20 Powerful TED Talks on Relationships & Communication
1. Four Habits of ALL Successful Relationships | Dr. Andrea & Jonathan Taylor-Cummings (2019)
All relationships take work. Dr. Andrea & Jon Taylor-Cummings share their observations of the four fundamental habits of healthy relationships: BE CURIOUS, not critical; BE CAREFUL, not crushing; ASK, don’t assume; and CONNECT, before you correct.
2. Ten Ways to Have a Better Conversation | Celeste Headlee (2016)
Journalist, author, and public speaker Celeste Headlee reveals the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity, and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 rules for having better conversations.
3. The Brain in Love | Helen Fisher (2008)
Helen Fisher – anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author – talks about romantic love in this video clip. She shares what neuroscience tells us about the brain in love.
Bonus video: The Science of Love with Dr. Helen Fisher
4. Do You Have Post Betrayal Syndrome? | Debi Silber (2020)
Dr. Debi Silber – psychologist and founder of the PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute – talks about being blindsided by betrayal. She explains how we heal (physically, mentally, and emotionally) from betrayal by turning trauma into transformation.
Take a free quiz to find out if you have post betrayal syndrome.
5. The Dreaded Drama Triangle | Lucy Barnes (2018)
There are three roles we take on in unhealthy relationships. Are you the victim, the rescuer, or the persecutor? Lucy Barnes talks about the dreaded drama triangle in this TED Talk.
6. How to Fix a Broken Heart | Guy Winch (2018)
Psychologist Guy Winch talks about heartbreak and the intense emotional pain it brings. To recover from a broken heart, we must be willing to let the relationship go; hope can be incredibly destructive when we’re heartbroken. In one of the most viewed TED Talks on relationships and breakups, Winch shares practical suggestions for moving on after a relationship ends.
7. How to Speak So That People Want to Listen | Julian Treasure (2014)
According to Julian Treasure, the seven deadly sins of speaking are gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, blaming, lying, and conflating fact with opinion. He talks about the four cornerstones of effective speech as well as tools for speaking so that people want to listen.
Bonus TED-Ed Video: How Miscommunication Happens and How to Avoid It
8. How to Spot a Liar | Pamela Meyer (2011)
We’re all liars, according to Pamela Meyer – and we’re lied to between 10 and 200 times on any given day. In one of the most highly viewed TED Talks on relationships and deception, Meyer talks about how to spot lies by recognizing the telltale signs of a liar.
9. How Your Brain Falls In Love | Dawn Maslar (2016)
Biologist Dawn Maslar explains the neuroscience of falling in love. Romantic love is associated with chemical and hormonal changes that differ for men and women.
10. Infidelity: To Stay or Go…? | Lucy Beresford (2018)
Psychotherapist and relationship expert Lucy Beresford argues against the assumption that ending a relationship after infidelity is the best course of action. She suggests that it’s more courageous to stay and rebuild. In this TED Talk, Beresford explains how a couple can repair their relationship and rebuild trust after a betrayal.
Bonus TED-Ed Video: A Brief History of Divorce
11. Is Casual Sex Bad for You? | Dr. Zhana Vrangalova (2015)
Renowned sex researcher and psychologist Zhana Vrangalova discusses casual sex, long portrayed as a societal sin. She explains how “hookup” sex satisfies some of our most basic human needs.
12. Is It Lust or Is It Love? | Terri Orbuch (2014)
Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka, The Love Doctor®) is a professor of sociology at Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan) and a research professor at the Institute for Social Research at University of Michigan. In this TED Talk she explains how to differentiate between lust and love by recognizing distinctive features.
13. Overcoming the Fear of Love | Trillion Small (2018)
Dr. Trillion Small, licensed marriage and family therapist, examines why we fear love and how to overcome this in order to have healthy relationships.
14. The Power of Vulnerability | Brené Brown (2011)
Brené Brown shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
15. Relationships Are Hard, but Why? | Stan Tatkin (2016)
Stan Tatkin – relationship expert, clinician, teacher, and researcher – explores why we fight in relationships from a neuroscience perspective.
16. Rethinking Infidelity… A Talk for Anyone Who Has Ever Loved | Esther Perel (2015)
Relationship therapist Esther Perel discusses adultery and infidelity in this TED Talk. She explains that monogamy has nothing to do with love and talks about the three ways infidelity hurts us differently today.
17. The Science of Love | John Gottman (2018)
Can science help find the magic of love? Relationship expert discusses the science of love and how to make love work.
18. Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships | Joanne Davila (2015)
Psychologist and researcher Joanne Davila describes how you can create the things that lead to healthy relationships and reduce the things that lead to unhealthy ones using three evidence-based skills – insight, mutuality, and emotion regulation.
19. What a Sex Worker Can Teach Us About Human Connection | Nicole Emma (2018)
Nicole Emma explains that sex is how men feel loved and worthy. She shares what she learned about human connection through sex work. She also touches on the impact of harmful male messages in society.
Leslie Morgan Steiner shares what it’s like to be in “crazy love” with an abusive partner. For years she stayed with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. In this TED Talk, Steiner explains why domestic violence victims don’t leave abusive relationships; she also corrects common misconceptions about intimate partner violence.
Research indicates that personality is a strong predictor of political affiliation, leading to the question: What personality traits are associated with modern liberalism versus conservatism?
This article is based on scientific research. It explores the clashing personality characteristics of the left and the right in America. And if you’re reading this now and doubting that science can predict political affiliation, chances are, you lean to the right! Read on to find out more…
Liberalism Versus Conservatism
Liberalism is “a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law” (Wikipedia, 2021). Modern liberalism in America “combines ideas of civil liberty and equality with support for social justice and a mixed economy.”
Meanwhile, the foundations of American conservatism (defined as “a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions” [Wikipedia, 2021]), are based on four fundamental concepts: liberty, tradition and order, the rule of law, and belief in God (Intercollegiate Studies Institute).
Morals & Values
Liberals and conservatives differ in morals and values, with empathy being a notably distinct value that designates the left as ‘bleeding heart’ liberals. In fact, research indicates that when a person’s ability to empathize increases, they shift to having a more liberal perspective.
Conservatives, on the other hand, are more concerned with duty and order, valuing the ability to exert personal self-control to meet the demands of self and others.
Regarding spirituality and belief in God, conservatives are more religious, more likely to pray, and more likely to attend church, while liberals are more likely to lean towards atheism. What’s more, Republicans tend to believe that belief in God is necessary for morals while Democrats believe morals can exist without religion.
In one study, liberals were found to value care and fairness more while conservatives were more likely to value loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Also, Democrats exhibit more creativity than their Republican counterparts, who prefer certainty and clarity.
Additional research suggests that conservatives value structure, simplicity, and tradition. Republicans place greater emphasis on stability. Meanwhile, the ‘bleeding-heart’ liberal cares more about openness, compassion, and equality. Democrats place greater emphasis on progress and innovation.
Intelligence, Thinking Style, & Problem-Solving
Regarding political affiliation and intelligence, one study found that liberals and non-religious individuals have higher IQ’s than conservatives and religious individuals. In contrast, other research suggested that individuals who identified as Republican had greater probability knowledge, higher verbal reasoning ability, and better question comprehension.
Regardless of political affiliation, mental rigidity (i.e., ‘black-and-white’ thinking) is characteristic of individuals who identify as either far left or far right (extremist views).
When it comes to problem-solving, conservatives are more structured and persistent. Conversely, liberals are more flexible, and tend to think outside the box. Also, Democrats are better at tolerating complexity and ambiguity than Republicans, and are more influenced by emotions.
Liberals and conservatives experience fear differently. Conservatives have a greater fear of death (which enhances their need for security). While Republicans fear chaos and the absence of order, Democrats tend to fear emptiness.
In one study, when asked about a world where God doesn’t exist, conservatives expressed fear that tradition and order would fall apart, resulting in chaos. Liberals, on the other hand, feared a world without God as barren, lifeless, and devoid of beauty or meaning.
What’s more, neuroscientists found that Republicans and Democrats processed risk differently, although they did not differ in the risks they took. Liberals showed significantly greater activity in the brain region associated with social and self-awareness. Meanwhile, conservatives showed significantly greater activity in the brain region involved in the body’s fight-or-flight system.
However, one study found that compared to conservatives, liberals are more likely to smile genuinely and use ‘happier’ (positive) language.
Other research suggests that compared to Democrats, Republicans are more alert to negativity and spend more time focusing on the negative (but do not seem to be negatively impacted by it).
Interestingly, research indicates that compared to liberals, conservatives experience disgust more easily and intensely, and have stronger physiological reactions when they are repulsed. Similar research suggests that disgust may influence moral judgement.
Political Affiliation & Language
The words we use in everyday conversations are positively associated with political affiliation. There are a few key differences in language and speech patterns of conservatives and liberals. Republicans are more likely to use language that stresses clarity and predictability while Democrats use emotionally expressive language and have a preference for poetry.
In an analysis of U.S. presidential speech transcripts, conservatives demonstrated a preference for nouns, and tended to refer to things by name rather than providing a description of their features. (Example: “He is an adventurer” versus “He is adventurous.”) It was determined that the use of nouns over adjectives was a way to promote stability, familiarity, and tradition.
On Twitter, liberals swear more (with ‘f**k’ and ‘sh*t’ in their top ten most used words) and are more likely than conservatives to use emotionally expressive language and to express both positive feelings and anxiety. Meanwhile, conservatives are more likely to tweet about religion, with ‘God’ and ‘psalm’ as popular words. What’s more, liberals on Twitter are more likely than conservatives to use words like ‘I’ and ‘me,’ while conservatives use ‘we’ and ‘our’ more.
Political Affiliation & Trust in Science
Liberals and conservatives differ in how trusting they are when it comes to science and empirical data. Some research indicates that compared to liberals, conservatives are less trusting of the scientific community. Additionally, conservatives are more skeptical of the value of empirical data. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to be more optimistic about knowledge gained from scientific research and its potential applications.
Other research found that while Democrats are generally more ‘pro-science’ than other political parties, Republicans trust science with the exception of the following issues: global warming, evolution, gay adoption, and mandatory health insurance.
Regarding science bias, research suggests that both Democrats and Republicans are less likely to trust science when it does not align with their political beliefs.
In sum, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that personality is a strong predictor of political affiliation. Liberals and conservatives tend to have different values, thinking styles, temperaments, and emotional experiences.
While partisan differences may contribute to a polarized divide in America, this doesn’t have to be the norm. Rather, differing perspectives can be complementary and maintain balance.
Liberal… conservative… or somewhere in between… try to learn from opposing viewpoints and aim to value differences, regardless of political affiliation!
Queen Mary, University of London. (2015, September 16). Study finds people’s conservative and liberal traits show up in their Twitter vocabulary: Different language used by supporters of different parties reflects psychological understanding. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916161824.htm
Regnery, A. S. (2018). THE PILLARS OF MODERN AMERICAN CONSERVATISM. Intercollegiate Review.
Rape-culture attitudes/behaviors include victim-blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification of women, trivialization of sexual assault, denial of widespread rape, and dismissal of the devastating impact of sexual violence.
The following comments embody rape culture in America:
“In MOST cases (not all), the women raped are hoes dressed in some sleazy material and whine about being taking advantage of later.”
“There is no rape culture. There is such a small percentage of men that rape women, there cannot be a culture. [Rape] isn’t even remotely common.”
“It doesn’t matter if you urge or try to teach [men not to rape], they are going to do what they are going to do. It’s best to be prepared, it’s that simple.”
“To make the implication that a woman can dress and act how she wants and not expect a wolf to find her… is just damn ignorant… you don’t go flaunting fresh meat in front of a primal animal and expect it not to attack.”
The above quotes (edited for spelling/typos) are statements from two middle-aged men in response to a Facebook post. The Facebook post proclaimed that women are routinely urged to cover their drinks, to not walk alone at night, to carry pepper spray, etc., and then posed the question, “CAN WE PLEASE URGE MEN TO NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULT WOMEN?”
Ironically, the very comments intended to disprove rape culture provided proof of its existence (and ugliness).
Rape Culture in America
“Women are no more important than any other potential victims, but we are the primary targets of the messages and myths that sustain rape culture. We’re the ones asked to change our behavior, limit our movements, and take full responsibility for the prevention of sexual violence in society.”
Kate Harding (Author)
How common is rape and/or sexual assault in America?
To start, what are the statistics on sexual violence in the U.S.?
1 in 4 undergraduate women were victims of sexual assault while enrolled in college (compared to 6.8% of undergraduate men).
41.8% of students experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment since enrollment.
Additionally, a 2015 study indicated that 20% of surveyed college men committed some form of sexual assault. Other researchers found that nearly 1 in 10 persons ages 21 and younger perpetrated some type of forced sexual violence.
It should be noted that the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI under-represents actual incidents of rapes and does not account for other forms of sexual violence.Since most rapes are not reported to the police, the federal government relies on three data collection systems to measure sexual victimization: The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, the CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, and the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. (For additional sources of reliable data, look to peer-reviewed academic journals and credible sites such as RAINN.)
Experiencing PTSD symptoms during the two weeks following the incident (94%)
Contemplating suicide (33%)
Attempting suicide (13%)
Using illicit drugs
Experiencing problems at work or school (38%)
Experiencing relationship problems with family/friends (37%)
According to research and data from the 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:
The estimated lifetime cost of rape is $122,461 per victim, or a population economic burden of nearly $3.1 trillion over victims’ lifetimes.
Government sources pay an estimated $1 trillion (32%) of the lifetime economic burden.
What is rape culture?
The concept of rape culture was formulated in the 1970s as a feminist, sociological theory. Rape culture ideology explains how society normalizes male sexual violence while blaming the victim. Additional practices/attitudes that contribute to rape culture include slut-shaming, objectifying women, trivializing rape, denying that widespread rape exists, and minimizing the impact of sexual violence.
Normalizing Rape & Sexual Assault
“[Rape is] unfortunately the nature of the world we live in. Is it not?”
The above comment normalizes sexual violence – it endorses rape as an inevitable fact of life. As a result, emphasis is placed on teaching girls and young women self-defense, vigilance, and modesty. This allows for sexual violence prevention programs to teach “don’t get raped… instead of: don’t rape.” Meanwhile, preventative strategies such as early sex education and interventions for treating aggressive behaviors receive less attention.
For myself, I was taught to yell in a deep voice if assaulted and to not scream. (Supposedly, a high-pitched scream would sexually excite the perpetrator, but a low voice would turn him off.) Also, I carried my keys in hand at night… not so much as to open my car door in a rush, but to stab my attacker in the eye.
“Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.”
Years later, I took a self-defense class. It was both challenging and empowering. The instructor, before teaching any moves, stressed that to avoid being a victim, the best option is always, always… to run. Self-defense should be used as a last resort.
Self-defense may come in handy, but it’s not a solution to sexual violence. The ultimate goal is not to normalize or defend against, but to eradicate. Rape is not the norm.
Victim-Blaming & Slut-Shaming
“In MOST cases (not all), the women raped are hoes dressed in some sleazy material and whine about being taking advantage of later.”
In a single sentence, the above commenter blames the victim, slut shames, objectifies women (which he later refers to as “fresh meat”), and trivializes the harmful consequences of rape. He implies that “hoes” (i.e., women who enjoy frequent or casual sex) who wear immodest attire should expect or even deserve to be assaulted. He trivializes the harmful impact of sexual violence when he uses the word “whine,” as though rape is a detested chore, not a traumatic and life-altering experience.
Both victim-blaming and slut-shaming contribute to rape culture. What’s more, some women choose to not report sexual assault because they fear the backlash (being blamed or labeled as promiscuous).
“She told me that my rape was not my fault, that I should feel no shame, that – simple as it may sound – I hadn’t caused it. No one causes rape but rapists. No one causes rape but rapists. No one causes rape but rapists. It was true. And it had not been obvious to me. And hearing it from someone else, a professional, someone who should know, helped me believe that soon I would believe it.”
Acceptance of gender stereotypes (i.e., “It’s not ‘ladylike’ for women to desire sex” or “Women who resist are only playing ‘hard to get'”),
Conservative religious beliefs,
Politically conservative views,
Compulsive sexual behavior,
The belief that rape isn’t “real” if it occurs in a marriage or relationship, and
Believing rape myths to be true.
And other factors contributing to victim-blaming:
There is a perceived threat to the assailant’s masculinity,
The victim is wearing tight, revealing, or sexually suggestive attire,
The victim is viewed as promiscuous,
If either the victim or the attacker were intoxicated at the time,
It’s perceived that the victim did not resist or fight hard enough,
If the assailant uses little or no force,
Sexual objectification of women in society, and
The media’s portrayal of what constitutes “real” rape (i.e., “stranger rape” vs. date or acquaintance rape).
A more subtle form of victim-blaming is placing all the focus on victim with victim-focused (instead of perpetrator-focused) preventative tips. For example, if a woman is advised to avoid empty parking garages, never leave her drink unattended, etc., and then slips up (i.e., her appointment ran late and she has to walk to car alone or she leaves her drink when taking an urgent call during a date), she is faulted (and may blame herself) for her carelessness.
“Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.”
Only the rapist is at fault for committing a sex crime, never the victim, regardless of circumstances.
The definition of slut-shaming is “the practice of criticizing people, especially women and girls, who are perceived to violate expectations of behavior and appearance regarding issues related to sexuality.”
Slut-shaming seeks to humiliate, admonish, or degrade a person. Women are harshly judged for so-called loose sexual behaviors while men are not held to a similar standard.
Women as Sexual Objects
Objectification of women reduces them to sex objects that exist primarily for sexual pleasure. Interpersonal objectification is commonplace, and occurs in the form of unwanted body evaluation and/or advances (i.e., catcalls, leering, sexually suggestive remarks about a woman’s appearance, etc.) Sexual objectification also occurs in the media when women are depicted as sex symbols. Sex objectification is both harmful and dehumanizing.
We routinely reject unpleasant truths and information that threaten our worldview. This allows for the dismissal of commonplace rape and sexual assault in America. It’s easier to view rape as a rare and/or fully preventable occurrence.
Bottom Line: Rape culture promotes sexual aggression. And if you contribute to rape culture, you’re contributing to sexual victimization in America.
“Standing behind predators makes prey of us all.”
To create a culture of anti-rape, we must eradicate rape culture beliefs, practices, and attitudes. Furthermore, we must find a solution-focused approach that aims to eliminate or reduce sexual violence.
Empowerment/assertiveness, sexual assault resistance, and self-defense training programs for women can help to reduce incidences of rape and other forms of victimization. Learning self-defense can also help to increase confidence levels.
Promote Social Norms that Protect Against Violence
Teach Skills to Prevent Sexual Violence
Provide Opportunities to Empower and Support Girls and Women
Create Protective Environments
Support Victims/Survivors to Lessen Harms
An integrated approach that combines early prevention strategies, sex education, ongoing educational programs, and self-defense and empowerment training for women may be the key to creating a counterculture to rape culture, and ultimately eliminating widespread sexual victimization in America.
In sum, sexual violence against women is commonplace and underreported in America. Rape culture contributes to this issue by normalizing male sexual violence, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, sexually objectifying women, trivializing rape, denying the existence of widespread rape, and minimizing the harm caused by sexual violence.
As a way to reduce sexually violent crimes in America, we should focus on strategies that dismantle rape culture, target potential perpetrators, and teach women empowerment and assertiveness. An integrated approach is needed to eliminate rape and sexual assault.
In the very least, take a stand, educate yourself, stay informed, and don’t participate in rape culture!
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According to Wikipedia, fake news is “false or misleading information presented as news. It often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue.”
How can you spot false information, defend yourself against it, and prevent the spread of fake news? This is a list of 8 strategies for spotting fake news and identifying misinformation.
8 STRATEGIES FOR SPOTTING FAKE NEWS
“The news and the truth are not the same thing.”
Walter Lippmann (American Journalist)
Your Brain on Fake News
Many accept fake news as fact – providing that it matches up with their current beliefs. This is due to confirmation bias, the tendency to look for and accept information that supports and confirms (rather than rejects) existing beliefs. Confirmation bias occurs when people gather or remember information selectively, or when they decipher it in a biased manner.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE CAN LEAD TO CONFIRMATION BIAS. ACCORDING TO THE THEORY OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE, WHEN SITUATIONS INVOLVE CONFLICTING ATTITUDES, BELIEFS, OR BEHAVIORS, PEOPLE EXPERIENCE MENTAL DISCOMFORT. WHEN ONE’S ACTIONS OR THOUGHTS CONTRADICT THEIR BELIEFS, THEY MAY ATTEMPT TO REDUCE THE DISCORD TO ALLEVIATE GUILT, SHAME, AND ANXIETY.
AN EXAMPLE OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IS AN ANIMAL LOVER WHO FEELS GUILTY FOR EATING MEAT. AS A RESULT, THEY EXPERIENCE DISCOMFORT. TO REDUCE SHAME AND RESTORE A SENSE OF BALANCE, THEY MAY REJECT OR AVOID INFORMATION THAT PROMOTES VEGANISM OR CRUELTY-FREE LIVING.
To compensate for confirmation bias, a person must develop critical thinking skills and have a flexible (not rigid) thinking style. To challenge long-held (sometimes unconscious) prejudices, expose yourself to different viewpoints and perspectives. Also, question what you learned (or were told) in childhood.
Moreover, research indicates that we’re more likely to believe fake news when both accurate and inaccurate information are mixed together in a source.
To avoid the misinformation trap, critically evaluate information immediately, always consider the source, and be aware of the brain’s difficulty with processing information that’s a mix of both fact and fiction.
On the other hand, individuals who rely on concrete evidence are less likely to be swayed by fake news. Researchers found that the acceptance of falsehoods and conspiracy theories was linked to having faith in intuition and/or associating truth with politics and power. Trusting our gut leaves us susceptible to misinformation. Alternately, relying on evidence for spotting fake news makes us less likely to believe false information.
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
For spotting fake news and avoiding being misled, notice any strong reactions you have, consider how you feel about the source, and rely on fact, not feeling.
Regarding gender and age, some research suggests that men are more likely than women to spread misinformation on social media as are individuals over the age of 65.
When it comes to politics and political news, be aware that partisan identity may lead to believing and/or spreading misinformation. Political views may also impact how likely you are to respond to warnings about potential threats and endangerment. Gender and age are additional factors that may contribute to the spread of fake news.
“The information you get from social media is not a substitute for academic discipline at all.”
Bill Nye (Science Guy)
For spotting fake news and reducing the impact of false information you encounter on social media, avoid using Facebook as your primary news platform, and when you do come across a questionable post, always check the source!
In sum, there are many reasons why we’re susceptible to believing misinformation, but there are evidence-based strategies for spotting fake news to avoid being misled.
STRATEGIES FOR SPOTTING FAKE NEWS
1) Use critical thinking
2) Remain aware of confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance
3) Develop a flexible thinking style
4) Increase awareness of your own biases and challenge your beliefs
5) Rely on fact, not emotion or intuition
6) Consider your political affiliation and other influences (such as gender and age)
7) Avoid social media for news
8) Always check the source!
See below for links to a list of fake news hits (from Buzzfeed) and lists of websites that promote false information (from CBS, Forbes, and Wikipedia).
University of California – Los Angeles. (2017, February 2). Political affiliation can predict how people will react to false information about threats: Studies show that conservatives believe untrue warnings more than liberals do. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170202141851.htm
Omitters: These individuals lack the capacity to effectively self-regulate their actions. They unintentionally breach rules and policies.
Slippers: These are employees who occasionally engage in single acts of counterproductive work behavior, such as rudeness, eating someone else’s lunch, etc.
Retaliators: These are individuals who deliberately act in ways that are harmful to the organization (i.e., bullying, stealing office supplies).
Serial Transgressors: These employees engage in a wide array of counterproductive behaviors, such as undermining a manager’s authority or not following safety protocols.
All four of the above identified types can be rude, offensive, and/or malicious at work. Ideally, a manager reduces counterproductive behaviors (or removes the offender), but that doesn’t always happen, especially if the manager is ineffective (or is themselves the offender).
The following are tips for dealing with rude coworkers.
10 Strategies for Dealing with Rude Coworkers
1. Practice daily self-care. When running on empty, your ability to exercise self-control is diminished.
2. If possible, don’t engage with rude coworkers when you’re in a mentally bad space. Wait until you’re in a better mood; this increases the likelihood of having a productive conversation. If the conversation can’t wait, ask a trusted colleague to be present to provide support.
3. If the rudeness takes place in the form of interrupting or speaking over you, politely point it out as it is happening. Ask your coworker not to do it, and explain how the behavior impacts you. (Your request carries more weight with the added explanation.) For example, say “I lose my train of thought when you interrupt” or “I feel disrespected when you speak over me.” Speak up every time the behavior happens. (If you set a boundary, and then don’t adhere to it, it becomes worthless.)
5. Don’t gossip about rude colleagues. This only contributes to a toxic climate. Instead of focusing on a solution, you’re adding to the problem.
6. When dealing with rude emails, either outright or passive (i.e., not answering a question, ignoring a request, using boldface or all caps, etc.), API! Assume Positive Intent. An email’s tone is easily misinterpreted. Also, before sending your reply, have a trusted colleague proofread the email. (And only reply if necessary; if you don’t need to respond, don’t!)
If possible, delete the original offensive email from your inbox to avoid rereading it and experiencing the anger or hurt all over again; find a way to detach. Lastly, forward outright rude or offensive emails to your supervisor. Share your interpretation and ask for suggestions. To avoid sending a potentially rude email, provide a disclaimer, such as “I wrote this at 5 AM!” or use emojis and punctuation to convey emotion. (Sometimes, a smiley face makes all the difference.)
7. Seek training on dealing with difficult people and/or reach out to your EAP (employee assistance program) for resources.
9. Report rude coworkers to your manager or supervisor. If you don’t feel comfortable with this (or if your supervisor is the offender), speak to your manager’s manager.
If concerned it will be perceived as tattling, say that it’s something you would want to know if you were in their position. Explain that you thought it over carefully, and concluded it was important enough to bring to them. (You’ll be viewed as someone who wants to help, not someone who is tattling on a coworker for selfish motives.) Also, be sure to provide specific examples of the offensive behavior and how it affected you. Don’t complain; be as objective as possible. Finally, ask for their advice; this demonstrates that not only are you humble, you’re solution-focused.
10. Request to meet with the offender (in private), and openly share how their behavior impacts you. Use “I” statements, avoid accusing, and don’t assume malicious intent. Also, approach the conversation with lowered expectations; you can’t know how your coworker will react. They may become angry, indignant, anxious, resentful, or withdrawn. They might shout, belittle you, minimize, or deny any offense. They may refuse to talk, and walk away.
Alternately, you might be pleasantly surprised at how the conversation unfolds. You may learn that your peer is going through a tough divorce or was recently diagnosed with cancer. (There could be a reason behind their “bad” behavior; hurt people hurt people.) They could even be unaware of their offensiveness. (For example, someone might not realize their tone is condescending.) At the end of the day, while the outcome may not be the one you hoped for, you at least did your part.
“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”
In sum, the harmful effects of workplace rudeness are far-reaching. Incivility at work can negatively impact productivity, motivation, emotional health, and relationships. Rude behavior is also contagious; to avoid spreading incivility, practice regular self-care, including gratitude and meditation, and maintain self-awareness.
Marketers use psychological tactics to influence, convince, and even deceive consumers. This article explores some of the lesser-know marketing traps and how you can avoid them.
Marketing Traps: How Advertisers Use Psychology to Sway
It shouldn’t come as a surprise when you Google “bathing suits,” only shortly thereafter to have swimwear ads litter your Facebook feed. Wikipedia defines marketing as “the business process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying customers’ needs and wants.” But what about deceptive or misleading marketing traps?
There’s an entire branch of research dedicated to understanding consumer behavior via psychological, technological, and economical principles. However, you may be less aware of misleading marketing traps or tactics intended to foster false trust or play on subconscious fears.
Here’s a real life example: Recently, I used DoorDash to order breakfast from Silver Diner. I was shocked when the total came to nearly $70. Luckily, my husband was too; he suggested going directly through the restaurant. I selected the equivalent menu items and it was $30 cheaper!! DoorDash not only raised entrée prices, but charged additional fees on top of the delivery fee and tip. To think, I wouldn’t have compared prices had my husband not been (duly) outraged; I almost fell victim to “brand trust.”
Consider the companies you trust. Why don’t you question their products, services, prices, etc.? Are you brand-washed?
To avoid misleading marketing traps, always compare prices, read reviews from verified buyers, avoid grocery shopping when you’re hungry, steer clear of end-of-aisles deals, buy off-season, etc.
This article explores a few lesser-known ways marketers influence consumers by using psychological principles (marketing tactic traps), and how to avoid them. When you, the consumer, know the science behind advertising strategies, you’re better equipped to make educated decisions (and will avoid feeling betrayed by a food delivery app!)
A false sense of health
Advertisers use health-related buzzwords like “gluten-free” or “organic” to lure buyers with an impression of being nutritious. In one study, consumers viewed items stamped with healthy-sounding catchphrases as healthier than non-stamped foods.
Real life example: Years ago, I accompanied a friend to the grocery store. In the dairy section, she grabbed a jug of whole milk. I knew she wanted to lose weight, so I suggested skim. Dubious, she expressed concern because it wasn’t “vitamin D-rich.” Had she consulted the nutrition facts instead of scanning labels, she would know whole and skim have equal amounts of the vitamin.
The Health “Buzzword” Marketing Trap
Avoid falling for the health buzzword marketing trap by reading nutrition facts and ingredients before buying. (Sure, those Fruit Loops are made with whole grain, but the first ingredient is still sugar!)
Beware of fast-paced music in a crowded store… it’s a trap!
To avoid this marketing trap, remain aware of your environment when shopping and if possible, go when crowds are thin (or at least wear ear buds).
An unconscious fear of dying may lead you to buy more bottled water – and water bottle companies capitalize on it!
(Um, what? I thought the occasional 7-Eleven purchase of Deer Park was a combination of laziness and convenience on my part, not an ominous and looming fear of my fragile mortality.)
The Bottled Water Marketing Tactic Trap
In 2018, researchers asserted that “most bottled-water advertising campaigns target a deep psychological vulnerability in humans, compelling them to buy and consume particular products. Bottled water ads specifically trigger our most subconscious fear [of death].” It was also suggested that bottled water symbolizes something safe and pure – compelling when you want to avoid health risks.
According to the study, bottled water appeals most to people who measure their personal value by their physical appearance, fitness levels, material and financial wealth, class, and status.
Whether or not this study withstands replication, consider a filter!
The rationale: It’s easier for someone to visualize the comfort of a fluffy beach towel or the shade of an umbrella when it’s hot and bright (compared to when it’s pouring rain), thereby increasing the desire to make a purchase. Interestingly, this seems to hold true for sunny or snowy conditions, but not rainy weather. It was speculated that rain gear is typically purchased to avoid unpleasant conditions, not to increase enjoyment.
Be wary of the weather when shopping for that beach trip or ski vacation in the mountains; you may end up spending more than intended.
Even the wisest consumer can be “seduced.” Marketers both overtly and subtly influence our buying behaviors. Your brain will unavoidably betray you at times; you can either accept this or become a hermit. (You may also consider shopping where there are lenient return policies, but be wary of policies that seem too lenient, as this may be a ploy.)
The relaxation trap– don’t get too comfortable!
A 2011 study indicated that relaxed consumers perceived items at a higher value when compared to their less-relaxed (although not stressed) counterparts.
If you’re a bargain-hunter, stay alert to how you’re feeling before entering a store or searching on Amazon; otherwise, you may think you’re getting a great deal when you’re not. (And if you use social media, know that ads may have more sway when you’re sleepy.)
In the midst of marketing traps, misleading ads, and #fakenews, stick with the facts and don’t be swayed.
As a #researchNerd, I’m obsessed with new discoveries and scientific explanations, especially when it comes to human behavior. Here are five interesting studies that have been published this year (and it’s only April!)
5 Recent Research Findings in Health & Human Behavior
I’m something of a #researchNerd. I fell in love with my research and stats class in college. My undergrad study (on tipping behavior) was even published in a peer-reviewed international journal!
It was in grad school that I strayed from the research path to pursue a more clinical route (counseling).
Today, to satisfy my appetite for science, I subscribe to ScienceDaily, an amazing site that posts short summaries of the latest research findings in health, technology, and society.
Here are some of the more interesting research findings from ScienceDaily in 2019 (and it’s only April!):
We already know there’s a link between junk food and certain medical conditions (i.e. obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes), but more and more researchers are finding a strong correlation between diet and mental well-being.
In this study,
researchers found that people who ate more junk food (sugar-sweetened
snacks/drinks, fried foods, etc.) had higher levels of psychological stress.
It turns out, there’s a reason it’s hard to forget about all the good times with your ex or get that cringe-worthy mishap at work out of your head; it takes more brain power to forget than to remember. According to a recent study, it takes a “moderate amount” of brain power to intentionally forget something. (#worthIt)
Are you being “hunted”?
Or “gathered”? It turns out, male and female serial killers have distinct approaches
when it comes to killing. Evolutionary science may explain why men tend to
stalk their victims while women’s victims tend to be people they know.
This unsettling study revealed that individuals with obesity are not only stigmatized, but dehumanized. Researchers found that obese persons were considered “less human.” This type of attitude can lead to ridicule or discrimination.
Why is it important to set and adhere to healthy boundaries? How can you tell if yours are weak?
“Good fences make good neighbors.”
Thoughts on Building & Maintaining “Good Fences”
When I picture a boundary, I imagine drawing a circle with a stick in the dirt… with me in the middle. I stay in; everyone else stays out. Boundaries are protective; they keep us safe. Without boundaries, you have no limits, no sense of direction. Without boundaries, you open yourself up… anyone can come in, with good or bad intentions.
If you have poor boundaries in a dating relationship, you could end up doing things you’re not comfortable with. Or, another example might be with your boss; if you don’t set firm limits, you could end up taking one extra tasks.
I once worked with a client who regularly violated his partner’s boundaries by yelling, “Phone check!” whenever he wanted to check his girlfriend’s cell. She’d hand it over and he’d review her calls/read her texts. It was a boundary violation for sure. Everyone has a right to privacy. (That being said, your partner never has the right to go through your phone, read your journal, request your social media passwords, etc. Those are all boundary violations; they could also indicate that the relationship is in trouble.)
Another way to conceptualize a boundary is to picture mosquito netting. It keeps the mosquitoes out, but it’s flexible and lightweight. It lets in air, sunlight, a cool breeze… A mosquito net is a healthy boundary. If you were to instead build a brick structure, you’d be doing a lot of unnecessary work and you’d probably still get bit.
It’s best to be up front and honest about the boundaries you set (which requires assertiveness). With your boss, the first time he asks if you can stay late on a Friday, you might end up saying yes. (It’s probably just a onetime thing, right?) Seeing that you don’t say no the first time, he may continue to ask you to stay late or take on extra work.
The alternative (boundary-setting) option would be to say (when he first asks), “I’m sorry, although I’d love to be able to, I have a policy against being away from home on Fridays. It’s family night at my house.” It’s unlikely he’ll ask you again because you very firmly (and politely) set a boundary.
On the other hand, if you’re passionate about your career, you could be flexible and stay late (especially if you’re hoping for a promotion or a raise) without feeling as though your boundaries have been violated. The important thing is to know where you stand (i.e. what your boundary is).
Equally important to setting boundaries is adhering to them once they’re established. There are people out there who love to test boundaries. A boundary is useless without follow through. Your boundary becomes meaningless if you say you’re not going to do something and then you do it anyway.
If you tell your child “no candy before dinner,” but then finally give in after several bouts of dramatic tears, you’re sending a message. The message is “When I say no, I don’t mean it.” It’s important to be consistent with boundaries.
Signs of Weak Boundaries
A lack of assertiveness
Altering your personal values for someone (especially in a romantic relationship)
Having a sexual relationship with someone when you’re not ready
Not being able to say “no”
Trusting others quickly (when it’s not warranted)
Falling in love quickly or believing an acquaintance is your best friend when you only met the day before
Rigid boundaries, on the other hand, are at the opposite end of the spectrum. A person with rigid boundaries doesn’t trust easily or let others in. It would be difficult to be in an intimate relationship with a person with rigid boundaries.
6 Tips for Healthy Boundaries
Firstly, know that it will take time. Be patient with yourself and don’t criticize yourself if you fall back into old habits.
Recognize (and accept) your right to establish and adhere to personal boundaries. Read one of Dr. Cloud’s books on boundaries or Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More. Personally, I like Co-dependents Anonymous’ recovery literature. It’s an easy read (four pages) and you can access it for free.
If you haven’t already, take time to clarify your values. You can do a values sort – there are plenty of free resources online. It’s something I frequently do with my clients. What’s most important to you? Family? Integrity? Kindness? Have unhealthy boundaries affected this value in the past? (If kindness is most important to you, and you identify as a “people pleaser,” consider all the times you’ve been unkind to yourself. Explore ideas for practicing kindness to both others and self.)
Also, deliberate on the behaviors you find unacceptable (in terms of how you’re treated). Looking back on past relationships, I dated men who cheated on me, called me names, were mean to my friends, and yes, even checked my phone. Completely unacceptable. At this point in my life, I have a zero tolerance policy.
When you establish boundaries, especially with those who don’t expect it (i.e. your mother-in-law or the neighbor who regularly lets his dog romp through your garden), anticipate some push back. It probably won’t feel good in the moment.
Practice assertiveness. Don’t back down. If someone is particularly resistant, don’t engage in an argument. You don’t owe an explanation. You don’t even have to respond. Remain calm; walk away if needed. If it helps, pre-plan your exact wording. (“I’m sorry, but I’m no longer able to stay till 9 on Fridays. Unexpected circumstances at home won’t allow it.”) Be concise. Don’t be overly apologetic.
If the person you’re setting boundaries with is a significant other or family member, I’d recommend transparency. Let them know that you’re going to make some changes. Share how unhealthy boundaries have negatively impacted you. (Give specific examples if you can.) Don’t place blame. Talk about how healthy boundaries will positively impact not just you,but the relationship. It may still be difficult. There may be some tension; the relationship might feel strained. (And it’s okay.)
If you set boundaries and find them repeatedly violated; firstly, take a step back and reevaluate the situation. Have you been clear and consistent? If so, you may want to consider spending less time with this person or even ending the relationships. Unfortunately, while you can set boundaries, you can’t force someone to respect them.
In sum, boundaries are imperative. Skin is a boundary that keeps other organs in place; it shields our body systems from toxins, viruses, and bacteria that would otherwise be deadly. It keeps the bad stuff out (and the good stuff in). Healthy boundaries are our emotional skin.
If you need a boundaries tune up, it could take some effort, but is well worth it. You’ll experience increased satisfaction in your relationships and will feel more confident. Your overall well-being will improve; boundaries are freeing – by communicating your needs, it’s less likely you’ll feel angry or resentful. And lastly, you’ll find that others have a greater level of respect for you. “Good fences,” it would seem, are not limited to neighbors!
Individuals with “big picture” styles of reasoning make better decisions. Learn four strategies for “big picture” thinking to get optimal results.
A recent study found that a “big picture” style of thinking led to better decision-making. (“Better” decisions were defined as those resulting in maximum benefits.)
If you took the Myers-Briggs (a personality assessment), and fell on the “Intuition” side of the spectrum (like me!), it’s likely you’re already a “big picture” thinker. If you’re on the “Sensing” side, you’re more apt to examine individual facts before considering the sum of all parts when decision-making.
“Big picture” thinking is a practical and balanced method of reasoning. It suggests taking a step back (zoom out!)… and looking to see how all pieces fit together for more effective decision-making.
The following strategies promote “big picture” thinking for better decision-making:
Research indicates that when weighing out options, it’s ideal to take small breaks. For more effective decision-making, don’t deliberate for long periods of time or you’ll start to lose focus. If things become fuzzy, you won’t see the big picture.
Ask around to learn how others’ view your situation. Every perspective you collect is another piece of the “big picture” puzzle.
Seek opinions from those you trust (only those who have your best interests in mind). Make sure you ask a variety of people (especially those with whom you typically disagree). The end result is a broader and more comprehensive awareness of what you’re facing.
Employ all four strategies to optimize your thinking style and decision-making skills!
Berman, M. G., Kross, E., Krpan, K. M., Askren, M. K., Burson, A., Deldin, P. J., Kaplan, S., Sherdell, L., Gotlib, I. H., & Jonides, J. (2012). Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.012
Black, D. S., O’Reilly, G. A., Olmstead, R., Breen, E. C., & Irwin, M. R. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances. JAMA Internal Medicine, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081
Curry, O., Rowland, L., Zlotowitz, S., McAlaney, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2016). Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Open Science Framework
Demsky, C. A. et al. (2018). Workplace incivility and employee sleep: The role of rumination and recovery experiences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, DOI: 10.1037/ocp0000116
Labroo, A., Patrick, V., & Deighton, J. served as editor and Luce, M. F. served as associate editor for this article. (2009). Psychological distancing: Why happiness helps you see the big picture. Journal of Consumer Research,35(5), 800-809. DOI: 10.1086/593683
Northwestern University. (2017, July 10). Purpose in life by day linked to better sleep at night: Older adults whose lives have meaning enjoy better sleep quality, less sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170710091734.htm
Spira, A. P. (2015). Being mindful of later-life sleep quality and its potential role in prevention. JAMA Internal Medicine, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8093
Stillman, P. E., Fujita, K., Sheldon, O., & Trope, Y. (2018). From “me” to “we”: The role of construal level in promoting maximized joint outcomes. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 147(16), DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2018.05.004
Turner, A. D., Smith, C. E., & Ong, J. C. (2017). Is purpose in life associated with less sleep disturbance in older adults? Sleep Science and Practice, 1(1), DOI: 10.1186/s41606-017-0015-6
Why do we keep toxic people in our lives? Despite the emotional costs, many people chose to remain in toxic relationships. This post explores the emotional reasoning behind not letting go.
Recently, an acquaintance told me about breaking up with his toxic girlfriend. I cringed at his story. His narrative left me wondering, how on earth did it get to that point and why do we even allow toxic people to remain in our lives?
For my acquaintance, it began when his at-the-time girlfriend “secretly” moved in with him. At first, she’d stay for a night or two, which turned into weeks at a time, until eventually all her stuff was there and he found himself with a live-in girlfriend. At that point, it was becoming apparent that she had some serious mental health and interpersonal issues. The relationship had taken a turn for the worse and they weren’t getting along.
So, my friend broke up with her and told her to get out. And… she refused. She claimed the law permitted her to stay since she’d been there for X amount of time. (Note: This is also when he found out she was homeless.)
He kicked her out of the bedroom; she started sleeping on the couch. To “encourage” her to leave, he took back her parking pass, along with the new iPhone he was paying for, shutting off her cell service.
Despite his efforts, weeks stretched into months; she continued to live (rent-free) on his couch.
To make a long story short… she eventually left… but not until the apartment manager and police got involved. (It turned out her tenant rights claim, while valid, was not actually applicable to her situation.)
The reality is, it’s never as simple as “it’s over, get out.” Relationships require a certain level of emotional investment and commitment. Plus, there are multiple factors (such as debt, illness, or infidelity) that contribute to a relationship’s complexity.
3 Reasons We Keep Toxic People in Our Lives
(Apart from “tenant rights”) what are reasons we allow toxic people (friends, family, and/or romantic partners) to remain in our lives? Why is it so hard to let go?
1. Either You Need Them (or You Can’t Ignore Them)
A recent study suggests we keep toxic people around simply because their lives are intertwined with ours. For example, your aging mother-in-law, who degrades and insults you, lives at your home, despite the negative impact this has on your life. Your options are limited because your husband is unwilling to put her in a nursing home (and you may also depend on her for things, like childcare or help with the bills).
Another example would be toxic people at work (coworkers, bosses, subordinates, etc.); you don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to your boss or colleagues, and you can’t entirely avoid them or refuse to talk about work-related stuff (unless you’re okay with losing your job). If pursing a new position isn’t practical, your next best option is to find a way to effectively deal with workplace toxicity.
That being said, you don’t have the power to change anyone else. To manage your reactions to and interactions with toxic people, acknowledge the need for self-adjustment, including attitude and role. Examine your personal views. Lower/manage expectations for others; accept that people will do and say things you don’t agree with… and it’s not something you can control.
Once you’ve reached the point of radical acceptance, follow guidelines for effective communication (i.e. active listening, avoiding blame, being aware of tone and body language, reflecting for clarity, etc.) in conversations with toxic people, whether it’s your mother-in-law or your boss. By being proactive, you’re doing your part to avoid getting caught up in others’ toxicity.
In the face of unavoidable toxicity, I find switching to a “counselor role” is helpful; I set aside my personal viewpoint, opening myself to alternative views, while seeking to understand (not judge) behavior. (And you don’t have to be a counselor to do this!)
I try to view individuals in terms of “what happened to you?” instead of assuming they’re malicious or intentional (i.e., “what’s wrong with you? People act the way they do for a reason). I don’t know what’s happening in a “toxic” person’s life or what they’ve been through. (Maybe that snarky co-worker is in an abusive relationship and lives in fear. Or maybe her son is in the hospital with brain cancer. Or, it’s possible she grew up in a home where her parents yelled and disrespected each other, shaping her view of relationships. The snarky attitude makes sense when viewed through different lenses.)
While it’s never okay to be an asshole, I can understand why people are jerks. Somehow, this knowledge serves as an immunity when encountering a toxic person. Their behavior is the result of something bad that happened to them; it has nothing to do with me and I can choose whether or not to engage. They don’t have power to negatively impact me unless I give it up.
2. Toxic Love: It Feels Better to Stay
When Joe Strummer of the Clash sang the question, “Should I stay or should I go now?”; he knew the answer. (Note: Firm boundaries and healthy decisions aren’t the stuff of chart-topping hits.) We stay in unhealthy relationships or continue to hang out with toxic friends because it feels good (at times, at least).
The boyfriend who yells at you can also be incredibly sweet and caring. Or your gossipy friend who talks about you behind your back also happens to be the most fun person you know. Despite the sense that it’s unhealthy, you (like Strummer) can’t resist. So you ignore the red flags because you crave the rush or the intensity… or maybe what you desire most is the feeling of being wanted. (Despite the toxicity, it’s worth it, just to feel wanted… or is it?)
Beyond feeling good, it’s entirely possible to deeply love a toxic person (no matter how wrong they are for you). You don’t want to give up on the person they could be; maybe you’re in love with their potential (or an idea of what the relationship could be). You believe it’s better to sacrifice your happiness (your dignity, your well-being, your independence) than to be without the person you love.
On the flip side, some people stay in toxic relationships because deep down, they believe they can’t do any better and/or the abuse is a preferable alternative to being alone. It could also mean they believe they deserve to be punished (which sometimes happens when a person remains in an abusive relationship for a long time). Or, they may reason that it’s better to hang out with a “mean girl” than sit and stare at the walls on a Friday night (with only the cat for company).
If you can relate to staying in a toxic relationship because it feels good or are afraid of being alone, carefully consider and weigh out the long-term costs of a toxic relationship. There are far worse and more damaging things than being alone. If the idea of being alone terrifies you, maybe it’s an indication that something’s not right… that you’re not okay. It could be a sign of low self-worth or could point to an intense fear of abandonment. It may also signify a lack of understanding of what it means to be in a healthy relationship. Lastly, an intense fear of being alone is associated with some of the personality disorders and/or could be the result of trauma.
3. It’s (So Much) Easier to Stay
Breaking up is messy and uncomfortable. In my experience, most people avoid conflict when possible. Despite conflict being a natural, everyday occurrence, it can feel unpleasant, even for those with expert conflict resolution skills. However, avoiding conflict in relationships does more harm than good. In a healthy relationship, it’s necessary to address problems in order to resolve them, thereby strengthening the relationship.
In a toxic relationship, conflict should not be avoided, but for different reasons. It may be easier to ignore the reality of your situation than to get honest, but this is detrimental (not only to you, but to your partner, who will never have the opportunity to change so long as you enable the toxicity to continue).
You may wish to avoid the emotional drain that accompanies confrontation, but in the long run, you’ll lose more emotional energy if you remain in a toxic relationship. (A steep, one-time payment is preferable to the ongoing, daily emotional sacrifices/abuses associated with toxicity; you’re slowly poisoned as time goes on.)
If you choose to end a toxic relationship, be realistic; it’s not going to be easy… and it’s going to hurt. A lot. You may love this person a great deal (and maybe you’ve long held on to the hope they’d change). Go into it with low (or no) expectations. When things feel unbearable, remember that the easy things in life matter little; the difficult stuff is what leads to personal growth, success, and resilience.
In closing, I’m sure there are multitudes of reasons people have for staying in unhealthy relationships and keeping toxic people in their lives; this post is by no means comprehensive. I’m also certain, whatever the reason, it seems justifiable to them. People don’t choose toxicity without some sort of justification (if not for others, than at least for themselves). Unfortunately, rationalizations don’t offer protection from harm. No matter the reason for remaining in a toxic relationship, it’s not worth the cost.
What are some other reasons people keep toxic people in their lives? Why is letting go so hard? Share your thoughts in a comment!
Offer, S., & Fischer, C.S. (2017). Difficult people: Who is perceived to be demanding in personal networks and why are they there? American Sociological Review, 000312241773795, DOI: 10.1177/0003122417737951