A toxic relationship is the most annoying relationship to be in and not for the obvious reasons you’re thinking.

Determining whether a relationship is toxic is or not pretty easy and straightforward.

As long as it’s not our relationship that’s under the scope.

“Being emotionally invested in a toxic relationship” should be an alternative definition of blindness. Your gut knows something isn’t right, but it’s no match for the level to which the force of your head, heart, libido, and limerence will prosecute and turn a blind eye to that instinct of yours at every.single.turn.

I remember years ago, being in the most toxic relationsh*ts and friendsh*ts. I’d be so grateful just to get a little dirt from them on the doormat I had become. What was so incredible though, was that I could spot, identify, and analyze toxic relationships that friends and family were in from a mile away. My toxic relationship radar was unmatched – As long as I wasn’t IN the relationsh*t. If I was in it, that radar was replaced with an insatiable hunger for crumbs – Crumbs from the loaf that was always promised but never existed.

The most difficult and annoying thing about a toxic relationship is that as long as you suffer from low self esteem and need validation like you do oxygen… These codependent relationsh*ts will always bring out the hopeless addict in you and the hopeful, exploitative addict in your partner.

Toxic relationships are highly addictive if you lack confidence, standards, and self love.

The dirty shoes become addicted to using the dutiful doormat and the doormat becomes addicted to the dirty shoes for a sense of feeling needed, significant, and alive.

Addiction is extremely hard to kick. I’ve been an addict – not to drugs or alcohol, but to dysfunction, unavailability, the self-limiting story I chose to subscribe to that was crafted from a painful childhood and everything else that my abandonment issues ignited. Having to go No Contact with your happiness source, no matter how unhealthy, dangerous, and sabotaging it is, is hard. Change is hard.

If you’re addicted to a certain dynamic, self-limiting belief, person, relationship or substance, it’s really HARD. It’s hard to wake up one morning, have an epiphany and not only say “That’s it! I’m done! It’s trash day and I’ve got a lot to take out,” but have the courage to actually follow through and ACT on that realization.

Flushing the sh*t in our emotional and relational toilets should be just as non-negotiable as flushing the crap in our literal ones. Yet, the struggle is a little too weird to acknowledge and a little too real to gain the courage needed to act on behalf of a self that we don’t believe is good enough.

Bottom line: The only reason I ever put up with a toxic relationship for more than a hot minute – from family, friends, and lovers, was because it mirrored the toxicity of the one I had with myself.

I figured if I could de-toxify my relationsh*t, then the one I had myself would be detoxed by association.

I did not write this post to insult your intelligence by defining the obvious symptoms of what a toxic relationship is. I wrote it to unplug the triggers that are dimming your instinct right now.

I wrote it to initiate the courage you were born with to finally flush the crap in your relational toilet, once and for all.

Here are 10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship…

No relationship is perfect. However, you should feel supported, remembered, valued, heard, respected, and loved in your relationships with your significant other, friends, and family. You should feel like you can trust them.

Sometimes it’s obvious when a relationship isn’t healthy, but sometimes the signs of a toxic relationship are much more subtle. If you’re not feeling 100%… If you’re feeling dishonored, paranoid, insecure, and like you have to question everything… You may be asking yourself, “Is my relationship toxic or is it just me?” 

10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship:

Toxic Relationship SIGN #1: You’re Older Than Them

This isn’t about literal age, it’s about empathetic, emotional, intellectual, and psychological age. Although I personally prefer men who are a few years older than me, I have and would date guys who were my age. I’m not attracted to younger guys, but I have and would do that too if I was being met with the same level of empathy, honesty, and emotional intelligence that I bring to the table. This is not about being better than anyone – we are all created equal – it’s about making sure that you never date anyone who you are emotionally older than.

Defining your relationship as a psychological daycare center that runs solely on your emotional dime will never be sexy.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #2: The Pull-Back Worth Realization

You know you are in a toxic relationship when you exhibit a healthy boundary to your partner’s dysfunction and they immediately “snap out of it,” momentarily “shape up,” and are on point…. Until they secure your forgiveness and then it happens all over again.

It should never take anyone the risk or reality of losing you to value you, be honest with you, treat you with respect, and realize what they had.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #3: Different Relationships

If you were watching your relationship on a movie screen and would describe it as 2 people being in different relationships, this is a toxic relationship.

How do you know if you’re not in the same relationship? You want different things.

As much as the other person could SAY that they want exactly what you want, you need to ask yourself how much of that assertion is to get a short-term need of theirs met and how much of it is actually REAL. You will know real. With real, there won’t need to be so many words because things will be HAPPENING.

The key to winning at life: Always be in the exact same relationship with others that are you are in with YOURSELF. Solidify the relationship that you have with you first. Not only will you be happier, but you’ll never feel guilty about having to fold because you’ll know what you are folding FROM – A relationsh*t that isn’t up to a standard that YOU have already set for yourself.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #4: Mixing Signals To Gain Control

The fact that signals are mixed means that flags are RED. And red flags are not reasons to stay and excuse – they are reasons to fold and flush.

Mixing signals is the easiest way for f*cktards to gain control. Because your partner is playing DJ with your emotions, mixing everything at every turn, you are always left guessing. And because you’re just trying to figure out what’s going on… You become too busy investigating to be able to realize that the fact you even need to investigate is reason enough to be done.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #5: Wanting To Be Heard & Keeping Score to “Win”

Disagreements are a normal part of any relationship. In healthy relationships, disagreements are used to work through and resolve an issue. However, in toxic relationships, people often fight to win and to be heard instead of empathetically connecting and communicating to first listen.

When you, “keep score,” you or your partner continue to blame each other for past mistakes made in your relationship. The next time you have a disagreement, your partner might bring up this past mistake to help him “win the fight.”

Keeping score is a perfect way to deflect from the real, deal breaking issues.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #6: Passive-Aggressive Behavior

People resort to passive aggressive behavior when they don’t feel comfortable sharing their feelings, wants and needs in a direct manner because they fear they will be judged, criticized, or ignored. A toxic relationship is one in which you feel you cannot be yourself. Instead, you feel like you have to behave a certain way to meet your partner’s desires and expectations. You feel like you have to think twice before saying how you really feel. You don’t know whether to question shady behavior because you’re scared of losing them. Family and friends also notice that you act differently around your partner. This makes you even more determind to stick it out and prove them wrong.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #7: You Never Feel Like You’re Enough

No matter what you do, you never feel like you’re enough. Everyone else always gets from your partner what he selectively gives you, if at all.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #8: Jealousy

It’s natural to get a little territorial, but when jealousy leads to controlling behavior, you are in a toxic relationship. We all have insecurities and fears but if your partner enjoys seeing you jealous or tries to make you jealous instead of being communicative, mature, and reassuring… That’s not cute. That’s amateur-hour.

Put the kids menu down and get back to the adult table immediatley.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #9: Disrespect & Dishonesty

In a toxic relationship, not only does your partner disrespect you, he disrespects your family and friends as well – directly and/or indirectly. This could be something as indirect as liking and commenting other girl’s photos on social media for everyone to see or as direct as keeping his online dating profile up, even if he’s not active on the app.

In healthy relationships, each person listens to and values each other’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Your time and energy are considered valuable and are respected. Furthermore, this respect is extended beyond the relationship with your family and friends. You are honored. Someone cannot claim to love you and also have the capacity to dishonor you – directly or indirectly.

If you’ve caught your partner lying, trust is broken. And without trust… Passion, meaning, intimacy and connection cannot exist, no matter what you do or how enthusiastically you search for it with no pants on.

If you don’t have your health, it doesn’t matter if you have all the intelligence, money, degrees, looks, wardrobe, charisma, charm and opportunity in the world, right?

TRUST is the definition of optimal relational health. If you don’t have it, NOTHING.else.matters.

It doesn’t matter how amazing all of the surrounding factors are, how mind-blowing the sex is or how enticing the potential.

Where there is an absence of trust, there’s an absence of reality (and an abundance of  “pulling-the-wool-over-your-own-eyes-in-hope-of-the-pig-turning-into-a-puppy,” delusion).

And where there’s an absence of reality… there’s an absence of a healthy and real relationship.

Toxic Relationship SIGN #10: Always in the Triangle.

You are in a toxic relationship if you feel like you’re with someone who triangulates.

It’s never just you and him. It’s you, him, and …

His issues, his lies, his ex, his addiction, other women, his Mom, his excuses, his bros, his sister, his job, etc.

You feel like you’re always in competition for attention because you’re in an emotional threesome.

And your partner secretly loves the competition.

Life is tough enough. You should never have to compete for the attention of someone who claims to love and value you – YOURSELF being at the top of that list.

x Natasha

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44 comments

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Perfect, Natasha….
Your sharp wisdom in words once again.

Nothing toxic about you, just pure angelic love and kindness. Blessed are we xxx

❤️🦄❤️

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Love you Lorelle <3 xx

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Thanks Natasha, your posts just flow effortlessly and perfectly ! Enjoyed reading this so much especially now I’m out of it ! Makes you feel strong looking back doesn’t it xxx

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YES.IT.DOES. :)! xox

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I found myself reading this and enjoying it so much, when I got to the end I was like NOOOO, where’s the rest😭😂. I literally can’t wait for your next post. You just keep getting better and better🙌🏾

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Awwww THANK YOU Denise 🙂 I’m so happy that the post served you. Love you soul sis! xox

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Thanks Natasha, well-written post and a fresh perspective on this issue. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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Thank YOU April 🙂 I’m happy that the post helped! Your love and support mean everything to me. XO

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So many sentences made me pause to think, shake my head in embarrassment because yep, I’ve been there, and laugh.
You’re such a gift! Your writing and insight is definitely something I look forward to and will follow forever.

xox Christine

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you so much Christine 🙂 xx

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Yes Natasha! I feel compelled to comment on every new article like some crazy fangirl but idgaf lol, Natasha you just nail it every single time. <3

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LOL 🙂 Thank you! Your comments, connection, understanding, love, and sisterhood mean everything to me Hazel. Love you! xxo

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How do you know whether you’re in an unhealthy emotional triangle with his “issues etc.” vs. being supportive and patient with him?

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If he is committed to change, he won’t be repeating the story, he’ll make a choice/decision to take action. For example, he’ll make the decision to not participate or have a plan. Then your support will be used for moving forward and not just wasted on his choice to spin on the same retoric.

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Thanks Leah for your response! That makes total sense!!

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Agreed <3 Thanks Leah!

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Hi Katie,

You can also tell if the “issues” are not accompanied by other shady behaviors also listed like passive aggressive etc

I would also say the issues should be manageable. Or already under control. If the person is an active substance abuser, they should not be in a relationship. If the person is swamped with credit card debt that is out of control then , they should not be in a relationship. If the person is still married, living with a spouse etc. ……

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Great points Tevamac… I hadn’t consider that. Appreciate your input!!

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Such great points! I wished that I had had the time to write more and was so happy to read these responses 🙂 xo

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YES 🙂 Thanks Tevamac! XOXO

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If there is an absence of clear communication, respect, empathy, and honesty… There is no need to be patient, just a need to fold 🙂

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This is so dead-on as to the toxic relationship I just left….beautifully put. Your advice has been a blessing.

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I am so happy and honored to help 🙂 Thanks Jenny! xox

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After 8 years of being in a toxic relationship that left me humiliated, devalued and abused.. I have finally let go. This was after breaking no contact and being there for him as I brought him to rehab and supported him throughout his stay, picked him up only to have him humiliate, lie to me and run back to his last girlfriend within 4 days of being out. I am angry and hurt but nowhere near what I was when I initially ended the relationship back in May. I know my worth, my value and who I am.. although my confidence is shaky and low. I hate that I allowed myself to be humiliated yet again, and that is one of the hardest pieces. Yet through this storm, I am so happy to be out of this toxic, unhealthy dynamic. Unfortunately, I still have to work with this man, although I have decided to start looking for another job. Not in defeat but in wanting more and not wanting any of this in my life any longer, even in a remote aspect. Your words give me such incredible guidance and support!!

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Hi Judy! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂 and for being a part of this tribe. You are understood, supported, loved, believed in, and never, ever alone. I am so honored to have helped. All my love to you sister. xoxo

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Judy you are inspiring; thank you for sharing! I just want to say to you (Bc I see myself in this part) that it’s tempting to get caught up in kicking ourselves for allowing that humiliation to occur again. But give yourself grace. You didn’t have all the tools you needed, but now you do. You were in a tough spot! Trying to be supportive when this guy was at an all time low. You are a compassionate caring woman, and now you are freeeeeee to give that compassion and love to yourself and to someone who will appreciate and reciprocate. It’s so freeing and helpful to view the past (and our own part in the mistakes) as one big LESSON LEARNED. You are wiser, stronger and better for it. Sometimes I practice gratitude (Brene Brown taught me that – it’s a practice not an “attitude of gratitude” lol) for the past to help me move beyond the guilt or self contempt I can tend to wallow in. Good for you looking for another job! Leave it all behind! Xoxo

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I actually see myself and my ex in this article. I triangulated and he was passive agressive. I didn’t know how to resolve the issues, I didn’t have any self esteem, totally empty love tank. I am grateful for this article. It is helpful on my road to better self and better relationships. My internal change comes from my Higher power and these articles remind me, where I’ve been, and keep me on track. Thank you!

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WOW 🙂 YES YES YES!

Leah – Thank you so much for sharing, for being the light that you are and for your self-awareness. It’s the most powerful tool you could ever have. You are incredible. Thank you for your love and support. It means the world to me. Love you! xo

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Hello Natasha.
This is an excellent poat for me. I have experience I hate to say with all the symptoms but specifically #3, #4, #7, and #10.
I have to say that there was a flag for each but I changed the color of the flag from red to green. Not too smart but towards the end the rd flag turned to a blaring siren for each of them. I still ignored all of it. I now know to listen and as you point out in many of your writings to go by actions. Do not go by words alone. Women have powerful instincts that can serve us if we let them I am paying attention to that as well because they never seem to be wrong. It’s all very painful for me because no matter what, as we all do, I cannot believe a person would hurt someone else to such a level of pain in order to escape a relationship. For all of the pain though I have to say I ended up here. I wish I had not been hurt and basically turned inside out but I am so GRATEFUL to have found you and all theses powerful posts full of tools to protect myself and be a bettter woman. I, working on #7, mostly now. I would not be where I am though Natasha if not for you and your courage to share. Thank you my sister.
This one I will be posting on my mirror and memorizing. Stay well and talk soon. 😘🌸💕🦄

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Thanks for sharing soul sis 🙂 I love you and so happy that the post helped! I’ve done my fair share of color changing too lol. Love you! xox

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Natasha!
#10 is spot on. Had written an entire page on this in my journal. About how he was having a dalliance, no a RELATIONSHIP, with his issues and how I was catering to it all. I want to forgive myself. I want to forgive him. I want to forgive this terrible system that enables such attitude on both our parts.

Hugs!

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Hi Anne! I’m happy that the post served you and have definitely been there myself. Forgiveness is nothing more than adjust boundaries that are rooted in acceptance. You got this and we all have your back. All my love to you Anne. Thank you for your love and for being a part of this tribe. xo

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Natasha, your posts have helped me for years as has your unconditional care, love, and selflessness. Thank you for always being there for all of us when we are at our lowest without question or hesitation. Not only do your posts help us but you created a community where women can reach out for support, advice, and love. It’s so amazing to see that in the comments. You truly are an angel and deserve the same type of consistent love you give everyone else. Your soul and intentions are so pure, even after so many hardships, and that pours out in your writings, coaching, and courses. Thank you for being the most beautiful teacher, sister, friend, role model, and overall woman inside and out. You are so loved.

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WOW thank you thank you 🙂 Love you too xoxo

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Catherine, I second this! Natasha, there’s nothing else out there like this blog and YOU. Xoxo

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Thanks KP 🙂 xoxo

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Natasha,
This post and countless others on this site have been beyond soothing and so helpful to me. I was with someone for two years who promised me a life together, babies and happiness and then revealed himself to be emotionally unavailable and completely broke my heart. In the past few months since, I have slowly but surely started to heal the wounds from him and the original ones from my family that conditioned me to think I didn’t deserve more. I am turning 37 in a couple of weeks and am hoping that I can find true love and have a family before it is too late. I keep you blog up on my phone’s browser so when I miss the f*ucktard I can read your words of strength. Thank you so much for writing such honest and relatable posts. Also, please consider writing a post on how not to panic or what to do when your biological clock is running out and for the first time in life you are done with f*cktards. Thanks!

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Hi Margot,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love, support, connection, sisterhood, and for being a part of this tribe. Every word that you wrote resonates with me – you are not alone in your fears and feelings. I will definitely try to write a post about this soon <3 Everything will work out for you Margot. I know it.

I am so happy for you that you finally flushed once and for all.

Do you have ANY idea how incredible of a mother you are going to be? I'm proud of you for making the decision to now have your own back and mother yourself so that you can attract the kind of abundance you exude.

I am thankful for the pain in our childhoods and pasts - because of it, I got to connect with another soul sister - YOU. All my love to you. xx

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All your posts are amazing, but this particular one resonated with me so much, as I am currently going through a heart wrenching breakup from the most toxic relationshit I’ve ever been part of. ALL of your signs were present in our relationship. I used to have strong, healthy boundaries and he systematically dismantled them, one by one, until I was BEGGING him to let me be his crushed up doormat….. how did I get to that point? He has so much shame in his internal life, and it would manifest as rage towards me…. he placed me on a pedestal from the start and of course, no one can ever live up to that expectation….. which in turn made him hate me, and project all his fuckedupness onto me. As a reverse narcissist (I love this term, by the way) I lapped it up, until I totally lost sight of the amazing, light filled woman that I really am!

Our relationship was long distance, but I was able to visit most weeks. The most amazing visits we had were when we had a long period of separation….. I always thought this was because we were so happy and excited to be back together, but, and it’s only now whilst I do ALOT of soul searching that I realise the time together was so good because during the extended time apart, where I was surrounded by my amazing friends, family, life and home, I was naturally returning to the confident, loyal and beautiful woman that I am…. how insane that it’s taken me THREE long years to work this out!

Your blog is unbelievably inspiring. I am currently working through your No Contact Contract and will be signing it tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone for sharing their stories and helping me heal. I can not express enough gratitude in writing.

I love all my sisters and brothers on here!

Giddy Up White Horse….. we’re riding to a better place xx

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Mai,

I AM THE ONE who cannot express enough gratitude in writing. Truly.

Thank you so much <3 You have no idea how many people you have helped through sharing your experience. I have been there too Mai and you are so right about the most amazing visits being those where there had been long periods of separation.

I am so happy to have helped and we are ALL here - for and with you always. Thank you for being a part of this tribe 🙂

How are you liking the course?

I love you so much Mai and YES.WE.ARE! 🙂 xxxx

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Natasha, thank you so much for replying and your continued support….. your course is amazing! I’m currently back in his city for work (unfortunately, I’m here most weeks for a couple of nights, so feeling a bit triggered lol)…..I’ve made sure I’m keeping busy and making new, positive associations, but I’m not going to lie, it’s hard knowing he’s 10 miles down the road!

I completed my first contract, and will be signing a new, longer one when I return to Australia tomorrow…… my white horse is cantering at the moment, but I’m preparing her (and me) to break into a gallop.

Love,

Mai xxxx

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Mai,

This made my day 🙂 I’m so happy that the course is helping. Ugh, I know what you mean about being in close geographic proximity. It is a trigger, but your triggers are not your truth and you got this. Love you Mai xxx

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Insightful and spot-on analysis like always Natasha. You really nailed it when you wrote “A toxic relationship is one in which you feel you cannot be yourself.” I’ve learned to recognize that toxicity is the dissonance I feel when I’m acting in a way that doesn’t feel “right.” It means I’m not setting boundaries, and the reason I’m probably not doing so is because I’m feeling like I’m not enough, and the reason for that is an absence of self-love, like what Lorelle mentioned in the previous post. Self-love begets strong boundaries which protects us from toxicity in our environment.

And there is no better way for us to love ourselves than to be who we are. We’re loved by people who accept us as we are, instead of directing us to behave in a way that makes them feel comfortable. Perhaps it is true that “all the world’s a stage” but there is no one who gets to be the theater director who controls us as though we are cast members in their play. It’s the lack of acceptance that reveals the toxicity in a relationship.

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YES YES YES YES YESSS!!! 🙂 I could not have said it any better or agree with you more. I am so grateful for you Brandon 🙂 Thank you for being YOU.

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