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What Is A Toxic Relationship And How To Deal With It.

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What Is A Toxic Relationship And How To Deal With It.

Toxic relationships. Sounds pretty bad and serious, isn’t it?

We might think those relationships must involve cheating, betrayal or even violent physical actions. Of course, they are obvious signs of unhealthy relationships, but does that mean they are the only indicators?

And is it necessary for us to get emotionally and mentally drained before we start to think about our own happiness?

I understand that sometimes it’s hard for us to face problems in the relationship that we have invested and treasured a lot. It’s not always easy to remember who you are and what you want from the relationship. We might put up a lot of excuses and reasons for people who hurt us because simply picturing the life without them makes our heart ache.

I know how that feel and I have been there too, not only had a few broken relationships, I also experienced obstacles with my friends and co-workers. (It’s not just romantic relationship that can become toxic, my friend!)

No matter what kind of relationship it is, it’s important to pay attention to how the relationship makes you feel. Think about it this way, Listening to yourself and pay attention to how you feel is, the key to saving your relationship. Simply letting the other parties know what you really want is the key first step to regaining your own happiness again!

Here I have summarized toxic signs in different kind of relationships and solutions that might help you to get through this unpleasant stage.

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On Toxic Love Relationships

Passive Aggressive

What is it?
It is the indirect resistance to others to avoid direct confrontation. It means on the surface we try not to be aggressive but we actually are. One way is by criticisms. “I hate it when you do this but I have been keeping it to myself.” Sounds familiar, isn’t it? It happens when they try to nudge you in the direction of figuring it out yourself.

Why is it toxic?
It shows that you aren’t ready for open communication. If you feel secure to someone you’ll be open to express feelings directly instead of dropping hints for guessing. If your partner only knows you don’t like the idea but doesn’t know your real meanings, the conflict cannot be solved. You may create distance since your partner may avoid any kind of confrontations by hiding thoughts in the future.

What should you do instead?
If you to be understood, tell them your feelings openly. Tell your partner that you are not blaming him/her but you want to discuss and find out solutions together. By doing this, your partner knows it needs both parties’ effort to work it out. This also gives a chance for both of you to explain yourself clearly to each other and develop a better understanding.


Excessive Jealousy

What is it?
Jealousy is a mixture of insecurity, fear, rage, anxiety and blablabla (and the list goes on).Simply listing them makes me sick too!  A simple and obvious example is you feel bad when you see your partner get in touch (in any form) with others. What do you do? You tell your partner that’s an awful thing to do and try to control your partner by forbidding them to contact ever again.

Why is it toxic?
The emotion signifies a lack of trust. This will often lead to a loop when you start to check your partner’s phone while they are in the shower. A male friend of mine experienced this. His ex-lover checked his phone by looking at the photos, call history, and WhatsApp and Facebook messages. They ended up in a serious argument because the man found it disrespectful while the girl felt emotionally cheated. When jealousy is excessive, both parties suffer and after all the torture, it’s common to say goodbye in the end.
What should you do instead?
A certain level of jealousy is natural and is considered as a sign of affection since you show care. However, excessive jealousy is definitely toxic. Trust your partner. It is just as simple as that. Do not overthink how your partner is going to cheat you. If you feel insecure, tell your lover and let them know how you feel.

Buying the Solution

What is it?
Instead of talking through the problem, you partner try to cover it up with a good feelings and excitement that comes from gifts and treats. Imagine You and your partner had an argument in the morning. At night your partner brings you to a fancy restaurant with your favourite Italian cuisine. You want to talk about the issue but you don’t want to break the atmosphere and so both of you enjoy the pasta with casual talk. So what’s going on with the problem? Guess you guys just let it “pass-ta” away.

Why is it toxic?
You think it helps rebuild the relationship? This isn’t true. Covering up problems doesn’t work since the problem is never discussed or solved. You feel depressed instead of happy even tho you are having a nice dinner because you know your partner isn’t willing to be accountable for the problem. So the story ended up with voice unheard and a man feeling like an ATM.

What should you do instead?
Again. Talk. Talk. And Talk. Communication is always the key. Dig deep into the core problem and try to solve it step by step to make sure it won’t happen again. There’s nothing wrong to treat your lover a nice gift but never use this as a solution to your problem because it will never be. If you try to cover it up with gifts, the problem accumulates and rolls like a snowball, leading to a harmful and enormous threat to the relationship.


Blaming One’s Emotion On the Other Half

What is it?
Some people think if two people are intimate, their can rely their feelings on each other. It means that if you get angry then your partner has responsibility in causing that. Imagine a girl who just finished an exhausting day wants to see her partner asap after work. Unluckily the partner had a dinner date planned earlier so he got home late. At home, he got distracted by a business phone call while the tired girl tries to cuddle. The girl ended up losing temper because she felt like being ignored and the partner was insensitive to her feelings. She blamed him to be responsible for all the negative emotions.

Why is it toxic?
It’s just small issue and can be solved easily, but now it ended up with an unnecessary argument. This harms the relationship when the partner finds you irrational and emotional and constant annoyance can possibly reduce intimacy and of course patience.

What should you do instead?
Put yourself in his/her shoes. Think of the frustrations your other half may have in a day. If you are tired frommeant work, he or she may probably feel the same. Take responsibility for your own feelings. Long-lasting partners are meant to be supportive but not obligated to each other’s feelings. You don’t want your partner to put the blame on you for everything they feel too. So next time if you need him/her, just gently ask, ‘I just had a bad day, si that ok if you can talk to me for a while or just comfort me?”


On Toxic Friendships

Encourages bad behavior

What is it?
He or she invites you to join all those events that involve unhealthy activities like smoking or taking drugs and maybe even convince you to try it.

Why is it toxic?
We normally will compromise because of peer pressure and just don’t want to be left out. We try very hard to fit in because they are our friends. and because of that we easily develop habits that affect us because who would want to be left out alone?
However, because of this mentality, in long term, we will simply do things that we don’t want to. In a more serious way, you might also lose yourself and the power to reject.

What should you do instead?
You should understand your stand, what you like or do not like and keep it firm, do only what makes you comfortable and feel right to do. Also, you should understand that friends should be encouraging (in a positive way) and that they will not force you to do the things you do not want in life and how you guys are not on the same path anymore.


All you do is gossip

What is it?
Basically, every time you guys meet, all you guys do is gossip.
You will find yourself constantly gossiping with him or her behind people’s back and judge their behaviors, appearances or any other little things that are not really meaningful in life or have little contribution to your personal growth.

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Why is it toxic?
In order for us not to be awkward, you are forced to give he or she the answers they want to hear and gossip together with them about things that are not important in your life and constantly sending out negativity to people when you make your judgment. In long term, you are wasting your time gossiping in which you could have developed yourself a hobby, read a book and do something more positive or meaningful things to yourself or the society. You might also start to be more negative in life than before as you constantly make your judgment and see only the bad in people and fail to appreciate the others.

What you should do instead?
First, you should avoid gossiping with him or her and learn to see the good things in people around you and in your life. Spend more time focusing on yourself and your friends instead of people that are not around. Always remember to surround yourself with positive and encouraging people. 


You guys are not on the same path anymore

What is it?
You guys have different or maybe even the opposite goals in life and he or she blames you for not following her path and degrades your goals or dreams in life.

Why is it toxic?
He or she blames you for being selfish and not considerate enough to have a different path with him or her in life, in which you might then be persuaded to give up what you want in order to be the ‘considerate’ friend that he or she wants you to be. Finally, you give up what you want to do instead of perusing what you want in your life trying to make your friend, but not yourself, who is the owner of this life.

What you should do instead?

You should stand firm in face of her judgment and blame. Do not stop believing in what you want to do or to achieve in life just because of what she said. Remember that good friend should be supportive of each other despite having different goals in lives.


Everything is in competition

What is it?
Instead of feeling happy about what your friends have achieved, you feel jealous and often compare your own success with theirs. You compete for everything with him or her from what you guys eat, what you guys wear, where you guys live, your exam scores, your positions in work to every little part of your life even though it is not meaningful.

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Why is it toxic?
You start to focus so much on winning that you spend your every dollar, every minute and every bit of energy competing with her. Then, you forget your original plan or goals in life because you are too obsessed with winning her. In the end, you lose track of your goals in lives and forget many other things that are much more meaningful and important than competitions in life, like a true genuine friendship.

What should you do instead?
Don’t lose yourself. True friends should be happy for each other and encourage each other along the way instead of competing. You should know that not everything is or should be a competition and that failing does not mean losing, what is moreimportant is that you learn from your friends and know what you want to improve. Don’t hesistate to ask for help if you think they can teach you!


On Toxic Working Relationships

Pointing to the person instead of the problem

What is it?
When there is a problem at work, your colleagues blame you or your team members instead of fixing it together. Imagine something went wrong in a project. Rather than investigating the problem deeply or learning from the mistake, your colleagues keep blaming and pinpointing at one particular person, claiming that it’s all his/her fault. Sounds annoying, isn’t it?

Why is it toxic?
Does blaming help? Definitely not. Nothing will improve by simply putting the blame on someone instead of finding ways to improve. Members who are blamed will feel demotivated and embarrassed. It is also possible for them to do the same and blame the others next time.

What should you do instead?
Try to talk openly about the problem as a team instead of an individual. Make sure you talk objectively and based on fact instead of feelings. Let your team members know open communication is the only way for the team to learn and grow.


Not sharing responsibilities

What is it?
When there is a big project that requires effort from different parties, some colleagues refused to contribute either they are too busy with their own stuff or fail to fulfill what’s promised.

Why is it toxic?
How do you feel if a team member doesn’t contribute as much as the others? That’s just NOT FAIR, I bet you are screaming this in your head. The colleague who doesn’t share responsibilities is likely to be disliked by the others. It demotivates others too because they may feel dissatisfied due to the lack of contribution of the colleague. This doesn’t only ruins the relationship and it might delay the project progress.

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What should you do instead?
Always remember you are not working on your own but as a team. Whenever someone needs help, offer help. And when the work requires shared work, get involved, contribute, and take up responsibilities. Try to find out why your team member failed to contribute their part, make deep investigationa, find out the reasons and offer as much help and assistant as you can!  Again, just what we stated above, point to the problem, not the person!

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Jolie Choi

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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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