9 Healthy Relationship Habits We Mistake As Toxic


1. Not responding right away

You live your own lives! You’ve each got a million other things going on, and you shouldn’t be each others number one priority literally every single moment.

I get irritated when my clients and colleagues expect this of me as well — when they send me an email and then send me a follow up an hour or two later, asking, “did you see this? Did you respond to so-and-so?” If they violate it enough times, I will reset expectations on what an appropriate response time is, given the message.

There are half a dozen things in the queue ahead of your message for anyone’s attention, so unless it’s on fire, you do not need an immediate response.

To anyone who thinks “answering immediately” is “important” and “right” (time being dictated by whatever has come to your attention most recently, without a filtering system for discerning “do I need to take time from what else I am doing to respond to this now, or can I respond to this by EOD?”) then I’d be willing to guess you struggle with time management and how to prioritize, and probably find yourself flopping into bed at the end of the day, thinking, “wow — where does time go?”

I mean, sure, you should definitely prioritize each other in life. You should like each other that much. But that shouldn’t translate to a literal minute by minute demonstration, and it definitely shouldn’t come down to a minute by minute test.

2. Not bringing shit up

Look, not everything needs to be discussed. There’s some shit my partner does that irritates me, and I’ve never mentioned it. (And I am sure it’s true the other way around.)

Life is “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” If you make a fuss about “everything” — or even too many things — eventually your “fuss” will become meaningless. (And on the contrary, if you are even-keel most of the time, when you finally speak up about something being important, people will actually listen.)

I’m not suggesting you “bottle.” On the contrary, I’m suggesting you deal.There’s a difference between something that’s actually important, and something that you’re projecting on, feeling insecure about, need to self-manage, or using to abstract feelings about something else.

You don’t constantly need to be prodding each other over everything. Handle some shit on your own.

3. Being willing to hurt each other’s feelings

And then talk it out.

But we do enough pussy-footing in everyday life as it is — don’t do it with your partner.

I’m not suggesting we should go around being hurtful, and I do think that diplomacy in discussion goes a long way. But if you’re so afraid of a sensitive partner’s reaction that you can’t bring something up, something’s wrong.

4. Leaving the room — or going to bed mad

After over two years with a toxic partner who would draw drunken “discussions” out into the early-morning hours when we both had work the next day, and now dating someone who’s willing to “drop it and talk things over tomorrow,” and I can say with absolute confidence that the latter is better.

Every single time we’ve had what felt like a “fight” or “disagreement” at night, by the time we wake up the next morning, it’s a quick exchange (“I’m sorry I did/said __” “thanks; I’m sorry I __” *kiss*) and we move on with our day.

If your “discussion” is going on for more than a reasonable about of time — 10 minutes seems like more than enough time to get things out on the table — then I might suggest everyone take some time to cool off and regroup.

5. Not “needing” the other person — and them not being your “everything.”

You shouldn’t need them, and they should not be your entire life. Only in codependent relationships, where two people are overcompensating for a feeling of listlessness or lack of meaning in their lives by becoming enmeshed or overly-attached to someone, is this a thing. Don’t do this thing. Build your life.

6. Spending time apart

You are not attached at the hip, and pretending you are isn’t cute after 7th grade.

Be your own people. You’ll bring a lot more to the table if you are.

7. Self love

Self love is not selfishness.

In fact:

  • Selfish people are overcompensating for a debilitating lack of self-love.
  • Only people who love themselves can love others.

Self love is self-care, self-awareness, self-respect and self esteem.

It sets the standards for how others should treat us, and it also gives us the skill set for how to treat them.

Self love means meeting your own emotional needs rather than expecting/demanding/needing/building dependency on another person to meet them. It means caring enough about yourself to have an answer to “what do you want?”

8. Being attracted to other people

You’re a human. I’m a human. Your partner is, also, probably a human.

Humans are attracted to other humans. I don’t want to date someone who mentally dampens anything, and as long as he’s not being a dick about it, he doesn’t have to pretend he didn’t notice anything.

9. Breaking up if it’s not working

What’s toxic is holding it together with forced “date nights” and “trying new things” and pretending you’re not having the same talk over and over and over.

What’s healthy is pursuing what you need to be healthy. And what’s real love is letting them do the same.