Billy Sangster

Stuff out of my brain

Being Toxic

This is an unfinished post – I’m going to add to it as I think about it over the next while.

I saw a meme on Facebook today, one of a type I’ve seen many times before, listing the traits of someone who is regarded as “toxic” in a relationship.

I had a sudden realisation – I think that’s what’s wrong with me.

I’m toxic.

I didn’t identify with all the traits, but it only takes two or three to make a toxic personality. Here are the ones I saw:

  1. They talk more than they listen:

    “Toxic people have narcissistic tendencies. They have a difficult time focusing on things that don’t directly affect them, so instead they circulate conversations around their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They listen halfheartedly, with mechanical nods and unenthusiastic mumblings rather than genuinely trying to engage in a two-way conversation.”

    I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on what people are telling me – my mind will drift away and I have to drag myself back to what they’re saying. I really want to listen because I know that being a good listener is one of the best things you can be in a person, but sometimes, I have to admit, I just get bored with what someone is talking about. I try to stay focussed and engaged, but I soon find myself wondering why this person is relaying that particular story to me. Then I remember that it’s their way of clearing their own mind of debris – maybe they haven’t been out in a while, or haven’t had much contact with friends they can speak openly to.

    The only thing I can do here is have more patience and try harder to listen.

  2. They are never wrong:

    “It’s much easier to simply agree with whatever this person says, especially when they are passionately attached to a topic. Disagreeing or arguing is a gratuitous venture that results in hurt feelings and defensive language. It’s simply not worth it.”

    I over analyse everything and spend a lot of time going through the arguments until I form my own opinion and unless someone brings something new to the table, I’ll stick pretty solidly to my conclusion. However, if someone presents an argument to me that allows me to see another side to things, resulting in my realising I wasn’t quite so right in what I was saying before, I’ll quite freely admit I was wrong. Strangely, admitting you’re wrong can make you feel better about yourself and I think I’m better at this than I used to be.

    So this one is a bit more complicated than it seems at first.

  3. Drama follows them everywhere they go:

    “Something is always wrong. Always. Once a single problem is solved, another emerges. All issues are equally distressing to them, and extreme sympathy and coddling are expected. If you try to offer advice, it’s likely they’ll find a reason that it can’t or won’t work, exhibiting a victim mentality that can be fixed.”

    Not sure about this one. Nope, I don’t think I’m overly dramatic about things, but then again, maybe I’m to close to see it. I certainly don’t require “sympathy and coddling”, as far as I’m aware. I’ve seen this in other people, though, but I don’t think it’s me. You’d have to ask someone who knows me well.

  4. They force relationships.

    “Toxic people exaggerate relationships and force feelings in order to validate the relationship to others. If they make a positive connection with someone, that person quickly becomes a best friend or true love. Evidence of the relationship (photos, texting screenshots, inside jokes) is very important to them, as it proves to everyone else the “unique” connection they have with someone.”

    Not quite so sure about this one, either. I think I’m the opposite here, I tend to play down relationships if anything. I like to think that any relationship I’m in is nobody’s business but the two people involved.

  5. Their experience is the standard by which everything should be judged:

    “Toxic people have a tendency to use their own life experiences as the example by which everyone else should live. They have a hard time separating situations into individual circumstances and will judge your actions on their past situations, as if they are identical. If they couldn’t maintain a long distance relationship, neither could you. If they hated yoga, it would be a waste of your time.”

    To a certain extent, I can see myself here, but only in that I’ll relay my experiences to let others compare theirs with. I think I can take on board the differences between mine and other people’s circumstances and therefore see how our experiences will differ.

  6. They often lie:

    “Telling lies, big or small, really isn’t an issue for people with toxic personalities. These lies benefit them in some way, which makes it easy for them to justify the lie. Their happiness prevails over others (another narcissistic tendency), and if l ying is a means to that end, then so be it.”

    Nope, not this one. I really try hard not to lie about anything and I think I’ve quite a good record on this. I find it quite difficult to lie, as my conscience gets the better of me. I find it much better to be open and truthful about everything, although this has its obvious downsides – don’t tell me secrets.

  7. They lack tact and general courtesy:

    “Derogatory statements, brutal “honesty,” and stark humor indicate a lack of empathy toward others and a need to assert superiority. Oftentimes these people boast about their honesty and tell-it-like-it-is attitude and therefore don’t see the harm in what they say. This trait is often coupled with becoming defensive when similar “truth” is fired back at them.”

    I can identify with the “honesty” thing, in fact I made a point of it in the last relationship I had. I decided that if anything was bothering me I’d bring it to the surface instead of brooding about it and allowing it to fester in the back of my mind. I really thought this was the best way to do things.

    If someone is honest back to me, I don’t think I become defensive, but I do take things right to my core and brood on them, if only as a way to try and understand and fix things that it’s possible to fix.

  8. They exhibit controlling behaviours:

    “If you feel pressured to act or feel a certain way according to someone else’s desires, it’s likely part of their toxic personality to make you feel that way. No one should have to pretend to be someone they aren’t in order to feel included or liked.”

    This sounds familiar and was the main accusation at the end of my last failed attempt at a relationship.

    I’ve been over and over this in my head to try and understand what’s happening here and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not something that is established at the root of the relationship, right at the beginning, when you’re trying to impress the person you want, or to prove connection. If someone pretends to be something they aren’t, just to establish a connection then some time later finds they can’t keep the pretence up, is that the fault of the person they’re trying to fool? If you show me tendencies in opinion or behaviour when I first meet you, is it bad of me to expect you to stick to those as time goes on?

    I think it’s important to be true to yourself and if you’re in a relationship that makes you feel like you’re having to create a false personality to keep that relationship going, then yes, get out of it, but for goodness sake start as you mean to go on.

    I don’t think this one is as clear cut as it first seems.

  9. They love to talk about other people:

    “The only purpose gossiping serves is to bring others down in order to bolster one’s own image, which demonstrates poor self-esteem. Toxic people constantly speak negatively about others; they rarely find decent or kind things to say. They also have a hard time sincerely acknowledging others’ accomplishments.”

    I think the key here is “demonstrates poor self-esteem”. Yes, I am a gossip. Yes, I have poor self-esteem.

    This is such a difficult one to fight. “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all” – something your granny told you when she was still alive? My admiration goes out to anyone that can accomplish this.

    If you find yourself in the presence of someone who gossips, keep in mind that they’ll gossip about you the same as they are about others, then tell them that, instead of joining in or turning a deaf ear to it. Remind the gossipers of what they are. They’ll thank you for it. Well, I, for one, would. I need reminding of what I’m doing as part of my struggle against it.

So while I work all of these things out, don’t get into a relationship with me. I’m toxic.