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Imperfect People vs Dysfunctional People: How to End Toxic Relationships

How to Identify and Become Free of Toxic Relationships

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Have you ever known a person that you feel even if a $1 million dollar check were signed, sealed, and delivered directly to their lap they would find the most obscure way to somehow mess it up? More than likely that person was not just having a “bad day”, they are dysfunctional.  Today, I want to talk to you about the difference between imperfect people, and dysfunctional people.  The first thing to understand is that everyone is imperfect, but most people are not dysfunctional.  Knowing the difference will help you to avoid toxic people, places, and things that will wreak havoc on your life.

Why do you need to know the difference between a dysfunctional person and an imperfect person? Doing life with a dysfunctional person is like sitting next to a ticking time bomb every day.  You never know when or where they are going to explode, but you are completely aware of the destruction they will cause.  You can free yourself from the wreckage and live a peaceful and fulfilling life by recognizing the warning signs early on.

Five Signs You are Dealing with a Dysfunctional Person

Sign 1: Something always seems to be wrong, and nearly all of their problems are someone else’s fault.  Dysfunctional people are unable to get to a point of living in peace, joy, and happiness. Listen carefully to their pattern of language.  Do other people “always” cause them problems? Does it seem like they are unable to get along with anyone?  Do you have to constantly tiptoe around them because they are “emotional”?

For example, people “always” reject them, they are “always” being treated unfairly.  Someone is “always” out to get them.  Nothing “ever” works out for them. Infinity words such as “always” imply they are having an ongoing problem with nearly everyone they meet. Rather than just passing things off and thinking they are just having a rough season, take the time to ask questions. Do they have extraordinary circumstances that would reasonably make them a target such as being wealthy, famous, etc?

Make statements such as, “I am sure that you are exaggerating, surely you have something good happening in your life”.  Push to find the great things that a person under pressure may momentarily forget.  If what is unveiled is a black hole vs the light at the end of the tunnel it is time to start investigating to find the truth vs their perspective about what is happening.  A person that seems to be a magnet for trouble should be a red flag, not someone that you pour sympathy towards.  Remember in every experience one has with other people, they are the common factor.  If trouble follows them where ever they go, the most probable answer is that they are the problem, not others.

Sign 2: Dysfunctional people are immature and not “responsible” for the things that go wrong in their lives, they will never admit they are wrong.  This is not to say unfair systems don’t exist in society, however, 100% of someone’s life is not dependent on another unless they are a child. Therefore it is a reasonable expectation for an adult to act like an adult.  If adulting was easy children would be doing it too.  Adults take responsibility for their actions and the results they are producing in life.  If something is not working, they take the initiative to change it.

Remember, it is never unreasonable to expect adult behavior out of adults that have been given the reasonable support they need to succeed.  Extreme circumstances such as abuse, life-long poverty, traumatic experiences such as a parent dying in childhood can produce issues that seem like dysfunction but are actually a survival tool.  Breaking past such barriers often produce a  responsibile adult.  Be sure that before you judge someone you take the other four signs into account.

Sign 3: Their actions often conflict with what they say or vice versa.  Not only are dysfunctional people often a walking contradiction, they are the definition of cognitive dissonance.  Unfortunately, because of the inconsistencies of their beliefs and actions they cannot create a clear picture of who they want to be and where they are headed in life.  This is one of the key reasons they are a source of confusion and conflict.  They are unable to produce anything else in their lives that promotes stability because they often operate from a place of instability.  Therefore they bring imbalance everywhere they go.

Sign 4: Dysfunctional people are manipulative.  Because of sign three, dysfunctional people believe that they must “outsmart” others to gain any type of position in life, they are unable to identify that they are what continues to go wrong in each scenario.  Therefore they are manipulative and will do whatever is necessary to try to get their way or what they want.  This stance leads to unnecessary complications that create negative results from nearly every fortunate circumstance they manage to find themselves in.  In other words, dysfunctional people have become experts at sabotaging themselves, if you are not careful they will sabotage your opportunities as well.

Sign 5:  Dysfunctional people feel that dysfunction is normal.  If drama and negativity are absent from the life of a dysfunctional person they think something is wrong and they have a hard time functioning.  If they find a great guy or girl they are suspicious because the person is “too perfect” so something must be wrong with the person.  I am sure that a dysfunctional person coined the term “too good to be true”.  However, if they find another dysfunctional guy or girl that person is worth “hanging in there for” because “everyone” has issues.  They will choose someone that does outrageous things over someone that treats them kindly and that is concerned about their well-being because they don’t know how to respond to kindness and care.

I hope these five signs will give you a chance to re-evaluate the relationships in your lives and the people you surround yourself with.  The most challenging aspect of dealing with dysfunctional people is accepting the fact you cannot save them from themselves.  A dysfunctional person is dysfunctional by choice.  They are willing participants in the problems that they create.  They must decide to make a change on their own.  It is not your responsibility to ride out every storm they are willing to put you through.

Written by Kia McClain

CEO and Founder of SucceedDID. I am a growth hacker, author, entrepreneur, and techie! Follow me on Facebook at

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