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"La Toxica" & how we view relationships

By Monserrat Banda, Teens Climb High Program Assistant




It's no secret that we have gravitated towards utilizing social media to guide our behaviors and actions. For example, one might accidentally stumble on a croissant recipe video and begin to fall down a bakery rabbithole. We see young folks indulge in social trends such as the crate challenge or viral dances. These can be harmless and fun to explore, however they can also prove to be dangerous.


There has been a phenomenon surfacing throughout Hispanic/Latinx communities on social media centered around romantic partners called “La Toxica”. For those unfamiliar with Spanish, this translates to “The Toxic One;” however, it is more popularized as toxic behaviors that female partners present in a relationship.


La toxica appears in both internet memes and video demonstrations and has been popularized on sites such as Facebook and TikTok. Public eyes fall on the posts that highlight unhealthy relationship behaviors and often glorify them, naming these characteristics desirable and “normal” in monogamous (and often heterosexual) relationships.



The general characteristics that fall under “la toxica” posts include the following: mistrust between partners, controlling behavior, the limitation of personal relationships, violent behavior with a means to control, manipulation of one’s partner, jealousy as a standard, and more. Generally, not good things to have in a relationship.


Let’s take a look at some examples.


(“Nobody: Absolutely nobody: La toxica when she hears my phone ring”)


The above meme has an average of 100 likes and 260 shares, making it a well-liked meme by the public. The idea that a simple ringing phone can warrant anger and jealousy is not a sign of a healthy relationship. This meme reflects mistrust between partners, a lack of communication, and potential violent tendencies.



(“When he says he likes toxic partners but I get toxic and he can’t stand it”)


This one normailizes toxic behaviors and sets the stage for the “desirability” of such characteristics. When confronted with the fact that a partner does not, in fact, enjoy these traits in their relationship, the response is essentially “deal with it”. A shrug of the shoulders is not a constructive response to an issue a partner shares.


Now, let's look at some Tik Tok examples. This tiktok shows an alarming amount of vulgarity, where her partner is out at a party with friends and drinking and she is constantly calling him obscenities (not nice!) and telling him he isn’t allowed to be with his friends. This controlling behavior is ultimately just as dangerous as the previous ones, and it is quite concerning that it currently sits at 81 thousand likes. The top pinned comment says “we’ve all been there”. This steady normalization of such behaviors is dangerous!


Although these videos are intended to carry humorous qualities, it can be dangerous to normalize these behaviors, especially to those who may think it is normal and expected of a relationship.


So what IS a healthy relationship?


According to hotline.org, a healthy relationship includes the following:



Ultimately, we need to strive for healthy relationship guides on social media. If you or a loved one is experiencing a domestic violence situation, call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788.


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