Loving without Losing: How to Deal with Difficult People you Can’t Avoid

by Melissa K. Vassar-Belloso

Throughout our lives we encounter many people. Some are casual acquaintances and some are considerably closer. Among those people you’re bound to run into a few that are toxic or difficult to cope with. But in a society where we’re so eager to publicly post we’ve “cancelled” a person, can you really and truly do that?

Relationships are much more complicated than they used to be, especially with technology being so abundant. We’ve gotten a little out of practice in how real relationships actually work in our society and have sacrificed maturity and honest communication for hiding behind devices and boosting ourselves by putting others down. We’ve lost our values and diminished the polish on our social skills. Twitter and other online communities are very good about their abundance of things like inspirational quotes and self-help that is often misguided and idealistic but we never truly tackle the things  being lost in our society as we continue to trivialize how we treat others and sacrifice having real values guiding us forward.

Before people had screennames and typed font to hide behind, people had to define themselves through real action and solid principle. We couldn’t afford to be lazy. We had to talk to people. We had to harbor a sense of personal responsibility. We understood conversations mattered because we saw the fruit of our actions and words more often. But we now face a time where it’s okay to break a person’s heart in a text or publicly shame them on an internet forum with little to no basis. We feel no shame smearing someone else all over if it benefits us and we feel good. We even have the nerve to classify these interactions as true interactions,debates, or even conversations. But we fail to see that our society is degrading in values over time and we’re destroying the social constructs that matter the most.

But what does this have to do with dealing with others, you might ask? The answer is simple. Our values are a key factor in shaping our interactions. Basic courtesies like respect,equality, and moral integrity are what essentially form the glue of all our personal relationships. When we slack in these areas or become overly consumed with ourselves we enter relationships and doom them to failure. Understanding our own values and what they mean to us is an important factor in how we form,maintain, and view all of our relationships. If we don’t value the other people in our lives we sacrifice forming meaningful relationships and this becomes important when you take the step of classifying a person as toxic. Relationships aren’t just about the other person. They’re also about you.

The idea of personal responsibility is becoming more and more unheard of but when we really look at relationships we have to also factor in what we bring to the table. Are we making an effort? Are we exercising solid values? Do we have the right goals in the relationship? Are we actually invested in the relationship being successful? These are all vital questions we need to answer to determine who is really toxic in our lives. One of the easiest things we can miss is when we become the most toxic person in our lives.

The next time you make a move to praise yourself for cancelling another toxic person,take a moment to look in the mirror. Don’t lose sight and become the most toxic person in the bunch. Make an effort to recapture the real meaning of relationships you form in life. Take back the responsibility of being a better person, because at the end of the day we can all fall short or become a toxic person if we stop honoring our values.

There’s a big difference between acceptance and avoidance when it comes to personal relationships. Truly toxic people do exist but what really makes our measure as people is how we handle that. You may think cutting them off seems like a great idea, but what does that really say about us as people? Are we scared? Are we backing down from working harder in the relationship? Are we even acknowledging our part in the relationship failing?

Every relationship we ever have that fails isn’t based on one person. It’s a mixture of things both parties brought to the table during the course of the relationship. Many relationships fail based on the factors of trust and love. Trust is key in any type of relationship but it’s nature is a bit more complicated than most people would like to admit. It’s hard to earn,easy to break, and impossible to completely repair yet we as people take it for granted so often. While love is what draws us in and bonds us, trust is the foundation of any lasting relationship.

At the core of every failed relationship you’ll find an inconsistent lack of love but a concrete lack of trust. It’s important to realize that no one owes you love or trust. They’re things you earn. If you earn them and break them then you need to understand the other person has a right to not fully forgive that. But what if you are trying? What if despite that person being toxic as all hell you keep trying. You respect them,love them, accept them for who they are , and seemingly do everything right but the relationship still fails. It seems one-sided and you might think it’s definitely okay to just cut the person clean off at that point. But still, it really isn’t.

On the surface when we cut people out of our lives it seems like a healing move but it can also leave no closure for us. With no sense of closure we simply carry around the effects of the toxic relationship without the person being there. You may not notice it at first but the damage is there and remnants of your time around the person are still there. When we act rashly we leave unfinished business and unspoken words. We leave a large open wound and do more damage to ourselves than healing. Burning bridges may work when we’re in a moment but later on  we’ll have to look at those ashes and wonder if we needed that bridge for something after all.

That’s not to say that there aren’t times you truly do need to cut people who are abusive or dangerous from your life but it needs to be balanced out by how much the backlash will hurt you. More importantly, when we cut people off, it’s typically in a childish manner and we gain nothing from it as people aside from a brief burst of pride. All relationships in our lives have some value. That value might be something so minuscule we can’t see it well right away but its there.

Speaking personally, my most difficult relationship in my life is with my father. It’s taken me years to cope with not having the relationship I wanted with him and recover from the psychological abuse but the more I heal and accept him as a person, I can appreciate that he’s part of the woman I’ve developed into. I’ve become stronger,more driven,and faced challenges that have helped shape me in good ways as numerous as the negative after effects. I learned that I had to fight harder and carve out my personal relationships carefully. I learned that I couldn’t change other people but I could change myself. I forced myself to find value in that relationship so I could truly start healing and moving on. The wound is still there but it gets smaller every single day.

As people we’re shaped by not just good things but also hard times so instead of cutting a person off, appreciate them for what they’ve done for you. Maybe they’ve made you a stronger person in ways you can’t even fully understand right now. Maybe they still helped you form values, even if they couldn’t truly love you. No relationship is worthless and when we face that head on and make it a goal to not walk away empty-handed, we can find the value and over time close that wound.

Before you make a move to cut a person off, take a moment and love them instead. Trust is fragile but love is a choice.When we choose to accept the person and love them for what they were able to provide us, we can leave a relationship knowing we’ve done our best and grow from the experience.

Conclusion

No person is perfect and no relationship will be perfect. Whether you feel like a person is toxic or you discover you might be a little toxic, there are better ways to look at life. Just like flowers use manure to grow, we can turn that toxicity into better things. We can grow as people, take back pieces of ourselves, and learn to find more value and more love in life. When we take a new approach to how we deal with people, we can put ourselves on a path to also become better people.

 

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