Is this a toxic relationship?

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My mate of 10 years and I have been through a lot. He's been hospitalized for an accident that left him disabled (unable to work) from a stroke and brain injury, so now he's home with me all the time (I work from home). He functions fairly autonomously but still benefits from help with basic tasks. He takes meds and does therapy and all the stuff he should do, but can be volatile at times (he does not physically abuse me at all).

This doesn't happen a lot (three to four times a year at most), but it does happen. Think knee-jerk reactions to something – throwing things, yelling, and unfounded rage. Ten minutes later he's fine and doesn't remember the yelling or why he became angry. Sometimes I really despise the fact I'm in the situation I'm in, but I truly love him dearly and can't imagine my life without him. However, I've been having a thought gnawing in the back of my mind that we may be codependent and toxic to each other.

Im probably watching too much TikTok that shows toxic relationship traits. How am I sure that we are together because of love and caring and the RIGHT stuff?

– Toxic TikTok

Sometimes when I'm on TikTok and see a trend about relationships, I think, "Wait, this describes every good relationship – even friendships." For instance, the "beige flag" phenomenon bothered me a lot because of the way it dismissed basic human character traits and taste. (For those who missed it, people were listing "beige flags" – referring to things about a possible partner that aren't red flags, but something more benign. Like, "If someone uses too many exclamation points in emails, that's a beige flag," or "they only like horror films."

I know people were being funny about the idea, but there are so many reasons to dismiss a person, especially when you're dating on an app. I want "flag" talk saved for actual flags, not incompatibility.

The point is, don't let TikTok diagnose your relationship. Use it for entertainment, viral dances, and to see what weird things people put in sandwiches.

Now for your relationship. It sounds like you love this person, but you're too isolated and don't have enough help and information. I'm not surprised. So many people go through big medical trials and survive, and then there's not a lot of guidance. That's what you need - support for your support.

Reach out to the medical system that has helped your partner. Say you need group therapy for caregiving, and to meet with any professional that can assist you as you figure out what works at home. Also, seek therapy on your own. You want to process all of the feelings that come with being in your living situation, so do that. If you discuss this stuff with a professional, you'll get a better sense of what's OK and what counts as toxic. All of these resources should be able to give you skills – and important context.

It sounds like you also need some time alone. Can you take a trip on your own? It would be a great reboot for your brain. If you're concerned about leaving your partner by himself, ask someone to stop by while you're gone. Make this a priority. It's OK to be by yourself. In fact, it's necessary.

– Meredith

Readers? How do you know if caregiving is codependency? How do you take space from a loved one to get perspective?