How to Identify Toxic Relationships?
By Violet Lim, CEO of Lunch Actually, an Asia’s Dating Agency
Recently the case of Johnny Depp suing his former wife, Amber Heard, became one of the hot news all over the world. In the 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post, she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." Even though Johnny Depp was not named in the article, it was affecting his career and he claimed it cost him lucrative acting roles. The case has just ended with Johnny winning the defamation case.
With the case being broadcasted around the world, it brought a light on toxic relationships - which is also experienced by many singles and couples. Most of the cases, the victims or even both of the couple did not realize that they are both toxic and hurting each other throughout the relationship, even if it might seem obvious to other people.
Violet Lim, the Chief of Cupid and CEO of Lunch Actually - Asia’s pioneer and biggest dating agency in Asia, shares her expertise about how to identify narcissists, the signs of toxic relationships and how to identify toxic relationships.
How to identify narcissistic according to Violet:
1. Lack of empathy
The center of the world is supposed to be themselves. Narcissists really love to control everything, they exploit and manipulate the condition to be under their control.
A narcissistic belief that they have the privilege to have special treatment. They need to feel that everyone agrees with how they behave and if others bring up an opposing view, then it’s wrong and silly.
A narcissist can be very extroverted and vulnerable at the same time. They actually are insecure, but instead of admitting it, they rather hide it by pretending like they feel victimized by someone else that doesn’t share the same opinion with them.
4. Superficial appearance of themselves and others
Narcissists want to look good, and they want those surrounding them to look as good as well, especially for their partner. Narcissists initially will make you feel good, they will treat you like a king or queen in the early period of a relationship but it will disappear. Their true self is revealed after that.
5. Don’t regulate emotions
They play with their emotions and are not trying to control it. They behave like 3 years old. When they are angry, they will show it without considering the situations of others. But when everything is under control, they will be happy and don’t hesitate to praise their partner for it.
6. Hypersensitive to criticism
They’ll get offended easily when they get criticism, especially when it doesn’t please them. You’ll fear to say anything negative towards them because you’ve already known the consequences for criticizing them beforehand.
All of those behaviors seem horrible for someone to have, but if someone experiences being involved with a narcissist, the person normally won’t recognize it at the first time since narcissists have their own pattern before showing their true self. The pattern of Narcissist is known as love bombing pattern. Narcissists will make you feel wonderful, they know how to treat you like a queen or king as long as you’re useful. But once you are no longer needed, they will diminish and devalue you and discard you. They give you the silent treatment and make you feel like worthless.
Violet emphasized that we need to understand ourselves first before getting involved with someone else. Based on Lunch Actually's philosophy that before meeting the right one, we need to be the right one ourselves, understanding our true self is definitely required before being involved in deeper relationships with someone else. Thus, we can recognize earlier if we’re actually a narcissist and trying to get help from professionals and not include someone else before we become the best version of ourselves.
Violet shares the signs of toxic relationships and some tips to identify whether you’re in a toxic relationship. The signs are:
1. Jealousy and lack of trust
Relationships are supposed to be our safe place to be vulnerable, having someone to rely on, and growing together in every aspect. In a toxic relationship, They will be very competitive, not in a healthy way because they don’t let you be better or be with someone better than them. One of the party will be afraid for their partner to leave them. Thus, they will control you on who you see, who you like, etc, and not let you grow to be the best version of yourself.
2. There is no ‘Take and Give’ just ‘All Take, No Give’
Healthy relationships are being happy together with fulfilling each other's needs and wants. When you feel like you’re always pleasing your partner and revolve only around what makes your partner happy without considering yours, you need to stop.
Frequently, you will think it's normal and you can be considerate of your partner's behavior, then, you hope they will change. But, it revolves around, you will only give them without taking something back.
3. Making excuse of your partner behavior
If you ever heard your close friend criticize your partner, and you always argue that ‘you don’t know him/her like I do’ but you don’t really feel about it, that was a red flag. When you ever feel like you are forced to defend your partner, you need to think again about your relationship.
How to identify toxic relationships, which once you recognize these feelings, it is time for you to reconsider your relationship:
1. Communication feels exhausting
In any relationship, communication is the key. When you feel everything you say is being turned against you, you slowly stop trying to even say what you feel because you know where it’s going to lead. When you say things like “I’m feeling really down about work lately” and the type of response you get would be along the lines of “You seem perfectly fine when your friends are around.” Everything feels like it’s your fault.
2. You’re constantly set for a trap
Every question, every statement feels like a trap. A path laid out where at the end your partner “proves” a point. For example, instead of asking “Do you want to have dinner with me?” The question is phrased as “Would you rather be glued to your laptop or have dinner with me?”. By any chance, if you answer anything other than what your partner is expecting, it becomes a generalized war like “You always…” or “You never….” However, it’s an entirely different result if the roles are reversed.
3. My way or my way?
A controlling behavior can grow into something very ugly. Just because you’re a couple, doesn’t mean you need to agree with everything your partner says. It doesn’t mean you love them any less just because you have a different point of view. A supportive partner would respect what you have to say if they don’t agree with it. As much as everybody wants to be two peas in a pod, you’re still very different peas and that’s okay.
Having toxic relationships is not a sin, you don’t need to hide it from another person, especially the person you trust. We as a person, can not change someone else's character and behavior. When we love someone, we often think that we can handle their bad behavior and fix it if we are patient enough to stay, but that is not true. Before you’re involved too deeply with someone who has characteristics that can cause a toxic relationship, make sure you identify the red flags and leave. And if you are already involved, seek the help from someone you trust or even a professional.
About Lunch Actually
Founded by a husband-and-wife team Jamie Lee and Violet Lim in 2004 to help busy and successful singles find love, homegrown company Lunch Actually has since become the region's largest lunch dating service. The company has arranged more than 150,000 dates and matched more than 4,500 happily married couples. It has been featured in more than 4,000 media including Bloomberg, BBC and CNBC. Lunch Actually helps singles meet compatible and like-minded singles through pre-screened, pre-matched, and pre-arranged one-to-one dates, to achieve their goal of 1 million happy marriages. For more information, visit https://www.lunchactually.com/