Since there's no such thing as a "perfect" relationship, there's likely someone in your life who finds fault with yours. It might be a well-meaning friend, your mom, or a coworker who has an opinion or wishes — for whatever reason — that you'd move on. And yet, even though they don't love your partner, there are likely plenty of signs your relationship isn't actually toxic. And even signs things are perfectly OK.
This might come as a relief if you have people in your life who have nothing good to say about your love life. If this is what you're currently dealing with, it can help to keep in mind that their opinions often have more to do with them.
As licensed marriage and family therapist Amanda Berry says, "They may lack understanding of healthy relationship dynamics ... They may be envious that you are comfortable in your relationship ... They may be projecting their feelings and insecurities in their own relationship onto you." Really, the list of why they think your relationship is "toxic" can go on and on.
While it's perfectly fine to ignore any outside disapproval, it is a good idea to at least hear what everyone has to say — especially if they seem genuinely concerned. "Toxic or even dangerous relationships often don't start that way, and they can happen to anyone," licensed psychotherapist Sepideh Saremi, LCSW tells Bustle. "Listen to the people who have always been trustworthy if they feel you are in danger, because they may be right." Read on for some signs that's likely not the case, and that you and your partner have nothing to worry about.
1. You Aren't Bothered By Your Partner's "Toxic" Behavior
What might seem awful to your friends and family is something you're happy to deal with as a couple, like supporting each other through a job loss, illness, or depression. "You know how to handle [these situations] and don’t get activated by them," says Milrad. "They roll off your back, even though others swear that they wouldn't put up with them."
2. You Know Things Are More Positive Than Not
People outside your relationship may only hear about the bad things, but rarely are they around to see all the positives. "Others just see the overreactions and not where they end up," says Milrad. "You know your partner well and know that they go through phases of their behavior and, in the end, calm down and compromise."
3. You Don't Feel The Need To Complain To Friends
While things might be tough sometimes, you feel happy in your relationship and rarely feel the need to complain or vent. "You don’t get together with your friends and ... unload all the complaints about your partner," Milrad says. "You don’t wish that you were in another relationship. You accept them the way they are and love them nonetheless."
4. You Both Have Your Own Lives
Do you and your partner both have separate lives outside the relationship? If so, you likely have a healthy thing going on, counselor Lisa Bahar, LMFT, LPCC tells me. Yes, you enjoy each other's company and put each other first. But you also have a fair amount of alone time, as well as time with friends.
5. You Know How To Solve Problems
Sure, things may occasionally get bumpy between you two. But, more often than not, you both manage to solve the problem. As Bahar tells me, solving problems together — while avoiding name calling and abuse — is an important part of a healthy partnership.
6. You Respect Each Other
Above everything else, respect is the most important factor in keeping toxicity away. "This means you don't name call, you limit criticism, you honor each other's dreams, [and] you go out of your way to compliment each other's efforts," says Berry. "You can honestly say you admire your partner and you actually like him or her."
7. You Both Contribute To The Relationship
When it comes to contributing to the relationship, you both do your part. "This does not have to be in the same ways, or equally all the time," Berry says. You might be the one who pays the bills, for example, while your partner does the cleaning. "If as a couple you're OK with the role you play, and they compliment one another, you're good to go."
8. You Enjoy Being Open With Each Other
Some people might view your openness as a sign of toxicity and control, but that's not always the case. "Plenty of couples like to be completely open with each other," says Kali Rogers, founder of Blush Online Life Coaching. "If both parties are in agreement to the dynamic, then it's not toxic at all. It's healthy. It's only if one person demands access to restricted areas that it becomes toxic."
9. You Feel Comfortable And Relaxed
OK, so maybe your mom doesn't exactly love your partner. But if you feel relaxed around them, then it's likely OK to (kindly) ignore her opinion. "A healthy relationship is one in which you never have to walk on eggshells ... or worry that they'll explode or withdraw as a result of you expressing your needs," says Saremi. If this is true, keep doin' your thing.
10. You're Both Still Growing
Relationships can have all sorts of ups and downs. But, as relationship expert Daphna Levy tells me, it's a good sign if you two are able to navigate them together. This is especially true if you stick it out through big life changes, and feel like you can always help each other grow as people.
11. You Are Fully Committed To Each Other
Above everything else, you and your partner are committed to each other. "You make future plans and are making progress toward them in the real world," Levy says. If all these things are true, you don't have to worry about whether or not your relationship is toxic.
"Toxic" is a strong word. While many relationships certainly are — and if people seem concerned or you feel unsafe, then you should definitely listen and make moves to create a healthier life — it's not really up to anyone else. If you and your partner have a good thing going, don't let outside opinions affect your love.
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