People who are empathetic, understanding and forgiving have a tendency to excuse their loved one’s toxic behavior by rationalizing it in a multitude of ways. However, there’s a definite line between being understanding and forgiving and making excuses for someone who’s treating you like crap. Here’s how you know you’re doing the latter.
You forgive them without ever receiving an apology. Being a sympathetic and forgiving person is a positive thing, but there have to be boundaries in place. The problem is that people who do forgive easily can often be taken advantage of by malicious people. It’s almost impossible to never be hurt or let down by someone you love and care about, but one clear toxic trait is the inability to apologize for wrongdoings. Sometimes, we forgive people because we want them in our lives, but don’t let yourself continuously forgive someone who refuses to acknowledge when they’ve done something hurtful or offer a genuine apology.
When you vent to others about them, you find yourself downplaying what happened. It may even be something you’re doing subconciously, but if you can’t be completely honest about what actually happened during a situation to your close family and/or friends, it likely means that you’re making excuses for toxic behavior. You probably have a feeling that whoever it is you trust to vent to about a rough experience will tell you that kind of behavior is unacceptable, so you downplay what happened.
You avoid certain events or activities because you know from past experience it can often trigger destructive behavior. You shouldn’t have to decline invites to fun events with your friends and family because the idea of bringing your partner makes you nervous and maybe even embarrassed. If their actions are often unpredictable and you don’t want them to cause a scene, start a fight, or do anything equally explosive, you may find yourself starting to avoid going to social events and parties that you would usually enjoy. You might be doing this subconsciously, but either way, you shouldn’t have to refrain from fun activities and nights out with friends because your partner is unstable.
It’s difficult for you to be honest with them when they do something that’s hurtful, inconsiderate, or just plain rude. People who are toxic don’t react well to any sort of criticism and they’re usually too stubborn to admit when they are in the wrong. You may have tried to explain why certain actions of theirs bother you in the past, but rather than them listening and trying to understand, they reacted with anger and outbursts. Maybe they even blamed you (or anyone else other than themselves) for what happened. Since their response to your honesty has been less than ideal, you find it easier not to bring up their hurtful behavior and just sweep it under the rug.
You have the tendency to see the potential in them rather than the reality of who they are now. Being an optimistic person who sees the best in people isn’t a bad thing at all, but if you find yourself seeing them as their potential self rather than their present self, it’s a definite indicator that you’re rationalizing unacceptable behavior. Just because you know someone has the possibility to be a better person in general once they’ve gone through personal growth and maybe even therapy doesn’t mean you should keep them in your life with the hope that they will change.
When you have really good news, such as a promotion at work, you’re hesitant to share it with them. It may be because they’ve been struggling with their own success lately or have experienced some personal setbacks and you don’t want to make them feel even worse. When some people are unhappy with their own life, they get upset or annoyed when other people around them are progressing forward. You shouldn’t be reluctant to share your successes with someone in your life that you care about, even when it’s because you know they’ll only have a negative response.
You put up with behavior you normally wouldn’t because you know that they’ve been through past trauma and/or difficult circumstances. Do you find yourself lowering your standards for how you deserve to be treated and letting destructive tendendencies slide because you know that your partner has gone through traumatic situations in their past? That should be an instant red flag. Just because someone’s gone through painful experiences doesn’t make it OK for them to treat you or others badly now. Past trauma may explain someone’s toxic behavior, but it should never justify it.
You know their behavior is toxic but keep them in your life because they’ve been in it for a long time. This can apply to a wide variety of people, such as family members, friends you’ve known forever or a significant other you’ve been with for many years. You might be dealing with their toxic behavior because you don’t want to cause drama in your friend group, be estranged from your family members, or break up with your partner who you’ve built a life with. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone, how much of an impact they’ve had on your life, or if you’re literally related to them—there are no valid reasons to allow toxic behavior in your life.
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