been together for a while;" "But, he wasn't like this before;" "But the situation is different now because we're so far apart physically."
So, it dawned on me that, unless they wanted to change their situation, and leave their partner, they wouldn't pay attention to those red flags, and in turn, my advice. As a friend, it hurts to see your friend being so poorly treated. Obviously we can't force anyone to do anything they don't wish to, but is there any way we could highlight the situation? Make the person more aware of it, perhaps, without infringing on the thin line that is "You aren't in the relationship, so you don't know"? (I have a friend who every time I pointed out that she only talked about the negatives of her relationship, she'd answer: "well it's just because I don't share the positives.")
Because as it stands, I've resorted to "listen, nod, maybe advise and shut up."
Thanks Rux (Ruxanda is the social media manager for Tabulit). You bring up a really good point. Sometimes you need a friend just to help you have conversations that clarify the situation. When we are only listening to the monologue in our own head, it is very hard to see reality. Friends and family, and not just ones that will agree but offer different perspectives, are important.
Alrighty! If there are any questions or comments, let us know! See you next time!