Nicole Leigh West
Nicole Leigh West

Sep 19. 2 mins


If there’s one thing that can kill your dive buzz, it’s a fight with your significant other. Toxicity seeps into relationships like microplastic particles into the sea – slowly but surely invading and harming life when consumed. No relationship is perfect, but if – like the ocean – you’re feeling depleted, yours could be toxic.

Here are four ways to find out.

1. You Engage in Reality TV-Style Drama

You’ve been addicted to a reality TV show, right? Drama sucks us in like nothing else because we want to feel the kaleidoscope of emotions, at least from a distance. Drama in relationships is so addictive because it seems to add an element of ‘more.’ More passion, more intensity and more action, even if it’s from a negative source.

There’s a huge difference between good and bad relationship drama. Good drama contributes to growth, forges stronger connections and encourages necessary change. Ultimately, good drama is a fight or scenario that helps you both understand each other better, leading to purely positive feelings. Bad drama always leaves you feeling anxious, frustrated, fearful or lacking in self-worth. At the time, the fireworks might make it exciting, but it’s non-productive, and nothing gets resolved.

Ask yourself how you feel after a dramatic time with your partner. If it’s usually negative, you’re swimming in toxins.

2. Responsibility is a Dirty Word

In love and life in general, taking responsibility for our own thoughts, words and actions is one of the most important lessons of all. If arguments with your lover resemble a tennis match more than a sincere attempt to clear up a misunderstanding, one of you isn’t taking responsibility. And that’s toxic.

For example, let’s say you feel hurt by something your partner said during a heated discussion. You mention it with the sincere intent of clearing the air. Instead of talking about it with you, your partner tells you it’s your fault for making them say it in the first place – which is hitting the tennis ball right back at you, rather than picking it up and examining it.

Playing this kind of blame game isn’t relevant in healthy relationships, where both people are interested in each other’s feelings, thoughts and opinions. If you’re with someone who regularly blames you for their own behaviour, stonewalls you when you express yourself or insists that most things are your fault, seriously consider breaking free.

3. It’s Always Judgement Day

Judgement, in relationships, can sound like something as simple as this:

“I loved that book,” you said.

“Are you kidding? It was stupid,” your partner replied.

This exchange doesn’t sound like such a big deal until you add up all the similar conversations that take place over a day, a month or a year. While it’s really easy to make a snap judgement, it takes a certain amount of emotional intelligence to actively listen and understand another’s point of view. If you or your partner are regularly making snap judgements about each other’s opinions, your relationship is floundering deep in murky waters.

In this case, one of you is often feeling attacked and belittled, while the other is feeling some form of disdain. If you’re the one often judging your partner like this, it’s important to recognize that your own way of thinking is stopping you from relating to them. For example, rather than saying that the book was stupid, an understanding response would be to ask what your partner loved about it.

When you often feel criticised or somehow not good enough in a relationship, it’s likely your partner has acceptance issues. Until they grow through self-awareness, you’ll remain in a toxic situation. You both need to know that it’s OK to be yourselves, without fear of judgement, to find your way to the surface.

4. Your Standards are Lowered

You know you’ve met someone who’s good for you when you feel inspired to achieve your dreams and live life to the full. In the grips of a toxic relationship, you’ll find that the exact opposite happens. Perhaps you don’t see your friends as much, haven’t dived for months, keep delaying a cherished project or neglect the yoga classes you used to love.

Why? Because you’ve been using all your energy to deal with the toxicity, without even realizing it. This makes you feel drained, uninspired and almost incapable of following your own bliss. Take a look back at what life was like before the relationship. Were you kicking your goals? Did you feel empowered? Was your mind free to grow and expand towards the next adventure?

Staying in a relationship that holds you back in this way is like wading in quicksand. Eventually, you’ll sink into a place that doesn’t even resemble the best version of you. Don’t fool yourself into thinking there’s any reason a relationship like this is beneficial, no matter how long you’ve been in it.

Yes, all couples fight. Yes, there’ll be bad times. But these times are transitory and always lead to some form of growth. We all know what toxicity leads to, which is why it’s so important to recognize the difference and walk away.

When you do, you’ll find the murky water clears and, the next time you dive into love, the visibility will be so much better.


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