By Marc Alexander

Couple #1:  The New Couple. It’s the first day that you realize you are in a committed, in-love relationship.  The communication is as crisp as the sheets on a bed at the Ritz Carlton. But then one day, you attend an event as a couple and while there, you get a whole lot of attention from the opposite sex. He notices them noticing you, but he doesn’t act like there’s a problem, so you keep it moving.

But soon thereafter, out of nowhere, he starts to get quiet. His usual laughing and joking is replaced by silence and not cool/comfortable “I’m familiar with you” silence, but, rather, tense awkward silence.  You know what the problem is, but he won’t admit it and if he’s going to be that way then shoot, you can do him one better. Soon the texts, emails, phone calls and the relationship, in general, slow to a trickle. And instead of spending time enjoying the special chemistry you thought you had, you now spend days wondering if you are wasting your time.

Couple #2: The Soul Mates. You have visions of a horse drawn carriage and doves flying in the air while rose petals lead you down the aisle to your place standing next to him at the altar.  You have traveled together, you know all of each other’s family members and you are known as a fine and established couple that everyone assumes will one day be joined in holy matrimony.

Then something suddenly goes awry. You look up and realize that you have planned the last few outings, you have initiated the last few conversations, you have cooked the last few meals and you feel like you are carrying more than your share of the relationship. You are waiting for him to do something, anything…but he doesn’t… and you are pissed …but you. don’t. tell. him. Instead, you ask your best friend if you are crazy to feel resentment.  She tells you “you’re right to be upset” and fans the flames of your anger by mentioning a few more instances when she thought you were “doing too much.”  He asks you “What’s wrong?” but you say “nothing” because you feel that he should know you by now, so he should know what’s wrong.

What just happened? These perfect relationships have now taken a turn for the worse and have suddenly become toxic.

Toxins rush in to a relationship when communication rolls out. When either you or your partner is not communicating what’s concerning you, you are creating a breeding ground for toxins.

Just as in science, when toxins are not addressed they can turn something healthy into something that is sick and dying. Toxins from within the relationship like prolonged silences and unanswered questions will turn a healthy relationship into an unhealthy one by creating doubt, suspicion and trust issues. And when that happens, it becomes much easier for either or both of you to simply walk away.

Outside negative influences can also infect or exacerbate toxic relationships.  You talk to other people such as friends and family members because you know they will listen and commiserate with your perspective. But have you ever noticed that most of the time they will not help your situation?

On the real, YOUR friends and family will only see YOUR side of the situation because that’s all you have to offer. As the saying goes, the truth is somewhere in the middle, so don’t talk anybody but him about what’s bothering you. Only you two can fix it.

It’s amazing what can be avoided and overcome when we get over ourselves and realize that a good relationship is hard to find and we might need to go the extra communication mile to make it work. When a relationship goes toxic, it also speaks to how well you know each other. If you know the other person’s sensitivities and quirks then you know when something is off.  And when you see that something is off, the thing to do is be honest, caring and selfless enough to help fix it.

Ultimately, preventing or ridding your relationship of toxicity or of toxic influences depends on how much you value the relationship and how whether or not you believe it can be made whole again. My advice? Be a believer, keep the toxins out and I suspect you will be releasing doves in your white dress at the altar in no time.


Marc Alexander is a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer and purveyor of urban culture.

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