Toxicity in teen relationships

Lexie Shumate, Reporter

A toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and sometimes physically damaging. Teen relationships can be hard enough already without the struggles of toxicity. It’s not always easy to determine if they are toxic either.
“One will attempt to explain how they are feeling, possibly suggest some type of selfishness or feelings of discord within the relationship and the other partner will insist that the they are crazy and being selfish and rude or inconsiderate. Somehow in their own manipulative way, they will make you believe it is your fault for thinking something may be wrong,” said Jojo Breiner, a professional counselor who used to work at Blackman High School.
It’s normal to have something bothering you in a relationship, and it’s healthy to communicate what is bothering you to your partner. It is extremely unhealthy for your partner to put blame on you for feeling a certain way. You are always allowed to feel the way that you do.
Even if your partner doesn’t do this, there are other warning signs that your relationship is toxic.
“There will be this cycle where your partner builds you up, compliments you, gives you flowers, and then strikes again in the destruction of tearing you down. You know this is happening when you are absolutely, emotionally exhausted, and the ups and downs wear you down,” said Breiner.
An insecure partner will likely be jealous of your success and try to bring you down when you’re feeling proud of an accomplishment. This is a sign of a toxic relationship and will negatively affect your mental health.
“Toxic relationships are not healthy, and they can lead to bad habits, harm to someone else, or harm to yourself,” said Anthony Gomez, a senior.
In high school there is usually pressure from parents, school, extracurricular activities, and often romantic partners. The pressure coming from your romantic partner can be healthy, like if they encourage you to become a better version of yourself. It becomes unhealthy when you start to feel as if your mental health is being compromised.
“If you find yourself isolating yourself from friends and family, this is not what is best for you. Manipulative partners want to control you and what you experience and anyone outside of themselves can be a threat,” said Breiner.
Feeling as if you want to spend all your time with your partner is a completely normal feeling for teenagers and sometimes even adults. When that partner demands that you remove yourself from friend groups or doesn’t like you going to family outings, it becomes toxic.
Teenagers aren’t the only ones who experience toxic relationships. Accepting this kind of relationship now can lead to accepting toxic or even abusive behavior from your future partners.
“I think no matter what age you are, if you aren’t happy with yourself, you are prone to being in toxic relationships,” said Sade Korbieh, a senior.
Just because it’s more likely to experience toxicity in a relationship, as an adolescent, this shouldn’t deter teenagers to date.
“It [dating] helps you learn who you are and what you look for in other people. And I mean that not only in a relationship way, but also with friendships. It helps set your morals and beliefs too,” said Ashlyn Bell, a senior.
Dating in high school is beneficial because of the experiences you gain and the knowledge you learn, if the relationship remains healthy. If you do find yourself in a toxic relationship, you need to get out of that as soon as possible.
“If you need help getting out of a toxic relationship, ask for help. Do not be afraid. We aren’t made to do this alone. Ask an adult who cares to help you along the way,” said Breiner.
Sometimes, you can feel as if you deserve someone who doesn’t treat you the way they should. You feel as if you’re not worth very much, and your toxic partner can make you feel like that too.
If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, just know that you’re worth a lot more than you think you are. Talk to an adult if you need help to end your relationship. You deserve to be in a healthy relationship with a partner who builds you up instead of taking you down.