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Cruel & Unusual

The word “toxic” gets thrown around quite a bit in our society. It’s a very loaded term and it’s a very loaded concept. Before you start labeling people as “toxic”, really think it through. When someone exhibits toxic behavior, there is generally far more to it than appears on the face of things.


Over the years, I’ve learned when people are cruel, it’s usually not intentional and it usually has nothing to do with me. It has to do with a battle they’re fighting within.


When a close friend behaves uncharacteristically cruelly, look behind the behavior – try to find the context. Remember, you want your friends to give you the benefit of the doubt, so give them the benefit of the doubt until they’ve proven you wrong. Dig into what might be behind their behavior by asking questions.


“Sal, you don’t usually take that tone with me, and what you said is coming out of nowhere. I had no idea you felt that way. Is there something going on with you? Did something happen?”


“Yes. I’m sorry. I broke up with Sam last night….”


So, there you have your context. Now if Sal’s unkind behavior continues after you’ve pointed it out to her, she is exhibiting a pattern of toxic behavior and it may be time to end the friendship. Only you can determine how long you’ll tolerate her toxic behavior before cutting off relationship.


There is one thing I won’t tolerate in a friend and that’s a continued pattern of lying that impacts me in a negative way. I’ll overlook lying upon occasion, because everyone lies, including me. By the way, if you’re ever taking a pre-employment personality test, and you’re asked if you ever lie, tell the truth. Yes! I lie! We all lie!


Apart from your Hannibal Lecter types, most people aren’t really good at lying. Some people get into the habit of lying and they lie when they don’t have to and then they contradict their own lies and are easily found out.


When lying is a repeated pattern of behavior in a friend or a partner or anyone, and it negatively impacts you, and you’ve called it out more than once, it may be time to end communication. Only you can determine how long you’ll tolerate lying behavior before cutting off relationship.


“The knives of betrayal and drama cut deep and hurt… but they also trim away the nonsense and reveal your true friends.”

-Steve Maraboli




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