Most people want to feel close, both physically and emotionally connected to one another. But ironically, there is nothing more complicated and difficult than our relationships with others. While this might sound cold, and while relationships are vital for a full and happy life, there are some relationships, the toxic ones that are not worth the investment of time and effort. These should be quickly and permanently removed from our lives, thus making room for the ones that truly matter. To determine if a relationship is toxic, there are some pretty clear signals to be aware of.
So let’s begin by defining “toxic relationship.” Health Scope magazine defines a toxic relationship as, “a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner.” In summary, a healthy relationship contributes positively to our self-esteem, gives energy, and adds to overall happiness, while a toxic relationship damages self-esteem, drains energy, and provokes negativity on multiple levels.
If you want to keep your circle up, avoid the following toxic relationships:
The Inherent Hater
All of us know people who love to watch someone else fail or falter, then gossip and spread rumors about the failings (both perceived and real) of others. Individuals like these are clearly unhappy in their lives and to avoid dealing with their own reality they focus on any and everyone else, especially people they call friends.
In fact, it is easier to gossip about friends because they know your business and with strangers they can only speculate. Anyone who would tear a friend down for any reason is not a true friend and is not someone you need in your life.
A needy person in a toxic relationship allows their feelings of insecurity and lack of responsibility to make them crave as much of your attention as you are willing to give. Needy, toxic people are emotionally clingy and incapable of understanding that the rest of the world does not revolve around their needs and wants.
They cause feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and the sense that your efforts are never enough. The needy personality’s “modus operandi” is guilt and if you are “nice,” you have likely fallen victim to their tales of woe and “perpetual victim complex.” The bad news is you always will if you don’t cut them off.
We all know people who are constantly irritated or upset about something. If you are a long-time SNL fan like me, you may remember the “Debbie Downer” character, (if not YouTube it). A “Debbie Downer” toxic personality always sees the downside to everything.
This personality type feels persecuted, as if the world is conspiring against them, which they in turn use as an excuse to justify their inability to make moves in life or form lasting/meaningful relationships.
You may see a pattern of “one-upsmanship” with this personality. For example, if you have a work colleague you’re in conflict with, their co-worker is always worse. If you have a cold, they have to be hospitalized. Debbie Downer people are particularly contagious and should be completely avoided.
As G.I. Joe always says, “knowing is half the battle;” so knowing about and being able to identify the characteristics that define toxic relationships is the first step on the path to removing them from your life. You deserve peace of mind and well-being and continuing/maintaining a toxic relationship will be a serious impediment to achieving that.