Technology is moving faster than the world knows how to use it.
Moore’s law (for the techies) basically said that computers will get faster and cheaper, but who could have ever predicted that meant dancing in front of your mirror was as enjoyable as a well written scene from Dumb and Dumber?
In a data driven world, which most big tech companies pride themselves on being, how do metrics and money mix together with what consumers want and need?
How will the attention economy determine the real value of any creative? Are a million views all created equal?
The Old Way Of Entertainment
Schools used to teach and Hollywood used to entertain.
There were of course a few areas of overlap like Bill Nye the Science Guy or Mr. Rogers, but the lines were more or less drawn with roles defined. The average person spent a few hours each year with Tom Cruise, Mariah Carey or The Rock and as a result grew to love and respect them.
We admired celebrities not because they’re so amazing…but because the affinity we gain from watching them sing, dance or overcome obstacles brings emotion out of us. When Tom Cruise kills a bad guy we hated for the last hour, we want to be his buddy and would love to shake his hand.
All of this was usually easy to measure.
Box office collections for movies, album sales for singers…whoever made the most money usually equated to being the best. And since people like us do things like us, that was all the social proof most of us needed on our weekends. If I didn’t watch the new Star Wars movie, I was out of the conversation.
While this system still exists in some ways, those of us who are old enough to remember pogs and young enough to still be tech savvy know that today, we rarely think about our favorite athletes and idols from growing up. However top of mind is new and interesting faces we discover scrolling daily.
Doctors on Tik Tok and Dentists on YouTube
These days the news is made on social media and simply reported on the news.
Publishers hate Zucks because they feel he diluted journalism, but data driven companies gain their data from users.
If users are spending their time reading articles about the 10 signs you know your cat likes you as opposed to the science of the Corona virus…then is it the algorithm’s job to feed you your vegetables and share what’s good for you?
Did we ever tell ABC to pause it’s steamy dramas and educate the viewers on global warming?
Oddly enough on the internet…the tide turns both ways. We see entertainment masquerading as knowledge (Hello Buzzfeed) but we also see knowledge masquerading as entertainment.
If you’ve been following Tik Tok or Instagram you’ve probably seens thousands of real estate agents, doctors, lawyers, dentists and more giving bite size videos about anything related to their niche. These videos are very addicting but also very valuable. (Flipped again, they’re also many shady, get-rich quick snake-oil salesmen on social media also.)
Ethics aside…how do you measure the value of any of this?
You could open up a Tik Tok account tomorrow, parody a song…and get 1M views dancing with your grandpa.
Is this valuable?
Is there a sales funnel here?
Or is it all just for fun?
And if it is just for fun without any valuable end-goal…then what’s the point?
Is a movie star who makes $1 million dollars a movie worth more today than a YouTube motivational speaker who gets 50 million views a month, with more screen time direct to camera than an actor would? Does a 10 minute, tear-jerking vlog about a transformational weight loss journey or bullying in school have the same effect that an act three climax of a movie would?
Monetarily…does the vlog creator get more ROI for a $20 production than a $20 million dollar movie?
Or is there some entertainment bubble that’s bound to burst since the internet has pretty much made the supply of content unlimited?
Currency In The Attention Economy
Joe Rogan recently sold his podcast to Spotify for over 100 million dollars.
Shaquille O’Neal invested in groups of teenagers who play video games…because somebody way smarter that any of us told him…in simple terms…this is the future.
“Listen Shaq…these kids spend way more hours watching other kids play games, blowing stuff up and using sniper rifles…than their parents did watching you dunk on people. Just look at an Instagram video’s views of the top highlights from Sportscenter and compare that to Call Of Duty highlights.”
Will Smith is investing heavily in doing Tik Tok videos and engaging strongly on social media because…well, again….it’s where the people are.
Hollywood used to be the Wall St. of entertainment…but in a connected world where anybody can entertain from their phone…won’t the distance between Main St. and Wall St. get smaller and smaller?
Yes, I know…Hollywood has the best writers, we’re talking about long-form content and storytelling, etc..
Because what is quality?
Even YouTube moved from prioritizing views to watch time.
As far as they’re concerned…a video that you can stick your toddler in front of for 2 hours made in someone’s garage is way more valuable than 4 minutes of rap stars popping bottles in Malibu. Even if that video cost $500,000 to make.
If a 25 year old fitness trainer spends 10 hours a month listening to the Rogan podcast, and 2 hours a year watching the latest Marvel movie….which content is more valuable to advertiser?
Who will the 25 year old like more?
Will he be more likely to buy tickets to see Rogan, or more to the Disney universe?
If a beauty blogger on YouTube makes $100,000 a month on affiliate products and earnings from tutorials…does he/she really care to go act in a soap-opera on daytime television that is watched by a 50+ crowd on TV? (anybody remember that?)
The definition of entertainment is changing, along with the definition of a celebrity. As families congregate around their individual screen in their hand than the one hanging in the living room….so will our relationship to it.
Predictions for the Future
Social Media algorithms are insanely powerful because they know you better than you know yourself.
Our attention spans are low, and our focus is going to be harder and harder to reign in. It used to be 5 movies that got 10 hours of focus from the average American. Today maybe it’s 1 movie that we can all agree we’ve seen as a collective.
Tomorrow…who knows? A few predictions about the future of entertainment as it relates to technology and social media:
Celebrities with specialized knowledge, like real-estate, law, medicine will be the rockstars of the future.
Feature films may be a lot more niche…so instead of trying to get 10% of Americans to watch your movie…you try to get 100% of Sci Fi or Marketing geeks to watch your movie.
Creatives and possibly even content that is geared towards the viewer. The movie you watch might have different product placements, stars or even an ending than the one I watch.
Marketing of entertainment assets on more personalized digital mediums (e.g. If you enjoyed this podcast on Economics…check out the new Wall St. Thriller from Aaron Sorkan)
Digital celebrities will overtake mainstream celebrities in earnings. Why would I hire an unknown model from Wilhemina (or wherever) to hold a beer and smile, when I could hire someone with 500,000 Instagram followers and have my agency point to the campaign’s success?
Everybody Has Their Own Personal Network
YouTube has 80% of views coming not from what someone searches for, but what they offer you on your home screen or suggested videos.
In fact, most of your YouTube home screen isn’t channels you subscribed to…but channels YouTube thinks you’ll enjoy a lot more. A lesson I also learned the hard way as my YouTube channel crossed 100K subs and pretty much froze after that.
Netflix has its own algorithms that see when you stopped watching something, who was on screen, which actors generate more engagement and a bunch of other data points that traditional Hollywood let agents and executives decide.
Just like your newsfeed morphs into an echo chamber of people like you who will give you a positive experience, your home screens on these apps will do the same thing.
Digital marketing has lookalike audiences, in which advertisers can ask a database “Hey, give me the 100,000 people who watched this movie up until 95%” and likely go out and find similar viewers right away. I’d much rather show my movie trailer to people who are like those 95% rather than 90 year old women in Arkansas. (and if they watch Marvel movies…hey, the computer found that out for us).
There is so much technology, science, psychology and more that is affecting our patterns of consumption. And it’s only going to get bigger, faster and more accurate.
You might find the world on your screen is exactly as you want it to be…but sadly, so will everyone else.
If all of us have a highly customized TV channel or textbook or newspaper that we read…the lines between content, consumer and creator will be the secret sauce in the new attention economy.
One thing however is that…in the future, the reality of it all will definitely be virtual.
It’s never been a more exciting time to do work…yet nobody seems to want to do it.
Online courses can give you five years of on the job skills for the price of an appetizer.
Data driven companies and tools like Facebook Ads, Ad Words, HotJar, Instagram and a million more let you A/B test your logo, your designs, your jokes, your images, your content and of course…your product.
Yet so many people have:
business ideas that never get off the ground,
podcasts they never make,
books they never write.
apps they never launch,
and a million more examples I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
So Why Exactly Is That?
In an era when you have sample code for everything, WordPress plugins galore, templates for any creative and tools and sample code and Google to answer whatever you want…why are we still so…unproductive?
Well, for lack of a better explanation…I think many of us in the middle-class are so comfortable with our paychecks and fear of failure…that we’re unsure of what will happen if we actually succeed.
It’s easier to critique and contemplate than make mistakes. But real people know mistakes were meant to be made.
In fact that’s the entire point.
Software has bugs, films have editing, books have rewrites, FMCG companies have focus groups…even relationships have hardships that make them amazing.
Just Do It
Nike may have trademarked (or copyrighted?) the slogan, but I’m pretty sure Phil Knight selling shoes out of his car had more to do with the slogan than an athlete getting up and going to the gym.
If a Stanford graduate recognizes that you need to roll up your sleeves to try and push a commodity (shoes)…well, you get the idea. He actually got on his knees and laced his shoes on people outside of high schools…and you can’t be bothered to ask a friend to like your Facebook page or install your app?!?
The principles are the same, but we live in a time when the Internet and social media gives a voice to sadly those who may not use one properly.
I forget who said this, but… I recently read that “In the future…intelligence is going to be knowing what to ignore, not just what to listen to.”
I have so many friends who love to sit at bars, talking about films that never get made, products that should, shortcomings of Uber and Swiggy and what else…yet never seem to want to pick up the phone and make things happen.
“Yeah we could make that app..but what if Amazon just adds it as a feature?”
“Yeah you could try that movie, but I read on Twitter nobody likes that genre as much. Or so-and-so did something similar so everyone will think we’re copying them.”
But that is all fine.
You could spend years trying to perfect your first novel, or you could spend two years getting the junk out, learning the publishing game, testing out your tone and voice via blogs (and instant feedback).
Those who try the former get heart broken when after years of cafe trips, writing in Bali and inspiration seeking they realize their first attempt was just as bad and the game has changed. Those who try the latter realize having an ego is just bad economics.
Attention spans are dwindling, and trying to get a 300 page book read today versus in 2010 are much different beasts.
You could spend years theorizing about the perfect app, fleshing out every requirement and getting opinions from 100 people.
Or you could JUST MAKE ONE for a few thousand dollars, drink at home for a few months…and use your first 50 users as a way better barometer of success than any focus group ever could. Yes the requirements weren’t perfect and your developer may want to eat your head…but again…”done is better than perfect right?” (Sheryl Sandberg)
But Isn’t Failing to Plan…Planning to Fail?
Maybe 20 years ago, when a logo cost $10,000 and was actually paid attention to. But you can redesign a logo or register a new domain for again…the cost of a drink.
Some of the best startups and tech founders talk about pivoting, about being the first movers, and about the importance of marketing and sales.
Artists think they don’t need social media or digital marketing, because (I also used to agree) that the art should speak for itself.
But in an increasingly crowded world, when billion dollar movies have billion dollar marketing budgets…and even Will Smith thinks he needs a social media strategy to get you to pay attention…who are you kidding bro?
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover…but go ahead and test a bunch of covers until you find one that sells. You’re not “selling out” if you try to find a cover that sells…you’re letting your hard earned art reach the masses so you can then get more feedback, more experience, more data…to ultimately make a better book the next time around.
What’s Wrong With That?
The internet and technology has made billion dollar companies off of a few people’s laptops. Look at WhatsApp…17 billion dollars…less than 100 employees.
If it’s never been cheaper to succeed….it’s also never been cheaper to fail.
I’m all for planning, having a strategy, getting the best equipment and doing your grunt work to understand an industry, technology, or idea…but you can easily make tomorrow’s winners with yesterday’s tech.
Your logo might be amazing after 19 design sessions…but if nobody gets to see your homepage because they scroll right passed it…well…you get the idea.
His palms are sweaty, knees deep, mom’s spaghetti.
Those lyrics may come to mind when you think of being on stage with the spotlight in your face, looking at an infinite sea of black which might actually be 500 people briefly focused on you until they decide to go back to their phones.
What will you do?
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity…
Ok drama aside, for many the same feeling might arise when you’re presenting a powerpoint to 4 people in your team.
Welcome to the wonderful world of stage fright.
If an investment banker gets friend-zoned is he a mutual friend?
Why You Need to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
We live in a world where everybody needs to be a creator.
Whether you’re a car dealership, an accountant, a dentist or a software engineer…you’re going to need to use the wonderful medium of live video, webinars, digital advertising, social media and graphics to sell your story.
You may hate it, but the future is now, and it requires you to speak up.
Google has its developers making YouTube channels, dentists are crushing it on Facebook Video (who wouldn’t want to go a funny charismatic dentist?) and closer to reality, B2B businesses are all leveraging LinkedIn, Facebook Ads and free tutorials to educate you on their products.
Between you and me, I’d much rather watch a video about my industry or newest software offering than read another 40 page white-paper.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, well, you got to stand up in front of the crowd.
The good news is that it’s totally doable.
The bad news is most people still won’t do it. Those who embrace this rather than say “Oh I’m camera shy or public speaking gives me anxiety” are the ones who will get on top in today’s dwindling attention spanned world.
What’s that saying…success is usually right outside your comfort zone?
So are you ready?
How To Overcome Stage Fright
So how do you overcome your fear of stage fright and public speaking? Quite simply:
Memorize Your Slides/Talk and then Improvise
Modulate your Voice
Keep it Short
Rinse and Repeat.
It’s really that simple. No apps, no life hacks, no crazy tricks…just good old fashioned doors closed practice. Your favorite stand up comedians, Ted speakers and keynotes all pretty much do the same thing.
Now, let’s go through each one. And no, imagining your audience naked or in their underwear is a bunch of nonsense.
1. Memorize and Improvise
How can a developer at Google fail at a presentation when they know the ins and outs of the tech, while some douchey sales guy can get a massive round of applause?
That always bugged me, because the tech guy was doing all the hard work yet failing at communicating any of it to clients. The sales guy was selling garbage yet had clients eating out of his hands.
What was going on?
No, this wasn’t rocket science. This was the simple fact that the sales people know that reading off slides or going into details on a super dense piece of text was going to be a snooze fest. It doesn’t matter if you had figured out how to crack the speed of light, nobody was going to pay attention or really be focused when social media was a thumb scroll away.
Memorization is a skill we lack these days thanks to Google letting us keep our brains in the cloud, so rather than try to focus on building those connections we simply assume we can check it on our phones. As a result, we apply that to everything.
But those who continue to focus on the fundamentals will be at an advantage. When you do need to get up in front of the crowd, the fact that you’ll never have to refer to your notes or or slide will enable you to do what counts…get your message across in an effective way.
Most people are bad at public speaking not because they’re inherently nervous…but that they’re so focused on reciting their lines they don’t have any charisma to keep the audience interested, regardless of what those lines are.
Ditto for acting anyone?
Practice makes perfect sense. It’s beyond me why nobody does it. When you actually stand up and practice in front of a mirror or an empty boardroom, it’s not childish or lame. It’s effective.
You learn your timings, you understand where you have gaps, you realize you’re still looking too much at the screen, and you find transition points between slides or topics.
I don’t know when practicing became this amateur thing that most business or corporate folks felt was beneath them, but those in the performing industry know it’s called rehearsal for a reason. And if we’re all going to be performs in our respective domains in the future, time to get rehearsing right?
3. Eye Contact
Eye Contact is not something you need to learn from a pickup artist course or be scared of. It’s just when you’re talking to a group, it helps to give everybody equal attention. If you’re in a large hall or concert, then give each section a bit of attention with a slight preference to the middle.
When you’re in person a good rule of thumb is to look at someone just long enough to notice the color of their eyes, but regardless, this should be organic. If you have anxiety or uncontrollable tension then just look over their heads (we’ll assume you’re looking at the person behind us) and it will be fine.
But connecting with different angles of your audience is like changing camera angles in film editing. It adds to the variety and keeps the movement flowing, so your audience subtly feels more engaged than just a dead center presentation.
And as mentioned before, if you don’t memorize your talking points then there’s no point flowing around the stage as you’ve just amplified the fact that you need to keep reverting back to your notes.
This one takes time, we hear our voice quite differently than everyone else thanks to the vantage point of our ears to our vocal chords and vibration and yada yada. Point being, there is a reason many of us can’t stand to hear our own voice…because it sounds way different when we hear ourselves talk from the inside versus hearing it out of speakers.
Now imagine your audience. Your voice is fine, but if there’s no variation, no characters (e.g. change you voice when you go into a story, or pretend to say “You must be thinking”) then those folks will start to wander.
Again, it’s never been harder to keep people engaged as the digital platforms continue to hack away at all the tricks, but the easiest way to adjust on the fly is simply play with your voice.
You may not always have an option to do this, but if you’re talking about a slowdown in the market, try slowing down. If you’re pretending to be a customer, change your accent or tone. Whatever you need to do, try and mix it up.
5. Keep It Short
A lot of young engineers and corporate kids think if they are given a 15 minute speech, they need to pack it in with as much detail as possible. Well, quality over quantity my friend.
In comedy we say less is more and to cut the fat, but the real truth is when you’re in these workshops or conferences or keynotes, nobody will say “What an amazing presentation but he still had 3 minutes left.” You’d much rather have a killer 80 minute movie with a banger ending (and leave the audience wanting to watch the behind the scenes on the DVD) than a 120 minute stretched out drama.
If you’re confident about your software tool, your design strategy or your product updates, you should be more than able to fill in the remaining time left with questions, or extra talking points you may have as a backup. Or just end on a high note and leave them wanting more!
6. Rinse and Repeat
I’ve seen 50 year old men tremble and shake when asked to present a talk or do stand up comedy, and I’ve seen 21 year old “life coaches” and sales reps just nail it for a large group of baby boomers. The digital revolution is changing the ways in which we communicate but the messaging principles stay the same.
In copyrighting they talk about A.I.D.A. (attention, interest, desire, action) and whether you’re working on a 10 second Instagram ad or a 45 minute keynote, the principles will more or less be the same. Once you learn the notes (e.g. memorize over one 90 minute session) you can pretty much play the song however you want and remix to your heart’s content.
After a while you’ll thank your lucky stars that taking an hour a month to nail down your talking points and actually work on them away from Instagram got you years ahead of your peers.
Stage Fright and Public speaking are totally understandable, but also totally over analyzed.
The strange thing for me personally was when I started doing stand up comedy, I ended up getting promoted faster at my IT job because those speaking skills translated really well in product demos and client visits.
If you want to have an edge on your peers and improve yourself for the better, you need to learn to speak to a group and make your voice heard. Schools don’t teach it but the School of hard knocks require it to graduate (aka Life) so get to it!
Relationships are so wonderfully complicated aren’t they?
We spend our whole lives believing that a partner is the key to our happiness when the real answer is quite different.
Another person can’t make you happy, they can only complement your existing happiness.
And trying to make yourself happy is the real question in life most of should focus our efforts. Then when we at least have an idea on how to get there…sure, go ahead and share the journey with someone worthwhile.
Unfortunately thanks to:
Hollywood and Bollywood,
the rise of social media
the cloud of comparisons the internet has to offer
we’re all realizing that true love is a lot less Cinderella and a lot more Gone Girl meets My Crazy Ex Girlfriend.
Guys are stupid, women are crazy and women are stupid and guys are crazy.
While there might be someone for everyone, there isn’t everyone for someone and a lot of people end up in relationships that are far from ideal.
I’ve been there and chances are if you’re reading this you might have ended up in similar territory. Insecurity in a relationship are normal but when insecurities define the relationships…boy oh boy.
Toxic behavior, toxic love and toxic relationships get thrown around a lot these days on toxic Twitter, so lets try to tackle at least one of them.
Even if you’re the most normal, clean cut, honest and sincere person on Earth…chances are, you’ll probably fall into a toxic relationship at least once in your life.
What is a Toxic Relationship?
They’re lots of definitions of what a toxic relationship is, but unfortunately just like the word “shaming” has been used and abused online, every single argument or fight isn’t grounds for the Toxic Relationships awards. (Can we call these the Toxies?!?)
Your doctor telling you that you’re too overweight isn’t fat shaming, and every fight with your girlfriend isn’t grounds for toxic behavior.
All couples fight, all have disagreements and and anything worth doing requires commitment, sacrifice and effort.
However, when it’s more trouble than it’s worth and you spend more time walking on eggshells in fear of pissing the other person off, well…you might just be in a toxic relationship. Constant fighting in a relationship is also dangerous if it hints at something deeper than just “You didn’t make the bed!”
For the purposes of this post:
A toxic relationship is any romantic relationships in which two people are constantly fighting, controlling or trying to compete with one another. Or in simpler terms, a toxic relationship is one in which there is no respect for one or both partners.
What Isn’t a Toxic Relationship?
If you truly love and admire your partner and think that you’re blessed to have found your soulmate, chances are you’re not in a toxic relationship.
Most happy marriages (which doesn’t seem to be the majority mind you based on 50% divorce rates) have squabbles and the occasional volcanic eruption, but for the most part are based on respect for the individual and the overall goals of the couple and their families.
Yes, love can fade, mishaps happen, life has stress and things can be unpredictable. Money, the news, families and personalities can all clash.
But if you in your heart of hearts have unconditional love for your partner the way you do for your mom or siblings, you’re probably not in “toxic relationship” even though the fights are getting a little too frequent.
Not all bad relationships are toxic but I’m pretty sure all toxic relationships are bad.
no one: married girls on insta: being in love is the HARDEST thing ever but so WORTH IT we fight NONSTOP but we love like CRAZY I fucking HATE my husband but that’s just part of being in LOVE true love is DIRTY & HARD but so REWARDING I LOVE doing his LAUNDRY & wiping his ASS
If you’re unsure if you’re just “going through a rough patch” and don’t want to quit when it counts, I totally get it. Nobody wants to risk their future on challenging times and there is no guarantee other relationships won’t have similar issues.
If however you’re really pulling your hair out and this is starting to feel like more trouble than it’s worth…well, read on and see if all of this feels a little too familiar.
1. First Reaction When They Call
One of the first signs of an unhealthy relationship starts at the most basic level…communication.
When your phone rings and you see that it’s him or her, are you easy, neutral or excited? Or is your first thought…”FU*K!”
If the latter, well, starting short and sweet…you know that’s probably not a good thing.
It’s fine if you’re a texter and she’s a caller or vice versa, but simple communication need not be so stressful.
Side Note: If you have a friend or sibling who you think is in a bad relationship, notice how their facial expressions change when they answer a partner’s phone call.
2. The Past is Always In The Present
You dated that person, what were you thinking!
You liked my cousin or best friend first!
You slept with so many people before you knew me.
You’re just like your father.
Your mom doesn’t like me.
You’re not over your ex.
History is great to learn lessons for the future, but unfortunately in modern romance it also sometimes becomes part of the present.
In many relationships a guy might like a girl because she’s this super hot dancer or model or whatever, and then never let it go that she always had romantic options and you know, took advantage of them.
Or a girl might be in love with some Don Juan playboy, then go bonkers with insecurity and doubt from all his female friends.
It’s totally human to have jealousy and insecurity, but if you jump into something or someone for the wrong reasons those things don’t just vanish with time. Be honest about yourself and your relationships, which leads me to my next point.
3. There Is No Respect for Him or Her
My mom says this to me all the time and I thought it was just typical auntie speak so I rolled my eyes throughout my teens and twenties when she’d preach it. But now it makes so much sense.
It really just boils down to respect.
Think about it.
Have you ever heard someone say “Man I love him so much. Oh but I don’t respect him?!?”
Let’s be honest…we all have friends who marry the first person they meet or hookup with despite a million red flags. Maybe that’s you?
You’re scared to be alone, or you think you’ll never find someone else again. I get it.
Starting over is scary. But so is quitting your job to pursue your passion or starting a business. But people do it all the time.
If you never really respected the person beyond the first hookup, well, this is like building a foundation that’s ready to crumble. Other ways to see if you have a respect problem:
If you think you’re a hot shot at your tech job and her social media job is BS, chances are you have zero respect for your partners professions.
If you’re a doctor and he’s a nurse, ditto.
If he’s a comedian and you’re an investment banker, don’t pretend like you admire his early hustle when deep down you’re waiting for him to return to the corporate world.
If your family is loaded and his parents are lower middle class, and you secretly never want to visit their house or bring them around…well, I mean…come on.
Respect is such a simple thing, but it’s often overlooked due to physical attraction or insecurities.
Don’t let it happen to you.
Respecting a man or woman doesn’t just mean opening the door for them or paying the bill sometimes. It means you look up to them (or evenly) and want to share this journey called life together. It means you have partners you admire and qualities you know will also make you a better person and vice versa.
4. You’d Break Up, But You Don’t Want To Be Alone
I don’t understand why it’s so hard to admit “I’m lonely.”
We’re all lonely bro.
Sure, it might have taken you 25 years to get that first human to touch your lips, but so what? It also took you 22 years to get a paycheck, or an MBA, or a flight overseas.
I also understand that maybe you’re 34 and you’re not going to meet another guy tomorrow who will then be ready to have kids by 36.
But again, people do it all the time.
And you know what’s worse than being single at 35 with no kids and a ticking clock?
Being single at 45 with the same situation.
So why do you want to double down on a losing bet? Marriage and kids ain’t gonna solve this headache Sharon.
Also, while it might have taken you years to get comfortable with your toxic ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, trust me, as you get older, it thankfully gets way easier to know if someone is right for you.
The best part of bad relationships is that they may not teach you what you want, but they do teach you what they don’t want.
And using that lens is a surprisingly effective way to clear through the modern dating clutter to find someone who really makes you feel happier again. (Not happy in general, that’s all you fam).
If you’re 40 and realizing this isn’t going anywhere, then:
Cut the cord (e.g. End it)
Hit the gym (we all need to go).
Sign up for the apps (online dating is now just dating)
Be honest about what you’re looking for.
Go On dates (get ready for tens or even hundreds of awkward encounters)
Ignore your ex’s hobbies on social media and let them make a fool of themselves.
Get to know yourself again. (hardest on this list)
Embrace boredom and being alone.
It won’t be easy, but take it from someone who has done all of the above it will probably be one of the best phases of your life in hindsight.
5. You Keep Track of Everything
Scorecards are great for competitions, but unfortunately relationships aren’t basketball games and keep the shots on the court.
I don’t know who has paid for dinner more between my brother and I, yet in toxic relationships this is the first quarter in which people start keeping score. Then it moves into things like:
I helped you get that job.
Who connected you with that vendor?
I fixed your dad’s garage.
I made dinner last night, last month or last year.
I’m not saying you should pay for everything in a relationship (one of my biggest peeves is that) but when you keep score of who does what for the other person it says a few things about your situation. One, you’re helping with expectation (a problem most of us have) and two, the score says that one of you is winning.
Winning what exactly?
Ahh, so you’re comparing yourself to them. One of you needs to have the upper hand. What else is going on?
It’s normal to let these things come up (I mean, if you bought your wife a car for her birthday and got a cake at yours, sure, go ahead and feel a little angry) but when you track EVERYTHING CONSTANTLY is when problems arise. Didn’t I make dinner for you last month? How can you say I never cook?
Having conversations like these on a weekly basis are treading into toxic territory!
6. One Person is Too Dependent
I just love him too much.
What does that even mean?
I see it all the time however, especially in situations when one highly independent person dates or marries a highly dependent person.
The independent person likes to continue to go out with his boys (or girls), hang out with colleagues and travel for work. The dependent person has morphed his or her world to match that of their partners.
Problems ahead? You betcha.
Now one person feels suffocated, while the other continues to feel neglected. That turns into arguments, fights and resentment.
Every relationship needs balance.
On the flip side both of you shouldn’t be doing your own things all the time and only meet at night or for sleeping, but make sure you get somebody who is on your wavelength.
Whether that be communication styles and frequency (more on that below) or on simply existing together, most healthy relationships are ones in which differences can be celebrated rather than highlighted.
It’s good your partner wants to go on that Yoga retreat for 5 days to improve his or her mental and physical well being, so rather than go nuts wondering why they don’t want you to come (Do you even Yoga bro?) appreciate the effort and let them shine?
Everybody agrees on a balanced life, so why can’t we agree on a balanced relationship?
7. They Can Never Be Happy For You
You got promoted at work? Nice, so did your boss quit?
Netflix called for your TV show script? I mean, wow, I heard they’re super competitive, don’t get your hopes up!
Why do you even work with her? She’s such a bi***. (But you always thought your boss was fine?).
Your friends wedding was nice, but was it really required to spend so much money?
Attitudes are contagious and so is negative thinking.
Just like one slice of pizza can ruin an entire day’s workout, so to can on 30 minute rant affect your entire outlook on work or family.
Misery loves company, and if you found yourself younger being so happy go lucky and now jaded and resentful, this might be your relationships. (It could also just be the career grind as you get older, to be fair).
In relationships, two negatives don’t make a positive but one negative definitely makes the whole thing negative!
I don’t know the science behind negative people, but it’s easy to spot genuine excitement versus resentment, jealousy or fear of you moving on. You might be so excited you got that position you worked so hard for, but all they might hear is now you’ll have to travel more and meet other people.
A good litmus test would be to share exciting news with your partner, and then share it with a friend completely unrelated to the accomplishment at hand. (e.g. If you passed your law exam, share it with your aunt or medical school friend).
Isn’t it odd how your friend, family or acquaintance showed more excitement and sincerity than your husband or wife?
People who constantly belittle their partners, or even themselves are not the kind of toxic people you need in your life. Help them, or help yourself and move on.
The toxicity of our city…(System of Down reference anyone?)
8. Controlling Relationships
You know what really grinds my gears? People who tell you where to go when they can’t even drive.
In relationship speak, these are people who want to throw their weight around even when it’s not required. I don’t know what controlling behavior stems from, but I’m going to guess it has to do with insecurity and self doubt.
“Maybe people control because they are afraid of being abandoned. They don’t feel secure in their relationships and are often testing to see if they’re about to be betrayed. The paradox is that their behavior creates exactly what they fear the most.”
We see it all the time.
Your husband giving you career advice when he has no clue about your field.
You’re ok with the waiter taking five extra minutes to bring the water, but your spouse needs you to be just as irritated.
One of you has a headache, and now both of you better not go to that birthday party.
Controlling behavior also stems from projection, in which maybe I never followed my dreams of starting a business so now I’ll be annoyed if you do. We project our own insecurities and doubts on someone else and only feel validated when they have the same experience.
Radio was one of the earliest forms of modern communication. Radio signals are made of radio raves. Earlier I said find someone who is on your wavelength.
Coincidence? No wave! (ok sorry)
Point being, communication in relationships shouldn’t be so difficult. Or at least day to day communication shouldn’t be this challenging.
A good early sign for many relationships is if he or she is a constant effort on WhatsApp or texting. You want to be at work (with it’s own stresses) uninterrupted and focused, but now you feel those 600 messages in your pocket.
Uff, spare me the horror.
If that kind of non stop, no time for anything else messaging is your cup of tea, then sure, find someone who is like that JUST AS MUCH. But if not, live and let live?
It only takes a second to plant a crappy thought in someone’s mind for the rest of the day, and renting out negative space in your mind’s real estate should warrant Park Avenue prices.
I have friends and family who purposely put off talking to their spouse or consciously avoid 100 messages until they’re ready to tackle the whole thing on a coffee break, but again, why let it get to that?
Sometimes silence makes the loudest noise, and true love, living together and companionship is knowing that life is not just movies, meals and talking all day. Learn to appreciate (and value) your time away as that’s what makes your time together important.
You worked hard at school and work to be this well rounded individual that was so attractive to your partner in the first place, now why do they want to be front and center and make the rest of that so difficult?
Focus on the quality of your communication, built on trust and respect, versus the quantity and frequency.
10. The Social Media Whiner
Does your partner run to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to complain about “some people” every time you have some argument?
Do they constantly put up selfies of themselves looking for comments/feedback (especially when times are tough) to remind you that they’re so popular?
Are they constantly looking for validation on whatever opinion they’re currently holding on to?
I feel bad for people who air their dirty laundry in public because not only is it difficult for the other partner who is meant to see it, it’s also letting everyone else know that tough times are aplenty. That continues to chip away at respect, doubt, insecurity and the rest of the toxic relationship cocktail.
What did these people do before social media? What will they do after as organic reach continues to dwindle?
Also, if you hate your relationship so much, why don’t you do something about it? Oh that’s right…you won’t…you just want to make both of your lives miserable.
While this particular reason might not stand alone as the litmus test of toxic behavior, it’s not a positive sign. You might find it cute or funny at first but we wary of things to come!
11. You Can’t Be Alone, Together.
A lot of girls might roll their eyes on this one, especially coming from a guy and say things like “If you want to be alone all the time, why not just be single?”
Fair, but the news has never been stronger that we all need mental health, mindfulness and peace of mind now more than ever.
Not to mention, willpower is limited but distractions are infinite. Every time you put down your book or laptop to fight argue with your partner, you slowly deplete the dedication to finish that book or work (or even a TV show you were looking forward to watch).
The average person sees thousands of signals, advertisements, updates, messages and more EVERY DAY.
We need to learn how to have time to yourself. And just like in relationships, yes, time with yourself should be quality time.
Some days (not all) you do want to watch ESPN repeats while she wants to watch a romantic comedy. Sometimes she may want to read a book after dinner while you actually want to Netflix and chill.
Being together means well…being…and if you can’t coexist without putting pressure on the other that kinda sucks.
Set aside time for the activities that mater and sure, be willing to improvise.
Some days you just really need to cuddle it up and be pampered, but we’re all adults and we’re all trying to navigate this thing called life. In college you and your bestie could just faff away on your phones all night and organically just break out into convo as and when, so why can’t you and your hubby do the same?
You can’t help who you love, but you also need to learn to love yourself. Being self centered gets a bad reputation because there’s a thin line between it being self centered and being selfish.
But if the list above made sense…well, you deserve better and you’ll realize it as you start taking care of yourself. If you’re also looking for signs that your ex is miserable without you, you probably have it if you finally understand some of the tell tale-signs of a toxic person.
Disrespect, anxiety, always asking for help and advise could all be signs you’re in a bad relationship, or at the very least dealing with a toxic person.
Many of us are taught to be nice, treat others well and always putting folks before ourselves. Unfortunately this leads to mismatches in behaviors and expectations and before you know it, you don’t understand how you’re such a jerk and the mayor of Toxic town.
If your relationship is more stress than it’s worth (and be honest if you’re just being a lazy baby) and you know in your heart of hearts a huge weight off your shoulders would be lifted if you just didn’t have it…well, you have your answer.
Now go be an adult and make the changes necessary to fix your situation.