Have you ever found yourself scouring the internet trying to figure out why your relationships always seem troubled? Have you ever found yourself wondering if the relationship you have with your partner is littered by toxic traits? Be careful. It is easy to apply the ‘toxic’ label to something that isn’t really toxic at all.
No doubt American culture has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. Those of us old enough to remember the Nixon administration also remember a time when interpersonal relationships were defined by different terms. Those were days when people were not so sensitive about every little thing.
Today, we are more easily offended. People are quick to bail on relationships because of seemingly minor problems. These days we seem to be too quick to apply the toxic label. To illustrate the point, here are five supposedly toxic relationship traits that are not really toxic at all:
1. Unresolved Conflicts
For the better part of 20 years, we have been told that couples should always strive to resolve each and every conflict. The problem is this: it’s not possible. The people involved in any relationship are different. There will always be things between them they disagree over.
According to Relationships & More therapists, the danger in trying to resolve every conflict is one of continuing to open old wounds and restart old arguments. There are times when it is better to simply agree to disagree and move on.
2. Ongoing Secrets
Next up is the idea of keeping secrets. Again, self-proclaimed relationship experts have been saying for quite some time that partners should be open, honest, and transparent at all times. Honest, yes. Open and transparent, no.
We all say, do, and think things that mortify us in hindsight. Those same things would drive a wedge between us and our partners if they were ever discovered. In such cases, there is no benefit to making such things openly known simply for the sake of doing it. Keeping secrets is not always dishonest. Sometimes it is the safe and responsible thing to do.
3. Hurt Feelings
Getting back to being open and honest for a minute, there are times when openness and honesty needs to hurt feelings. Guess what? Hurt feelings are not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes they are actually motivation to become a better person.
Couples shouldn’t go out of their way to hurt one another’s feelings, but they also should not protect one another’s feelings at all costs. Feelings sometimes get hurt. It is okay.
4. Having Different Interests
It’s amazing how many young couples only discover after marriage that they don’t share many similar interests. They spent the whole dating period accommodating one another just because they wanted to spend time together. But after getting married, things changed.
Relationships & More explains that there is nothing in the relationship rulebook that says partners need to like the same things. They don’t need to have the same interests and hobbies. Being different is okay. The trick is to not let those differences divide.
5. Getting Comfortable
Finally, getting comfortable is often seen as a bad thing in modern culture. As the thinking goes, getting comfortable means going stale. And if a relationship goes stale, it is doomed, right? Wrong. Getting comfortable is actually a common trait among couples who end up staying together for decades. There is nothing wrong with comfort and stability.
It turns out that many of the relationship traits we consider toxic really aren’t. Labeling them as such only demonstrates that we don’t know as much about relationships as we think.