A deceptively simple-seeming concept I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently can be summed up like this:
“It’s not you. It’s not me. It’s US.”
Seeing a relationship like this lets both parties see it as something outside themselves. Something that exists independently, and therefore as something that can be dissolved without reflecting negatively on either person. It’s not that you’re a bad person, nor am I, it’s just that this relationship isn’t working.
Finding this concept came at a meaningful time for me, as I was contemplating how to extricate myself from a particularly toxic working relationship. The fact that I was able to do so is a big part of how I was able to become a full-time writer.
This seemingly simple concept turns out to be an extremely powerful way of looking at toxic relationships. It effectively takes the blame off of both parties, and puts it squarely on the interplay between them.
It turns the squishy concept of a relationship into a tangible thing, a thing that is not working.
I don’t have any concrete advice to add here, there’s way too much variety when it comes to human relationships for me to distill it down to a pithy aphorism or something. I simply wanted to share this perspective in the hopes that it may help someone else see their own way out of a toxic situation in a way that leaves both parties feeling OK about themselves—secure in the knowledge that it wasn’t their fault.