By Alex Hill
Croft Magazine//How have you become aware of your own toxic traits and how you have learned to reckon with this reality?
With another Valentine’s Day passing without a relationship, I for one begin to question why I cannot seem to find healthy commitment. Am I the problem? Or do I just have a taste for toxic people? Feeling like the only single person in your social circle does seem to make the lonely nights last longer. And despite my self-esteem being relatively strong these days, I still psychoanalyse my words and mannerisms that I like to blame for driving love interests away. But where does petty introspection stop, and toxicity start?
This Valentine’s Day in fact, I had a date. To make matters worse, it was a first date on arguably the most romantic day of the year. And unfortunately, after a couple more dates, it fizzled out. So, what did I do wrong? Was I too clingy, or did I not show enough interest? I found myself texting when he didn’t, probably attempting to move the situation too fast. But ultimately it was him that decided to ghost me, with no closure. Just a little bit of mutual toxicity to spice things up, then.
Whilst it is easy to get angry for the way he handled things, I cannot ignore my own ugly emotions – the emotions that, nose to nose with my crush, cause me to act out of rationality, just so I can win the dating game show. But it reassures me that I am not the only one – roughly two-thirds of students will date before university, with 80% experiencing some form of toxicity in both their romantic and platonic relationships.
Luckily my first date was with my sixth-form best friend. Despite being concerningly awkward and uncomfortable, we somehow kept dating and soon committed. The toxicity subsequently inserted itself as a third person in the relationship. Why is he talking to that girl so much? She hasn’t texted me in hours, does she hate me? It was toxic before I even knew the meaning of the word, with toxicity undoubtedly indicating an incorrect match. It ended and I knew I had to change.
So where to start? Recognising the emotions was one thing, but finding the source was entirely different. This is especially since the majority of toxic traits we exhibit are done subconsciously, and many are subjective – something that you used to do in a previous relationship may not be acceptable to a new partner. What I didn’t realise was that I was still young, inexperienced, and had low self-esteem – I needed to work on myself first. You must love yourself before you love others, to plagiarise RuPaul. Coming to terms with what was making me jealous, clingy, and insecure meant that I could visualise the problem, giving me an angle from which to attack it. Focusing on co-existence, instead of co-dependency, helped me to understand self-centredness, for example.
However, this February 14th has reminded me that I still have a long way to go before I can fully understand my toxic behaviour. But whilst showing too much interest can be a sign of toxicity, being led on and ghosted are toxic traits that need to be worked on a little harder than just running a bubble bath or going to the gym three times a week. Because improving self-esteem is only one piece in the healthy relationship jigsaw puzzle: you must be confident of your intentions and know it won’t always work out, then you’ll no longer need to fight toxicity with toxicity. Cultivate your flower garden and the bees will come.
Featured Image: Kirkland
Cultivate your flower garden and the bees will come.