Enabling

Enabling Is A Form Of Toxicity And It’s Time To Recognize It

It not them, it's not you, it is the both of you together.

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Often, after a rough patch in a friendship or relationship, we love to call the other person "toxic" and blame 99% of the problems of the relationship on that person. But that's not fair. Because it well and truly takes two to tango.

More than a singular person, relationships are toxic. I'm not saying there aren't certain people we encounter that produce a toxic presence in our lives, I'm simply saying that more than blaming that person for being toxic, maybe we recognize that it was our relationship with that person that was the root of toxicity.

There's a line in Halsey's most recent song Without Me. It goes: "I got you off your knees, put you right back on your feet just so you can take advantage of me. This is exactly the type of toxicity we often find ourselves in."

We often love to fix the "unfixable". We love to remain in the delusion that we have the capability to solve another individual's deep-rooted problems, to break their bad habits and make them the version they can be. But 1.) this is highly unlikely, 2.) what is to say these individuals want their problems solved, 3.) who are we to think that we can change a person who hasn't been able to change themselves in the X amount of years they have been in this bad place.

See the thing is sometimes we are enabling others to hurt us. We give them power over us by answering their call at 2 a.m. or being their friend when they need us. Then when they stop responding to our texts when morning comes, we blame them for being horrible people and for misusing our kindness. But after the second, third, fourth time you do pick up their late night call, they know you'll answer. They know you'll be there, no matter how they act towards you eight hours later. And that's on us. We can blame them for taking advantage, but we have to blame ourselves for allowing the advantage to be taken.

We allow them to think that what they are doing is okay. That "people who care will always be there" no matter how they treat you. And to some degree, that is on us. They won't magically change and realize their actions are hurting you or even think "Oh wow, I've really been treating _____ like trash. Maybe I should not." To some degree, enabling is only augmenting the toxicity.

Stop letting people treat you like you aren't worth more than they treat you. You cannot change a person who is unwilling to change themselves. It is not your job nor responsibility. You also cannot force others to face their problems or unwanted realities in hope that they will change. When you do so, you may be making things worse; when you push them, they'll push back. Pushing two same sides of a magnet never works. No matter how hard you try.

And the argument that if you truly care or love someone you'll stick around? IS. GARBAGE. Friendships, relationships or whatever other '-ships' you have do. not. work. like. that. It is a two way street. If someone treats you like a second-thought repeatedly, they don't deserve you or your kindness. And I know that love and affection isn't a faucet you can turn off and on- but if you really care, leave. They aren't good for you, and you stick around only enables them to continue their toxic ways. Don't allow them the liberties of treating you as second best, because even if you eventually leave, you've no enabled them to treat the next person that cares for them with the same toxicity and negativity.

Be willing to take a step back. Be willing to leave. Be willing to accept that it might be your relationship that exacerbates things. Be willing to see while their actions may be harmful or hurtful, your actions may have enabled them. But don't solely blame yourself, and don't solely blame them.

Enabling is just as toxic as their 'toxic' actions and influence in your life. Stop the cycle. Realize and recognize.

Sometimes two people just aren't made to work. Things don't always work out and maybe it was just a bad time, a bad match or a bad situation. But never enable someone to feel like they can mistreat someone and 'if the person cares' they will stick around.

Neither of you are truly at fault; neither of you are necessarily bad people, but it is up to you to recognize when two sides of a magnet are repelling and make actions from that part on that are proactive.

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To My Best Friend Who Taught Me What True Friendship Is, I Can't Thank You Enough

"To the person who will love you endlessly, love her with kindness and understanding."
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Dear Best Friend,

You have been a part of my life for quite some time now. You have seen my good, bad, and ugly sides and have stuck by my side through it all. I don't know if I could ever find the words to truly thank you for everything your friendship has given me, but I am definitely going to try.

Our lives have taken some twist and turn these past few years, but we have stayed strong through it all.

Thank you for judging me just the right amount.

Throughout our friendship, I have made some very questionable decisions. A lot of people would say "thanks for never judging me," but I feel like everyone needs a best friend who's going to tell them how it is, to tell them when they are about to make a bad decision or how to avoid something worse from happening. You have always told me how it is (even when I don't always want to hear it), but I know that I can come to you whenever I need someone to set me straight.

You're always down to do nothing with me.

I think that you are the one person that I can call up to hang out and do absolutely nothing with and have a good time. From the nights sitting in and playing card games to ordering Chinese food and watching an entire Netflix series while I dance around with the cat: I know that we could do anything, and nothing together and it would be fun.

But also, you're always down to get lit with me.

I swear one day we will be two old moms at a bar drinking vodka crans and laughing about the stupid shit our husbands and children do. You're always down to go out and have a good time. Even if everyone else we're with is miserable, we find a way to laugh at ourselves.

You are one of the few constant things in my life.

I've lost a lot of friends in my life, but you have stayed by my side through everything. I can't remember the last time we actually fought about anything, but even when we do we can't stay mad at each other for more than a day. I know we will be in each other's lives until we literally keel over.

I want you yo know that you're the strongest person I know.

You've dealt with things that not many people go through ever in their life. You have always been so mature, and you handle everything with grace. You inspire me every day with your goals and successes and I am so proud of you and all of your accomplishments.

Above all else, you deserve the world.

It's so easy to get caught up in your own mind and think that you deserve the things that happen to you, but please know that the only thing you deserve is happiness. Please settle for nothing short of that. It may take a bit to find your happiness, but I will be there every step of the way. You're a remarkable human being, and I want nothing but the best for you.

To the person who will hold your heart someday, please do not break it. To the person who may wrong you, you will regret it forever. To the person who will love you endlessly, love her with kindness and understanding.

You, my best friend, future bridesmaid, godmother of my children, the person to bail me out of jail, the one who lets me cry on their couch for twelve hours,

I love you.

I will cherish our friendship forever. Thank you for being you.

Love always,

Your best friend.

Cover Image Credit: Adriana Ranieri

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My Experience Falling For A Straight Guy And What It Taught Me

If you've ever fallen for a straight guy, I'm here to say you're not alone.

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Unrequited love is part of the human experience. It doesn't really matter if you're gay, straight, or bisexual. Everyone has cared for someone who didn't reciprocate those feelings. Some people even become drawn specifically to what they can't have. Since we can't control our feelings, it's inevitable that we would eventually meet someone who didn't share those feelings.

For gay men, most of us came of age in an environment where other gay kids were either closeted or nonexistent. I'm not sure if things are easier for gay youth today, but dating wasn't an option for me in high school. So I don't see how I couldn't have fallen for straight guys as a teenager. This is something I (and so many other gay men) know all too well. They were really the only guys our age that we were exposed to.

I always thought that once high school ended, these heartbreaking crushes on straight guys would end as well. But I was wrong. My most recent experience came a few years ago. I had just ended a six month long period of back and forth with a guy I went on a couple of dates with. The good news is, we've stayed friends. The bad news is, it wasn't the right time for either of us to be together.

I was online one day and came across a video of this musician on YouTube. We'll call him Mike. Mike was singing and playing guitar in some parts of the video. In other parts of the video, he was giving an interview. I was immediately struck by his good looks. I was also struck by his apparent shyness and introverted nature. Despite his quiet demeanor, he was so talented as a singer and musician. I also developed an admiration for his songwriting skills.

A crush soon developed, because I identified with him. I could relate to his quiet nature with his creative spark still yearning to get out. It was a juxtaposition I felt I understood. I decided to send Mike an Instagram message telling him I enjoyed his work. When he didn't respond, I decided to reach out on Facebook instead. I also took it upon myself to ask about any upcoming performances. I wanted to meet him in person. Mike responded thanking me for the compliment and directing me to his website with information on his shows.

I feel it's important to note that my crush wasn't akin to a teenager obsessed over a celebrity heartthrob. Mike wasn't famous and didn't appear to live a rock star lifestyle. He was an independent artist who performed at local bars and seemed very approachable. I felt like this was a guy who I could possibly bond with. Of course, I wanted something more than friendship, but I was also aware that I haven't even met him yet. I didn't want to get too ahead of myself.

Over the next few months, I sent him a few other Facebook messages to which I received no response. Two of them were simple, "Hi, how are you doing?" messages. The other one was a song I wanted to share with him since we're both music lovers. I wanted to develop a bond with him but was curious as to why he was ignoring me. I sent him an email asking if he received my messages. He responded telling me he doesn't like to use the internet to chat.

I should've gotten my first clue when he ignored my Facebook messages. I should've taken the hint when I read his response to my email. However, I was so deep in my crush that I made up an excuse. I thought, "Oh, he just doesn't want to chat on Facebook. He probably prefers to talk in person. If I send him letters via email, maybe that would be more his style."

I knew Mike had a show coming up, but I wasn't sure if I should go. Even though I wanted to believe his email was to be taken literally, a part of me knew what he really meant. I asked a friend for advice and she encouraged me to go. She said, "He might be friendlier in person. Who knows?" So, I took her advice and went to three of his shows.

All three shows were great. We didn't get to say much more than "Hi" to each other at the first show since he was so busy. However, I did notice that he was standing close to a particular girl most of the night. I soon realized this was his girlfriend. Surprisingly, I wasn't that disappointed. It didn't discourage me from trying to pursue a friendship with him.

I never wanted to come in between the two of them. But I still wanted to give friendship a try. A part of me thought that maybe they would break up for reasons unrelated to me and I would have a chance with him. However, a stronger part of me was more realistic. After all, who knows what could've happened? We could've gotten so close as friends, that viewing him in a romantic way may have felt weird. He could've revealed himself to be a totally different person than what I envisioned and my feelings may have deteriorated. Maybe I would've been turned off from being around him completely.

Of course, I'm also aware that my feelings could've grown stronger and it would've been too painful. If that was the case, I would've come clean about my feelings and ended the friendship. But I never had a past experience to compare it to. Friendship with a straight crush was never an opportunity that presented itself to me. Hence why I at least wanted to give it a chance. But I would never get that chance.

We talked a bit more at the second show, but it amounted to no more than small talk. His friends and fellow performers soon arrived. They commanded his attention more than I did. Still, he was very friendly and introduced me to some people. After the show, I felt like I was on cloud nine. Now that he spent some (albeit brief) time with me and seemed very welcoming, it felt like we reached a new level. It seemed like we got past the awkwardness of only communicating online.

At the third show, however, things felt very different. I purposefully arrived an hour early so we could actually talk. However, Mike didn't arrive until a mere 15 minutes before showtime. He immediately got out his instrument and started practicing. I realized this wasn't the time to talk. I didn't want to disturb him. So, I sat and watched the show. He did a great job and I enjoyed it. But whenever he had breaks in between sets, he would talk to his girlfriend. Again, I didn't feel it would be appropriate to interrupt.

I didn't get to talk to him the entire night. I left feeling defeated and disappointed. I planned on asking him if he wanted to hang out sometime. Since I didn't mean for it to sound like a date, I was going to include my friend in the plans. I dreaded the thought of asking him via email since it was clear to me that our online interactions were abysmal. Looking back, I can see that fact alone should've convinced me to back off. But I was so lost in my infatuation that I didn't listen. I sent the email and awaited a response.

For months to come, there was no response. I eventually sent him the same letter via Facebook. Again, months passed and I received no response. In retrospect, I see that you can't expect much from people. If someone doesn't respond the first time, you cut your losses and move on. Yes, it's incredibly rude and insulting. In fact, I feel ignoring people is even more insulting than being mean to them. However, you must hold onto a shred of dignity. But I wasn't ready to do that.

Mike had another show later that year. For whatever reason, I saw this as an opportunity to reach out again. I sent him a short letter on Facebook telling him that I wish I could make the show, even though I couldn't be there. I also wished him good luck. It was shortly afterward that he blocked me on his Facebook. He also blocked me on his Instagram.

Now, I realize that reaching out again was a dumb move on my part. However, it was incredibly frustrating to me that he handled it the way he did. He could've sent me a response at any time making it clear that he wasn't interested in my friendship. I'm sick of people ignoring others because they're afraid to hurt their feelings. Believe it or not, there is a nice way to reject someone. Instead, he chose to block me rather than answer me.

A couple of months passed and we entered a new year. I couldn't stop thinking about Mike and how things went down. I didn't want to leave things the way they were. It was clear to me now that there was no chance at friendship. But I at least wanted closure, so we could leave things on good terms. I decided to send him a lengthy email apologizing for not taking the hint sooner and clearing up my intentions. I didn't mention my crush, because I felt it was unnecessary. I went to sleep that night with no expectations of a response. Either way, I said my peace and knew that my attempt at closure was all I could control. If he didn't respond and things were left with him blocking me, oh well. At least I tried.

I woke up the next morning and saw a response from Mike. I was surprised, to say the least. I opened the email and read what he wrote. It was just one sentence thanking me for the kind note and for respecting his desire to keep to himself. I felt a sense of relief that he gave me the closure that I needed. Regardless of whether it was done out of pity or if it came from a genuine place, I was happy.

But that doesn't mean it has been easy for me to move on. I still think about Mike all the time. I don't really understand why, since I barely know him and he didn't exactly treat me very nicely. I guess sometimes people just get under our skin and there's nothing we can do about it. I'm sure I'll meet someone else down the line and move on. A fulfilling relationship has to be more powerful than an unrequited crush.

When I sent the email looking for closure, I promised Mike it would be the last time he heard from me. I wish I could say I kept that promise. However, two years after sending that email, I came across an article that said someone in his family was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. I felt terrible for Mike and wanted to reach out. I sent him an email acknowledging that I've broken my promise. However, I said I felt it would be remiss of me to not reach out after hearing the news. I wished him and his family well. I said I would be praying for a recovery. I also told him that I wasn't looking for a response from him. Which is a good thing, because I have yet to receive one.

I'm not sure if he's angry that I contacted him again or just doesn't care. Either way, I know my heart was in the right place. I know a lot of those reading this can relate to my story. One of the things I learned from my experience is to not let your heart overpower your head. It can be hard to let go and move on when someone isn't even giving us a chance at friendship. When that happens, it allows you to hold onto a version of them you've imagined in your head. This makes it even more difficult to move on.

But as I said, a fulfilling relationship has to be more powerful. I remain optimistic that when I'm ready, love will find me and I'll move on. For those of you who are in similar situations, please learn from my experience. Don't make the same mistakes I made. Look out for the clues in the beginning, because you can't expect people to be clear with you. If someone doesn't respond the first time, take the hint and move on. Know that you don't deserve to be treated that way and that person doesn't deserve your time. Know that you will eventually meet somebody else and move on. Falling for straight guys is inevitable and it happens to the best of us.

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