Is it just me or did 2017 feel like a monumental year for bullies everywhere? With the Internet being what it is, cyberbullying continued to rear its ugly head, even prompting celebrities like Ed Sheeran to quit certain aspects of social media. On the bright side, the Internet enabled the viral exposure of schoolyard bullying (old-school bullying) with the Keaton Jones video making waves across social media and garnering support from several celebrities and politicians alike.

Last year, I had a friend. I won’t give this person’s name for obvious reasons. I won’t say anything more about this person other than my relationship with them in 2017 is the reason I felt the need to write this article; because sadly, bullying doesn’t end in the schoolyard. It often follows us well into adulthood and can be even more painful than having your lunch money stolen by that snub-nosed kid Peter in the third grade.

So here are four signs to help you identify and deal with a bully in your life….

1. You don’t feel like your best self around this person. 

Over the years, I’ve walked away from a few friendships because I finally realized that almost every time I was with these so-called ‘friends,” I felt bad about myself. I would leave my time with these various people often feeling drained, unhappy, and confused. What I’ve learned, and it seems like it should be common sense, is that a healthy friendship is supposed to make both people feel refreshed, energized, and ultimately a better person, because of their relationship with the other person. Granted, there are always going to be instances of misunderstanding and maybe even hurt feelings in any friendship or intimate relationship. But as long as both parties are willing to work through their differences, make apologies where apologies are due, and try to understand each other better, the relationship remains healthy. 

2. This person is only nice to you when they want something from you. 

Learn to recognize the people in your life who only act friendly towards you when it’s convenient for them. These people are fairly easy to spot. Often, your relationship with somebody like this can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. The highs can make you feel like they are your very best friend and the lows can leave you feeling terrible about yourself and that person. This is because they will make you feel like the most valued, awesome person in the world when they need something from you (i.e. an opportunity, a favor, emotional or financial support, etc). However, they are quick to change faces when you are no longer useful to them. They will revert to treating you how that they really think of you, which often isn’t very nice, because they’re weren’t a very nice person to begin with. 

3. You feel like a doormat around this person. 

This goes hand in hand with the previous sign. If you’re in a friendship or relationship where the other person is constantly manipulating you and you feel afraid to say “no” to them, it’s time to evaluate whether this is the best situation for you. What I’ve learned in the past from having friends, boyfriends, and even bosses treat me as if I don’t have a voice, is that standing up for yourself to these people will usually end in one of two ways: either the person you’re confronting will respect you for being open and honest with them, or they will continue to walk all over you and may even get angry and defensive when their behavior is confronted. Sadly, I’ve found the latter is the case more often than not.

4. This person won’t acknowledge they hurt you. 

Sometimes when you stand up for yourself to the person who is hurting you, that person is unwilling to even acknowledge your hurt. I’ve had instances where I’ve confronted someone who hurt me, only to experience even more aggression from the person. Here’s the thing, it’s not that person’s right to say they didn’t hurt you. If someone in your life is unwilling to acknowledge and end their negative behavior towards you, then it’s probably time to disconnect from that person and channel your energy into making your healthy relationships even stronger.

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