5 Stupid Habits You Develop Growing Up in a Broken Home

How do you react when you hear the phrase "dysfunctional family"? Do you smirk and say, "Oh, man, I could tell you some stories"? Maybe you roll your eyes and think, "Christ, here we go with that 'My daddy didn't love me enough' bullshit." I used to do the latter; people use a bad childhood as a "Get Out of Responsibility Free" card, and even if they were actually from dysfunctional families, who gives a shit? Get over it and move on with your goddamn life, pussy.

But research says there are some very weird, specific and often annoying personality traits a person develops coming from a bad home, and once you know how to look for it, you see them everywhere. See if you recognize any of these people. Maybe you remember them from high school. Or, hell, maybe it's you ...

#5. Lying Becomes Their New Reality


You Know Them As:

This is the guy at school or work who always has to top everything you say. You tell him that you just learned how to do an ollie on your skateboard, and he responds with "Yeah, I learned that when I was 4. I can kickflip over a bus now." Or he tells you the story of how he was almost robbed at the ATM, so he had to use his martial arts skills to disable and apprehend the three attackers. You just automatically know that his story is closer to him walking by a bank and seeing someone who sort of scared him. Then he picked up the pace and went home without issue.

God, just look at the bloodlust in their eyes.

How It Happens:

I haven't told this to many people, so it makes total sense to admit it in front of hundreds of thousands of strangers ... but I used to be a compulsive liar. Don't worry, I confronted and dealt with that issue several years ago, but from early childhood well into adulthood, I lied about absolutely everything. Stupid shit that didn't even require lying to protect myself or someone else -- lying without a purpose. Things like my shoe size or level of education. Claiming I could play certain instruments, in conversations where nobody even gave a fraction of a shit in the first place.

It wasn't until I started doing heavy research into dysfunctional families that I realized that this was a pretty common trait among people who have lived through abuse or neglect. It starts off the way you'd imagine: You learn by example from your parents or siblings. "No, I'm not drunk! We were just out of water, so I bathed in vodka. Get off my ass!" Then you start using it as a tool. "Yeah, I got all of my homework done. Can I go out and play now?"

"This is a recipe for homemade C4. What have I told you about lying to me and planning acts of terrorism?"

Eventually, it gets so ingrained that lying becomes more comfortable than telling the truth. Then, even further down the line, telling the truth starts to feel uncomfortable -- the same way lying feels uncomfortable to normal, healthy-minded people. In the minds of many people who have grown up in a dysfunctional family, lying and honesty literally switch places on their moral compass. Before they know it, they're saying shit that isn't true and not even stopping to ask themselves why. "So far this year, I've had sex with 218 women. At the same time."

They don't do it to be evil. There's no malicious intent behind it. But it's so hard to not think of them as manipulating assholes who are only out to fuck with your head. In truth, it's a defense mechanism, learned and utilized in order to avoid horrifying consequences for mundane things. "If I tell Mom that I broke my glasses, she's going to flip out and beat the piss out of me. Just tell her a bully did it. The kids call him 'Mean Breakglasses' because he does it so often." Or they're looking for the praise and respect that they never got growing up. "When I tell people I'm a 12th-degree black belt in taekwondo, they act impressed, and that feels awesome. Obviously, they're afraid that if they don't show respect, I'll spin kick their head completely off of their fucking neck."

"Let's see you come at me. No, not like that, come at me like this. Yeah, perfect. Now, EAT FOOT!"

#4. They Lose the Ability to Finish Projects


You Know Them As:

The friend who constantly shows you this awesome drawing they've been working on. "And over here, I'm gonna have a black dragon wrapping around her naked boobies and breathing a stream of flaming skulls while the boob woman casts some wizard shit. He fucking breathes skulls, man. It's gonna be so badass." Then you never see it again. When you ask him how it's coming along, he tells you he got busy or decided he didn't like it, so he scrapped the whole thing. And that's that. A week later, he's showing you the beginning of another project that is doomed to incompletion. What a lazy fuck.

"Fuck it, close enough. We can live on that left side, in the back."

How It Happens:

Obviously, there are plenty of people out there who are lazy or just have short attention spans but have never had their pets thrown at their head by their mother or been called "future corpse fucker" by their father. But their reasons for stopping a project in midstride tend to be because either they got distracted or they realized how much work was involved and just said, "Screw this."

Personally, if I had finished all the short stories and novels I've started over the last 20 years, I'd have enough money to retire, based on bulk alone. It turns out that's pretty common among kids who come from dysfunctional families because they lacked the instruction and motivation that's readily available in a normal, healthy family environment.

"Christ, look at that dumbass. Those angles have to be off by at least half a degree. What a piece of shit."

Some of you are about to realize that your home situation wasn't as normal as you thought when I tell you the following: In a normal family, when a child has a hobby or homework, the adult generally helps out, serving as a makeshift teacher. They're right there to point out why you need to add glue here before you hammer a nail into it, or why you carry the one in this math problem instead of writing "Go fuck yourself" in the blank. Even if they're not directly instructing, the child can watch the adult do their own project, while asking questions along the way. Either way, there's an education present that isn't there in the dysfunctional atmosphere.

So the child learns that starting something is pretty easy. But when the hard stuff shows up in the middle, they give up, because they don't know what to do next. They feel like they've failed before they even reach the halfway point. But just as damaging is the absence of a cheering section. For instance, in a healthy household: I'm in the middle of a clay sculpture of a fully erect penis. Detailed right down to the most subtle capillary and circumcision scar. I show it to my dad, who glances over and says, "Oh, wow, that looks great. Exactly like your grandfather's! Keep going, I can't wait to try that out on your mother!" I've been shown praise for my creativity, and I've been motivated to finish the project.


In a dysfunctional family, the best you can hope for is a quick glance away from the TV, followed by, "Can you not see I'm in the middle of this show? Fuck off and stop bothering me." This is the beginning of what will eventually morph into ...

#3. They Become Ultra Responsible (or Catastrophically Irresponsible)


You Know Them As:

This is the friend who gets super pissed off when you're four minutes late for something trivial like going out for coffee. They may or may not go as far as becoming OCD, but in general, household objects have their place, and they need to be put back in exactly that spot when you're done using them. Bills can never be late under any circumstance. Everyone in the world must be taken care of first, before they, themselves, are even considered.

On the opposite end, you have the sack of shit who just crashes on friends' couches until they kick him out. Then he finds a new couch, repeating the process while thinking that the world is out to get him. Life has made him a shit sandwich, served on a plate that's also made out of shit.

And for dessert? That's not cake.

How It Happens:

There is rarely any middle ground with people who have been through a lifetime of dysfunctional bullshit. In many cases, children end up taking on a parental role due to neglect from one or both of their actual parents. They learn from an early age to feed themselves, get to and from school on their own, do their homework without help or guidance ... and often the only help they get in any area is from older siblings who have taught themselves these skills. So you get a 9-year-old kid taking on the responsibilities of a 40-year-old adult, and it seems absolutely normal to them. "Where's my briefcase? I have a parent-teacher conference to attend so I can speak to my teachers about myself."

When they move out, the upside is that they are fully trained to take on "real life." The downside is that they often become obsessive about their responsibilities, and end up teaching this to their children, using the same method that their neglectful parents did. Because they don't view that as neglect -- often, they just see it as a teaching method.

"Shhh. We're teaching him how to make a meatloaf."

Unless something happens to provoke the revelation of "Holy crap, that was all bullshit," it still feels completely normal to them. That's hard enough to realize when you're on the responsible end of the spectrum. On the other side are the people who tried everything to please their parents, but realized that the fight was futile. So they simply gave up out of emotional exhaustion.

Unfortunately, that "Fuck it, I'm done" attitude isn't a one-time thing. Just like the rest of the traits in this article, it becomes a point of habit. Then it further becomes an ingrained behavior. Then a virtually inseparable part of the personality. You see these people refusing to get jobs or continually quitting the ones they have. They neglect chores, relationships, bills. I've been through both of these traits, and I'm telling you from experience that finding a middle ground is like parachuting into a foreign country without knowing the customs or language and trying to survive from scratch. All while being gang fucked by bears. Foreign bears.

Le growl. Le roar.

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