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Being Toxic Isn't Cute | Perfect Match (S2E1)

Reality television often illustrates the complexities and subtleties of toxic dynamics. One recent example from popular culture that caught my attention is the relationship between Bryton and Dominique in "Perfect Match" Season 2. Their interaction is a prime example of unhealthy communication patterns and toxic behaviour.

When we first meet Bryton and Dominique, there's an immediate and concerning dynamic that unfolds. Bryton asks Dominique if she works out, to which she responds that she does yoga. What follows is a sequence of dismissive and belittling comments from Bryton. He teases her and remarks that yoga isn’t a real workout, stating, “anyone with a normal brain would know this.” While this might seem like a trivial argument to some, it is filled with red flags that signal deeper issues.

First and foremost, Bryton immediately puts Dominique down for something she enjoys. This kind of behaviour is a classic tactic used by individuals who engage in emotional abuse. By demeaning her interests, he attempts to undermine her self-esteem and self-worth. When Dominique visibly reacts with upset and frustration, Bryton continues his dismissive behaviour, ignoring her feelings and escalating the situation rather than diffusing it. This is not a simple misunderstanding; it's a deliberate choice to assert dominance and control.

Bryton’s actions also reveal a pattern of trying to diminish Dominique’s confidence in her own choices and preferences. By claiming that yoga isn’t a workout because bodybuilders don’t do it, he not only dismisses her passion but also imposes his narrow view of what constitutes value and legitimacy. This may lead Dominique to question her interests and doubt whether she should continue doing what she loves if it doesn’t meet his approval. This tactic is often used to make a partner feel inferior and to assert control over their sense of self.

The fact that Bryton laughs when Dominique continues to get upset further highlights the toxic nature of their interaction. Laughter in this context is not about humour; it’s a way to belittle her feelings and demonstrate a lack of empathy. This is particularly concerning because empathy is a foundational element of any healthy relationship. Without it, there is no genuine connection or understanding, just a power imbalance.

Bryton’s insistence on having the last word is another troubling sign. It demonstrates a need to dominate the conversation and to ensure that his perspective is the one that prevails. This behaviour is manipulative and controlling, and it’s not something we expect from someone who has just met you and is supposed to be trying to make a good impression.

This scenario with Bryton and Dominique reflects a broader societal issue where toxic behaviour is often romanticized or dismissed as trivial. We’ve all heard the old adage, “he’s bugging you and hurting you because he likes you.” This dangerous mindset normalizes abusive behaviour and teaches young people that mistreatment is a sign of affection. It’s crucial to challenge and change this narrative.

If you find yourself in a situation where a partner or potential partner is consistently putting you down, dismissing your interests, or making you feel less than, it’s important to recognize these behaviours as red flags. Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect, understanding, and support. If someone is making you feel inferior or questioning your worth, it’s essential to seek help and support from trusted friends, family, or a professional.

As a therapist, my goal is to empower individuals to recognize their worth and to understand that they deserve to be in relationships where they are valued and respected. It’s important to break free from the cycle of abuse and to build healthy, fulfilling relationships based on mutual respect and genuine care. Remember, you have the right to be treated with dignity and kindness, and no one should ever make you feel less than you are.

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