Trust and Toxic Relationships
When there are conflicts within your personal relationships, emotions can run high. In the moment it happens, everything may seem so big, so damaging and hurtful that you don’t believe you will ever move past it.
Then, a little bit of time goes by and the situation doesn’t seem so bad at all. In fact, you may even find yourself thinking that you made too big of a deal of it at the time – that perhaps it was you and not the other person who was in the wrong.
That is the basis for new research about trust from Northwestern University and Redeemer University College. Professor of psychology at NU, Eli J. Finkel, explained, “Trust…makes us partly delusional.”
If you are a person who trusts others easily, in the aftermath of a confrontation – you are more likely to lessen the negativity of the incident and be more forgiving. “This research reveals that trust yields relationship-promoting distortions of the past.”
A relationship is doomed to fail if there is no trust…but what if there is too much trust?
The Role of Trust in Toxic Relationships
Do you have a family member who constantly uses guilt to manipulate you? A friend who seems to have non-stop drama in their life that you have to help them resolve? A co-worker who never meets their deadlines and always enlists your assistance to keep them out of trouble? A neighbor you struggle to “keep the peace” with to avoid a volatile reaction?
These are called toxic people and over the last decade, recognizing toxic relationships and removing their influence over the people around them has spawned talk shows, books and self-help blogs. Why? Because there are so many of them.
You may have a “blind spot” about the toxic people closest to you. It is human nature to forgive people that you love – even if that forgiveness means the loss of your own happiness or peace of mind.
You may feel obligated to listen to rants about their problems, their misery and their judgment about you and your life.
Toxic people are miserable and they want you to be miserable as well.
They can leave you feeling emotionally drained, physically exhausted and ruin your outlook on life. They are perpetually unhappy no matter what good things happen in their own lives.
Around them, you may feel constantly on the defensive – guarding yourself emotionally and prepared for an attack.
What is a Toxic Person?
Experts in psychology agree that toxic people exhibit specific characteristics that make their own lives difficult and can spill into the lives of those closest to them.
Humans feel a need to connect to other humans and if you have negative people around you – or you are a negative person yourself – it is contagious.
Identifying the 5 Negative Emotions of Toxic People
Do you know someone who is always “reacting” almost violently to situations that happen to them? A person who always seems irritated about something. They tend to respond to even mild confrontations with attack behavior.
This toxic person always sees the downside to other people and situations. Often, there is an attitude that others are “out to get them” – which is used as an excuse to explain their inability to move ahead or form lasting relationships. They possess zero empathy or forgiveness, seeing small mistakes as personal attacks on them and obsessing over petty disagreements.
Their own feelings of insecurity and a lack of maturity make this toxic personality crave as much of your attention as you are willing to give – and then some. They are emotionally clingy and incapable of understanding that the world does not revolve around their needs and desires. They encourage feelings of exhaustion, frustration and an inability to ever give them “enough.”
Toxic people who are afraid of everything tend to pull others into their web of terror fairly easily. “Mob mentality” is the result of fear without the calming effects of reason or rationalization. Fearful people gravitate to others much like them and fuel one another into a frenzy. They see conspiracies and doom in circumstances they don’t agree with or understand. Fear is contagious and guarding yourself from being pulled into the habit of fearfulness is crucial to mental well-being.
All of us know one of those people who gleefully watch someone else fail or gossip about the perceived failings of others. Dissatisfied in their own lives, they focus on people not “in their circle” and must have an audience to listen to their bitter commentary. Once someone is “on their radar” they will pick apart every aspect of that person’s life from their appearance to their relationships to the job they do.
Shouting, cursing, name-calling, throwing things or slamming doors are just a few of the “tells” for this type of toxic personality and they are one of the most dangerous. They can stimulate feelings of anxiety, reactive anger or fear of what they might do.
You may see a pattern of “one-upping” your problems. If you have someone at work you’re having a problem with – the co-worker they deal with is much worse. If you don’t feel well – they are in agony. These people are particularly contagious and should be avoided at all costs.
The needy personality’s weapon of choice is most often guilt and if you are a generally “kind” person – you can fall victim to their sob stories before you realize it.
This is the most common type of toxic relationship. These are negative people you might not notice until you become just like them or find yourself a target.
When called on their actions, envious people may excuse such behavior as “just having fun” or accuse you of “not being able to take a joke.” If you find yourself endlessly criticizing the people around you – instead of focusing on your own goals and self-improvement – consider making a commitment to think and speak better of others in the future.
Since these toxic people also turn their spiteful criticisms on their “friends” for the smallest missteps – evicting an envious person may give you relief you didn’t know you needed.
The added bonus is not having to hide the good things that happen in your own life from people who only tear it down.
Identifying the toxic relationships around you is the first step to removing them from your life. You deserve peace of mind and an overall sense of well-being. The selfishness of the toxic personality leaves no room for that.
Keep reading to discover what to do once you identify those individuals who take far more than they give in your daily life.