So how do we spot unsafe people? Here is a list of some, but not all, of the signs to help us identify the unsafe people in our lives.
1. Wears a fake smile
2. Is moody much of the time and goes for long periods of disconnection
3. Doesn't reciprocate your friendship, return calls, extend invitations, etc.
4. Only comes to you when they need you
5. Gets defensive when confronted
6. Focuses on the negative
8. Condemns and judges rather than forgives
9. Is unreliable
10. Is self-absorbed
11. Denies the impact of their behavior on you and others
A sure sign you've touched on a problem in the relationship is #5 - he or she gets defensive when confronted. Here's a personal story.
I called a friend who had been in a lot of physical pain to see how she was doing. During the conversation, she made what I'll call "one of her comments". You know the kind - the stabbing but subtle so you're not really sure how to take it kind of comment That day, I decided it was time to say something to her. One never knows how the other person is going to react, but I was prepared. As I held the phone away from my ear, she went on and on and finally hung up. Red flag! Now this woman appeared to be meek, soft-spoken and kind so I was quite surprised at her reaction. She never called back to apologize. This is an example of an unsafe person.
Safe people care about your feelings. They don't minimize them. They take responsibility for their actions. Not only do they apologize sincerely, they make an effort to change their behavior. Everyone has their sensitivities and if we value the relationship we will put forth the effort.
Unsafe people are inauthentic and spiritually immature. They are not comfortable in who they are so they pretend to be someone they are not. They react rather than respond. They break off relationships rather than set boundaries and deal with differences. They cannot handle confrontation without getting defensive. Confrontation takes courage and energy. It is a way of preserving and improving the relationship when handled correctly.
If you are in an unhealthy relationship, you will often feel uncomfortable. Pay attention to your feelings. They are trying to tell you something. They are warning you that something is not quite right. It is only a matter of time before the true person emerges. Sadly, many people have pretended for so long, they are good at hiding behind a mask. It takes time to see the real person. Often we have developed an emotional attachment to the other person or we so want to be in relationship, our neediness prevents us from seeing and dealing with the problem. No relationship is worth losing your self-respect over.
A more healthy and safe response from my friend would have sounded something like this. "Gee, I am sorry I said that. I didn't mean to offend you. I will be more careful in the future to not say/do things like that." See the difference? A safe person CARES about your feelings and their impact on you. This person has taken ownership of their actions. They do not judge, blame, or defend themselves. They can accept criticism however it is delivered. Safe people care about maintaining a healthy and authentic relationship.
It is important to realize that we all have areas where we can come up higher and behaviors that are unsafe which emerge from time to time. Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." We are meant to be in community, not live isolated lives. We must also be willing and able to handle confrontation. None of us is perfect but ignoring problems only allows them to persist. Relationships cannot grow unless problems are addressed in a healthy manner. This includes self-reflection, confrontation, and the willingness to change.
What relationship difficulties have you experienced? Reflect upon a situation where you felt uncomfortable. How did you handle the situation? If you have spotted any other unsafe behaviors, feel free to share them with us either in the comments below or on Facebook.
We're all on a spiritual journey whether we realize it or not. We are here on this earth to grow and to become whole. If you'd like to join our blog community and receive my bi-weekly posts, enter your email in the box provided and I'll send you my free guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".
Until next time, be authentic, be caring and keep looking up!