How To Tell If Someone Has A Truly Toxic Personality, According To Science

By | dating, family, Food for thought, friends, Motivation, narcissism, personality, relationships, self, self-development, Self-Improvement, stories, toxic people, toxic relationships, uplifting news

Your friend or someone you know has gotten fired from every job they’ve ever had. Their dates always flake on them and their friends always betray them. The common theme: it’s never their fault and if you press them on it you’re the one to blame.

According to a team of psychologists in Israel, these types of people may have a toxic personality disorder called “tendency for interpersonal victimhood” (TIV), which they describe as “an ongoing feeling that the self is a victim, which is generalized across many kinds of relationships.”

People with TIV wholly and truly believe they are never wrong and that their victimhood is a core part of their identity.

How to tell if someone ‘plays the victim?’

Not everyone who feels victimized is toxic. Bad things do happen and it’s okay to be upset about it.

Rather, TIV occurs when someone constantly feels like a victim and they bring others down with them.

Rahav Gabay and her colleagues determined that people with TIV tend to have four dimensions:

Constantly seeking recognition

Of all the allegedly horrible things that happen to someone with TIV, people never apologize to them. Worse, they don’t even acknowledge their wrongdoing.

While apologies can be hard to come by, this only becomes an issue when the person who plays the victim is in desperate search of recognition for the supposed bad things that are done to them.

A sense of moral elitism

People with TIV are never wrong. In fact, their moral compass is better than everyone else’s and they use this assumption to manipulate others into their own perspective.

This behavior may be a defense mechanism as a way to maintain a positive self-image.

Lack of empathy for others

Everything that happens to TIV people is the absolute worst and no one else’s pain or suffering matters, or so they think. This can especially be toxic in a relationship as TIV people only care about their own problems, never others’.

The route of this behavior can be that since the person believes they have suffered so much, they don’t think anyone else deserves empathy for their suffering.

This lack of empathy can also show up in a group or national level in the form of “competitive victimhood” or an “egoism of victimhood” where members of a group cannot see things from another group’s perspective.

Rumination about past victimization

Since romantic relationships never worked out in the past for TIV people, there’s no chance they’ll work in the future. This is a fallacy as the past doesn’t dictate the future, but it’s a core belief of people who always play the victim.

Always ruminating about past grievances and thinking it reflects the future is something perpetual victims tend to do.

Why TIV is toxic

People who always play the victim are extremely difficult to deal with because they’re selfish and never wrong.

They’re also obsessed with seeking revenge for those who’ve wronged them and may punish others who had nothing to do with it just because they’ve been wronged before.

Forgiving is part of growth

We all play the victim from time to time. Sometimes bad things really do happen to us and it makes us sour.

The problem is when the victimhood because constant and when the person never learns from their mistakes. It’s also problematic when they never forgive others – you don’t know what everyone is going through and nobody’s perfect.

Ultimately, the problem with playing the victim is it doesn’t allow you to learn or grow from the past. If you don’t acknowledge your faults, how can you make adjustments for the future?

If you know someone who’s always playing a victim, it might be time to reduce your relationship with them or have a frank discussion about it. Life is too short to be surrounded by toxic people.

More uplifting stories:

Meryl Streep Saved Carrie Fisher By Embracing Her Flaws

By | carrie fisher, challenging, Food for thought, friends, Inspiring Celebrities, Meryl Streep, stories

Carrie Fisher and Meryl Streep are both icons in their own right, and have both enjoyed immeasurable professional success. But in terms of personality, you might think they were from completely different worlds.

While die-hard Star Wars fans may see her as inextricable from her character Princess Leia, she was indeed from Earth, although her life on this planet was quite singular.

From an outsider’s perspective, her wild child persona and troubles with mental health and addiction could have made a friendship with the more staid, straight-laced Streep unlikely.

However, the actresses defied the odds and managed to dig a little deeper within themselves to find common ground in women’s advocacy, loss, and above all, humor.

Carrie and Meryl’s road to finding each other

Carrie’s life was everything but ordinary

Carrie Fisher’s early life was more than a little unconventional. Born to America’s Sweethearts at the time, actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, she was thrust into the spotlight mere hours after coming into the world.

Then her father famously ran off with Elizabeth Taylor when Fisher was only 18 months old. After the event, her mother turned to drinking to cope with the loss. Reynolds’ work also kept her away for much of Fisher’s childhood.

Carrie’s mother spent a lot of her time at home sleeping, or becoming Debbie Reynolds the movie star, applying lipstick and rouge and false eyelashes, as Fisher recalls in her memoir, Wishful Drinking. What little time she had with her mother, she was forced to share with the world, and she didn’t like it. 

Fisher started experimenting with drugs at the age of 13, first with marijuana. Then, when the highs started becoming dark and scary, she found substitutes in painkillers, hallucinogens, and cocaine.

While her unstable childhood could very well account for her penchant for drugs, Fisher claimed she used as a means of moderating what would turn out to be bipolar disorder, an affliction she inherited from her absentee father. 

After an overdose in 1985 Fisher to rehab, and incited her to write her seminal, semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge, which she would later adapt into a screenplay. Eventually, it would be made into the 1990 movie of the same name, starring the legendary Meryl Streep. 

Just a regular girl from New Jersey

You could not find an actress with a more opposite background to Fisher’s if you tried. Raised in New Jersey, as far away from Hollywood as possible, in a loving, supportive, stable household, Streep credits her mother for instilling confidence in her and fostering the belief that she could do anything and be anyone if she was willing to put in the work.

And she did. She completed an MFA at the Yale School of Drama, and eventually became the actor with the most Oscar nominations in history. And all this without so much as a stain on her record. 

In fact, in an appearance on 92y in 2000, Streep talked about preparing for her role as Carrie Fisher’s alter ego, Suzanne. “I did take one illegal substance,” she says coyly to a tittering audience. “But that was an important part of the research.” 

The friendship that would change their lives

“She and I became, and still are, very good, close friends,” Streep goes on to say of Fisher. The friendship between the two women may have blossomed through a mutual refusal to cast judgment.

When Streep married her current husband, sculptor Don Gummer, only six months after Cazale’s death, she faced a wave of anger and resentment from friends and family — even from her own mother. Just as Streep did not hold Fisher’s addictions against her, Fisher would never have batted an eye at her friend’s unorthodox decisions in her quest for happiness.

“No one is good or bad – but a hearty mix of both,” Fisher has said. “And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

In fact, the two actresses might have bonded over their experiences with loss. Fisher’s of her father – and subsequently her mother, to an extent – and Meryl’s of her first husband, actor John Cazale, to lung cancer.

Perhaps Fisher’s irreverent sense of humor and inclination to shine a light on the dark, ugly side of life with candor and wit (“I’m Joan of Narc, patron saint of addicts,” she’d quip) was a kind of balm to the more introverted Streep.

Fisher’s free-spirited nature and unrelenting yet wry positivity clearly struck a chord with Streep, who quoted the late Fisher during her Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech at the Golden Globes in 2017.

As my friend, the dear, departed Princess Leia said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.

The two women also shared a passion for women’s rights and equality. Princess Leia was “the ultimate survivor”, per The Independent. “Stripped of everything and yet, still, she blazed on. She never bowed down to fear, never to grief or hopelessness.”

Whether it was Leia who influenced Fisher or vice-versa is anyone’s guess, but it is clear the character and the actress who portrayed her shared similar traits. Fisher talked and wrote at length about her struggles, a brave act in an industry that thrives on exposing one’s flaws, especially when it comes to women, for whom even aging is taboo.

Streep is also a force to be reckoned with, championing for equal opportunity for women not only in Hollywood, but all over. She recently starred in the movie Suffragette, about women’s fight for the right to vote, and has been a vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

As she stated in her speech at the 2016 Women in the World Summit in New York City, “women are in the world now and we will not be bullied”. Fisher would surely have been proud. 

A broken heart, and a happy farewell

After Fisher’s untimely death in December 2016, Star Wars fans and everyone at Lucasfilm, from writers, executives and costars, were devastated. But, as they say, the show must go on.

Some fans started a petition to have the role of Leia played by Streep for the final installment of the Star Wars sequels. It gained traction, garnering almost 9,000 signatures, and rumors of the recasting started flying.

And, let’s face it, if anyone else in the world was going to play Princess Leia, you couldn’t find a more appropriate actress than her dearest friend. However, a rep for Streep shut down the rumor mill, and Fisher was ultimately written out of the script.

“The women I have played in the movies and in the theater have all felt like me to me,” Meryl explained in a talk at Princeton University. Surely the role of Leia could never feel like anyone but Fisher. 

Their friendship inspires us to look beyond difference

Streep and Fisher found in each other a common love for womankind, and a desire for the betterment of the world for women through writing or acting. Most of all, they found inspiration, to live life with humor, and to never give up the fight for happiness. 

Streep is said to have sung Fisher’s favorite song at her memorial, “Happy Days are Here Again”. And while she may not have felt it at the time, she followed her dear friend’s advice. She took her broken heart, and sang. 

The unlikely friendship between these seemingly opposite women is living proof that diversity of life experiences can create a beautiful unity, and that one is never too far from understanding another. We simply have to love and accept people for who they are.

More inspiring friendships:

Martha Stewart’s Unlikely Best Friend Snoop Dogg Broke All the Rules

By | Food for thought, friends, hearwarming, Inspiring Celebrities, martha stewart, profile, relationships, snoop dogg

It is always reassuring to know that we have the power to choose our friends. And sometimes, the choices others make can surprise us. One such unlikely, but perfectly matched friendship is the connection between the iconic rapper Snoop Dogg and lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart.

A successful rapper, Snoop has been in the music industry since 1993 but also has an extensive filmography under his belt. On the other hand, Martha has been dominating in own her lane as an immensely successful business woman despite having served time in jail for a felony.

Their hilarious banter makes for a fun watch whenever you tune into their Emmy-nominated cooking show — or any of their numerous appearances together. The saying “opposites attract” has never been truer. Who would’ve thought these two personalities would mesh and create pure magic on the screen?

If you don’t know much about either of them, you may wonder how these two met. Let’s kick things off from the beginning and see how this friendship developed.

How Snoop and Martha met

This feel-good friendship began over a decade ago in 2008 — time flies. Snoop guested on Martha’s first cooking show, The Martha Stewart Show, to help her whip up a delicious mashed potato recipe.

Martha reached out to Snoop and invited him onto the show, unknowingly beginning the start of a long friendship. Snoop taught her some of his favorite slang during the episode, including terms that sound ironically outdated now, like “fo shizzle”.

The pair reunited in 2009 to make a batch of chocolate brownies for Christmas. Snoop and Martha riffed off each other with hilarious quips, including an impromptu rap about baking pastries. Can you name a better combination than music and food?

Martha made the next move

Though this friendship looked promising from the start, Martha and Snoop fell out of touch for a few years after his appearance on her famed talk show. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Distance does little to break the strongest bonds.

In 2014, Martha held an Ask Me Anything session on the popular social site Reddit. Fans flock to these celebrity info-sessions where they get to ask their favorite stars questions about their lives.

Someone asked about her friendship with Snoop, where she expressed her desire to be closer friends with the Californian rapper. 

Little did she know her wish would come true only a year later.

If you never believed in fate before, start rethinking! Who knows how your next lifelong connection may come about?

Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart

Fate wanted their friendship to happen

The duo met again in 2015 on the set of Comedy Central Roast, where the roastee of the night was Justin Bieber. The two reconnected over each other’s witty remarks about the then teen idol.

Snoop was in awe of Martha’s sense of humor, calling her the funniest person of the night. It wasn’t long before their rekindled friendship led to big plans in the entertainment industry.

In that moment, I knew I wanted to be alongside this lady for the rest of my life.

Snoop Dogg to NBC

2016 marked the year that Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party premiered on VH1. Both stars were enthusiastic about working with each other on such a major project, and viewers were equally stoked. The show experienced a lightning-fast rise to popularity, scoring an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Host for a Reality Program in 2017.

Their surprising reunion offers an awe-inspiring takeaway for all fading friendships — don’t give up hope. Even if you’ve lost communication with a friend, you can reach out and mend things over again. It’s worth a try, and you’ll regain a valuable connection if things work out.

Martha and Snoop Dogg brought their friendship to the screen

Now dubbed Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Party Challenge, the show has shaken things up by introducing a new format in 2019. Martha and Snoop team up with their guests to decide which groups can create the best culinary dishes. From Friendsgiving meals to Halloween treats, there’s no shortage of foodie delights on this show. The winning team receives the Potluck Party Platter prize — try saying that three times fast.

The pair has filmed hilarious promos for their cooking show, including parodies of the films Titanic and Ghost. The latest season has featured guests like Paris Hilton, the Jonas Brothers, Tiffany Haddish and many more. The show is no-doubt a star-studded affair and will hopefully live on for many more seasons— we just can’t get enough of these two.

As you may already know, Martha isn’t the only one with a knack for creating great meals. In 2018, Snoop Dogg released his first cookbook, From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg’s Kitchen.

And never too far behind, Martha contributed a thoughtful foreword — friends who cook together stay together. If you’re ever in the mood for gin and juice, baked mac & cheese or fried bologna sandwiches, you know where to look.

An unlikely but inspiring friendship

Martha talked to the Hollywood Reporter in 2018 about her friendship with Snoop and their show’s booming success. There’s no question that she views the program as a way for different cultures to mix in harmony and respect.

Differences aren’t bad — embracing these contrasts adds flavor and depth to life. Learning from others and sharing experiences with unlikely acquaintances allow you to step outside the box of societal expectations.

When we come together, it’s a natural combination of love, peace and harmony.

Snoop Dogg to Rolling Stone

Contrasting personalities can bring out the best in one another. The world would be a much better place if we all practiced loving, learning and sharing. Thankfully, Martha and Snoop are way ahead of the game.

Friends come in all forms

If there’s anything we can glean from this fabulous friendship, it’s that you can share an interest with virtually anyone. Even if you meet people who live entirely different lives from yours, you can still make loving, rewarding connections.

The most beautiful aspect of human nature is the ability to connect with others — we all need social ties to thrive. Though we’re different, we also share the human condition. By opening up to difference, we can form bonds that allow us to flourish and experience new facets of the world.

More inspiring friendships:

25 Memorable Friends Quotes That Will Make Your Day

By | Food for thought, friends, Funny, Quotes, TV Shows

So you love Friends, right? We do too! But did you know it’s been 25 years since the show first aired on NBC?

The world has changed a lot over the past two decades, but Friends held its essence as a relatable, funny, and comforting show.

With one of the best casts in TV history, the series seems to be irreplaceable. Fans all over the world still hope that Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer will someday reunite for a reboot.

Until that happens, we’ll re-watch the series over and over again without getting bored because it has everything we long for in real life – love, great jokes, and above all, amazing friendship. Not to mention that some of the Friends quotes are pure gold.

Along the way, we’ve learned something from each character: rules are good (Monica), dinosaurs are fascinating (Ross), fashion is important (Rachel), it’s okay to be weird (Phoebe), sarcasm is forever (Chandler), and not everyone shares their food (Joey).

In fact, Friends taught us that life itself can be easy once we surround ourselves with the right kind of people.

Here are 25 memorable Friends quotes that’ll make your day

I’m not so good with the advice… Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?


She’s your lobster…. It’s a known fact that lobsters fall in love and mate for life.


I think I can safely say that we all have family issues, work and/or are sick.


Oh, I wish I could, but I don’t want to.


Unagi is a state of total awareness. Only by achieving true Unagi can you be prepared for any danger that may befall you.


You can’t just give up! Is that what a dinosaur would do?




Don’t you put words in people’s mouths! You put turkey in people’s mouths.


Monica: Phoebe, do you have a plan?

Phoebe: I don’t even have a “pla.”

You’re so far past the line, you can’t even see the line. The line is a dot to you.


Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.


Until I was 25, I thought the response to ‘I love you’ was ‘Oh, crap.’


Ah, humor based on my pain. Ah, ha, ha.


Friends quotes - Rachel Green

It’s like all of my life everyone has always told me, ‘You’re a shoe, you’re a shoe, you’re a shoe, you’re a shoe.’ And then today I just stopped and I said, ‘What if I don’t want to be a shoe? What if I want to be a purse, you know? Or, a hat?’


I need you to be careful and efficient. And remember: If I am harsh with you, it’s only because you’re doing it wrong.


When I was growing up, I didn’t have a normal mom and dad, or a regular family like everybody else, and I always knew that something was missing. But now I’m standing here today, knowing that I have everything I’m ever gonna need… You are my family.


Why don’t you stop worrying about sounding smart and just be yourself?


If he doesn’t like you this is all a moo point. Yeah, it’s like a cow’s opinion. It just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.


That’s right, I stepped up! She’s my friend and she needed help. If i had to, I’d pee on any one of you!


You don’t own a TV? What’s all your furniture pointed at?


Sure, I have my bad days, but then I remember what a cute smile I have.


How you doin’?


You’re over me? When were you… under me?


It’s not what you said, it’s just the way you said it.


I thought that it mattered what I said or where I said it. Then I realized the only thing that matters is that you make me happier than I ever thought I could be, and if you let me I will spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel the same way.


It Took These Best Friends 50 Years to Realize They’re in Love

By | Food for thought, friends, love stories, marriage, news, romantic, stories

Friendship is a precious thing. A great friendship can be just as valuable as romantic. They say, though, that friendship is unlikely to segue into romance once you are settled too much into the “friend zone” of platonic love. But it turns out that’s not always the case.

This couple fell in love 50 years after they first met in high school. It all started in 1966 when Barbara Bosley asked Stan Jones to the Sadie Hawkins Dance at Dighton High School.

Sounds like a recipe for romance, right? But they didn’t actually share their first kiss until 49 years later.

Their long road from friendship to love

The future couple actually met way back in 1957. Stan was the new kid in Barbara’s second-grade class, and they were instant friends. They would stay friends forever, even when they went to different colleges hours apart.

Barbara never dated much. Instead, she concentrated on her education and her career. Through many moves and career changes, she and Stan kept in touch even if they couldn’t see each other often.

In 2015, their paths crossed at a high school reunion

Barbara was single, and Stan was divorced.

“He looked at the marks on my legs, which were from a medication I take, and we realized we took the same medication,” she said. Barbara has a form of lupus, and Stan has rheumatoid arthritis; they take the same kind of pill every day. It gave them something in common and they took it from there.

Stan was feeling shy.

“They were playing a slow song, and I thought ‘I should ask Barbara to dance,’” Stan recalled. “I took a couple of steps and then I thought ‘Nah.’ And I start to go back.”

It was like the devil and the angel talking to me. And then I thought ‘Go ask her to dance.’ Something made me go over.

They hadn’t danced together since that Sadie Hawkins dance 50 years earlier!

The band was playing “Stand by Me.” As they danced, Barbara felt the connection to how they had stood by each other as friends all those years. But there were worries too.

“My biggest worry was that I would step on his feet,” she said.

“She did step on my feet,” he said.

Walking off the dance floor, Stan turned and kissed her.

“That’s not like me either,” he said. ” I don’t know what drove me to do that. I usually ask permission.”

“It wasn’t just a peck on the cheek; it was right on the lips,” she said.

Their first kiss, at 65, changed everything– but not instantly

“It was just a dance and a kiss,” Stan said. “Looking back it seems like a big thing. But at the time I wasn’t thinking much about it.”

However, Stan texted Barbara a week later and thanked her for dancing with him.

She replied that the next time he was in Denver she would like to give him a tour.

And that is when everything changed.

The tour took them to a cabin in the mountains and by Christmas 2017 he gave her an engagement ring.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” she said. But she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Then, on July 29, 2018, they finally married. “It’s nice to have somebody to share things with,” she said.

There have been adjustments to make.

“We have had to accept we have habits that won’t change,” Barbara said.

But despite their differences, Stan and Barbara’s bond has lasted for five decades.

It just goes to show that the people in your life you may overlook or underestimate can have the biggest impact in the long run.

More inspiring love stories:

How Did Elton John Save Eminem’s Life?

By | challenging, elton john, eminem, Food for thought, friends, Inspiring Celebrities, musicians, profile, stories

Eminem and Elton John are both known for being powerhouse musical talents, but it turns out they have something far deeper and darker in common: a history of addiction, and a long journey down the road to recovery.

In 2007, Eminem, much like Elton John several decades before, nearly died from a drug overdose. At the height of his stardom, he developed an addiction to prescription medication.

At the time, he was taking “up to 30 Vicodin a day”  and once was rushed to the ER after taking the equivalent of “four bags of heroin.”

That’s as serious as it gets– so how did he survive?

How did Elton save Eminem?

A new biography by Anthony Bozza entitled Not Afraid: The Evolution of Eminem, reports that after several overdoses, the rapper and actor reached out to pop legend Elton, who came to his rescue.

“As a fellow musical superstar with nearly 30 years of sobriety under his belt, Elton John was the perfect mentor to help guide Marshall,” writes Bozza. (Enimen’s real name is Marshall Mathers.)

“The two started on a program of weekly check-ins and grew very close.”

This isn’t the first time this recovery journey has made it to social media and the airwaves. Eminem even talked about it openly in the documentary How To Make Money Selling Drugs, released in 2013.

How the unlikeliest friendship blossomed

Elton and Eminem developed a close friendship, even though Eminem had a history of controversial lyrics that referenced homophobia.

“I didn’t know [Elton] was gay,” Eminem said in a 2004 interview with MTV.

“I really didn’t care. But being that he was gay and he had my back, I think it made a statement in itself saying that he understood where I was coming from.”

And Elton was just the person to help Eminem as things got dark.

“Some days I would just lay in bed and take pills and cry… I needed pills in my body just to feel normal, so I would be sick. It was a vicious cycle,” Eminem has admitted.

How did Elton become Eminem’s sponsor?

Elton himself overcame a cocaine addiction in the 1980s and is now Eminem’s sponsor for his recovery.

“I’m Eminem’s AA sponsor. Whenever I ring to check in on him, he always greets me the same way: ‘Hello, you [expletive]’, which I guess is very Eminem,” John told The Telegraph.

A friendship that began with a duet at the 2001 Grammy’s has become a lot deeper over the years.

“When I first wanted to get sober, I called [Elton] and spoke to him about it,” said Eminem to The Guardian in 2009. “He’s somebody who’s in the business and can identify and relate to the lifestyle and how hectic things can be. He understands… the pressure and any other reasons that you want to come up with for doing drugs.”

I reached out to him and told him, ‘Look, I’m going through a problem and I need your advice.’

It’s a friendship that has survived decades. Elton refers to Eminem as a “dear friend” and gushed about his talent and artistic skills while hosting the Apple Beats 1 show “Rocket Hour”. In a fascinating read, a phone interview between the old friends was shared by Interview Magazine.

“Your sobriety day is in my diary. I’m so proud of you,” Elton says to Eminem in the interview.

I’m so happy you exist in the world, and I’m just so proud of you. You’ve worked so hard on yourself, and no one deserves this more than you, Marshall, and I love you from a long way away, okay?

Eminem responds, “Thank you, Elton. I love you, too.”

It’s a true friendship built to last, one that we can all learn a great deal from.

Eminem and Elton overlooked their obvious differences– age, nationality, musical style, sexual orientation– and were able to connect on a very genuine level thanks to their shared experiences.

Both men have acknowledged that the moment their lives changed for the better were when they finally admitted:

I need help.

Having the bravery to admit when they needed help made it possible for both Elton and Eminem to continue shining as icons in the music industry. They fought their addictions and came out the other side stronger and ready to help others going through the same things.

Only you can make the decision to seek help and change your life– are you brave enough?

More inspiring musicians:

What We Can Learn From Bill Gates’ Regrets About Paul Allen

By | bill gates, entrepreneurs, Food for thought, friends, introspective, paul allen, profile, relationships

When you think of Microsoft, Bill Gates comes to mind immediately. However, numerous sources reveal the company’s co-founder, the late Paul Allen, was also instrumental to the brand’s success.

The Netflix docuseries Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates recently explored many facets of the world’s most famous billionaire, including his personal life and the things he regrets.

Let’s explore why Gates may view Allen as his biggest regret

Gates and Allen met in the late 1960s at Seattle’s Lakeside School when Gates was in eighth grade. Allen was two classes ahead.

The schoolmates landed in hot water with the school when they exploited a bug in a teletype terminal to give themselves usage privileges. Since computer terminals were rare at the time, it cost people up to $60 to use them. Allen and Gates were fascinated by the terminal, but the expenses proved prohibitive.

They worked out an arrangement to use the system for free in exchange for alerting the school to any flaws. Gates later mentioned the terminal as the object that brought the two together.

They shared the same dream

Computers were not fads for Allen or Gates. In the 1970s, Allen was working as a programmer in Boston, while Gates was a student at Harvard University. After beginning as a pre-law major in 1973, Gates quickly changed his focus and sped through some of the most advanced computer and mathematics courses Harvard offered.

In 1975, Gates made a fateful call from his dorm room to a company that had built an early personal computer called the Altair 8800. Gates offered to develop software for the system. The firm accepted and paid him $3,000 plus royalties for the work. Due to this contract, Gates left school to focus on a venture he called Micro-Soft.

The enterprise ended up being a team effort between Allen and Gates– they co-founded Microsoft on April 4, 1975. The company went public in 1987, and Bill Gates became a 31-year-old billionaire only a year later.

How did Paul Allen fit into Microsoft?

For starters, he arranged to buy an early operating system from a Seattle programmer. Once Gates and Allen tweaked the system’s code, it helped IBM’s first personal computer function in 1981.

Moreover, Allen persuaded Gates to drop out of college to pursue software development. Plus, he came up with the Microsoft name and focused on its goal of providing software for small computers, rather than the earliest models that filled entire rooms.

Friendship under strain

Microsoft launched in Albuquerque, New Mexico. However, in 1979 — a year after the company’s sales topped $1 million — it relocated to Bellevue, Washington, a Seattle suburb. There, Gates and Allen’s grew rocky relationship. In 1983, Allen left the company and clarified some of the reasons.

Allen said he disagreed with Gates on numerous things, including product and hiring-related decisions. In his memoir, Idea Man, Allen wrote:

Over the years, the result of these and other incidents has been the gradual destruction of both our friendship and our ability to work together.

Tech betrayals are nothing new

The Social Network

Allen does not stand alone among tech company founders as someone who disagreed with his colleagues. Take Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as an example. People have tapped Zuckerberg as the next Bill Gates, mainly due to his pioneering efforts in digital technology. 

Another thing that links Gates to Zuckerberg is the unrest between co-founders. In 2005, Zuckerberg diluted co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s stake in the company and then ousted him. 

Saverin, who met Zuckerberg at Harvard Unversity, invested the initial $15,000 to build and host Facebook. Six months after the site’s launch, the company relocated to Palo Alto, California. 

The story, from a clandestine school meeting to a move and falling out, is a similar one.

Is it possible Saverin is Zuckerberg’s’ Paul Allen?

Saverin played an instrumental role in Facebook’s origins — much like Allen with Microsoft. 

Farhad Manjoo, a tech industry expert from Silicon Valley, believes the corporation is too big to fail.

In a 2018 New York Times piece, Manjoo questioned whether Zuckerberg should still lead Facebook. He pointed out how the leader’s shares have 10 times the voting power of normal ones, making him far more influential than others at the company.

Allen claims disagreements with Gates led him to leave the company. However, company shares also played a role in his decision to cut ties.

Allen’s health suffered while their friendship fell apart

In April 2011, Paul Allen published a book called Idea Man that shed light on some of the friction between himself and Gates.

An article from The Wall Street Journal said the printed work positioned Gates as a confrontational taskmaster and someone unsuitable for Allen’s more laid-back personality. In the book, Allen described himself as the person who sparked many of Microsoft’s ideas.

Idea Man also reveals what Gates did to maximize his monetary benefits. Gates first insisted on a 60-40 split with Allen in Gates’ favor. However, he later renegotiated it to a 64-36 split.

The last straw for Allen was when he overheard Gates talking to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. 

The discussion centered around how to dilute Allen’s equity due to complaints of his alleged lack of productivity. Allen had recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and viewed the talk as an exploitation of his weakest moment.

Their final days together

Melinda and Bill Gates

Gates and Allen reportedly didn’t speak for a year after Idea Man came out. However, they eventually patched the rift, and Gates was looking forward to spending more time with Allen.

In one interview, Gates anticipated yacht trips, saying he’d already traveled that way with Allen, but was planning more once the kids left for college.

After Allen’s death in 2018 due to cancer complications, Gates emphasized the extent of his bond with Allen, saying:

Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him.

In Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates, the billionaire didn’t say much about the relationship between himself and Allen, but he admitted he he had been tough on Paul at times.

Bill’s wife, Melinda, says two talked more as they repaired their friendship.

We had times with Paul, we would sit for hours. They were like two little boys laughing together over these old stories.

Can business and friendship co-exist?

According to the Netflix documentary, Gates reconnected with Paul when he publicized the return of his cancer. He claims the friendship was more important than anything that came between them. Even though their interpersonal drama eased, Gates may still see their longstanding tension as a regret.

Allen and Gates both possessed brilliant minds. If they had resolved their differences sooner, they could have continued to work together. They may have brought Microsoft to even more prominence. 

Disagreements are frequent in the business world, especially among people with big ideas. However, it’s a mistake to let them get in the way of progress.

Allen and Gates’ collaboration made Microsoft possible and though their friendship suffered, it was clear they valued it greatly, as shown by their rekindling of it in their final days.

In our desire to reach our dreams, we shouldn’t lose sight of the people we love and those who help us along the way. Finding a work to work with those who support us rather than butting heads is the surest path to accomplishing our goals.

How to Handle Being the One Friend Who Doesn’t Have Kids

By | challenging, Food for thought, friends, personal essay, relationships

Pretty much everyone close to me has kids now. It wasn’t a gradual development, either.

I’ve always had a strong group of friends (mostly women), and when we hit our mid-thirties, none of us had any kids yet, with no signs of that changing on the horizon, I thought that was it: we were an anomaly, a rare breed of bad-ass childless wonders, and that was that.

But then my best guy friend in the world announced his girlfriend was pregnant, and today they’re a family of four.

From where I was standing, it happened fast:

Within a year of my best friend’s announcement, one of my closest girlfriends decided she didn’t want to be the only person in her family without children, and the next thing we knew, she was expecting.

A year after she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, another friend in our tight knit group who’d been married a while but was convinced she couldn’t get pregnant naturally, suddenly did! We were all over the moon. Her baby boy was born almost two years ago.

And so it continued, expanding outward, with seemingly everyone I knew announcing baby bumps on social until I felt I was a solo settler living on one of the very few remaining non-parental planets.

The “aunt” friend

While it’s been an absolute marvel playing cool auntie to a brood of beautiful babes currently aged 2-4, and an incredible experience watching my friends grow and mature into parents with myriad new challenges to face, I must say: it can be hard being on the outside of the shenanigans known as pregnancy and childhood.

They say the grass is always greener, and maybe it’s true, but being the one without kids is not a simple, clear-cut matter. Personally, I am no longer single, and I am not even sure if I want to have children or not. Yet, nonetheless, it has been harrowing at times to be on the outside of an experience they all share.

Here are 3 realizations about being the friend without kids:

Woman with baby

You need to reach out first

Anyone with friends who have recently (or even not so recently) become parents will likely mention the same phenomenon: it’s not that your new parent friends don’t want to see you or be your friend anymore, but they have a baby, for god’s sake!

If you want to hang out, not only is the proposal going to have to come from you, but any hanging out is going to have to be 100% on their terms—their schedule, their choice of activity, and their mood.

Does this seem callous somehow? Maybe, if you’re incapable of empathy. Yes, it’s true you might feel a bit (or a lot) de-prioritized, but if your friendship is strong enough, this will constitute evolution rather than bonafide distancing!

Conversations get interrupted

This is a big one, particularly among my women friends, as, sadly, the reality is that women’s time post-childbirth is compromised far more than that of their male partners.

While some of this makes sense, since only women can breastfeed, for example, a lot of it seems rather socially ingrained, with men feeling more entitled to hanging onto adult leisure time than women.

The result is that I almost never get to hang out with my friends anymore without one or more of their babies/toddlers present, and while this means endless fun and lots of unforgettably cute moments, the fact is that we can’t talk like we used to—about work, about relationships, about feelings—because there’s usually a tiny hand tugging on someone’s hair or an outburst of tears just a few minutes in.

Be prepared and sympathetic that this is even more frustrating for your friend than it is for you.

Other life challenges seem to pale in comparison to childrearing

Especially for new parents, the only thing in the world that matters is their child: their health, their feeding schedule, their social skills, their bad or good habits, their general development, the list goes on. And why shouldn’t it?

So if you had a bad date who couldn’t stop talking about him or herself all night, or your new waxing salon isn’t up to par, or you’ve simply been kind of sad and feeling isolated from your friends because they all have kids and don’t have as much time or energy for you as before, it may not feel important enough to bring up in the face of other topics of conversation that seem to have a hell of a lot more to do with raising a freaking human being.

The choice is yours, but most friends worth holding onto will still give a damn about your feelings even after they become parents—even if they don’t have the same level of energy to give to you.

Embracing being auntie (or uncle)

Different and confusing though it may be when your child-laden friends relegate you to auntie, one thing’s for sure: although it’ll never be quite the same as it was, that’s perfectly alright.

The fact of the matter is that whether one has a child or not, anyone not living with their head in the proverbial sand is bound to go through a number of major transitions in life— and your friendships either evolve and adapt to suit your new circumstances, or you eventually shed them and move onto new ones that better suit you in your own personal growth.

How I’m Cultivating Intimacy Outside of Romance

By | challenging, Food for thought, friends, personal essay, Relationship

For most of my adult life I’ve been a “relationship person.” Although I’ve been fortunate to have close relationships with friends and family, I’ve always found it easier to be fully open, fully expressive, and fully intimate in the framework of a romantic relationship.

My first serious relationship formed when I was 15 years old. In the 14 years since, I’ve spent most of my time in relationships, lasting from a few months to a few years. Rarely have I had significant stays in the land of single-dom.

I told myself that romance was the most important thing

I swore I would never minimize the connections formed with significant others — but over the past few years I’ve delved deeply into the reasons why I felt that way.

My path of self-enquiry touched upon a few humbling, uncomfortable truths.

Initially this led to a painful, yet life-changing realization: romance had become codependency, a way for me to attain value and worth I wasn’t getting from myself.

The myth of romantic love and all its dopamine-fuelled highs and lows had become my own false-promise of salvation.

I put all my intimacy eggs in the romance basket

This year I’ve challenged myself. I intend to be more loving, more compassionate, more caring, more authentic, more vulnerable, and more honest with those I love. I want to express and connect beyond labels or socially prescribed boxes. I want to increasingly embody unconditional love, as much as I can.

A quick disclaimer — social anxiety is my background, but I have been able to nourish rewarding, intimate, beautiful relationships nonetheless. Still, as my anxiety has reduced and my ability to express myself increased, the quality of all my relationships have improved.

What is the difference between romantic, platonic, and familial relationships?

Why did I give myself extra permission in the context of cupid’s arrow? Clearly, it wasn’t just about sex — but sex was a bridge to cultivating a deeper sense of connection for me.

Upon reflection I realized my intimacy imbalance was due to a number of factors.

Comfort vs connection

Sex is an exceptionally intimate act. With a sexual partner, cushioned by pillow talk, I felt comfortable opening my heart to a deeper level. Partly — and I see this as a cultural problem — I’d overly emphasized physical intimacy.

The sexual act was a precursor to other forms of intimacy; of sharing the emotional, mental, spiritual aspects of myself. By buying into the link between physical intimacy as a precursor to other forms of intimacy, I’d created a subconscious barrier from non-sexual relationships.

Additionally, I wasn’t as comfortable with non-sexual physical intimacy, instead “reserving” this form of connection for my romantic partner.

I was placing all of my intimacy needs on one person — that’s a big ask.

The path of the heart

Taking the leap to greater intimacy in all relationships is a path of heart. True human connection requires vulnerability, trust, awareness. It demands radical authenticity, a revealing of our deeper selves beyond the persona. Intimacy demands we work, tirelessly cultivating self-compassion and self-love, so we can express love without neediness or craving.

The modern world is full of distractions, but the leap to greater intimacy demands our attention and focus.

When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?

Thich Nhat Hanh

Recollect time spent with someone who is distracted; glancing at their phone, losing track of conversation. You’ll likely experience a sense of disconnect.

Conversely, think of some of the most significant shared moments you’ve had. You will find the levels of connection and presence you felt were exceptional.

Feel your fear – and connect anyway

Last but not least, the leap to greater intimacy requires courage. Each of us will have our own “intimacy zones.” Any act or conversation outside of this zone will be accompanied by fear.

The task is to push yourself through, to feel the fear and act anyway. Run the risk of rejection, knowing you’ll be okay whatever the outcome.

Depending on where you are in your life, your intimacy zone may be talking to a stranger or hugging someone or telling someone you love them. Start by meeting yourself where you’re at, and take a leap from there.

Dare to be vulnerable. Dare to connect.

In modern times, this is an unconventional act. But I’m not here to play by convention — and you’re not, either.

Cold Shower: How Complaining Made My Life Miserable (and How I Stopped)

By | challenging, Food for thought, friends, mindset, personal essay, self, Self-Improvement

My optimism used to be my greatest strength. Whatever happened, I always had the power to genuinely smile.

Smiling made me feel better, and I was ten times happier when my good mood made others around me smile too. I felt like it was my responsibility to lift up other people’s spirits, even those who were not so close to me.

I never thought that I would ever become bitter, but certain life events can completely change you without warning. I went from optimist to trapped in a cycle of misery,

Here’s how I lost my optimism:

I had a chance to give hope and make a difference

I was 21, studying hard for my finals, and doing my research, which involved interviewing children with cancer as well as their parents — not just regular interviews, but listening to life stories. Needless to say, it was consuming me, but those children had someone to play with, and their parents someone to talk to

Playing with these children was part of the process, since I couldn’t directly ask them about their illness — the situation was too delicate. After that, I would listen to their parents’ stories. It was hard seeing those children and their parents in so much pain. But seeing them smile during our sessions was so amazing that, at the end of the day, the fact that the whole process took a toll on me didn’t seem to matter.

But in those six months of visiting children with a 25% chance of survival– constantly lying to them that things will get better and they’ll soon be able to go back to their homes– I began to face my own share of tragedy.

Broken inside, with a huge smile for pictures

I lost those dearest to me: both of my grandparents that raised me. I would’ve given my life without any second thoughts if it could’ve saved them. But unlike in fairytales, there was no devil to make a pact with.

As they say, life goes on. I was on autopilot, desperately trying to find comfort in the arms of my high school sweetheart. But he didn’t love me anymore — he pitied me and didn’t have the heart to leave me in such moments. Silly me! He ended our relationship the night before my graduation.

I couldn’t sleep that whole night. The next morning, I got up, put on some makeup, and went to celebrate. I didn’t want to look sad in the photos that marked an important moment of my life, so I pretended.

The great pretender became the great complainer

All the pretending started to backfire. My pain began to surface and I slowly turned into one of those whining people no one can stand. The kind that we consider toxic because they constantly complain and see the negative in everything.

I could’ve won the lottery, found a thousand people to care for me, had a great job, and I would still have complained.

I was indeed toxic… to myself and everyone around me.

But I didn’t realize it. How could I? I was in pain and had reason to complain; my reasons for being unhappy were serious. I didn’t complain because I couldn’t find a pretty pair of shoes. I’d lost the people I’d loved the most and the longest, then my first love left me.

Regardless of reasons, I was sabotaging myself. The people around me were getting tired of listening to the same tape on repeat.

The cold shower that woke me up:

Waterfall man is happy

Thankfully, I have a blunt friend who would always “slap” me in the face whenever I took it too far. We promised each other that we would tell the truth, even when it hurt. We need someone to put us back on track, so this was a mutual favor we would do whenever it was necessary.

After two years of hearing me complain about everything, my friend confronted me. She was patient enough, but I began projecting my negative feelings onto everything and everyone else.

I was seeing the worst in everything — always suspicious, always cynical — and my friend inally flamed up!

You’re driving me insane! Aren’t you tired of talking about the same things over and over again? It’s been two years and it seems like you’re not even trying to get over it.

It was painful — but necessary

I was offended! Of course, she was supposed to tell me the truth — that’s why we were friends to begin with. She always told me if she thought I was making a wrong decision, and I loved her for that. But this time I was in pain. I thought if she couldn’t give me any advice, she could’ve at least listened.

My friend’s verbal “slap” was like a cold shower. It even led met to start questioning our friendship. My simple response was “we’ll see how you cope when stuff like this happens to you. Then I just changed the subject.

Then something weird happened:after changing the subject, I was able to actually laugh at some stories she told me.

When I got back home I thought a lot about her words and finally realized the obvious: she was the one trying to help me– and I was the one resisting it.

I forgot the most important thing:

There was nothing great happening in my life back then, but neither was anything terrible. I had no reasons to suffer — other than the ones I couldn’t let go of.

My friend confronted me with the reality that I wasn’t even trying to get over my problems, so I started there: with trying. I forced myself to see and be grateful for the things that were neither great nor bad.

At first, I wasn’t able to use the term “good” so I would just say “it’s not that bad.”

It took me a while, but I managed to practice gratitude in my own way.

Now I can be grateful simply because it’s sunny outside. Sometimes I want to hug my coffee mug, sometimes I see someone randomly smiling on their way home and it fills me up with joy. No, I’m not crazy — I still can’t help being cynical at times — but at least I try to see the good things happening around me.

There’s always something to be grateful for, but complaining takes away our ability to see it. My friend’s blunt approach opened my eyes and now I know better than to dwell on the negative.