Relationships are supposed to be fun and exciting, as well as a chance for people to see if the person that they’ve connected with is the person that they want to spend the rest of their lives with.
It’s often hard to tell when a relationship turns toxic, or if it was toxic from the beginning, but everyone agrees that they’re absolutely no fun. In fact, some even say that toxic relationships are similar to something even more similar: cults.
Now, it’s clear what you’re probably thinking: “Isn’t calling a bad relationship a “cult” a kinda extreme move? My toxic partner isn’t a cult leader!” Well, of course they’re not, but when you really think about it, a toxic relationship starts, progresses, and ends like a cult might, with your toxic partner playing the part of the leader and you the naive follower.
How so? Let’s talk about it.
Most cults usually start out with a charismatic leader, which would be your partner, in this case. That’s usually the first thing someone would notice about a potential partner: they’re attractive, charming, and they always seem to know the right thing to say. The thing is, this is a trait that most toxic people tend to rely on: their charm and social aptitude. Toxic people prey on those who are lonely and who lack self-esteem because these are the people who are the easiest to emotionally manipulate, then they use their charm to lead them into a false sense of security before leading them right into their trap, which is a relationship.
A toxic relationship will play out like a cult leader influencing a follower: your partner will take over your mind, shape your opinions, and make you feel like you’re less than them. Their influence will be subtle and deliberate. If you’re aware of their power over you, that gives them less power over you…That might sound confusing but bear with it. Toxic people like to keep one step ahead in the game, so they’ll play the long game for as long as it takes, as long as you’re under their thumb.
They’ll also keep you away from any support groups, such as your friends and family so that they are unable to deter the toxic influence being inflicted on you. Toxic people crave power, especially over those who they feel are lesser than them. The more alone that you are, the more power they have over you.
Then, comes the end of the relationship. You obviously won’t be chugging poison-laced punch or anything, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still get hurt, emotionally or physically, or worse: you won’t be able to make it out at all.
If you choose to approach a relationship, always be prepared to exercise caution. You shouldn’t take chances and make connections, but it never hurts to be safe. Remember, your gut instinct is your best source of judgment. If a situation ever feels weird, get out of it. Stay safe out there!