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4 Healthy Changes that Come from Ending a Toxic Relationship

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4 Healthy Changes that Come from Ending a Toxic Relationship

A meaningful relationship tends to plant its roots very deep in the lives of two people, and it doesn’t stop there, because its influence also extends to families and social life. When those roots are ripped out of the little universe these two people tried so hard to create, things can get really messy.

Ending a long relationship is ugly, no matter what kind of person you are. In my case, it was six years of love and sharing and a bonus year of hatred and hurt. There were dark moments after our breakup when I thought it wasn’t worth it because it was too much anger and frustrations in the end, and both of us were left with deep scars that still haven’t healed.

Although I didn’t believe this – time does heal, and for some, it may take longer to get back on their feet, but it does happen eventually. However, it won’t happen on its own and it’s not simple – it involves a lot of hard work and you need to do it by yourself, because no one else will.

1. Back to Independence

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    Sharing your life with another person can be very beneficial for both sides – managing incomes, planning the future and helping each other out is a wonderful thing, but it does imply mutual trust and that you’ll depend on another person. Both have a tendency to fade out when a relationship has ended.

    Fear is a great factor when the relationship comes to an end – at least it was for me. I completely lost all faith in my skills and my confidence was in the negative spectrum for longer than I’d care to admit. That being said, my decision was impacted by me being afraid that I’m not capable of being on my own.

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    Naturally, that isn’t something I realized right away – it was buried somewhere in my subconscious. Therefore, the very first piece of advice I’d like to give to anyone who’s ending a relationship that became poisonous for both parties is not to run away from solitude and treat it not as being alone but as being independent.

    I’m sure you must remember how excited you were when you first left your parents’ home to make it on your own. Well, this is a chance for another fresh start. Besides, if you can’t trust yourself, chances are you can’t really trust anyone.

    2. Introspection and Growth

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      I was able to see some clarity just before we decided to take different paths in the very next intersection because a single thought filled my mind. I don’t know if I read or heard it sometime earlier, but it came to my memory in the right moment – I won’t get anywhere if I continue repeating the same actions and continue expecting different results.

      The thing is that I did everything in my power to save what we had, but that still wasn’t possible because we were so deep in a rut that we couldn’t help each other out, no matter how much we tried. I was constantly angry with him, and me as well, because it wasn’t clear to me how two smart people who love each other very much can be that helpless.

      The worst feeling I ever experienced is having my hands tied. It seemed like anywhere I move and get my hopes up just for a bit, and it turns out I’m actually going two steps backward. That’s just frustrating, to say the least.

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      Unfortunately, I know a few couples who happen to be my close friends, who have gone through the same things and I had their example (not) to follow. Some of them became impossibly ignorant to the world around them and being unable to realize that their disappointment made them dull, while others fell into despair and started questioning everything because of their insecurities.

      Instead of doing any of those two extremes, I tried to turn to developing introspectiveness. That’s a lie actually; during the first period, I was all about not thinking about the relationship at all, because that made me feel depressed. After that was over, I started thinking about what actually happened. What were the events that lead us to the point of no return?

      I’m not speaking about nostalgia and crying over spilled milk – I tried to use retrospection to my advantage and learn from my own mistakes so that (hopefully) I never have to repeat them again. I’d say this method was fairly successful and that I was able to grow as a person.

      3. You Become Stronger

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        Which brings me to my next point – co-dependence implies weakness. I understand that this might sound a bit bitter, but I have my reasons to be resentful and question this whole philosophy that stands behind monogamy and everything that goes with it.

        My ex and I made a mistake in the very beginning because we started a relationship where there were no adults – we were just a couple of immature children, nothing more. I wouldn’t even dare to deny we had a couple of golden years when we worked as a well-coordinated team and when every problem we encountered was simple to solve. We were each other’s gravity and just being able to feel that kind of connection makes everything that came afterward worth the trouble.

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        However, growing into an adult isn’t easy when you should be one already, and taking responsibility for things that happened in your life feels like being cornered. Obviously, it’s necessary for you to give yourself time to mourn the possible future that’s never going to happen, but you also need to realize that it’s not like anyone died.

        So, you have two different choices here (although only one of them is the right one) – you can either spend the rest of your life as a shadow of a real live person, or you can come out of this stronger and more powerful than you ever were. A variety in experience makes us tough; I know this doesn’t sound very comforting right now, but the fact is that you can learn from this and go into the next relationship prepared for whatever’s coming.

        I read somewhere recently how a significant percentage of relationships are doomed to failure because the two people involved in it spend way too much time and effort working on their other half and thus they neglect themselves, their future individually, and the plans they made as a couple. In order for a relationship to work out, two people need to stand firm on the ground before entering a serious relationship – you shouldn’t be each other’s project, you know. The only project you should be working on is building a future together.

        4. Time to Work on Yourself

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          And now, I’d like for you to be realistic and ask you this one question – what would your future be like if you stayed together? Many couples fool themselves by taking drastic measures in times of despair, like moving in together, getting married and even having kids, in the hope that they will solve their problems.

          All of the aforementioned are temporary solutions which can create an illusion of happiness for a month, a year, or a couple of years at best. If you do have a good reason to break up, something that simply makes you unhappy, you shouldn’t try to cover it up with life changes.

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          Being uncertain of yourself and the decisions you make will reflect on your relationship sooner or later, and trying to sweep the dirt under a brand new carpet doesn’t mean that the nasty will go away. As a matter of fact, it will only multiply and become even more difficult to clean up in time.

          Whether you decide to treat it as a gift or a curse, you are now single and you should use this time to become everything you always wanted to be. Your focus is now on you and you alone, and the vision of your future self is yet to be fashioned; this is something terrifying, difficult and exciting, all at the same time.

          A breakup shouldn’t define who you are, nor should it control your future. Relationships past should be there to make you learn what you really want and teach you not to settle for anything. Be that partner you want for yourself and the pieces of the puzzle will fall in their place eventually.

          Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/fk3XUcfTAvk via pexels.com

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          Last Updated on November 18, 2021

          10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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          10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

          We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

          A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

          So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

          • honest
          • reliable
          • competent
          • kind and compassionate
          • capable of taking the blame
          • able to persevere
          • modest and humble
          • pacific and can control anger.

          The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

          1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

          All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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          But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

          2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

          How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

          I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

          “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

          Abigail Van Buren

          3. How does this person take the blame?

          Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

          4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

          You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

          5. Read their emails.

          Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

          • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
          • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
          • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
          • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
          • Too many question marks can show anger
          • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

          6. Watch out for the show offs.

          Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

          7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

          A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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          Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

          8. Their empathy score is high.

          Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

          People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

          9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

          We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

          “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

          Stendhal

           10. Avoid toxic people.

          These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

          • Envy or jealousy
          • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
          • Complaining about their own lack of success
          • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
          • Obsession with themselves and their problems

          Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

          Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

          Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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