signs of a toxic relationship

Are You In A Toxic Relationship?

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.  

Funny in 1956 and funny today.

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, 
  • pop culture, 
  • the rise of social media
  • hookup culture
  • 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. 

Signs of A Toxic Relationship

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. 

Sound familiar? 

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.
The truth here is so scary.

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.

According to Psych Central: 

“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.  

  1. Your husband giving you career advice when he has no clue about your field.  
  2. You’re ok with the waiter taking five extra minutes to bring the water, but your spouse needs you to be just as irritated. 
  3. 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.  

How is that good for anyone? 

Read Next: Should You Date Someone Ten Years Older?

9. The Non Stop Messages

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? 

Read Next: Who Makes You Mediocre?

Read Next: Nice Guys Finish Last But That’s the Point


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.

Sanjay Manaktala is a stand up comedian, host of the Birdy Num Num podcast, author of My Beta Does Computer Things and digital content creator.

how to build confidence not be creepy

How To Ask Someone Out Without Being Creepy

Updated June 3rd, 2019

I’m so scared of looking creepy I won’t even ask you out.

Huh, what?

Dating is Awkward

I was at a bar in Goa recently doing what middle-class millennials do when they’re trying to cling on to their youth.

Having some drinks, wearing my cool Rainbow sandals that I got from California and chilling with some friends.  

And since I’m a fairly normal dude with an ok life on paper…by friends I mean 8 guys and 2 of their wives.  And by chilling, I mean pretending to enjoy the techno/psytrance/electronica or whatever it’s called these days while some douchey Russian bro tripping next to me reminds me of my bad life choices.

You get the idea.

As the evening is in full swing, I notice a group of four girls checking me out from the corner of my eye.

Now I’m no Brad Pitt and nothing to swoon about (although I did check to see if Brad was perhaps behind me), but I am fairly aware of my surroundings and have an ok level of confidence you require by a certain age.

I’m not the prize of the show but I’m not hideous, and when a group of attractive females are eye humping you, you’re mind figures out a game plan.

I mean you need some confidence to dance around Bangalore acting like IT is the shiz.

I started thinking maybe there’s a small chance I know one of them, or perhaps they know me, or hey, maybe, just maybe, this is what Goa is really all about. (Ahhhhhh yeah…….it’s going down).

So I did what any of us would have done in that situation.


True story.

Now I would love to start my lecture to you about how bars are a waste of time, but that’s not where I’m going yet.

Oh, how I wish it was.

You see while I noticed the ladies and took a sip of my drink while awkwardly making eye contact (which by the way, please never do while sipping), my friends did also.

So the peer pressure was on, and since we exchanged a few smiles and I was feeling in my zone, I went for it.


Dating is not the movies

Lowered the drink near pocket level to avoid spillage (cue Eminem music), waited for a gap in the crowd and began the swag walk over.  

Step by step, playing out each quick option in my head.

“Hey, hows it going? You girls like Goa?”

You girls like Goa? WTF?

Easy enough I thought, but very generic.

But screw it, eye contact made and smiles exchanged, this would be easy enough to chat for a bit, impress the friends staring from their safe zone and then say bye and walk back, number in hand with the confidence of Oceans 11.

So I walk up and say “Hey Ladies, how are you?” and wait for the glory to begin.

They take a look at me, giggle, and turn around.

Confidence Level: Zero.

Dealing with Rejection is Normal.

I’ve been rejected before, and I’ve done the same to others for probably the same reasons. (e.g. I don’t find you attractive but I got to make something else up). Rejection I can handle, and it’s completely normal to be on both sides.

But the reason I write about this one now is that it sort of triggered off so many mixed emotions in my head.

I really have no recollection of what those girls looked like, but I clearly remember everything else.

Walking back embarrassed, laughing about it as my friends commended me on the effort, and then giggling to myself in the plane like a psycho as I thought of this blog.

But the main thought, the main confusion and main embarrassment in the moment was “What exactly did I miss?”  

Did I take too long to approach them, and somehow lose their interest by the time I cozied on over?

Was I too generic in how I said Hello? I mean clearly these girls are savants of passionate romantic authors like Milan Kundera (Unbearable Lightness anyone?) and introductions required much more than a simple “hi.”

Or am I really having an epiphany about bar culture thinking I was about to meet the love of my life at 3 AM in a crowded disco in the middle of Goa during Biker Week?

The answer to all of those questions is yes. And no. But more importantly, who gives a shit?

Spare me the horror (cue line from the movie Fashion)

If you’re confused, well you’re supposed to be.

Because that’s what growing up in pub/club culture is really all about.

Confusion.  Misaligned expectations.  And whole bunch of WTF moments.

None of us are really there for the music or good conversation, although we all enjoy being around people and knowing we picked the right place for the evening because “that’s where everyone else is.”  So we each stumble through these nights acting/behaving in a certain fashion that creates a series of frustrating experiences like the one outlined above. The girls probably don’t care about dancing but do enjoy the selfies and having a night out, and the guys could give one shit about the DJ but are hoping to at least massage their egos as the night progresses.

Either way, this presents a huge set of problems for you and me.

Of the hundreds of nights out I’ve had with friends, I’ve probably spent 80/100 at a bar/restaurant/club. And out of the hundreds of weddings I’ve been to, I think 1/100 of those couples actually met as strangers in the night at a local pub.

The same is true for friendships, in that I don’t think I have a single close friend I initially met over a drink.

As a result, for a single bachelor or bachelorette, things get interesting with time.

When you’re 22 this world is exciting and full of promise.

You walk around full of confidence in whiskey form shoving your groin into anything that moves, thinking the girl will turn around and say “Oh my, what a gentleman you are.

Let’s go back to your hostel, I don’t even mind if it’s non-AC.”

When you’re 25, the hostel becomes a hotel (or your own apartment), and the cycle continues.

As you cross 30, full of disposable income but still trying to fill your social calendar, it becomes a bit easier to spot the gaps.

You realize many roads lead to the same place and you might be taking the one in need of some major repairs.

Guys and girls are both looking to meet people, date, travel, have shared experiences and live up their youth. You can do all these things but straying from the herd once in a while might be the way to do it.

We complain about movies and skip the bad ones.

We complain about government and involve ourselves as required.

With the modern dating/bar-hopping scene, try to make your own decisions as well.  

Pubs are a great place to spend time with friends, but not an ideal place to make new ones.


We should complain about those too.

If I sound like some jaded loner who is just burned out with the status quo, that’s ok. I’d rather it be me than you. But as someone who has done great some months and terrible others on the social front, one thing I’ve realized is the system generally forces you to be something you’re not.

I grew up hearing the phrase “Nice guys finish last” even though that’s all I ever wanted to be.  

Nice guys edit fast.

I like helping my friends and it brings me joy to see them happy.  

If a girl texts me and my phone is nearby, God forbid I reply right away.  (Wait two days? Dude, I got this slick haircut today and she needs to SEE IT NOW).  

I also was a platinum member with the hotel brand the JW Friend Zone. But in my own personal experiences, only when I started to ignore the opposite sex did I find them no longer ignoring me.

I couldn’t entirely be myself cause the friend zone got boring, but I couldn’t come on too strong because that wasn’t who I was and there’s a very thin line between cool and creepy.  

And frankly, most of us have no idea when we cross it.  

I would love to ask the cute girl at Starbucks if she would like to get a coffee (Whoa…if you make a coffee date at a coffee shop did it just happen?) the way I hear it’s supposed to be done.

I’d love to swoon you off your feet on the dance floor or over tequila shots the way MTV showed me.  

But honestly, all of that seems like a paradox these days.  Men and women want a partner who’s planned yet spontaneous, sweet but has an edge, and competitive yet relaxed.



When you play by the book you’re unoriginal, and when you try all the cool shit you realize the book is fiction.

Dave Chappelle once famously said that “Chivalry is dead and women Killed it.”

While the crowd immediately recognizes the joke and bursts out in applause, there is an obvious recognition of truth that cuts both ways for men AND women.

We live in a time where both genders complain about being single even though (technically) it’s never been easier to meet someone.  

Technology killed our social interactions, we have dwindling attention spans, yada yada.  

But when you’re spending your days learning to be yourself and then spending your evenings trying to be someone else, at which point do you step back for a laugh to realize how absurd it’s all become?  

There was a time you could walk up to someone, smile, and tell them something polite.  In fact, as far as I remember, that was what you were supposed to do. When that changed, I have no idea.

But if you can’t even do that anymore, what are you supposed to do?

Comments? Pop them below.

indian mama's boy

Indian Men Are Mama’s Boys and How To Stop It

Can A Mother’s Love Cause Harm?

If you’re struggling in your marriage with a tough mother-in-law this article might help you too ladies.

The modern Indian man is an interesting specimen.  

A good portion of us fit very nicely into a neatly packaged box.  

We grew up humble, studied and worked our way to a stable lifestyle, had a girlfriend or two, and now checklist our way through life’s remaining milestones.  

Listen if you don’t want to read.

We each also have families that are far from perfect, but typically have far tighter bonds thanks to those same imperfections.  One family might have the alcoholic uncle, another the shady businessman relative while another the drug-abusing nephew.  

But regardless of each family’s “oh that thing they’re known for in gossip corners”, Indian culture, for the most part, is built on very strong family ties that stand the test of time to raise some pretty awesome people.  

And one of the staples of Indian family dynamics is, as you might have already guessed…the Indian Mother.

I remember growing up in California and having friends (aka white people) come to sleepover. Their moms would drop them off at 6 PM, we would eat Cheetos, play video games, and then their moms would pick them up at 10 AM the next day while the smell of Aloo Puri would be happily escorting them out of our house.  

Enjoy your pizza, Jason.

To them, it was a fairly routine hangout.  To me, I was shocked.  

  • How come their moms hadn’t called 50 times during the night?
  • Where were their snacks from home they might need in case our food wasn’t good or a tornado struck?  
  • Why did I call Jason’s mom “Carol” instead of “Auntie?!?”

As a kid, this constant looking after and affection was something I first resented (“Stop embarrassing me mom!”), then grew accustomed to (“Where’s my socks mom!”) and now in my 30s, is something I’m sort of juggling with.  

Desi Moms are the best and I have grown to respect and admire my own exponentially each year.  She loves my brother and I to death.  She treats her sons with a firm hand but only because she cares about us more than we can imagine.  

But how does one find their place in the universe after being treated like the center for so long? What do these “grown men” do when they enter the world and nobody cares?

That’s sort of where I am in life right now, and I’m curious if you are too.

ALSO: TOIT Owner on our relationship with Alcohol and Ourselves.

Why do our moms yell at our fathers for drinking too much, but think our girlfriends/wives are just stressing their precious boys if they think the same?  

How much love is too much, and how much is not enough?

It’s an interesting dilemma, and I wish I knew the answer.  They’re so many times when my mom stays with me (and I know I sound like a spoiled piece of shit) that I get upset she’s enabling me to take it easy because this is the age I need to get my ass in gear.  

Indian Mothers Hypocricy

Breakfast? Sure, but I should have made it myself.  

Oh, you’ll take care of the dishes? Thanks, mom, I’m gonna go relax and do important stuff like check Facebook.  

Or Tinder.  You’re the best.  

ALSO SEE: Who Enables Your Mediocrity?

While this is awesome (can’t lie), it indirectly enables a habit in each of us that may present problems later.  I unknowingly yell at my mom all the time about lost things around the house or “Yes, for the 50th time, I’ll eat outside and don’t make anything!” and she has never once pointed out this shouting.  (After which I’ll stumble home drunk, having forgotten to eat, and luckily she hears my cupboard banging and whips up something quick to eat).  

It’s nothing malicious and more out of our loving-shouting- communication habit, but good luck speaking in that same tone with your future partner.

How to Detach a Husband from His Mother?

You don’t. You simply show the husband that being a good son and being a good husband are two different things and it’s his job to balance both.

A girlfriend or wife who looks at you on your phone while the dishes are still sitting on the table isn’t gonna tolerate things the same way your mom did.  She might have also just sat in traffic, struggled at the office with her own politics and wants to veg out in food coma just like you.

But alas, that’s not always what beloved mama might think. In fact, the modern Indian mother in law is also, well…not so modern.

In fact I’ve seen couples where the guy stumbles home drunk and the mom looks at her daughter-in-law and says “How could you let him drink so much?”

Da Fuq?
Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 12.40.26 PM
I made this meme in 2016 but I feel it’s still apt here in 2048.

Learn to See Mom’s Bias

There are obviously 600 other things we could talk about, for the sake of simplicity, as you mature through life just try to keep this in the back of your head.  

I’m no psychiatrist but I’m assuming whatever Freud alluded to had merit for him to be so famous that I randomly cite him now.  None of us want to date our mom’s doppelgänger, but I think we can all fairly assume moms subconsciously program a certain expectation of how a woman “should be” that plays a part in our next phase of life.  

Will it repeat with our girlfriends/wives for the next generation and the future sons, or is the new modern family dynamic going to change that? Time will tell but recognize this as you get older.  

Your moms love you and you love them.  They love being there for us (it’s probably a need that goes both ways) and I’m so happy I was raised in a culture that instills family values I’m only now coming to fully appreciate.  But again, keep things in perspective as you go.  

Life is tough, and while you’re a rockstar at home you’ll eventually need to learn how to be a rockstar outside of it where Mom is not enabling you to be king of the castle.

hypocrite woke indian son
Mom material always works in India.

Mom Spoils the Son, then He Goes to Work and Realizes He’s Nothing

I remember at an office meeting years ago, a few clients were visiting from Canada and we got a last minute email that the client’s CEO was going to be joining.  

All of a sudden, ties were required.  No big deal.

One of the 40+ managers runs into my cubicle (I think I was 26 at the time) and he is visibly shaking.  Like Palms sweaty, knees deep, mom’s spaghetti. (Hey! Eminem Mom Pun!)   I look at him, sort of laugh (cause he looked like Milton from Office Space) and asked him what’s wrong?  

Sumukhi Suresh Mother Bias
Mothers can go from loving to sinister real quick.

He said he had no idea how to tie a tie, because (and I quote)…

”Mummy always did it.”

40 Year old IT Senior Manager

Tied his ties.

At 40.

So me, being the smart/suave US educated independent man I was, naturally did what any NRI who thinks he’s better would do.  I grabbed the tie with my American swagger, smiled at little bunty/puthar crying in the corner about his incomplete Windsor and saved the day by doing what I had been trained to do since college:

I googled it.

Hungry? What wait…grab a Punjabi mother.


There is nothing wrong with a family that cares for you, and caring for them back.  

The unwritten agreement in most Desi communities is the parents take care of you into adulthood, and you take care of them the rest of the way.  And that’s completely fine.  

But a lot of times we sort of overlook the major part of life that you and I are now headed.  I know many people aren’t fortunate enough to have parents that love them as much as some of us, and I will cherish my mom till my last breath.  

WhatsApp forward LOL. (Comment if you know source).

But I just wanted to discuss this because it’s something I see people dealing with.  (Also ladies, those of you who call mom or dad on every little adult problem, even at 40…we’ll get to you another day.)

As always, if you have something constructive to say please do so below.

Hugs to you and your mamas.  

And to my mom who raised us alone since I was 13, if you figured out your MacBook and are reading this, I love you.

And I’m hungry. But I’ll help myself.  

If you want to know more, we went straight into it at the thirty second mark a few years back.
do nice guys really finish last

Nice Guys Finish Last. But What’s the Hurry?

Updated March 1st, 2019

Many years ago I was sitting on the couch with my girlfriend at the time, hearing her yell at me about something I don’t even remember.  I was just looking at the wall pretending to pay attention when she immediately got wind of my daydreaming and said “yada yada your mother…yada yada yada….Sanjay WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!?”

“Ummm, you were talking about my mom and err…..Look, I’m a nice guy.  A good person.  I can’t fight over this.’

“Excuse me? Fight over what?”

“Well, to be honest…nothing.”

Funny, but dangerous.

Are You a Nice Guy?

As self-serving as that statement may sound (and trust me, I know it sounds horrible), I’m proud to admit that I’m a nice guy.  

I don’t mean nice in a I’m better than you sort of way.  

I mean I’m nice like…I’m relaxed.  Low maintenance.  Easy going.   And more often than not, even in those moments when you’re supposed to be selfish, like asking for a raise or getting the upper hand in business, success or romance with women (or men), I honestly don’t give a fu*k.

Does the World Care About Nice People?

We live in a world that appreciates people who are selfish.  Trust me, I know.  So do you. You’ve seen it and you’ve lived it.  

Even the origin of the phrase “Nice Guys Finish Last” was meant to promote a victory in sports rivalries, which surprise surprise was based in New York. *cough wolf of Wallstreet cough*

When you answer that girl’s SMS/Whatsapp/Snapchat the second you see it, she thinks you’re desperate.  When you hold off or actually get busy and don’t give a shit, you’re rewarded by becoming the predator from the prey.  

The reward system of life encourages us to be selfish in many places, contrary to popular opinion.  Every business uses terms like being cutthroat, being cocky, being aggressive and PLAY TO WIN.

All of us know this.  

All of us take part in it.  

Each of us is competitive with the other in these little social ecosystems we’ve all built for ourselves.  

I’m guilty of it, and I’m only now recognizing it.  

I used to think if this person did well in comedy or got a better show or a better video, it meant I wouldn’t.  If my buddy pulled the most amazing girl at work, I was pretty much out of luck.  We get so caught up in our little worlds and think that life is a zero-sum game (e.g. If I got the BMW, that means you won’t).  It’s easy to think that way, but I’m here to tell you that when you step out of your bubble and look from the outside in, it’s far from reality.  When you write “Happy Birthday” on someone’s Facebook and they don’t reciprocate back, you know who cares about that little battle you just think you lost?


So rather than trying to climb over everyone to hit the top of your mountain (and stress yourself out along the way)…maybe, just maybe…it’s time to embrace life as a nice guy.  

Not necessarily because being nice is what your teacher told you.  But because being selfish is honestly too much work.

Nice Guys Finish Last Whats the Hurry
Some guys just can’t look mean.

If you’re the guy (or girl) who is always putting your friends or loved ones before yourself and didn’t expect them to return the favor, your life might actually become easier when you help others without expectation.  

You won’t sit around waiting for karma (who is never on time by the way), you won’t keep a mental record of every good deed you did and to be honest, you’ll probably be a lot happier with your place in life given the new equation.  

Being nice with expectations isn’t really being nice at all.

It’s a false notion of patting yourself on the back because you’re secretly waiting to be rewarded down the line, and you’re going to stress yourself out when it doesn’t happen.  

Nice guys finish last.  

Assholes finish first.  

But it’s easier to be yourself than trying to pretend to be the badass you think you need to be.

I’ll happily answer your text because 90% of the time, my phone is next to me.  Setting an alarm to reply back to you in two hours or two days, is honestly just not worth it.

How’s that for some relationships psychology?


Read Next: Why You’re Still Single

Read Next: Who Enables You To Be Mediocre?

If you read this whole thing and need to hear it again with an American accent.

Nice guys do finish last, but maybe that’s the point. I’d rather reach the top of the mountain with my friends (even if they go there first) rather than go at it alone, wondering where the hell everybody is.  

Secondly, nice guys do finish last…but they do eventually finish.   

And I guess in some areas in life (dirty joke intended), finishing last might not be a bad thing.

Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millions laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.


Reasons Why You're Single

Why You’re Still Single (Indian-Asian Version)

A ton of dudes in India, Asia and yes America struggle with interacting with half the population.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

I used to always wonder why was I still single, is there something wrong with me, how come some people are so natural while others seem to have no luck?

So why are you still single? You’re still single because you:

  1. Overthink
  2. Don’t utilize your downtime to improve yourself, the way you would if nobody is giving you a job. (let’s avoid the easy joke here)
  3. *drumroll* You never actually asked anybody out directly, you just beat around the bush on social media.

In this post I’m going to explain all of these in details.

I’m also going to give you some tips so you can eventually learn how to get a girlfriend.

Hint: You don’t learn how to get a girlfriend. You learn how to be a well-rounded person that is attractive to every other person on planet earth.

21 and still single? It’s normal.

Valentine’s day just passed and I saw a lot of stuff about getting friend-zoned, being alone, “love is a sucks” and whatever else 18-30-year-olds say when they have their hormones raging and nowhere to channel that energy.  

Having been there myself (albeit quite some time ago), I distinctly remember the helplessness most dudes feel when you realize you can’t even be around women, let alone talk to them.

So that being said and since I enjoy a dose of Senti in between my increasingly random comedy videos, I thought I’d pen some thoughts on why you, the average nice guy Indian male (or non-Indian male, I grew up in California) might be struggling with the ladies.

25 and still Single? Yep, still normal.

Time to learn about ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. IG:shivayya16

Why You Don’t Have a Girlfriend

Society, Instagram and the movies have taught you some really bad things you need to unlearn. I’m well into my thirties and despite what every romantic comedy (Hollywood and Bollywood) tells you…I’ve never met someone at a bar and gone home with them that night. And with regards to what your friends might say… I feel it’s pretty much the same thing although they’ll never admit it.

Society confuses 20-year-olds so much they pay all their money to get bumped, shoved, pushed, sweat and spit on just to think they’ll meet their soulmate at 2am.

1. You Spend Way too Much Time at Bars

It’s no secret that we can drink at home for a lot cheaper.  

But the promise of being Joey or Barney and having eye candy to stare at doesn’t exist beyond the TV screen.  So naturally Friday comes around and you decide it’s time to go be around some girls.  Except in most cases, the average bar in Bangalore/Mumbai/Delhi has about 75% dudes (if not more) and even if it does have a 50% split, chances are you and your 4 guy friends aren’t getting in without spending too much to convince the bouncer that you’re a valuable addition to the party.

So rather than dedicate all your energy to spending 1K a night (at minimum) on drinks ($20 USD), why not look at things more simply.  

Elon Musk said “if you want to try something new, you have to get things down to their most fundamental truths and reason up from there.”  

In this case, that truth is you’re spending money to be around women.  

Can anyone deny that?  

Yes there is alcohol and music but let’s be honest, that’s all just secondary right?  So instead of wasting so much time at the bars, go to other places the women might be.  

Where can you meet women outside Bars and Pubs?

Not being creepy when you try to approach a woman is a whole other post, but assuming you know how to do it, most guys who don’t want to be single and succeed at finding someone probably do at places like:

  • House parties
  • School/College
  • Networking events
  • Art classes (photography, painting, salsa, French, whatever),
  • Weddings
  • Flea markets
  • Friend or colleagues birthday dinner or lunch
  • Park on Sunday with your dog
  • Online Forums (maybe you both are Quora experts at something?)
  • Cafe
  • Bookstore
  • Gym

Which brings me to my second point:

Is it Really Awesome bro? IG:shivayya16

2. You Don’t Spend Time at the Gym

I don’t mean get a six-pack and I don’t mean be the creepy guy who is staring at the yoga girl doing downward dog…but I mean spend time at a gym on a Friday or Saturday evening.  

Trust me, this video isn’t what you think. Hi Conan!

You’ll be around people who actually enjoy dinner, conversations, movies, and have a strong enough mind to not always follow the herd of the weekend = party.  

And while you should definitely not be that guy at the gym who seems to be only friendly with the ladies (bro who are you fooling we can all see right through you), you will make new friends and have other social activities to go to once in a while.  

My favorite reason for going to the gym, however, is that even if you lose, you win.  

You’re still getting in shape which is only going to further help your confidence and answer that question of “How do I find someone to date?”

30 and still single? Still normal, but spend that dollar on tinder plus please.

3. You Refuse to Use the Apps

Future Black Mirror Episode IG:shivayya16

I have so many friends (girls especially) who act like they’re either too cool, too scared or just too lazy to use the apps.  

What’s wrong with you?

Unless you’re not actively looking for a partner or a hookup why wouldn’t you put yourself out there?  

There’s no need to be desperate to post  “I want a Girlfriend ” or “somebody please tell me how to make girlfriend” on your social media, but if nobody even knows you want to audition for the movie how will you ever get casted?  

And once you decide you want to use Tinder or or Bumble or whatever you’ll have a whole other set of challenges on how to design your profile, behave, and so on.  

Being a stand up comic I see so many guys who spend a year before they try an open mic, and then once they’ve gotten over the stage freight realize the real hustle is now beginning.

They ask me “Hey bro I finally did my first open mic after a year, it was so fun. Can you get me more stage time? To which I reply “I could have a year ago, but now you gotta get in line and make it happen for yourself.”

So get to it bruv!

40 and still single? Again, Still normal, but look inwards not outwards.

4. Have a Side Hustle or Extra Source of Income

I’m glad you have that amazing job at KPMG and you make however much money.  

That’s great you went to that conference in New York or Singapore.  

Oh wow you handle foreign exchange and assist large-cap companies and zzzzzz……….

It amazes me how many people in India (and the world) who belong to the middle-class kind of just think their life is defined by their 9 to 5.  I’ve also never seen a girl impressed by a guy talking about his job at McKinsey beyond just knowing it’s McKinsey.  While you should be proud of your job and salary and future, in the pub or the party where everybody is spending the same on overpriced food and drinks…you’re probably not that much different from the next guy.

Now that we’re living in a time where freelancers exist everywhere, there’s an app for everything and yada yada, I’m surprised that more people limit their professional aspirations to just their job.

It’s so easy to do multiple things, and single people need to realize that:

the best wingman is your accomplishments.  

If you have a standard IT or Finance or Consulting or your dad’s business type of job, at the very least, try to do things which make you interesting because your girlfriend isn’t going to be spending time with you at the office.  

Finding Hobbies Outside of Work

  • Do you like traveling the Himalayas?
  • Taking photos and using Lightroom to do amazing portraits?
  • Maybe you want to know how to play the guitar?
  • Learn to speak French in Bangalore?
  • Do stand up comedy in Delhi?
  • Enjoy film making
  • Have a nerdy obsession with planes
  • Perhaps you want to start your own outsourcing firm for banking software and you’re looking for weekend offices?
  • Make your own gym?  
  • Maybe you enjoy being a frequent flyer snob and love getting free deals to travel the world.  
  • Or maybe you’re the graphic designer I asked to illustrate this blog and put this sentence here to see if he’s reading it?

If you don’t have a side hustle at the moment that’s fine, because most of us don’t even know until 25-35.  But the point is to start looking.

 More than just finding a girlfriend for you, it’s going to help you have a much more balanced and rounded lifestyle.  

Think of the things you’re attracted to in the opposite (or same) sex…that girl who at the office who also does Zumba or that dude at school who treks in Nepal…or even that guy who just sings Karaoke well.  

Whatever it is, for the love of God find some hobbies and income streams on the side to fill your day with.  

You have way more time than you think.

Side Note: I have done 3 TedX talks. IG:shivayya16

5. You never actually asked anyone out.

It amazes me how simple this is.  As I wrote about here, it has its own challenges.  

But regardless, life requires you speak up when you want something.  And in India people are so scared of the basic “Hi Hello can I take you out for coffee sometime” that many misguided souls go right ahead straight to the bobs and vagene.  

Because if you’re going to get rejected, you may as well swing for the six (not the other word.)  

Anybody who complains about being single yet has never at least, 2-3 times a year tried politely asking a girl on a date really has nothing to complain about.  

And if you’re the good looking guy who always gets girls messaging him, go to hell.

6. You Go Out with 5 Guys Instead of 4 Guys 1 Girl

The best wingman is accomplishments.  

The second best is a female friend.

In the 90s the rom-com’s like When Harry met Sally said “men and women can’t be friends” but to be honest, you need to learn to make platonic female friends.  

They’re your best asset.

Girls are out at bars and events to also meet people, but if it’s just ten of you dudes please just skip going out.  

If you’re struggling, go out with your buddy and his girlfriend, or keep your group to 2-3 non-threatening looking guys.  

When you step out with 5 guys (unless it’s an Infosys work dinner), you tell the ladies “Hey, not only do I not know any chicks, all the people I hang out with don’t either.”

7. You don’t have nice shoes or accessories

Every guy goes out with the same outfit.

The full sleeve button-up shirt or polo and jeans.  

I’m no fashion expert but I do know they’re small things you can do to make big differences.  

Simple fashion tips to stand out (from someone allergic to style):

  • Wear a watch (I know, who needs one but still)
  • Clean your shoes, (and honestly in India, you can get a nice pair of shoes for the price of a drink and keep cycling through them)
  • Have cufflinks if a semi-formal event or just something that says “Hey I’m trying.”  
  • Don’t wear chappals (slippers) when you’re out. Yes, they’re comfy. No, you’re not looking cool. And yes we know you don’t care.
  • Wear a belt. Belts are like socks. You may not see them directly but if you catch a glimpse the effort is at least mentally noticed.
  • It’s also amazing how many women notice a guy’s shoes.  

8. You stare and Don’t Smile.

Whenever I’m with my friends who are on the prowl, one thing that bothers me the most is how they scan the room.  

Bro, can you stop making it so obvious?  

A lot of people don’t realize this but everybody literally processes everybody’s face at a bar.  

Ask yourself this question…If Brad Pitt walked into the bar I frequent would I notice? Yup, probably.  Which means you’ve also quickly processed everybody else’s face as well and done a few double takes while you were at it and your mind went “Nope, not Brad Pitt.”

That being said, that cute girl you like in the corner or you think you know from work or school but never talked to…well, she probably noticed you too.

Now you can either try to eye hump her the entire night and then walk over with whiskey breath after the moment has passed, or you can actually smile (fake it even) with your friends and act like Sandeep explaining his 10th trip to Michigan was really that exciting.  

The point being, if you project like you’re having fun (even if you’re not), your chances of meeting someone at a pub, bar or coffee shop at least increase a little.

Dating in India is Broken.


I’m no expert on love but the older I get I do realize the most complicated problems have the most common-sense solutions.  

And to be honest, the fact that billion-dollar industries exist (pick up artists, nightclubs, alcohol, dating sites, self-help) in order to help you meet literally 50% of the population, or literally every other person on earth…tells me the problem shouldn’t really be that complex.

As Steve Jobs said (I think)…”Simplicity is the most complex.”

Savage yet true.

Learning to talk to a girlfriend or even find one is a challenge in itself, but once you do get one the real challenge of how to make him or her happy begins.

So get to it 🙂