5 Creative Ways to Avoid Toxic Relationships Early

This post is my first attempt to write about relationships. It is timing for today’s Valentines Day.

SUNDAY NIGHT, my friend and I were debating what to do with our evening – we wanted some time off from our normal routine, from work and family – when we went to a new restaurant/bar in Makati. Sitting beside us were two friends, a girl and a guy sipping their cocktails and seemingly discussing some breakup story. My friend reached out to the guy, “Hey, my friend here would like to know your friend.” “Sure,” the guy said.

The girl was in her brown shorts and earth-colored top with some small flower prints. Her hair was down, long and lustrous. She has a heart-shaped face and expressive almond-shaped eyes. We joined tables, I sat beside her and immediately felt the connection. We partied the entire night with some more of their friends who followed them. I went to my hotel around 4 am and eventually missed my early morning flight to Bacolod that day.

The thing is, I didn’t get her number. I intentionally did not.

Long story short, several years after, we met again. And then after a series of events that happened, we got together. In time, I will share with you the details.

But I was fortunate. I was a lucky man in meeting her randomly in a random place, but getting together was not overnight. It was a long process because maybe I was avoiding a toxic relationship, but perhaps not. But in the end, I learned that she’s the most non-toxic person that I’ve ever met. It was worth it.

What I want to share today are some creative ways that I learned to avoid toxic relationships early. The sad truth is that you won’t know until you get into the relationship first. But leaving soon is ideal if you know the signs, so you only get minimal damage emotionally. Because emotional damage radiates to your work, and other relationships and it affects productivity.

  1. Get past the first three months. The first three months are heaven. It is where you’ll experience the best version of the person. Yes, he or she may show toxic behaviors but tolerate it at first. Maybe he/she is just having a rough time.
  2. Be mindful of his or her moments. What is a “moment”? A “moment” to me, are the issues, quarrel attempts, and silent treatments. These issues can be a lack of trust, abuse, infidelity, etc. After the three month incubation period, if the person is still consistently having a moment, then be mindful of how frequent it is. Is it seldom, moderate, or always? Then assess if you can tolerate that frequency for the rest of your life. If not, then break up. Why? Because a person with seldom moments exists.
  3. Assess your moments too. It takes two to tango. If your SO seldom has moments, then assess yours because toxic relationships are a two-way street. To me, the leading cause of those issues, quarrel attempts, and silent treatments are low self-esteem and insecurity. So find ways to build your self-esteem. If it’s your weight, then workout and diet. If it’s your career, then don’t be lazy. Love yourself first before you are ready to love others.
  4. Assess your feelings. What do you feel when you wake up beside him/her?  Are you excited for her to wake up? What do you feel when you leave for work?  Are you glad you’re out of his/her sight?  What do you feel when you eat together, in the car or watching a movie?  Do you feel like you wanna be somewhere else? Can you extend your patience if he/she is annoying?
  5. Be completely honest and respectful. It’s so liberating to be in an honest relationship. If you feel you’re not honest with him/her or vice versa, then it will be toxic in the future. It is just a matter of time. Moreover, being respectful in your conversations, saying thank you’s, good mornings and sorry consistently are significant signs of a non-toxic relationship.

These tips are just practical ways at the top of my head. I know this is a broad topic and complicated. But these are the basics. Breaking up with someone especially if the relationship has been ongoing for years is another topic, but it is important that you leave early. Now if the above is all fine and okay, then you’re on the right track. Having a non-toxic someone for the rest of your life is one of the greatest lucks you’ll ever have.

Five Stages of Happiness with Children

Dec 2018

I walked up to the lying-in clinic in our condominium in Makati and asked my grandmother how’s the labor going. She said I have to wait a little more. I waited, then after a few hours, she called me and I raced inside. I saw the most beautiful thing in the world. The doctor wrapped her in a clean white cotton sheet and handed over to me. I held her in my arms for the first time while her eyes were tightly closed. I named her Fiona, and she was born on June 3, 2003.

It was March 13, 2008, when my second child was born. His sister was around five years old at that time. We were in Makati Medical Hospital, and I got there mid-afternoon after skipping a business meeting. After a few minutes, the nurse told us that the baby’s ready for viewing. Fiona and I walked holding hands to the nursery. The nurse opened the curtain, while Fiona was jumping up and down with her head tilted upwards to glance her brother. And there we saw the cutest thing lying on his stomach with powdered-white skin and dimples he got from me. I named him Charles.

About six years after that, I was in another hospital, in Lipa, Batangas. The labor took so long. We got into the hospital around lunchtime, and it was already 10:00 pm and still no news. I had to go outside to get some beer and feel relaxed. I ended up napping on the stairwell of the hospital past midnight. It was June 7, 2014, at 3 am when the doctor came out of the operating room. I scrambled onto my feet and looked at her. She’s the sweetest baby girl I’ve seen. I knew right away that her long cute fingers were from me. I named her Isabela.

Above were the happiest moments of my life. I still feel those sweet moments while I write this. The difficult times of appeasing them in the middle of the night and shaking their formula bottle to feed them were nothing compared to the joy that they bring every day. Yes, things change when they grow up, but that’s the exciting part. You’ve been a part of them in their first smile, first time to sit down, to crawl, stand, walk and talk. As kids, their attention span is so quick, when you arrive from work, they kiss and hug you for a while, and then they play.

The weekend has always been the best days of the week. That’s the only time I thoroughly enjoy them. Here are the five stages of happiness with children :

  1. It’s always the first time you hold them. Then the first few months of putting them in the crib and carrying them on your arms and shoulders. Bathing them is enjoyable. You prepare the warm water, the tub, and the towel. You see them react for the first time to temperature change. And that sudden quick arm and leg movements in the bathtub.
  2. In the first year, just by looking at them will make anyone smile. You want them to giggle almost every moment. You enjoy their self-weaning time. Watching them wean on their own like a drunk little person taking food to their mouth and all over their face.
  3. As a toddler, making fun of how they talk is so enjoyable. Every word that comes out to their mouth is so cute. Their hugs and kisses are the warmest though very fragile. Isabela has her ways to give sweet little actions when she’s with me.
  4. At five to ten, they are excited about life. They quickly absorb anything. I enjoy bringing them to hikes, and beaches. It’s so refreshing to teach them how to survive life in a way that it will be easy for them to realize and comprehend. It is their grooming years. Charles right now enjoys sketching and solving puzzles.
  5. Fiona is now nearing sixteen, and from a little one, she has now grown into a young teenage girl. My happiest day when I first held her always give me that sense of memory every time I see her. I enjoy talking to her about her friends, about her school lessons, her struggles, and her dreams.

I can’t wait to see them experience adulthood, solve problems on their own and have their own family. They are the most fulfilling thing in the world.