Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor

Relationships can become toxic and trust can be broken very quickly. Engaging in toxic behaviors that seem normal or make you “feel better” in the moment are a big contributor to their downfall. Toxic behaviors are usually a result of one partner feeling insecure due to a history of betrayal or low self-esteem. The truth is we have all probably felt insecure at some point in a relationship and as a result had a strong desire to snoop, check-in multiple times while they are gone, or stalk their social media accounts. While these behaviors can bring comfort temporarily, it can begin an ugly addiction to seeking that comfort regularly to disprove irrational assumptions. Over time your partner is bound to feel like their privacy is invaded and that, no matter what they do, you don’t trust them. As a result they may feel like the relationship is overbearing and end it. Below are a few common toxic behaviors that both invade your partner’s privacy and inhibit trust from forming. Alternative options to each toxic behavior have been provided as well to help you use healthier coping skills as you improve self-esteem and trust in your relationships.

Secretive Snooping

Snooping is defined as the act of seeking out information about someone’s private affairs. Common behaviours include unlocking and searching through your partner’s phone and computer (texts, emails, private messages, calls) to find something incriminating. When you don’t find what you’re looking for, you may tend to look until you find something. This can make the distrust even worse.

Alternative: If you have already snooped, tell your partner. From that point moving forward, tell them when you feel the urge to browse through their personal messages. This can help the two of you start a dialog about it rather than being secretive and sneaky.

Frequent Mandatory Check-ins

If trust has been breached in the relationship time apart can be tricky. It can take some time for the trust to be rebuilt. Part of the process are check-ins. That being said, it is unrealistic to expect them to touch base every 30 min to an hour. When they don’t respond, it can cause distress and lead you to frequently call and text your partner’s phone or check their location. Doing this will only increase your anxiety.

Alternative: Agree ahead of time how often you should expect to hear from your partner and where they expect to be going. This helps you prepare mentally for their absence and helps you know what to expect. As long as they follow-up when they say they will (with some leeway), you should feel at ease.

Monitoring Social Media Activity

It may put your mind at ease to know your partner’s passwords to their social media accounts, however, it can be very toxic if you are monitoring them. People begin by checking them once and eventually start checking the accounts multiple times daily. The motivation is most likely to look for who they are following, posting about, messaging, etc. This can create more insecurity and mistrust if continued.

Alternative: Talk with your partner about their social media use. If there is something that made you uncomfortable or that you don’t like about their accounts, let them know early on. Also, try to only check them if necessary and with your partner present.

If you see some of these unhealthy communication patterns playing out in your relationship and would like some support, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!