True Love & Toxic Love: 14 Core Differences

In love relationships, there is often a BIG difference between the type of love experienced. At the top we have unconditional love; at the bottom, toxicity.

“Romantic love is an illusion. Most of us discover this truth at the end of a love affair or else when the sweet emotions of love lead us into marriage and then turn down their flames.” ~ Thomas Moore

In love relationships, there is often a BIG difference between the “type” of love being experienced. At the top we have true, unconditional love; at the bottom, total toxicity. Most relationships are a mix of both, to varying degrees. While truly unconditional love is a rarity most likely known to all but a small handful, toxic partnerships are far more common.

Why? Because they are based on needs — be it emotional, financial or sexual — and whenever needs are at the helm, particularly psychological needs, it means, simply, that there is more fear in the relationship than love.

Many of the ideas surrounding “successful” relationships are also quite erroneous. Most people in our society are prone to think that the longer a relationship lasts, the closer it is to “unconditional”, yet this is not always the case. Many people remain in long term relationships simply because they feel trapped (again, because it is a need exchange) with the toxicity levels never quite high enough to break them apart, but continuing nonetheless to erode them over the years.

What has been forgotten is the very nature of relationship itself: Self Definition. In other words, who am I, and how am I being in relationship to this other person? The whole point, in the end, is growth. Growth that moves us in the direction of happiness. (In other words, wisdom & inner peace.) It doesn’t matter how short or how long a relationship lasts, what matters is the amount of personal growth it grants while it does.

On that note, here are 14 point-form differences between true love and toxic love. Where does your relationship land?

1)   Love: Development of self first priority.
Toxic love: Obsession with relationship.

2)   Love: Room to grow, expand; desire for others to grow.
Toxic love: Security, comfort in sameness; intensity of need seen as proof of love – may really be fear, insecurity, loneliness.

3)   Love: Separate interests; other friends; maintain other meaningful relationships.
Toxic love: Total involvement; limited social life; neglect old friends, interests.

4)   Love: Encouragement of each other’s expanding; secure in own worth.
Toxic love: Preoccupation with other’s behavior; fear of other changing.

5)   Love: Appropriate Trust (trusting partner to behave according to fundamental nature.)
Toxic love: Jealousy; possessiveness; fear of competition; protects “supply.”

6)   Love: Compromise, negotiation or taking turns at leading. Problem solving together.
Toxic love: Power plays for control; blaming; passive or aggressive manipulation.

7)   Love: Embracing of each other’s individuality.
Toxic love: Trying to change other to own image.

8)   Love: Relationship deals with all aspects of reality.
Toxic love: Relationship is based on delusion and avoidance of the unpleasant.

9)   Love: Self-care by both partners; emotional state not dependent on other’s mood.
Toxic love: Expectation that one partner will fix and rescue the other.

10)  Love: Loving detachment (healthy concern about partner, while letting go.)
Toxic love: Fusion (being obsessed with each other’s problems and feelings.)

11)   Love: Sex is free choice growing out of caring & friendship.
Toxic love: Pressure around sex due to fear, insecurity & need for immediate gratification.

12)   Love: Ability to enjoy solitude by being alone.
Toxic love: Unable to endure separation; clinging.

13)   Love: Cycle of comfort and contentment.
Toxic love: Cycle of pain and despair.

14)   Love: Conversations based upon intent to Understand, Help, or convey affection.
Toxic love: Conversations based upon intent to blame, defend, or manipulate.


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