How to Identify Toxic Relationships

I was reading the latest edition of Psychology Today (the magazine, is there a difference?), and it was about dealing with difficult people. I thought it was really informative and interesting. It made me evaluate family, friendships, and other types of relationship I’ve had in the past, and how I acted with them.

First off, what is a toxic person?

You know what I’m talking about.. It’s that friend who’s June Gloom all year long. It’s that co-worker who’s criticizing what you do no matter how hard you’re trying. It’s that ex who blamed you for every problem. It’s that family member who compared you to a sibling or cousin or friend’s kid. A toxic person is someone who drains your energy, and whenever you leave the room after spending time with them, you consistently feel more negative about yourself and your own life. Perhaps YOU’RE the toxic person *gasp*.

How to Identify the Red Flags? Mmm. Lots of ways.

1) They talk about themselves a lot. No interest in your life at all even if you’re going through something heavy in your own life. Subject is either changed with a swiftness or completely ignored.

2) They are negative, negative, negative Nancy. Down, down, down. Sad face emojis all over the place.

3) They blame others for their problems. Friends, family members, exes, their upbringing, their past, their boss, the person sitting next to them on the bus, the Starbucks barista, Blah, blah. Anyone but themselves, maybe even you.

4) They have an addiction or extreme lack of self-control. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex (like, several times a day everyday sex, or maybe I’m just doing it wrong).

5) They’re manipulative bastards (or bitches!) And you won’t know what hit you. They capitalize on your feelings. They know how to use you.

6) …and lots of other stuff I can’t really recall right now, but you get the gist. 

So basically it’s me!!! Just kidding, but I do have those moments.

I used to think that if a person’s heart was in the right place, and they were THERE for you as a friend.. Then their cons didn’t really matter. I don’t believe that anymore. I really believe that if you decide to keep a toxic person in your life, their bad vibes will not only spread to you (that shit is contagious man), you’ll also have a tough time maintaining your own sanity. If you think that you can take care of them, handle them, or even change/”fix” them, you really need to ask yourself WHY you feel the need to do that. That’s a YOU problem m’dear.

I remember a dear friend I had in college. Let me start by saying we’re not friends at all anymore. We were close, practically besties. We were there for each other when we were struggling, and she helped me out of some shit while we were growing up. We chatted everyday online and hung out regularly. Throughout the years though, our ways of thinking changed. I noticed some things.. She was extremely self-centered, shallow, materialistic, hateful of others, judgemental, insecure, flaky, and she didn’t really empathize well with others.

I was starting to notice that whenever I finished chatting with her, I felt extremely insecure about my own life. She would insinuate things like how I was not good enough. How my then-boyfriend was not good-looking enough. How my other friends were kind of lame. She started criticizing my appearance (my face, my body-shape, things I couldn’t change about myself). Instead of being happy about my promotion, she would say something about how my raise could have been better, or it wasn’t that hard to get promoted. She would ask questions, “how come you sound so much smarter in your writing than you do in person?” Or make comments like, “No offence, but guys approach you because you have a slutty face.” She would blatantly flirt with my boyfriends when my back was turned.

We also went through a lot together. When I was dumped by a boyfriend the day before an important exam, I totally shut down, and she covered for me. She was always available to come over when I was sick or needing a friend. When she found out she had a cancerous tumor growing, I was there for her if she needed anything at the hospital, at home, work. A number of things — we talked about her sucky boyfriends, my sucky boyfriends. Yeah we talked about boys a lot gimme a break.

But it came to a point where our conversations hit a wall. She started judging my other friends on things they couldn’t change. AND she became helllllaaa religious yo.

I finally cut off our 5-year relationship after she told me that all gay people were going to hell. Like she genuinely meant it.. knowing who I was, what I stood for, the good friends I cared about who struggled with their sexuality. I was livid she would say that.. After she had been through what she had been through in life.. She could judge others like that? She even said it didn’t matter whether or not they were good people, “the Bible says it.” OK. The Bible also said some other pretty specific things that she was guilty of.. What did that say about her? In my eyes, she was a hypocrite! Bleh.

It was a friendship that was meant to end, but I hope the best for her.

I haven’t spoken to her in many years, but I’m clearly still thinking about her. Not everyday, but there are some memories. Like any relationship, we’ve had our good times too.. even though most of our moments together were either weird or just plain awkward and bad. This was someone I cared deeply about. Cutting off a bond with someone is not an easy thing to do, but when it comes to your own mental health.. you gotta do what you gotta do. If you’re someone who finds cutting ties easy.. Yikes!

Now that I’m a bit older, and especially after going through my experiences with My Toxic Husband, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to let your brain take control. If you let your heart run around making rampant decisions, it might turn out OK, but most of the time, you’re just hurting yourself.

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