There is no class in high school about how not to be a dumb boyfriend or girlfriend. Sure, we’re learning about the biology of sex, the characteristics of legal marriage, and maybe we’re reading some obscure love stories from the 19th century about how not to be a donkey face.
Without clear ideas from adults, what we are left with is trial and error, and if you’re like most people, it’s mostly wrong.
Enter: a series of toxic relationships as we stumble upon an already complicated dating world.
One problem is that a lot of toxic relationship habits are hidden in our culture. We adore romantic love—you know, the grotesque, irrational kind who somehow finds smashing Chinese dishes against the wall in a fit of tears somewhat endearing. We mock practicality or unconventional sex.
Men and women are encouraged to personify each other and articulate their romantic relationships. Thus, our partners are often seen as achievements or awards rather than people who share mutual emotional support.
Much of the available self-help literature isn’t helpful either. And for most of us, Mom and Dad were not the best examples.