“Bryan” and “Cassidy” were engaged to be married already when I met Cassidy at work. We became good friends over a mutual love for the nightlife. We were in our 20s and still had the energy to hit the clubs on Sunset Boulevard after working a long shift. She opened up to me about her relationship to Bryan while driving to our destinations.
“I know he loves me but I found out that he never deleted his profile on Plenty of Fish. We had a HUGE fight about it so I’m a little pissed off still.”
This is what the bulk of her complaints were about: trust. I watched as she devolved into a paranoid shell of a woman as she struggled to maintain self-esteem in the face of frequent disrespect from the man who had proposed marriage. I struggled trying not to blast it from the rooftops that she should leave him. Most often, people need to figure these things out on their own.
My boyfriend and I had dinner with Cassidy and Bryan once. They wanted to meet up for sushi but we weren’t sushi fans so we compromised by dining at a restaurant that served other Asian fare, too. Let me tell you, after one meeting with Bryan I never wanted to be in a room with him again.
“That’s RIDICULOUS…how does anyone know how many there are if they haven’t been caught yet?” Bryan scoffed rhetorically, after I mentioned the fact that there are more serial killers active in the U.S. than people realize. Great dinner conversation, I know, but they had asked me what I studying and I engaged them in a discussion about forensic psychology.
Stunned at first by his blunt rudeness, I continued by attempting to explain how the experts ascertain such knowledge while he slurped down his sashimi. I say “attempt” because he cut me off mid-sentence to loudly challenge me. “What are the official STATS, what would you say is the percentage of serial killers?”
Let’s just say he was one of the most arrogant people I’ve ever had the displeasure of talking to. He was aggressively rude and smarmy, and my boyfriend and I left that dinner concluding not only that Cassidy should leave him, but that ALL women should steer clear of him.
Thankfully, Cassidy finally had enough and she broke off the engagement some months later. They fought almost every day over his need to argue with her over every little thing and his gaslighting her whenever she discovered his deceitful behavior.
Bryan was a toxic human being (quite possibly a sociopath) and toxic people create toxic relationships and toxic home environments.
Here are some of the main signs to look out for:
1) Toxic People Leave You Feeling Emotionally Exhausted. Their need to argue, belittle, manipulate, condescend, and always feel like the smartest person in the room will leave you spent. Healthy people usually leave us feeling appreciated and good about ourselves. If you notice more often than not that your significant other (or anyone, for this matter) makes you feel worse after being in their company, they’re probably a Toxic Person.
2) They Use Anger To Manipulate. After lashing out at you verbally whenever they’re questioned, challenged, or not obeyed, you might start tiptoeing around them to avoid being yelled at. The next thing you know, you notice you’ve stopped questioning them or challenging them even in important cases where they absolutely should be questioned and challenged. This is abuse, and should never be tolerated.
3) They Use Charm and Humor To Manipulate. Here’s a telltale difference between someone who is charismatic and funny in a healthy way and someone who is using charm and humor to manipulate: are they trying to sell you something or talk you into something? Are they trying to sway your opinion? Is it something you notice they tend to “turn on” when they want something from someone? Think of charm this way: charm is something someone *does* in order to get their way. Most psychopaths are described as “charming”, so there you go.
4) You Have To Hide Your True Opinions and Feelings In Order To Maintain a Relationship With Them. All abusive people are toxic, but not all toxic people are abusive. This is one that can go either way. Are you hiding your true thoughts because they are likely to get angry with you? That’s an abusive person. But are you hiding your true opinions and feelings because you know how different their beliefs and values are from yours, and those differences are so many that if you voiced them as often as they came up you two would be debating or bickering more than enjoying each other? This is an example of when a person isn’t necessarily toxic, but being in a relationship with them is. It’s not healthy to maintain friendships or romantic relationships with anyone you have so little with in common. If you notice you’re constantly holding your tongue just to keep the peace, get out.
And don’t ever feel guilty for distancing yourself from anyone toxic. It’s not your job to fix them, they need to fix themselves. Your mental and emotional health comes first!