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It's so easy nowadays to pick out red flags when you're dating someone new but it's just as important to see the green ones in the relationship too. Green flags will show you whether the relationship has long term potential or not. Aside from the general butterflies that you may feel in the beginning, your partner should always make you feel safe, happy and secure. Whatever your relationship status may be, it's important to learn what it takes to create and maintain a healthy relationship. If you have ever been in a toxic relationship before, you know firsthand about all the anxiety it causes and the emotional scars that it often leaves behind. In this article, we will be discussing the key differences between true love and a toxic one. Hopefully these guiding principles can help light the way.

1. Power when you feel like equal partners

TOXIC LOVE: The balance of power tips in one direction or it swings back and forth so you’re never quite sure where you are — or what’s going on. A toxic partner is typically controlling, either in obvious, dominating ways or through passive-aggressive, threatening, guilt-inducing means. They’ll always want their own way. If you’re with a toxic person, you’ll feel insecure, pressured to do things you may not want to do and constantly as though you’re dancing to someone else’s drum. TRUE LOVE: There’s a balance to the relationship. You’re not controlling your partner — nor are you having your strings pulled. The number one clue is that you’re NOT scared of your partner, you’re not always worrying about what mood they’ll be in. You don’t feel a knot of anxiety in your stomach when you see them coming: you’re relaxed and happy to see them. 2. Independence: when you retain a sense of self. TOXIC LOVE: You do EVERYTHING together. You’re totally immersed in the relationship, neglectful of old friends and important relationships. You let go of your own interests/friends in favour of doing everything your partner does and, slowly, you lose your sense of self which lands you in a co-dependent relationship. Co-dependence can also develop as you wrestle with a partner’s addictions, mental health or other issues. But, no matter where it came from, planning your life entirely around another is not healthy. TRUE LOVE: You keep your boundaries; you insist on having time to yourself (even if time is in short supply). You see your own friends, you stay true to your favourite activities and you’re not afraid to do things alone. Importantly, your partner encourages you to do so. 3. Trust: when you both feel safe

TOXIC LOVE: Your partner has a history of letting you down or making poor choices, which feeds your insecurity within the relationship. This may also be your own issue, borne of difficult experiences in your past. A lot of people have difficulty with trust— if that’s you, it’s worth working on so you don’t sabotage a potentially great relationship. TRUE LOVE: You feel safe — physically, sexually and emotionally. You don’t feel pressured to do things their way. You trust your partner with the Big Stuff and to stick to the agreements you have in your relationship around sex, money, kids, porn, alcohol/substance use, health issues and the like. You trust them to listen to your point of view. And they know you’ll listen (and hear) theirs. 4. Support: when you have each other’s back TOXIC LOVE: When you need support you can never be sure your partner will be there for you. Often, they’re not. Or they might be — as long as they don’t have something bigger going on themselves. TRUE LOVE: No matter what, you know your partner to be in your corner with a hug, a coffee, a kind word. When you’re spinning out over something, they’ll help you see the reality of the situation. And they can count on you — always. 5. Freedom: when anything seems possible

TOXIC LOVE: You feel trapped, stuck. You feel like your relationship is limiting your life. You’re not happy with your partner — and they’re not with you. You both want to change things about the other so the relationship is going nowhere — fast. TRUE LOVE: You each accept your partner for who they are. You want the best for each other and you go out of your way to help your partner achieve their plans and dreams — but not at the cost of yourself. You are free to be and do what you want — together or independently. And, ironically, that makes you want to stay. sending you lots of love & light ❤️ - Maya Benberry

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