6 Traits of Highly Toxic People

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Everyone knows people who are very difficult to deal with, but when does “difficult” cross into “toxic”? While toxic is not an official diagnosis, there are some individuals that cause endless interpersonal conflict, and tend to make others feel bad about themselves on a regular basis.

Some individuals with Narcissistic, Histrionic, or Borderline Personality Disorder can fit these descriptions, but just having one of those disorders doesn’t necessarily mean that someone acts “toxic” to everyone or to anyone. Do you recognize anyone you know in the following descriptions of habits of toxic people?

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Dating as a Woman: Balancing a Desire for Intimacy with the Threat of Violence

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“Why don’t you date?”

My therapist’s comment took me aback. After a difficult relationship, why didn’t I put myself back out there? After all, meeting new people would be a healthy distraction, enrich my social life, and build up my confidence by reminding me how ridiculously charming and attractive I am.

Okay, maybe I don’t have a problem with confidence.

I have never been shy or reluctant to meet new people. But the idea of dating left me exhausted. More sexist men, more risk of sexual violence, more worrying that — Cat Person-style — a seemingly innocuous date would reveal a shock of coercion under his charm.

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My Abusive Partner Promises They’ll Change. Will They?

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“I promise I’ll change.”

These are four words most people in a relationship with an abusive partner have probably heard. Longed-for yet dreaded, the words can offer both hope and disappointment. Hope that things really will get better this time, and disappointment when, inevitably, the abusive behavior—whether emotional, physical, or verbal—begins all over again.

We’ve all heard that a leopard can’t change its spots. But what about an abusive partner?

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International Women’s Day: Speaking Out Beyond #MeToo

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Originally, I was asked to write this piece about a time I felt empowered as a woman. All day I sat with the prompt, but nothing came to me. How sad is that?

Over the next couple of days, I asked a few of my female friends if they could think of a time they felt empowered. They couldn’t think of a specific time, either. I felt sad for them. I felt sad for myself.

Of course, all these other thoughts came flooding into my mind — about all the times I felt like my power was threatened as a woman (e.g. most of the time). All the times I’ve been in situations that made me feel like a piece of meat — something to look at and touch, but not a human to be communicated with, respected or honored.

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Is It a Normal Fight or Verbal Abuse? Here’s How to Tell

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Even the most dynamic of duos has the occasional fight. Whether it begins with “Who forgot to take the dog out?” or “Do I really have to go to your brother’s birthday party?”, having arguments is a common — and healthy — part of any relationship.

But in some cases, what we call an “argument” is actually something worse. Ever had a partner who criticizes everything you do? Who shouts and uses cruel language when they get angry (and they may fly off the handle a lot)? Who makes you feel like you’re wrong or “too sensitive” when you try to speak up?

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Why You Shouldn’t Check Your Partner’s Phone

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As a therapist, I can’t tell you how many times clients come to me with information that they have gleaned from checking their partners’ phone. Some people will come in with screenshots of text conversations between their partner and others, hoping to dissect them to determine whether their partner was flirting or whether the conversation was just platonic.

Others come in with call records, telling me that it can’t be innocent when a partner calls a “friend” five times in a week. Some people fear that a significant other is cheating on them and comb through their partner’s email, looking for something that they can use as evidence of infidelity.

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How Men Can Confront Toxic Masculinity (+ Why It’s Important for Mental Health)

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With the #MeToo movement dominating the headlines over the past few months, many of us have had to ask tough questions about our own experiences of gender, power, and relationships. While women have taken the forefront of the movement, it’s also been a moment of reckoning for men.

The movement has not only provided an opportunity to confront more obvious acts of violence, but also how gender roles influence the way we treat one another in our own lives and relationships. This means confronting the role of toxic masculinity in our lives and relationships.

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7 Truths About Love to Remember This Valentine’s Day

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If we were to ask pop culture what the ideal relationship looked like, most of us would expect an image of fireworks in the sky with that one and only person who completes us. Romantic comedies may be uplifting, and love songs beautiful, but much of what we learn about relationships early on sets us up for unrealistic expectations.

The result? We never feel like our relationships are good enough, and may doubt if we’re deserving of love.

Holidays like Valentine’s Day can exacerbate these worries. Social media often makes it seem like everyone else is coupled and in an ecstatic state of love. If we’re partnered, we may wonder if our relationship is as good as everyone else’s seems to be. And if we’re single, we may feel even more inadequate.

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Is Your Relationship Over? 5 Questions to Ask Before Calling it Quits

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Though we’re conditioned to think of romantic relationships as the center of excitement and passion in life, many people remain in intimate relationships they feel ambivalent about, not knowing whether to leave their partners, or to stick it out for the long haul.

Because the excitement in romantic relationships is bound to ebb over time, it can be hard to know whether a relationship is just going through a boring or difficult stage, or whether it has naturally run its course.

There is no right answer, as experiences will differ from person to person, and from relationship to relationship — but there are some hints that you might be ready to move on. Here are five questions to ask yourself if you’re wondering whether your relationship is going to last.

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Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship (+ How to Get Out of It)

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Online, our relationship was great. We had a lot in common. We couldn’t get enough of each other’s “texting company.” It may seem crazy to you, but it seemed like a good idea at the time: I invited a person I’d never met to fly halfway across the world — not only to meet me in person, but also to stay in my apartment for the two weeks she was visiting. I hoped the relationship would turn into something rich and real, distance be damned. Bad decision.

Just two days into her stay, the red flags started going up. She manipulated me, created a hostile atmosphere in my home, initiated never-ending drama, made ridiculous demands of me, criticized me often, talked poorly about me behind my back, forbade me from talking to friends about our relationship. Can you say toxic? I can, and thankfully, I got this person out of my life. But it wasn’t easy.

How To Tell If You’re In A Toxic Relationship

While there are plenty of signs you may be in a toxic relationship, it’s not always clear when you’re deep in the dynamic itself. Often times, a toxic partnership starts out well enough, but then slowly (and subtly) starts to erode your sense of self. One of the first warning signs of a potential toxic relationship is that the other person is consistently violating your boundaries.

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