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The writer is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist.
Social Diary has collaborated with a medical expert to allow our readers to connect and have their concerns answered over their wellness-mental and physical. This week:
Sadaf Kamran Asks:
How to know if a relationship
has become toxic?
Dr.Uzma: Man is a social creature. Relationships are an important way that individuals interact with those around them. From the day a person is born, they are someone’s son or daughter. So, in a way, we are born into relationships as we are born into this world. With time, we come to have a say in the relationships we form. Beyond family, all relations are sought out, defined, and formed by individuals themselves. It is through the establishment of such connections that we truly become a part of and contribute to the society we live in. Giving and receiving support, love, care, and understanding in our relationships help us through the tough and tumultuous parts of our lives.
Naturally, relationships introduce a certain measure of dependence on other people in our lives. A word often heard in reference to this overt dependence in relationships is ‘toxicity’. Toxicity in a relationship is felt when the freedoms of an individual are hampered or when the collective growth of the people within the relationship comes to a halt. Although the dynamics of the connection between two persons can hardly be commented upon by an external observer, there are some telltale signs that can help determine if the relationship has taken on a toxic turn.
The first sign to notice is if a feeling of discomfort appears in the relationship. By discomfort, it means a persistent uneasiness and an inability to honestly express your feelings or voice your concerns. This feeling may emerge when the response of the other person is feared. This fear may emerge after you have been on the receiving end of this sort of behaviour. Such behaviour is toxic because it becomes a barrier to understanding and communication within the relationship. Lack of communication is a predicament that few relationships survive.
Secondly, in a toxic relationship, due to hesitation in communication, it becomes hard to share decisions with the other person for fear of a reaction. In such a situation, it may be due to many reasons such as fear that your viewpoint might be misunderstood or not accepted. It may also be that the other person takes on a dominating persona which is why it is so hard to share your own thoughts and decisions. In any case, this is a sign of toxicity.Furthermore, the excess of any emotion betrays an air of toxicity. If protection takes such a form that everyday freedoms are curtailed, it is toxicity. If love takes such a form that all other relationships become difficult to have and maintain, it is toxic.
Toxicity greatly hampers the lifestyle of individuals as it does not allow the personality to fully manifest itself. The creation of healthy boundaries is crucial to the development and maintenance of healthy relationships. Generally, it is observed that healthy communication is an excellent way to not let toxicity seep into a healthy relationship.