Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

When Someone You Love is Toxic – How to Let Go, Without Guilt

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When Someone You Love is Toxic How to Let Go of a Toxic Relationship, Without Guilt

If toxic people were an ingestible substance, they would come with a high-powered warning and secure packaging to prevent any chance of accidental contact. Sadly, families are not immune to the poisonous lashings of a toxic relationship.

Though families and relationships can feel impossibly tough at times, they were never meant to ruin. All relationships have their flaws and none of them come packaged with the permanent glow of sunlight and goodness and beautiful things. In any normal relationship there will be fights from time to time. Things will be said and done and forgiven, and occasionally rehashed at strategic moments. For the most part though, they will feel nurturing and life-giving to be in. At the very least, they won’t hurt.

Why do toxic people do toxic things?

Toxic people thrive on control. Not the loving, healthy control that tries to keep everyone safe and happy – buckle your seatbelt, be kind, wear sunscreen – but the type that keeps people small and diminished. 

Everything they do is to keep people small and manageable. This will play out through criticism, judgement, oppression – whatever it takes to keep someone in their place. The more you try to step out of ‘your place’, the more a toxic person will call on toxic behaviour to bring you back and squash you into the tiny box they believe you belong in.

It is likely that toxic people learned their behaviour during their own childhood, either by being exposed to the toxic behaviour of others or by being overpraised without being taught the key quality of empathy. In any toxic relationship there will be other qualities missing too, such as respect, kindness and compassion, but at the heart of a toxic person’s behaviour is the lack of concern around their impact on others. They come with a critical failure to see past their own needs and wants.

Toxic people have a way of choosing open, kind people with beautiful, lavish hearts because these are the ones who will be more likely to fight for the relationship and less likely to abandon.

Even the strongest people can find themselves in a toxic relationship but the longer they stay, the more they are likely to evolve into someone who is a smaller, less confident, more wounded version of the person they used to be.

Non-toxic people who stay in a toxic relationship will never stop trying to make the relationship better, and toxic people know this. They count on it. Non-toxic people will strive to make the relationship work and when they do, the toxic person has exactly what he or she wants – control. 

Toxic Families – A Special Kind of Toxic

Families are a witness to our lives – our best, our worst, our catastrophes, our frailties and flaws. All families come with lessons that we need to learn along the way to being a decent, thriving human. The lessons begin early and they don’t stop, but not everything a family teaches will come with an afterglow. Sometimes the lessons they teach are deeply painful ones that shudder against our core.

Rather than being lessons on how to love and safely open up to the world, the lessons some families teach are about closing down, staying small and burying needs – but for every disempowering lesson, there is one of empowerment, strength and growth that exists with it. In toxic families, these are around how to walk away from the ones we love, how to let go with strength and love, and how to let go of guilt and any fantasy that things could ever be different. And here’s the rub – the pain of a toxic relationship won’t soften until the lesson has been learned.

Love and loyalty don’t always exist together.

Love has a fierce way of keeping us tied to people who wound us. The problem with family is that we grow up in the fold, believing that the way they do things is the way the world works. We trust them, listen to them and absorb what they say. There would have been a time for all of us that regardless of how mind-blowingly destructive the messages from our family were, we would have received them all with a beautiful, wide-eyed innocence, grabbing every detail and letting them shape who we were growing up to be.

Our survival would have once depended on believing in everything they said and did, and resisting the need to challenge or question that we might deserve better. The things we believe when we are young are powerful. They fix themselves upon us and they stay, at least until we realise one day how wrong and small-hearted those messages have been.

At some point, the environment changes – we grow up – but our beliefs don’t always change with it. We stop depending on our family for survival but we hang on to the belief that we have to stay connected and loyal, even though being with them hurts.

The obligation to love and stay loyal to a family member can be immense, but love and loyalty are two separate things and they don’t always belong together.

Loyalty can be a confusing, loaded term and is often the reason that people stay stuck in toxic relationships. What you need to know is this: When loyalty comes with a diminishing of the self, it’s not loyalty, it’s submission.

We stop having to answer to family when we become adults and capable of our own minds.

Why are toxic relationships so destructive?

In any healthy relationship, love is circular – when you give love, it comes back. When what comes back is scrappy, stingy intent under the guise of love, it will eventually leave you small and depleted, which falls wildly, terrifyingly short of where anyone is meant to be.

Healthy people welcome the support and growth of the people they love, even if it means having to change a little to accommodate. When one person in a system changes, whether it’s a relationship of two or a family of many, it can be challenging. Even the strongest and most loving relationships can be touched by feelings of jealousy, inadequacy and insecurity at times in response to somebody’s growth or happiness. We are all vulnerable to feeling the very normal, messy emotions that come with being human.

The difference is that healthy families and relationships will work through the tough stuff. Unhealthy ones will blame, manipulate and lie – whatever they have to do to return things to the way they’ve always been, with the toxic person in control.

Why a Toxic Relationship Will never change.

Reasonable people, however strong and independently minded they are, can easily be drawn into thinking that if they could find the switch, do less, do more, manage it, tweak it, that the relationship will be okay. The cold truth is that if anything was going to be different it would have happened by now. 

Toxic people can change, but it’s highly unlikely. What is certain is that nothing anyone else does can change them. It is likely there will be broken people, broken hearts and broken relationships around them – but the carnage will always be explained away as someone else’s fault. There will be no remorse, regret or insight. What is more likely is that any broken relationship will amplify their toxic behaviour.

Why are toxic people so hard to leave?

If you try to leave a toxic person, things might get worse before they get better – but they will always get better. Always.

Few things will ramp up feelings of insecurity or a need for control more than when someone questions familiar, old behaviour, or tries to break away from old, established patterns in a relationship. For a person whose signature moves involve manipulation, lies, criticism or any other toxic behaviour, when something feels as though it’s changing, they will use even more of their typical toxic behaviour to bring the relationship (or the person) back to a state that feels acceptable.

When things don’t seem to be working, people will always do more of what used to work, even if that behaviour is at the heart of the problem. It’s what we all do. If you are someone who is naturally open and giving, when things don’t feel right in a relationship you will likely give more of yourself, offer more support, be more loving, to get things back on track. 

Breaking away from a toxic relationship can feel like tearing at barbed wire with bare hands. The more you do it, the more it hurts, so for a while, you stop tearing, until you realise that it’s not the tearing that hurts, it’s the barbed wire – the relationship – and whether you tear at it or not, it won’t stop cutting into you.

Think of it like this. Imagine that all relationships and families occupy a space. In healthy ones, the shape of that space will be fluid and open to change, with a lot of space for people to grow. People will move to accommodate the growth and flight of each other. 

For a toxic family or a toxic relationship, that shape is rigid and unyielding. There is no flexibility, no bending, and no room for growth. Everyone has a clearly defined space and for some, that space will be small and heavily boxed. When one person starts to break out of the shape, the whole family feels their own individual sections change. The shape might wobble and things might feel vulnerable, weakened or scary. This is normal, but toxic people will do whatever it takes to restore the space to the way it was. Often, that will mean crumpling the ones who are changing so they fit their space again.

Sometimes out of a sense of love and terribly misplaced loyalty, people caught in a toxic relationship might sacrifice growth and change and step back into the rigid tiny space a toxic person manipulates them towards. It will be clear when this has happened because of the soul-sucking grief at being back there in the mess with people (or person) who feel so bad to be with.

But they do it because they love me. They said so.

Sometimes toxic people will hide behind the defence that they are doing what they do because they love you, or that what they do is ‘no big deal’ and that you’re the one causing the trouble because you’re just too sensitive, too serious, too – weak, stupid, useless, needy, insecure, jealous – too ‘whatever’ to get it. You will have heard the word plenty of times before. 

The only truth you need to know is this: If it hurts, it’s hurtful. Fullstop.

Love never holds people back from growing. It doesn’t diminish, and it doesn’t contaminate. If someone loves you, it feels like love. It feels supportive and nurturing and life-giving. If it doesn’t do this, it’s not love. It’s self-serving crap designed to keep you tethered and bound to someone else’s idea of how you should be.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, but a healthy one is a tolerant, loving, accepting, responsive one.

The one truth that matters.

If it feels like growth or something that will nourish you, follow that. It might mean walking away from people you care about – parents, sisters, brothers, friends – but this can be done with love and the door left open for when they are able to meet you closer to your terms – ones that don’t break you.

Set the boundaries with grace and love and leave it to the toxic person to decide which side of that boundary they want to stand on. Boundaries aren’t about spite or manipulation and they don’t have to be about ending the relationship. They are something drawn in strength and courage to let people see with great clarity where the doorway is to you. If the relationship ends, it’s not because of your lack of love or loyalty, but because the toxic person chose not to treat you in the way you deserve. Their choice. 

Though it is up to you to decide the conditions on which you will let someone close to you, whether or not somebody wants to be close to you enough to respect those conditions is up to them. The choice to trample over what you need means they are choosing not to be with you. It doesn’t mean you are excluding them from your life.

Toxic people also have their conditions of relationship and though they might not be explicit, they are likely to include an expectation that you will tolerate ridicule, judgement, criticism, oppression, lying, manipulation – whatever they do. No relationship is worth that and it is always okay to say ‘no’ to anything that diminishes you.

The world and those who genuinely love you want you to be as whole as you can be. Sometimes choosing health and wholeness means stepping bravely away from that which would see your spirit broken and malnourished.

When you were young and vulnerable and dependent for survival on the adults in your life, you had no say in the conditions on which you let people close to you. But your life isn’t like that now. You get to say. You get to choose the terms of your relationships and the people you get close to.

There is absolutely no obligation to choose people who are toxic just because they are family. If they are toxic, the simple truth is that they have not chosen you. The version of you that they have chosen is the one that is less than the person you would be without them.

The growth.

Walking away from a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is always brave and always strong. It is always okay. And it is always – always – worth it. This is the learning and the growth that is hidden in the toxic mess.

Letting go will likely come with guilt, anger and grief for the family or person you thought you had. They might fight harder for you to stay. They will probably be crueller, more manipulative and more toxic than ever. They will do what they’ve always done because it has always worked. Keep moving forward and let every hurtful, small-hearted thing they say or do fuel your step.

You can’t pretend toxic behaviour away or love it away or eat it, drink it, smoke it, depress it or gamble it away. You can’t avoid the impact by being smaller, by crouching or bending or flexing around it. But you can walk away from it – so far away that the most guided toxic fuelled missile that’s thrown at you won’t find you.

One day they might catch up to you – not catch you, catch up to you – with their growth and their healing but until then, choose your own health and happiness over their need to control you. 

You can love people, let go of them and keep the door open on your terms, for whenever they are ready to treat you with love, respect and kindness. This is one of the hardest lessons but one of the most life-giving and courageous ones.

Sometimes there are not two sides. There is only one. Toxic people will have you believing that the one truthful side is theirs. It’s not. It never was. Don’t believe their highly diseased, stingy version of love. It’s been drawing your breath, suffocating you and it will slowly kill you if you let it, and the way you ‘let it’ is by standing still while it spirals around you, takes aim and shoots. 

If you want to stay, that’s completely okay, but see their toxic behaviour for what it is – a desperate attempt to keep you little and controlled. Be bigger, stronger, braver than anything that would lessen you. Be authentic and real and give yourself whatever you need to let that be. Be her. Be him. Be whoever you can be if the small minds and tiny hearts of others couldn’t stop you.

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695 Comments

Jac

A powerful piece that resonated strongly with me. As a grown woman, I had to make the choice as to whether I stayed in the lives of the two people who should have loved me unconditionally, but were too toxic to ever be able to do so. The pain and grief in the early stages of my letting go of the “known” were overwhelming. The hope I offer to others to whom this may be familiar, is find the courage and walk away. For the ‘unknown’ when you are no longer being diminished and routinely hurt, is a wonderful and wondrous place where you find yourself again. I pat my own back regularly for choosing to run my own race and value myself. It has made me a better mother, better wife, and quite simply, happy !!

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Hey Sigmund

Jac, thank you very much for sharing your experience of walking away from toxic relationships. Your decisions would have taken strength and courage and the life you are now living and the person you are will, I’m sure, give hope and courage to others who are in similarly difficult relationships. It is the power of the ‘me too’, and it’s immeasurable.

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Sue F

Karen, I have read a lot about toxic relationships over the years but this just brings it all together. A great article which I will keep referring to in my journey to the life I deserve to live, away from the people who want to keep me small. The door will always be open but my life will be lived on my terms not theirs. Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes Sue you absolutely deserve to be with people who enrich you and appreciate you for everything that you are. I am always grateful for your voice and the wonderful insights and wisdom you share here. Thank you!

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Sheila

I have printed this out to show my youngest daughter (nearly 11) later. I have also forwarded to my oldest daughter (25).

I’ve done this because it is such a powerful & important summary of why it is important to draw & maintain boundaries for yourself in all relationships.

Thank you for this piece. I did not take these steps myself until I was in my 30s & 40s (with different relationships, romantic & familial), and my hope for my daughters is that if they lay these foundations and learn to draw appropriate boundaries early in life they’ll be spared the painful, but necessary, step of severing toxic relationships.

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Hey Sigmund

You are doing a wonderful thing for your daughters in teaching them the importance of having boundaries and letting them know that it is always okay to leave the relationships that don’t feel right for them. Though it is important to be kind, that kindness has to be towards ourselves first and the truth is that not everyone who comes into our lives will deserve to be there.

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Anonymous

This could not have been more timely for me. Reading it felt as though my eyes were the window to which someone was there looking thru and understanding. Someone there being the voice to pain of my heart. Today, I’m going to breathe. Thank you.

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Kelly

Very good article, sadly it is my grown daughter who is a toxic person. I worry about how she treats our 14 year old granddaughter. I am hoping with time and love my granddaughter can learn to set boundaries with her mother and live a happy life.

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Hey Sigmund

Keep being a stable, loving force in your grandaughter’s life. Don’t underestimate the important influence over the young woman she is growing up to be. She is very lucky to have you.

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Kelly Olbekson

Thank you for your kind words. I do try to be there for my granddaughter, I try to be a soft place to land for her, we Skype together almost everyday, we live to far from her so, I trust in the Lord, prayer goes a long way in this situation, and she knows that papa, and grandma love her unconditionally, it is still painful to see what she goes through, but I keep reminding myself that she will survive this. Life can be painful for everyone, but learning how to deal with difficult situations is the key to a happier life.

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Jason B

When the toxicity is coupled with an otherworldly attraction to said toxic person, that’s when the decisions get so difficult for me…it’s like a balance beam where on one side is me understanding I should move on for my own good, but the other side is me thinking the pain caused by losing her is a millions times worse than the toxicity. Being human…sigh.
Amazing article.

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Hey Sigmund

Being human can be tough. Love is like an addiction. Sometimes it’s healthy and sometimes not so much. Like any addiction, just because we can’t imagine living without it, doesn’t mean we can’t do exactly that. You will always be stronger than you think you are.

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CJ

Every word of this article resonated with me. Having toxic parents, it took me until well into adulthood to see and understand this. After many toxic relationships with men I’m now (in middle age) in a relationship with a wondetful, non-toxic man. Although my same old negative thought patterns of thinking often pop in my head, its a daily battle dealing with them in my quest for a healthy and loving relationship. This article is something I will hsng on to! Something that explains and validates my life long struggle with relationships. Thank you so much!

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. It sounds as though you have drawn great insights and wisdom from your experiences and I’m so pleased this article was able to validate that for you.

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Flygirl

WOW! It’s like someone lifted the veil and I could see what was always right in front of me clearly! Your ability to communicate this message is so beautiful, simple and honest that I find it is more like an, Aha moment than a terrible secret revealed. Thank you. What you describe is exactly what happens and understanding makes many things a lot more bearable. On my journey as a newly single mom of two toddlers I will protect myself and my boys and teach them to be gentle strong caring loving men.

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Barb

You are helping me overcome more than you know. Thank you so much for all your encouragement. I’m a work in progress but I know I will be freed of these chains that keep me in this dreary state of thinking. My biggest challenge is getting past the you shouldn’t feel that way, you got it made, so and so has it so much worse. Guilt and trust are my biggest feelings to overcome. I just want to say thank you again.
And I really loved your read on Non-medication ways to heal from depression.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Barb. Know that all of your feelings are valid and real, and it is not for anyone else to judge your right to have them. Our feelings are a combination of so many things – our history, our chemistry, our brain, our mind, our memories the thoughts that drive us, our circumstances, the people around us – just to name a few. Keep moving forward. I know that you will free yourself of what it is that pushes you down and find the happier version of your life and yourself that you deserve. Love and strength to you.

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Jack

I found this article very helpful. In my case, my ex Wife is toxic, but subtly so. It took over a decade for me to finally realize I my whole life revolved around her. Subtle manipulations, giving in just enough to keep my from really fighting back, but always wearing me down bit by bit until I didn’t bother having my own thoughts or opinions anymore.

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Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased this was able to help you. One of the ways toxic people do so much damage is through their subtlety. What you are describing makes so much sense, and is one of the reasons they are able to keep doing what they do for so long. I’m pleased you are no longer there and hope that since then you have been able to claim back your mind and your voice. You will always deserve to be heard.

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Tommy

I just walked away from a toxic woman a couple of weeks ago. Really struggling! I would love to compare notes if you’re interested

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Toni

This article opened my eyes and confirmed what happened in my younger years. Reading through this article described everything that either I didn’t understand (how someone would from your family could be so mean for no cause/reason) or know about. I was always confused, hurt and thought it was me, something I did or said. As I read this article, a deep warm feeling inside began to spread as if to say “see I told you it wasn’t you. Now you can heal”. Thank you so much for this article. I am sharing it as much as possible.

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Hey Sigmund

You are so welcome Toni. I’m pleased this has been able to validate you and what happened to you when you were younger. It is so difficult to understand why someone who is meant to love you and keep you safe can be so mean. Nothing you could have said or done would have deserved that. And yes, you can heal – it sounds as though you already are. Onwards and upwards for you.

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SJ

This article has opened my eyes to a situation that I’ve been in for a few years now. I haven’t had the strength to walk completely away from the toxic people in my life but reading this has shown me that, maybe, the problem isn’t necessarily with me so perhaps I can draw on some inner strength and move forward. The difficulty for me is that I have to have some contact with them whilst I look out for my Mum who is vulnerable and still dealing with the loss of my Dad. At times I have felt as if I was going insane but now recognise that the behaviour that has been directed my way is not conducive to a happy and healthy relationship. It has been tough but I do have some loving support around me. I just feel so sad that I need to let go of the relationships that I’ve had with some people that I’ve grown up with. I know that I will be ok in time. Thank you for making things a little clearer for me.

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Hey Sigmund

If there are toxic people in your life, the probably is definitely NOT with you. I really understand your sadness at the thought of letting go of the people you have grown up with and I wish that things could be different for you. It sounds as though you have a lot of strength in you and a lot of love around you.

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Sandy

I tried many many times to make my mother understand my point of view about our relationship but she always would switch it around and say it was me, not her (can’t be her, right?) that was doing the manipulating, beating down, etc. And, oh my gosh, she said I was too sensitive! She even tried to make me feel that I would have disappointed my grandmother if she had known how weak I was. (She went right to the one person that meant the most to me). I tried maybe 4 or 5 times over the last 4 or more years to leave the relationship but I ALWAYS came back thinking I can help her, help the relationship. Part of my reluctance to leaving was I felt I was letting my siblings down because I was putting more burden on them. I became so confused and depressed. I had to take a stand for ME. I help behind the scenes with things, NEVER in person. I also opened up to my sister, more than I have in the past, about just how “damaged” I am from our mother’s behavior with me. I actually used snippets from one of your posts! My mother is the same with my siblings but I can’t separate it out from her intent to control, or even hurt, me. Why would my mother want to hurt me? So for now, I am feeling wonderful! She is on the back burner, I am carrying my share of responsibility for caring for her, and I am coming out of a hole I have been pushed into many years ago. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head. Great reinforcement that I am doing the right thing.

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Hey Sigmund

You sound as though you have so much clarity and I hope you are able to use this to drive you forwards and out of the way of any toxic behaviour that is around you. You have acted with great courage and strength and in the end, you are the only one who can do what is best for you. Stay strong and keep moving upwards.

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Jane B

So well written and empowering. I only wish I was in the headspace to have found this and realised this so many years ago. I have regrets but no longer see myself as a beating board or an abuse magnet. Also very timely as my “toxic parent’ has decided to abandon ship. Normally I would feel terribly guilty about that but not this time!!!! Thank you deeply!

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Hey Sigmund

Thank you! It sounds as though your toxic parent has done you a huge favour and yes – you deserve to be completely free of any guilt. Keep moving forward and let go of your regrets when you can – your experience has brought you amazing wisdom and clarity that will hold you strong as you move beatifully forward with your toxic-free life.

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Suzyn

Thank you. My ex husband of 22years was so skilled at subtle manipulation, every body thought he was brilliant and something was wrong with me, even our children. I was a wreck, ever striving to “make things better, right, rise to the challenge”; I was worn out from doing too much within a home of secret, constant bating and criticism. Today I live on the other side of the world. Our adult children try to make peace with their confusing childhoods. I am too afraid to have a relationship again as i can not even imagine what a healthy one is like. I have had 3 in the decade since leaving the marriage. All with toxic others whom I continued to try to please. Now I love painting, teaching art, biking, hiking and running and I am very happy alone. Thank you for your gift to the world. Your writing felt like the perfect balance of heart and intellectual understanding.

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Hey Sigmund

Suzyn, thank you so much for your comment. It sounds as though you have built a happier, healthier life for yourself, moving forward with grace and strength from those who thought nothing of hurting you. It’s not easy breaking free from toxic influences, but you have done that. Your story will offer hope to many that happiness and a beautiful life are possible when toxic people are left well behind.

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Verna

This is by far one of the best written articles on toxic people and the relationships with these personality types! I have a father and only sister who are very much alike, very manipulative, controlling, just both toxic and I’m the good, kind-hearted person trying for years to deal with them being extremely difficult, always blamed for everything, verbally abused, etc. I have had to walk away from both of them for my own health trying to avoid the chaos and stress they have brought to me and my own family. Thank you for explaining my own thoughts perfectly but couldn’t put into words exactly. I have felt guilty in trying to let things go with both family members, but since I have tried for many years to be a good daughter and sister it has been extremely hard for me. Thanks for helping me to cope and not feel as if I’m the bad person here for walking away, some close relatives think I’m a terrible terrible daughter and they just don’t understand the situation.

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Hey Sigmund

Thank you Verna. I’m pleased that this article has made sense for you. Your decision to walk away from your father and sister must have been a difficult one, but one made with strength and courage and the greatest self-respect. I hope you are able to let go of the guilt you feel.

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Oddsocks

This was exactly what I needed to read. 18 months into walking away from the toxicity and the grief and hurt is still strong. This was the pep talk I needed . Thank you x

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Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased that you have been able to find what you need when you needed it. Walking away doesn’t necessarily end the hurt, but it does open a greater way to your happiness. You have acted with great strength, courage and self-respect. Always remember this. When you freed yourself from the toxic mess you did something wonderful for yourself x

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luise

Hey Sigmund,

I wished to print this brilliant article…it answered a q I had for 27years and will change a lot towards growth within me….
Thank You….BUT as I wished to print it it shows a funny code on the left side of the preview and on the print…do you maybe have a clear version of this article to forward to me pls?
So much appreciated.
Love and Light and Growth
Luise

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Hey Sigmund

Luise I’m so pleased the article was helpful for you. I have just printed it and it seems okay. Did you use the green print button? It is in the share functions on the left hand side if you are on a laptop or desktop, or behind the grey ‘Share This’ button on the bottom if you are on a mobile device. If this didn’t work, are you able to try printing it from another device? This should work. If it doesn’t, please let me know.

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Gigi

Thank you for this article it is very comforting. I have kept my toxic parents away for 4 years. I call and see them occasionally. Just recently they came back stronger than ever to insult and create lies. They criticize all my decisions and absolutely despise my non toxic spouse of 15 years because he keeps me leveled and healthy. They say he manipulates me. Which is what they have been doing all my life. They don’t understand that I stay away to avoid conflict. I have now decided that for childs health and my own I will cut all communication. The difficulty is trying to keep others around me (e.i. cousins aunts uncles) without having to explain why or how my parents treat me. Or all the lies they will tell others of why we don’t speak. Thanks again the article is so well written that I felt your were speaking directly to me.

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Elisa

Hi,
Really smart article. The other one that listed traits of toxic people had me mentally ticking off nearly every single one when thinking of my cousin.
I think my family is one big cluster of cluster b type problems – and over generations. I’d diagnose narcissism or asperger’s, with pretty much every individual having excessive self-focus (i.e. selfishness or egocentricity) and hyper sensitivity with difficulty managing emotions.
They say that narcissists feel shame where others feel guilt. My female cousin is an extreme example -she was emotionally abused growing up my my narcissist grndmother, who probably was even slightly sadistic (she was impossible to have a relationship with and was extremely vain and self focused) – and my female cousin, who I suspect was targeted partly because of some inherently strong narcissism (strong enough) became even more warped I think, as a result.

She is like a nine year old in how she is NEVER wrong and NEVER weak and ALWAYS a model of moral behaviour -vomit! Makes me sick even thinking about how much of an emotional cripple she is. And she is like gollum in her schizo change in loyalties – her only true loyalty being to her extremely fragile ego, with its mass of insecurity and pathetic need to one-up everyone – in fact, her and her husband have made a hobby out of ripping apart other people for their weakness …showing no trace of empathy, mercy, or plain intelligence.

And she is only ONE of my family. All of whom are emotional cripples of one form or another. A group of people alike in their animosity for one another, even if it is just lurking under the surface – like the paranoid schizoid position, where people are all good or all bad, and situations are black-and-white, and strong emotions cannot be tolerated, and so difficult feelings must be dumped on someone else- with the person with lower status being the favored scape goat for the dysfunction of all.

And yet, being the scapegoat in such a family can be like a crucifiction that brings ironic freedom – unless it brings suicide or continued sense of victimhood and loss of integrity (i.e. my gollum like cousin). But it still sucks to be in such a family and to share such genes.

Still, it is a blessing to not need outer validation to the blind extent that I observe members of my family seem to need it. They need to control situations so that they mirror how they feel they need to have it in order to properly feel validated – but it’s like an addiction. Like the epitome of spiritual emptiness : having no internal locus of control.

I am still trying to work on my self to find ‘the narrow gate’. I found it in one respect, but could not get there again when it came to other troubles that I had – which my amily and people I attracted with the same dysfunction- brought out of me. I attracted them like a magnet. Had a peak experience because the toxicity was so high I simply could not bare reality anymore.

I read Eckhart Tolle because he is such a genius at describing the troubles of mistaking your ego for who you are. My cousin should read it, maybe hen she’d give up on her absurdly insane quest to prove herself always right – as if she’s cease to exist if reality did nit match her perception of it.

It’s like a serious absence of faith – of slf belief. The individual fears that they are in fact wrong about what matters to them, and that if wrong that they would then be worthless – and therefore deserving of the extreme judgment that they hurl at others – and yet it is this black and white, all or nothing judgment that stops them from accepting the possibility of even being wrong – which in turn makes them forever dpendent upon others treating them in a particular way.

Sorry, I prattled on so much. I have been attempting for many years to be free of all of this and to grow into a stronger and happier person.

Again, I so appreciate your insights because it’s helpful to have things explained in a different way.

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KB

I have read hundreds of articles on the topic of Narcisscism, as I have a covert Narcissicist mother and overt Narcisscist mother-in-law. This is the best article I have read in terms of clarifying their behaviour and motivations, but also clearly describing (and alleviating) the guilt of walking away (when you are the empath who has nearly killed herself trying to make the relationship work but simply cannot unless involves complete submission). I am the scapegoat/target of both families (husband’s and mine). We went no contact with my in laws a year ago (after tolerating the relationship for 28 years, 23 of them married). It has been the happiest 12 months of my life. His mother bad mouthed me to the extended family as soon as she realised the relationship was serious. The control battles- I’d be here all night describing those! The belittling and manipulation- playing the grandchildren off against each other (there were only 4- two of ours, and two from husband’s brother). At one family dinner, it was announced by mother-in-laws brother (husband’s uncle) that only the other two grandchildren were “special” to him and not ours. Shocked and deeply hurt, I expressed these feelings to mother in law and was ticked off. “If he feels that way, he has every right to say it at a family dinner (in front of everyone). You are just a very jealous person and have emotional issues” (the uncle’s favouritism reflected hers, you see, so she 100% agreed with him). It was interesting, because at the end, my husband finally garnered the courage to stand up for me and emailed his parents- “This has to stop. You cannot continue to attack my wife every time you don’t get your own way about an issue. I can’t see this behaviour changing, since you have done it for so long, but you need to respect her and treat her kindly or we can no longer have any contact with you”. The response? “You are choosing to have no contact with your family then”. His younger brother then texted him and told him to “man up” (ie. “Put your wife back in her box- she’s our punching bag and WILL CONTINUE TO BE, get it?”). So they sacrificed their relationship with their son and grandchildren rather than treat me respectfully. Time and distance have given me perspective and my biggest regret is tolerating her unbearable behaviour for so long. She did once admit to me tha she had been very angry at me when we married (at 23) as I “took him away just when he had become interesting”- we still saw them several times a week as newly weds, not move countries! Anyway, to not have to tolegate her need for control, her constant put downs of my children (and unfavourable comparisons with their cousins) and her chronic immaturity and lack of empathy (she hated homeless people, Muslims and doesn’t believe in climate change) is like removing a tooth abscess after years of pain. Articles like this articulate perfectly why it was necessary to walk away and help me to not feel like a failure over the demise of the relationship. Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you and your husband both worked really hard to make your relationship with your in-laws work. The problem with toxic people is that it doesn’t matter what you do, it will never be enough. I imagine it was a difficult decision for your husband to walk away from his family. You are certainly NOT a failure – you and your husband have acted with strength, courage and love for each other and your family.

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peggy

What if both people (married) are being toxic but stay for the kids and financial reasons. Misery for stability.

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Hey Sigmund

This is a hard one and obviously a tough situation for you. Just be careful of the impact of the stress on the children. Chronic and ongoing stress can be quite harmful for kids. The way to guard against this is to making sure your relationship with them is loving and supportive, and keep the fallout from your relationship as away from them as possible. Having a loving, attentive relationship will them will help to buffer the effects of any stress that might filter through from your relationship.

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Linda A. Bak-Houser

Thank you for this piece b/c you have widen my eyes opened. My husband of 13 years is extremely TOXIC to me n now becoming toxic to our 11 year old son. I will do everything possible and fight my way out of this relationship so my husband does not affect and poison our son like he has done to me.
I think now I have the strength to do so after reading your article this morning. With tears rolling down my face , I realized that this is not me it is my husband who put me under his thumb for so long in controlling me telling what to say and do and think.
I was a very independent person at one time and I will become that person again.
Thank you for opening my eyes!
Linda A. B-H

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Hey Sigmund

You’re welcome Linda. You have made a brave and strong decision and it is absolutely the right thing to protect yourself and your son. Your strength, clarity and courage will make sure you become that independent person again.

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Leanne Mercieca

Why does the giver of the kindness feel so overbearingly guilty in letting go of the receivers it breaks my heart, yet the receivers go off into the sunset without a care

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Hey Sigmund

Because the giver of kindness has empathy and a toxic receiver has none. As much as it hurts, you would always rather be the one with the empathy than without it. I hope you’re okay. Keep moving forward – it will get better. And if the person who is walking away is toxic, be grateful – you have been saved a ton of pain.

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Bon Fid

Oh, how I have found this to be true: “the giver of kindness has empathy and a toxic receiver has none.”
Over and over I have lived this scenario in friendships/relationships, and I never understood it. There are no words to describe how toxic people rip you up inside.

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Anonymous

What if the toxic person is a beautiful woman, and she has become a physical, sexual and biological necessity for the man.

And the man is physically or financially not attractive enough to attract a profile like her.
Don’t you think, a toxic environment is better than a lonely one.

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Don

I just left a toxic relationship with a very attractive woman who I loved dearly. She was everything I thought I wanted in a partner, until things started to change. The statement ” There is no lonelier place than in a toxic relationship” is very true. You will be in a relationship that requires you to give and give and give until the life is sucked out of you. You will never be able to do enough. You will try to meet their every need as the rules constantly change. To live life ” walking on eggshells ” wondering when the next blow up is going to take place is not worth the reward. Life is too short. I would rather live the rest of my life alone than go through the abuse I lived through the last 3 years. Toxic relationships are a one way street, their way only, that is not healthy, it is not loving, it isn’t normal. Toxic relationships are exactly what they are called…They are poison to the victims. I pray for every victim in this type of relationship, but the best advice you can get is….run as fast as you can! It is not easy, it will hurt at first, but before you start to hang onto the memories of the good times before the abuse started…think of the times now..it will never be the way it was ” before”. Those days are gone forever. God Bless

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Anonymous

You’re right. After all in both situations you feel lonely. But feeling lonely in a toxic ‘company’, is more painful, than enduring loneliness alone.

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Lori

I love the article on Toxic relationships. Especially when you try so hard to please a family member. Your article was absolutely correct in they will always want to hear what you are doing, where you are going but they never want to say anything positive. Always negative. I’ve had to learn to stay away from my Mother in-law and sister in law as much as I can. Gossip is their “joy”.

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Hey Sigmund

I’m pleased you have been able to see their behaviour for what it is and protect yourself from it. Sadly, staying right away is sometimes the only way to deal with some people.

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Jane

“Toxic people can change, but it’s highly unlikely. What is certain is that nothing anyone else does can change them. It is likely there will be broken people, broken hearts and broken relationships around them – but the carnage will always be explained away as someone else’s fault. There will be no remorse, regret or insight. What is more likely is that any broken relationship will amplify their toxic behaviour.”

This is the most accurate description of a relationship I walked away from just over a year ago.
We were friends for nigh twenty years and I saw all the patterns of toxicity in her but, because it was rarely turned on me, I ignored it.
What I am plagued by is my inability to stop mulling over our final fight in my quiet moments and wondering if I could have altered anything about the final outcome. (Probably not, but I could have made the severance a bit neater and less childish)
What hurts most is that she has not changed and shows no indication that she ever will.

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Hey Sigmund

This is exactly how toxic people work, and what you are feeling now is a really understandable reaction from someone who fights hard for their relationships, works to be good for the people around them and has an open heart. It is so unlikely that you could have done anything different. If it was a healthy relationship, even if there was something you could have done, this would have been talked about and worked through. I hope that her leaving your life, as painful as it is, will mean that there is room for the people who deserve you.

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Ann

What if you suspect that *you are the toxic family member? Is it possible to change? My adult child recently described me as “difficult” and I am devastated and questioning everything. There is nothing more important to me than redeeming our relationship so am willing to do whatever work I need to.

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Hey Sigmund

We all have the potential to change and grow. Difficult doesn’t necessarily mean toxic though. The first step is to be clear about what it is that is causing the trouble, and from there, you can experiment with different ways of doing things.

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Elisabeth

Hi Robert, what makes you say that? Normally, at least with my very limited insights into this subject, toxic people do not realise nor ADMIT they are toxic.

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John

I’m married to a controlling and critical spouse who gets offending for just about anything yet must tell me what do and how to do it. She seems to hate my true self and tries to shame me into fitting into her box for me. after 20 years, I’ve lost all confidence and am just a shell of who I was. I badly want to part ways but she doesn’t work and I cannot afford to support two households, nor do I want to be party to breaking my kid’s hearts. would appreciate your thoughts!

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Hey Sigmund

Depending on the age of your children and the openness of your spouse’s criticism, it is possible that your children are already sad about what’s happening in their home. The very best version of yourself will be the very best father for your children. Having said that, I know how difficult it can be to leave a relationship when there are financial considerations. I would at the very least recommend counselling, ideally involving both of you otherwise just you so you can find a way to regain your sense of self and set the boundaries you need to set to keep yourself whole and intact.

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Don

This article has helped me tremendously! Toxic people do not change. Their life revolves around them, once you can not support that in a relationship you will be discarded without a second thought. If you are with the right person, you will never have to constantly defend yourself, feel you are in a one sided relationship and worry about what words or actions are going set off your partner next. Life is too short, why spend it with someone who doesn’t love you? Toxic people are incapable of love.

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Little Sis

Thank you for this great article. I love my older sister a lot, but our difficulties have greatly increased since my brother was killed 3 1/2 years ago and she stepped in as the “man of the family.” She got close to mom for the first time ever, and suddenly I was “out” with mom. Sis sometimes bragged about how good she was at manipulating my mom. It was very painful. Mom died a year ago and it’s just gotten worse. Sis (the executor) has been fair financially but also very controlling in dealing with the estate. I had my moment of revelation a few weeks ago when she said, “you don’t trust me.” I said, “hmmmm.” I was thinking about it. Then she said, angrily, “and if you don’t trust me, that’s on you! That’s not on me. That just shows the depth of your psychosis!” This was a shock and reminded me of an irrational childhood attack. I started realizing how the “toxic” voices in my head (“I’m not good enough, sis works harder, makes more money, has more fun, etc.”) are really the story she put out there long ago and I bought into. I now realize that I have to protect myself from her, because her behavior can set off my own self-destructive behavior. And no matter how much love and admiration and praise I offer, she will always see me as a rival — and this time she will “defeat” me.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re very welcome. I hope it has helped you find strength and clarity. It sounds like a difficult situation you are in – a lot of grief and loss to add to the mix which can often make difficult relationships all the more difficult. I hope you are able to keep moving forward with strength.

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Renee

I am very glad to have read this. I am in a relationship with a very toxic man. I recognized it, but it did not start until I was so in love with him. I know what he was doing and the lack of love and respect for me was wrong but I keep trying to grab for hope that he will be different……and can’t understand how he goes from being this loving person to the most uncaring person I have ever known. He lacks empathy to a degree I did not think possible for a human being. The hurt he chooses to in flick is unbelievable. One would wonder how can a person do this to someone they are suppose to love. The truth is they don’t love you, but it is a hard fact to accept. You spent months building this love, or thinking you are building a love relationship only to be put in a perpetual state of hurt……and the weapon they use is the very love you gave them. It’s horrible, but I am so in love it is very difficult to jump off this ride. He hurts me, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially with no regard. I use to question myself and what I was doing even when I know full well I have done nothing wrong. I cry when I think of breaking up with him. Help, I know I must do it, but I feel hurt with him and I feel hurt thinking about being apart from him. He has a criminal record, he gets fired from his job though he is very good at what he does. He just can’t seem to get along. Yes, I know he will not change at the age of 52. I’m just so hurt and know I should leave this guy alone. Though it seemed so in the beginning I have learned he is incapable of love. I seriously need help to walk away.

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Hey Sigmund

Renee, this is not love, this is an addiction. Love is kind and nurturing – not cruel and belittling. The reason you get so upset when you think about breaking up with him is because it is so difficult to imagine a version of your life without him in it – but that doesn’t mean it won’t be better than the version you are living now. What good does he add to your life that is worth the bad? Yes, it will be difficult for a period of time as you adjust to the new normal but then the pain will end. In this relationship the pain will be intense and ongoing. At the moment when you think about leaving, it probably feels as though you are jumping off a cliff. Think about a plan and break it into small, workable steps. You can do this. There is a strong, intelligent, articulate, amazing women in you who is being crushed. Fight for her.

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Charmi

Hi.
This isn’t about a family member but a very close friend. Your article is just so apt and nicely written. I could just relate to every point. You helped me understand the situation better and hopefully I know how I have to handle my relationship better now.
I wish you luck,
Thanks.

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Hey Sigmund

Thanks Charmi. Letting go of someone toxic can be hard whether it’s a friend or family member. I’m pleased you have been able to get some more clarity.

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David

I was married for 20 yrs to a toxic woman who I constantly gave my whole heart and soul to. At the begining of 2015 she started going through menopause and I had to walk on eggshells. 6-15 was our 20th and that moment was ruined by her toxic and menopausal ways. on Oct of 2015 I found out that she was cheating on me and was sitting in her recliner with me in the mornings while we were drinking coffee and emailing him,I had no clue. She was sexting him, Now I made a promise 20 yrs ago to be faithful and I have never looked at another woman and she does this to me and says”Its no big deal,I was just talking”So she says? We tried working things out but they just got worse and on Feb 2016 I filed for divorce,NOW evreything is my fault and all her family and friends say I’m crazy for kicking her out.And it was okay for her to break the promise and the boundries of our marriage, she has conviced them she was just talking but I have all of the filthy emails and I’m broken hearted. I could never trust her again!

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Hey Sigmund

David I completely understand your heartbreak. Being betrayed by someone you have loved and been faithful to for such a long time is so deeply painful. Emotional infidelity can be just as painful, sometimes even more so. It is possible to repair a relationship after infidelity but not always, and it’s never easy. I wish you strength and healing.

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Renee

Dear David, Toxic people will never ever admit to being wrong. I am so sorry for you and understand how difficult it is to walk away. Stay strong and know that until you walk away and stay away you will never have a good life and real love.

I will keep you in my prayer as I am going through as well. Email me, sometimes it is good to have someone to just talk to…..or to just listen….and knowing you are not alone makes it easier. You are not crazy, she is. My address is: claudetterenee@hotmail.com

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David

Thank You all for your kind words and prayers. It has, and is very hard on me because the friend and lover that I thought that I knew and trusted, was not the person that I thought they were and that is what ‘s killing me everyday,I did everything to show this woman love from telling her I love you and you look pretty everyday to gifts and flowers on unexpected occasions. I just nerver thought my life would end up this way,She always told me” I was the man of her dreams and that she loved me very much and that she wanted to grow old with me” This is my second marriage,and I’m 62 which means I don’t think I would ever get married again. Now the break-up is begining to be hateful on her part and she is telling everyone she knows that it is all my fault,and lying about me and that “we are getting divorced over nothing.” But anyone that knows me knows that I’m a good person,faithful,have a good heart and would have done anything for this woman(and have)trips,gifts attention,and kind words and endless love. How she could have done this to me is unfathomable. She did state before I kicked her out that she hoped that she could end the affair and that I would never find out. I’m now finding out that semi nude and nude photos were taken and exchanged and this is the most devastating, I’m so ashamed,disrespected and hurt beyond words. But again thank all of you for your support,and I pray that those photos do not make their way to the internet.

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Don

David,
My heart goes out to you as I have gone through a similar experience. What I learned though, is YOU are not the problem and it does hurt, but God has better things planned for you..even at 62! You’re still young and there are several women who are amazingly attractive in their later years. You didn’t deserve this, but she doesn’t deserve you. It is her loss, keep looking up and have faith HE will take care of you. HE knows your heart, it will work out. Everyday, you are one day closer to something better. Somebody you deserve and that deserves you.

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Renee

If the photos are of her and she put them out there, don’t you concern yourself about where they end up. That is her fault. Since you say everyone who knows you know that you are a decent person, than there should be no concern on your part about what people are thinking about this ordeal no matter what she attempts to put out there. To thine own self be true.

If you are a decent man, that will stand for it’s self. No need to proclaim that you are. It is her lost, yes, GOD it hurts getting over, letting go the person you love. Just everyday, choose not to love her until your heart line up with what you mouth is saying and what your brain knows she does not deserve. It may take some time. The good news is it sounds like each day she gives you more and more reason not to love her. Take those reasons to heart. ……and tell yourself I shouldn’t and I don’t love this toxic person any more. Say it over and over again each day. One day, without realizing it your heart will align with the words from your mouth.

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Lisa

This article could have been written specifically about my immediate family! Thank you so much for these words- they help to strengthen my resolve about what I am doing is the right thing. I have had to recently cut all ties to my parents and brother and have, at times, questioned by sanity thinking that I must be the one who is wrong because “normal” people who love me wouldn’t act this way. Turns out that they are incredibly toxic people and I am so much stronger for having put my own happiness and that of my incredible husband and children ahead of those that wanted to control me. Thanks again.

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David W. Stephenson

Thanks Don and Renee, I’m doing the best I can,Like I said I would have never thought a year ago my life would be like this,it came as a shock to everyone else as well as me. I should have seen it because everything was a secret and my fault and her social media was never shown to me and I was never allowed to look at anything on her tablet. And I never who she was talking to on it or her phone?Everyone thought that we were the perfect couple. I do hope that GOD has a plan,actually I’m praying for it

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Renee

David, I know it is hard. We all are going through as well. I have to still see the toxic person in my life. Today I played tennis on a court next to him. One thing is I still love him……and I need to admit it, so that I can go on. The good news now is when I look at him I try to envision all the bad thing he did happening at tat very moment. That will freak you out. It’s too much and it helps a lot to realize you don’t want that. You don’t want anyone that would do such awful things. I deserve someone who is kind. Not that toxic person. Just know, you have no room in your life for a sweet woman if Ms toxicity is hanging around.

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David

Thanks Don and Renee, but it is really hard not to be ,hear or talk with someone that you have spent half your life with. I should have seen it coming,a 48 yr old woman on all sorts of social media sites and all were kept secret,Its like she was a teenager again and I could’nt understand why I was never good enough anymore. This was as shocking to me and everyone that we knew (except her family their the same way)Like I said a year ago I would have never imagined my life this way, I am having a tough time with all of this praying GOD does have a plan for me,and I am having a rough time with all of this. and hope that I don’t lose my mind in the process,but each day it seems to get a tiny(very) bit better. Thanks all of you for the words of encouragement.

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Don

David, I’m sure you have heard ” Time heals everything”. It really does, but the beginning is the worst then you will reach a point it starts getting better. Take Renee’s advice and think of the hateful, disrespectful, uncaring things done to you. Ask yourself ” What are you losing in this relationship?” NOTHING… the good times did not mean to her what they meant to you. Toxic people are selfish, self-centered, INCAPABLE of love. You are depriving yourself of being with the one you deserve to be with. Beauty is only skin deep, how beautiful was her heart? Looks change, Hearts rarely change if ever. There are hundreds of women looking for a man like you! Keep praying and know the Good Lord will comfort you and keep you. Cast all your cares upon Him.

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Natalie

I’m leaving my toxic/abusive husband and this article is just what I needed to read. I am in the barbed wire right now…struggling to get free. That was the most moving analogy I’ve heard in a long time. This time last year I was doing what ever I could to numb my pain through my children, my work, my faith but what I didn’t understand is that under it all I WAS STILL IN PAIN. And though I’m still tearing myself free, articles like this inspire me to push through the razor sharp edges of his grasp, reminding me that not all scars are bad. These scars I will be proud of one day because they are evidence of my escape and, ultimately, of my freedom. I will reread this often in my efforts to be free. You are a figurative “life saver” but a literal “hope saver”…and the only way I am making it day to day is on a steady diet of hope….so thank you today for the feast.

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Hey Sigmund

Natalie you are so welcome. I’m so pleased this article has found you when it did. Your strength and your courage leapt off the page when I read your comment. You have so much clarity and insight and yes – wear your scars proudly. They will always be evidence of the fighter you are. Keep this handy and read it to remind you of the strength that is in you – and there is so much in you! Keep moving forward. You’re amazing.

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Renee

Natalie,

I pray GOD you don’t just say this, but leave him indeed. Your life will never be better until you do. Get off the crazy rollercoaster ride and take a moment to heal. After that healing time has passed open yourself up to being discovered by a man who will love and appreciate you. You have worth……and never forget that. You are valuable and there are men who will celebrate the wonderful person GOD has made in you. You have done the first step in realizing you are with a toxic person. Also, know, don’t tell the toxic person you are leaving. Just do it……and keep moving. They do not take rejection well and will take any opportunity to hurt you. They always want control. Please be smart and don’t allow that to happen to you. GOD be with and keep you as you make this brave move.

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Elisabeth

I read this article for how to stop the toxic behaviour. I realised that is not going to happen. Two years of therapy, a major depression and believing myself to be the evil sister; after lending and giving [the lending was never repaid] tens of thousands of dollars, buying them a house to live in [my husband and I are paying the mortgage] it would appear I am scary and mean. The stories could fill a book. Not just about how I have been treated but her poor, poor children. My heart breaks for them. I am powerless to stop it. I know I have to finish it and am working on it. I have made my boundaries very clear. To little avail. The very next contact contained yet another, subtle slap in the face. I feel guilty for my parents. Mam, dad and I were givers, my sister has always been a taker. But she has wonderful qualities as well…and I am back in the pit of uncertainty.

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Tommy

Are there any Toxic females here? I dated one for over a year and I’d love to gain some insight from a true toxic person

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Joe

is it possible that toxic people have higher potential to become child abusers after they have children?

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shirly

Yes, toxic people are child abusers. My husband is a child abuser and I found is a pedofile as well. He abused me financially and emotionally. I have two kids at home still. (13 and 14). I made him leave our home. My 19 year old was being emotionally abused by him over the phone and was toxic in our home with the younger ones. Once he graduated from high school I made him leave. He went up to his dads house. I make his dad pay our mortgage payment and most of the bills. It is either that or a lot of years of alimony!! He hasn’t seen the younger kids for 9 months now and I won’t allow anymore abuse. We have a peaceful home now. He had made our 19 year old toxic as he has been abused since he was very small. Once I found out about the physical abuse I made my husband leave the house, but my oldest was out of control and made our home crazy. But now that they are both gone it is much better. Yes, they are child abusers.

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Renee

So Joe, what are you saying? Are you saying that you are a person who likes abuse? In any case, a toxic person cannot give you any insight on what is wrong with them because they do not think anything is wrong. They seem to go with the idea that it is something wrong with everyone else and those around them need to adjust to deal with them. They have no empathy or compassion. So how does a person who basically lacks humanity give you some real insight?

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Renee

Joe, I agree with Shirley, toxic people are child abuser both emotionally and physically. They tend to do more corporal punishment and extremely strick, making their kids follow regiments that are out of control. Kids are generally afraid of them and are well behaved just because they are so terrified of getting the toxic person upset because their punishment is usually very abusive. The kids live a very stressed life style and sometimes end up being toxic people themselves, especially boys. Kids generally do not expressed themselves well, so they act out…..and they tend to be very angry because they have no freedom to be themselves. Often times they do not realize what is causing them all this hatred and anger. People who have to deal with these kids sometime can’t figure out were all this rage is coming from because when they talk to the toxic parent they act so wonderful and nice. So they wonder how can this kid has such great parents and be like this. They don’t realize the kid is being abused at home and has to stay in such control at home that they loss all control when they are away from this toxic parent.

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Denika

This article could not have come at a better moment for me. I have been struggling for months to define boundaries and take a step back in a friendship that is toxic and in which I am always made to feel “less than” and “beneath” in the relationship. The axis of this friendship was that I do, I go, I tolerate and I listen. I began to find that it was expected of me to be molded into this persons idea of who I should be because I just wasn’t good enough in and of my own merrit. Which came with a startling declaration by her weeks ago during yet another one of her chosen activities in which she stated she would “make me a better version of me.” It was then that I realized I wasn’t over reacting or overly emotional as she reminded me on several occassions but that she was actually toxic and I needed to take a step back for my own emotional and spiritual health.
Thank you for explaining it with such clarity.

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Hey Sigmund

Denika I’m so pleased that you have been able to find the clarity you needed. Anything that makes you feel ‘less than’ doesn’t deserve you. You sound as though you have a warm, open heart, and now a clear mind. You deserve to be with people who light you up.

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Joe

It seems that my child is being abused by the mother who happens to be, according to this article, extremely toxic, repeating my own story as I was also mistreated, but perhaps for my little one worst than it was for me, they are now in another country that will not allow me to intervene, feels hopeless at this point and am figuring out what to do

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Rebecca

My husband and I where married for ten years. Due to drug use and abuse, I divorced him. After three years, he promised he changed and wanted to try again. I moved 600 miles from friends, family, and a good job. I realized quickly what a mistake I made. He is self serving and of course nothing is his fault. No matter how much i change, it’s never right. I didn’t realize til I read this article, that he is toxic. It’s like he doesn’t have the capacity to love. I’m in a worse situation, than when I left him before. My car was repod, because he didn’t pay on it, so I had to get a minimum wage job, that i walk to, verses a better paying job if i had a car. Reading this article and comments gave me strength. It made me realize, I am a good, loving, caring person, and although it’s going to be hard as heck, I can make it. Again.

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Hey Sigmund

Rebecca you are so clear and so strong. You have everything you need in you to be happier. You’re right, it will be hard, but the things that are worth it usually are. You’ve made it before and you will make it again, but with more wisdom, more insight and more experience. Keep this article handy and use it to propel you forward when you need it. Love and strength to you.

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David

10 Days to go and I will be free from my 20 yr toxic marrage, I am still lost and in pain, lost some weight I did’nt need to lose.But I’m now finding out just how hateful and mean my soon to be ex can be,how she still states how mean I am to her(haven’t see her but once in 2 mos)taking things that don’t belong to her but me, telling me by email how mean I am to her,I’ll just be glad when I can be happy again,she even suggests that I need to sell my house to pay my bills but I have no bills,she is just trying to break me still and I refuse to let it happen,I will go to work again to give me something to do to keep my mind occupied,I know I will make . It will just take some time. I have already stopped seeing what she looked like,and when I do see her I can’t belive what I ever saw now.

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Blake

I have a good friend that was in a toxic relationship, however, the guy that she was with is the one that is toxic. Emotionally, mentally & physically abused she was the one who escaped and he still wants control. They have a 9month old daughter together and are battling in court for visitation rights. He will not allow her to move on and is literally making her life hell by stalking her in town, on social media sites by using fake profiles, threatening guys that are with her in person or via social media and chasing the guys off. What do you do with someone who is toxic and won’t let go and is possibly mentally unstable???

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Hey Sigmund

Blake it’s so difficult watching someone you care about being mistreated by someone else. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to change toxic people. It really comes down to finding a way to put distance between them, but I know that this isn’t always always possible when there are children involved. The strategy becomes protecting the self from damage. It sounds as though your friend is in a tough situation, but it’s great that she has you. The support and encouragement from you will make a difference. This link has other articles that talk about dealing with toxic people and breakups. There might be something here that is helpful for your friend http://www.heysigmund.com/category/with-others/when-a-relationship-breaks/

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jane

I think lack of empathy and desire to communicate may be high functioning autism in my husband since our son has been officially diagnosed. For over 20 years of marriage I have enjoyed an amazingly attentive, affectionate spouse but who pretends to listen, checks out emotionally or criticizes if I try to communicate a problem. After years of counseling to change how, what, when I feel hurt or share I still can’t express frustration without either being patronized, hurt or embarrassed. My recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s has played into this because now I am seen as needy and over-emotional if I to ask for issues to be attended to. Now I am ignored until I am fun and encouraging. The trouble is it can take weeks now for the warmth to return if I frustrate…and any mention of issues is seen as criticism…there is such silence and polite indifference that cannot be broken especially if I mention again the original problem. I don’t think he means to be cruel but I can’t figure out what would be best since he refuses to recognize or desire to communicate. I thought I would be strong enough to live without emotional support but it is making me into and giving me a reputation for being someone I am not.

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Hey Sigmund

Jane, we all have our limits and we all have important needs that need to be met. It sounds as though you are exhausted from not getting what you need. Everyone has important needs – emotional support, connection, understanding, validation etc. When they consistently aren’t met, it has an impact. This doesn’t mean your husband is a bad person, or that your relationship is doomed, but there is clearly something you need that you aren’t getting from your relationship. It sounds as though you have both worked hard to try to resolve this. Everyone needs to feel emotionally supported, and it is understandable that it would change you when this doesn’t happen. Your response sounds very normal. If there is no chance from getting the emotional support you need from your marriage, are you able to get it from friends or other family? I completely understand that it won’t feel the same but it might help you to feel less frustrated or depleted.

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Judith

Thank you for this article. I see my own relationship in this story. I’m the giver and I will now take the time to look at my marriage for what it is. Not what it was or could be. I’ve given myself till September to give it my all and then make my decision to stay or go. I’ve not been perfect. But I have tried to make it better

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Renee

Judith, I am truly sorry if your relationship mirrors what you see in this article. My only question to you is, it appears from your statement you have already given it your all so why wait until September. Narcissistic people don’t change and become better, they are the toxic people they are. You can try to please him till hell freeze over, and you will be spinning your wheels. If you know the truth, why wait? Oh, you just want to suffer a bit longer? We understand. Shake yourself, than let go.

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Lost

I’ve been in a relationship now for almost three years; he was my first everything. When we first met we were so happy; on such a high that anything that he did couldn’t be wrong.

Several months after we got together though he started changing. He was so judgmental, critical, abusive towards me – and still is. He’d scream at me for trying to ‘control him’ when I would only just send a message asking how his day was; he’d call me ‘stupid’ if I made one mistake. By the first year of the relationship I’d had a breakdown because of his constant criticism; I was anxious all the time, I was so miserable. I was only eighteen. He made me give up my friends because they were male. When I had that breakdown I tried to leave him – it lasted a month – but I went back because I felt so GUILTY. He turned it onto me; blaming me for his behaviour after I’d basically given up my free time to look after his young child.
Now he talks of us making a life together but then he’ll go and mess around with other girls when he’s drunk and say that its ‘no big deal’ and continue on thinking that we’re fine.

He’s still physically and emotionally abusive; he’s made me do things that I never wanted to do and he constantly compares me to other people and plays all these mind games with me. I feel like I’m drowning half the time; I have to constantly let him know what I’m doing during the day but when I ask how he’s going apparently I’m trying to control him. His latest thing now is trying to get me not to see any of my friends that he doesn’t ‘approve of’.

I don’t know what to do…sometimes I think that I should just leave him, but then I think about the collateral damage…I know what he’s doing isn’t right but some days he makes progress and then he’ll take ten steps backwards. I’m scared that what he’s said to me is true; that I’ll never find someone else again or that no one will ever deal with my ‘s***’.

I’m so miserable so days that it’s hard to breathe…I don’t know what to do. I have this constant ache in my chest.

The worst part is is that he has no respect for me; he makes jokes out of the most inappropriate things. For example; when my grandmother passed he thought it was hilarious to ask if I’d gotten any inheritance. And that’s not even the worst of them.

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Hey Sigmund

Why are you there!? This isn’t love from this man. It’s not even close. He has no reason to change because you are staying through everything he does. What collateral damage is worse than the damage that is happening to you? Where will you be in five years if you wake up every day to this – because this is what you are looking at. He is in your head, and now he is saying what he needs to say to make you stay. The classic is that you’ll never find anyone else. If you stay with this man, you will be a shell. He will have done so much damage. What he means is that you’ll never find someone else like him. Hopefully he is right. You will find someone who loves you, lifts you and supports you. Someone who accepts you and adores you. That man is out there. There are plenty and they will be looking for someone exactly like you, but you will have to get the man you are with out of the way so they can find you. There is nothing for you in this relationship but heartache. If he can change, let him do it away from you. If he is doing as you say, he is too destructive for you to be near. Let go of the fantasy that things will be the way they were. As for never dealing with your shit, how much of that is coming from the way you are treated? Abuse, jugement, criticism, infidelity – that will bring the strongest person down. The strength comes in walking away from it, not learning how to live with it. Nobody can live with that. The only person telling you that you won’t get better is him. While you are with him, he is right. It sounds like it’s time to take back your life and prove him wrong. If he wants you back, he can come and find you when he more to meet you on your terms. You have the strength in you to do this. You really do.

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Alex

Wow. This is one of the most hard hitting descriptions of an abusive relatuonahip I’ve ever heard. You’re definitely in the world of personality disorders with this guy. Get help. Find some expert support-a therapist or a shelter if need be. And make a beeline out of there ASAP. This man will destroy you. Even now count on a long recovery, though you’re young and you will bounce back. Just give yourself time-once you are out. It hurts me to read this-really. Please, get out of this crazy, soul crushing relationship with this terrible man.

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Lexi

Please get out of this relationship. I was in the almost exact same boat over 5 years ago, I had the same problems with guilt, and I’m still working on fixing what such a toxic relationship did to my self-esteem.

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Bobby

My toxic relationship lasted 16 months. I am a male and was the giver in the relationship. She gave little to the relationship. Everything was on her terms…when I came over, what we did and the control was all hers. She never said I love you. She was a party girl and didn’t have empathy for others. She was always a “lady” but was secretive about what she did without me. I could never stay on weeknights. I couldn’t stop by without her knowing I was coming. It was unrequited love and it was time to cut the ties. It’s been six weeks and I’m still hurting. I have to find myself again. I’m going to continue to heal and not look back. I couldn’t go thru anymore wondering if I’m going to see her or whether she is going out with her friends. I couldn’t make plans for the upcoming weekend. It was like I was a small part of her life. No one should be manipulated like that. Be brave my friends and cut the toxic ties. I’ll be better someday! I will love myself again.

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Lost; not so much anymore

Thank you for the advice…but I’ve already cut ties with him! It’s been week two without him in my life anymore and my goodness…I feel so light and happy. It was so painful when it ended; but this feeling that I have now, complete freedom and endless opportunity is unbelievable!

He has attempted to ‘mend things’ in his own warp way but I’m never going back. This feeling of freedom and completeness I have now is too good to waste on someone like that. I spent two and a half years dealing with his garbage; I owe it to myself to not go back to him ever again.

I’m me again and I hope anyone else that’s in a similar situation as to what I was takes their first steps towards their freedom because it’s such a great feeling on the other side of the fence.

Admittedly I still miss him at times, but it’s more of the idea I had of him rather than what he truly is. I know now that what he was doing was far from right; and that I deserved a lot better treatment than what he ever gave me.

I’m free and happy again. Never again will I deal or tolerate another toxic situation or person like that ever again.

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Grly

This is very timely write up for me. I have a sister who exhibits every characteristic mentioned in the article. She is so destructive that she has taken her children out of school and has separated them from their paternal and maternal support system. Her husband has left her. How can such a person be helped to see they are wrong. She is on an island alone.

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Hey Sigmund

It’s so difficult watching this happen in your family isn’t it. One of the hardest things about toxic behaviour is that you just can’t change the toxic mindset until the person is ready to acknowledge it for themselves. The risk is that every time you try, your words and your actions will be taken by her through a negative filter, leaving you looking like the one in the wrong. Her kids might need someone who understands their experience one day, and you can be really valuable for them in that way.

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Lisa

I thought I had let my parents go – as they are very toxic people- but now my mother wants to “move forward” while still denying her behaviour is nasty and she won’t take responsibility for it. I saw her yesterday for the first time in a year and it was very raw and we were both angry at times- now she wants to meet again- I am not ready- and neither is my husband- he has been so supportive and understanding and has watched my relationship with my parents and how they have treated me for 25 years- and now he says- no more. He doesn’t want them near our children and he now says cut all ties permanently. I know he is seeing it from the rational side- and I think this would be best- but I am really struggling to work it out.. This is the journey that we take I guess when we are removing toxic people from our lives. We just have to stay strong- which is hard sometimes.

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Frustrated

Unfortunately, my mother is the toxic person in my family. My brother, sister, and I have recently discovered that she causes friction between us just so we come to her with the problem. We’re very perturbed with this. It’s almost like our mother can only get along with one of us at a time. It’s cause a great deal of strife in my family. The worst part is, my maternal grandmother just passed, which has brought about more conflict. Everything my mother accuses my grandmother of doing, she does. How can we get her to see that she’s the root of the issues?

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Hey Sigmund

It’s very difficult to get other people to see the problems they are doing, unless they are the type of people who are open to that. For people who are so set in their ways, it’s unlikely to happen. What’s important is that you put a boundary around yourself and be really aware of what your mother is doing. The more awareness you have, the less likely it is that it will cause you trouble. Your mother will likely keep doing what she is doing, particularly if they are behaviours she learned off her own grandmother, but the control you have is around what you do with that. It’s really important that your brother, sister and you keep talking so the ‘divide and conquer’ doesn’t happen.

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ricardo

after reading different stories, I haven’t read a situation just like mine. I am a male and married for 3 years and we have 2 sons a 2 year old and 11 month old. I t is so hard for me to let go, I don’t know what if my my wife take away my sons if I leave her even though every time she gets upset and angered she told me to leave and tells me what kind of a person and a family I belong. and she kept on saying to me she regret that she marry me all of her ambition are lost because of me so many things bad things said to me. I want to know your advise.

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Hey Sigmund

Ricardo this sounds like a really difficult situation for you and I completely understand why you would be hurt by these behaviours. The frustrating thing is that you can’t change other people. If this is a relationship that you aren’t able to leave, it is really important to have your boundaries and to keep yourself protected from her words. It will become increasingly important for your sons that they see how to keep strength and self-love, even when others are trying to knock it down. Here is an article about toxic relationships which may be helpful for you http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-relationship-how-to-let-go/. I wish you all the very best with this.

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Michelle

My toxic person is my husband. We’ve been together for 14 years and he is verbally abusive and an alcoholic. I’ve tried everything under the sun and finally came to the conclusion that I couldn’t change him about 2 years ago. I have severe guilt about putting my kids through a divorce but gradually understood that staying was more harmful to them than leaving. As I’ve tried to mentally and physically prepare to leave, but husband has alternated between trying to make me feel guilty, raging at me, and promising me the sun and the moon. Most recently he’s slowed down on drinking and is “trying” to be nicer. His weak attempts at this point just make me angry. Why bother now? He had years to treat me with respect and chose not to. But I’m still here, wishing every day that I weren’t, and hoping for the next “BIG THING” to happen so that I could walk out with the kids knowing it’s the right thing to do… rather than walk out during a “sun/moon” moment and have them hate me. To compound things, well after I decided to leave, I started confiding in someone that I’ve known forever… and, you guessed it, started having feelings for that person. Even though that has nothing to do with my wanting to leave in the first place, I have horrible guilt in knowing that talking to someone other than my husband is wrong and not fair and definitely not the best way to handle it. And that guilt makes me waffle in my decision even though they should be two separate things. And now, my friend is finally tired of waiting for me to make a decision and backing away… which makes me even waffle more. I’m hopeless. And feeling stuck and sad and disgusted with myself for being weak in so many ways.

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Hey Sigmund

Michelle this sounds like ‘stuckness’, not weakness. It sounds like your reasons to stay in the relationship are as strong as your reasons to leave it. This is a tough situation for anyone to be in. For your own sake though, it will become more and more important to commit to a decision. The stress is clearly causing you a lot of turmoil. It will be difficult to make a decision when you are living with both options. Spend time really getting a feel for what each option would mean for you, your life and your children. It might be that when you let yourself really explore the situation, you’ll realise that it will be healthier for your children if you leave your marriage, if it’s damaging you, than to stay. These are questions that only you can answer. I know it’s not easy. I wish you strength and clarity.

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Enough

Thank you for this really helpful article. I am going through this having just disconnected from a toxic sister. I find it so difficult to believe my worth after decades of her behaviour but I will keep trying to move forward without her making me miserable when I am already vulnerable. Good luck to her but good luck to me too

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Hey Sigmund

I don’t know that there’s more, but perhaps the ones you know stand out. Sometimes it’s easier to notice those with tiny, cold hearts because their impact is so massive, compared to those with warm open generous hearts. Toxic people will often go out of their way to hurt you, whereas the rest of us tend to get on with things without intruding or doing damage.

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A

Truly made me think again. Im in a relationship where im constantly accused of being cheating when i was the one who caught him cheating few times with his so called female friends from school. As soon as i leave the town or go for a trip with my friends he makes suspicious move saying hes in a movie theatre( he never goes out for movie with me) or phone is on silence ( he always picks up his call from other people within two rings) thay it mentally drove me crazy. Every time i ask him where or what or who is he with, i get yelled at for being paranoid or too jealous. I had to ask myself for last couple years if its really me whos crazy. But now im thinking that he might be toxic to me. how he changed me to weak, immature and no self respect to myself.

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mi-ha

It’s getting really difficult for me now. I have decided to part way from my two “friends” eventhough they are the only friends i have! Reading your article reinforce my feeling that i should leave them.

We used to get along pretty well.

A is really self-centered and immature. And like to provoke people just so she can feel she is in control.
Everytime we’d have a man around she’d question my sexual life (i suffered sexual abuse starting from my childhood and all throughout my life, and she knows it). And she played a dirty game with me at a party. She watched me dancing with a boy she knew, usually she’d come in between just because she care about me, to make i’m safe. This night, she looked intensely, but no words, until we left, after reporting all she saw, she revealed me things about him that, would i have known, would prevent me from going near him.
He, she said, was underrage. It turned out false.
I didn’t talk to her for a while.
I confronted her and she said she didn’t want to bother me, that she was really bad in maths so she thought he was underrage.

B is a happy-go lucky. But she just left her boyfriend of 10 years. And she was really wild about men, lot of dates, especially lot of sex.
I loved her, as a dear friend.
She introduced me to a male friend Y and he fell for me at first glance. But both were having a difficult time, and often meeting face to face. So i thought that their relationship might evolve, and i didn’t want to get tangled up in between.
He tried to get closer but i refused, he said he would wait. But soon after, he talked to me.

He said that he really liked me, really, but he now has a girlfriend and nothing could happen between us. he looked sad. I asked why. His reply: there is this girl, things happened, it’s not serious, it’s complicated, but i don’t want to mess it ; and there is you, whom i really wanted to get closer and i won’t be able to.
I told him he was a jerk and to leave me out of this.
He did not name her but i knew.
Yet she’d met many men and everytime he’d see me, he would make it obvious that he had feelings for me. He said he wished he met me earlier.
I thought they were just friends with benefits.

They had that secret affair for quite some time. She told me about him without revealing his name. And he had to move out. Did i say that A continuously played her dirty games, even after i told her that nothing would happen with this guy.
So i endured it all, until i couldn’t anymore, besides they would hide in corners not far from me.
I tried to talk with him, but i didn’t want to be the one to expose them and he would not tell me.
So B told me everything.

She said she rejected him many times because she knew i liked him. She felt bad that he was not interrested in me, she told her friends that i was clingy towards him despite his rejection.
It happened and at some point she fell in love, they were in love. They hid so i wouldn’t suffer ( a good reason to refuse to define their relationship).
She was happy that i didn’t take that badly, and that they now could express their love openly.
Since, it’s going downhill.

I met him right before he left, but we didn’t get to talk, he seemed embarassed in front of me.
She traveled to meet him, but their love didn’t last long.
Truth, they never talked about their feelings, she deluded herself into thinking he loved her.

My ” friends” A and B both messed up with me, it got them closer ( they understand each other, and they feel so bad about me!!!) while i drifted apart from them. None of them expressed sympathy when i told them i was having a hard time. They both said the magic word “sorry”, that i’m really important for them.
Yet they pressured me into going out, having sex. Of course, i refused. They said i’m too mysterious, so they want to know everything about me. They have a lot of admiration for me!!

When people refuse to take their responsabilities, they put the blame onto someone else. There is always someone responsible.

Lately, they complained about their bad luck. They accused me of witchcraft, i supposedly cast a spell on them, but it’s just a joke, of course!!!!!!

I won’t let them play witch hunt!!

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Sue F

Thanks again Karen for this great article. I may have read it before but it is a great reminder for those going through this difficult time. I have made a decision to have no contact with a family member. Over the past few years there has been spasmodic contact and even attempts at reconciliation but it always ends up the same way. There has been pressure from family members to “forgive and forget” just to keep the peace but it just does not make me happy. I know that I have grown in the past 2 or 3 years and I have even sent articles regarding boundaries etc to my sibling but these have just been met with a “whatever”. Your article describes so accurately the journey I am travelling. Thanks again. It just gives me confirmation that I am on the right path.

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Lisa

Hi Sue,
I am in exactly the same position as you. Your words sound very familiar and your situation sounds a lot like mine. Although I have not sent any articles of “hints” to them- they would only fall on deaf ears anyway as it is never their fault. There is a lot of pressure to “forgive and forget”from other members of my immediate family as well- but this article always reminds me of what is truly important. It is so sad and unfortunate that we have to suffer under these toxic people and that there are many of us out there. But comfort comes from the support of healthy relationships and also knowing that we are not alone.

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Sue F

Thanks Lisa. We are definitely not alone that’s for sure. This behaviour has been going on for decades. There were no strong boundaries within the family unit and lots of expectations of how the family members should behave. There was lots of shame as well. But on a positive note I’ve done heaps of reading on these issues which has helped me tremendously. I’ve also got new friends and new interests outside the family unit which I really cherish. Also blogs such as this really help.

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Dee

One of the most concise, yet beautiful articles I ever read. And it came in the just the nick of time

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RLA

This article is perfectly comforting. I have been involved with a toxic person for 4 years. We were not always in a boyfriend/ girlfriend situation but never platonic. I’ve cut him off several times but have always left space for him and have always given him an opportunity to present himself and his claims of being improved. He always comes back with sweetness and I always end up having to walk away. He is liar and very manipulative. I am always left feeling hurt and inadequate. He also has a drinking problem. However, we had a great connection and deep intimacy. I called him out on his BS at every turn – tried to make him, guide him to the man he said he always wanted to be. Just in the last week, I had to cut him off – and it will be for the last time. He lied to me when there was no need. He pulled me back into his life when I was enjoying peace of mind – by keeping my distance from him. I allowed myself to get pulled in, because I retained a sliver of hope. Now that is shattered – forever. He made a fool of me by professing eternal love to me, inviting me back to his place twice (which I declined), being affectionate, but he has a girlfriend who was 11 yrs his junior, 15 years mine. I have always told him I didn’t want to be friends, especially if he had someone in his life. He glossed over this completely. I have no other option but to end the pattern that I understand will never change. However, I get stuck on the thought that he will be different, be the man he says, for this new person. And it hurts. But I decided I never wanted to feel the pain, the anxiety, the anger, the complete loss of hope and inadequacy he makes me feel. I have been looking daily for words that remind me of why I made this choice and needed to make this choice; words that would let me work through the pain. This all made sense, the use of manipulation to keep a person and situation within their control. He knows I care for him deeply and plays on that all the time. Our relationship has never been equal; it was always meeting keeping it up, working to make it better. Slowly I have reduced and stopped immediately. I learned to treat him with skepticism which kept me from cheating on his girlfriend with sex – we did do some kissing but nothing more. So I thank you for these words. I will read them daily like a ritual until I can get passed the pain.

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Sue F

Unfortunately they never change. For me no contact was the only way to go…and this was a family member. No Facebook, no mobile phone, no emails. All blocked. I finally realised I had to let go and get on with my life. Very difficult as there were family members who didn’t understand or did not want to understand the dynamics of the relationship. Good luck!

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Fearful

The person who I’ve allowed to break me is still in my life. He was the one who actually broke it off almost a year ago, after 5.5 years of pure hell. We still hang out as friends but he knows how I feel about him, I have told him to stop hurting me. He never admitted it to anyone but maybe once or twice that I was his girlfriend, never introduced me to people when we rarely went somewhere, I’d just stand behind him like a lost puppy and wait. I still catch him in lies ALL THE TIME. He always made me feel I’m crazy, as if I was creating these lies in my head. I have always suffered anxiety and depression and of course since him it has progressed tremendously. He tells me he is somewhere and multiple times I find out he isn’t there. He told me he was at home years ago (we were still together) and his car wasn’t there. When he called me, finally late at night, he made his voice sound all sleepy and said “what!? I told you I’m trying to sleep!” I asked “sleeping at home or where?” He said “home” I told him I was there and his car was gone. He still insisted it was parked in the yard as I was looking right at the yard. I asked him to come outside then and he said “No!” Then hung up the phone and called me 9 hours later and just acted like nothing had happened, and when I asked what he had been doing he said “riding around” and didn’t want to tell me because I’d worry, which is ridiculous. I worried the 9 hours after he hung up on me. He tells me he is somewhere doing this and that and can NEVER respond to me at all through even a text but when he is around me he is glued to his phone. I lost 3 people all 2 months apart one died from kidney failure, one died from being hit by a truck, and the other a car accident. Then he broke up with me but is still around when it’s convenient (I feel like) then my dog passed away of 10 years which broke my heart and the only other friend I really had just stopped talking to me for months and now just comes around when it’s convenient for them. So the point of all this description is that I am afraid to completely cut him out of my life. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t have friends and it’s hard to make new ones because I don’t trust anyone. I lost 2 friends because of him and their own choices as well, but they were doing things behind my back. I don’t have enough space to even write the worst parts of this man but I am drowning in fear, loneliness, and I have been so let down so many times in the past 6 years that I don’t even know how to start clean or fresh, I trust no one and fear because of my trust issues I won’t allow anyone in. I have met people but I always disappear quickly because I don’t want to give people a chance to be involved in my life. I don’t want people to destroy me even more. I use to be very sociable and can be at times, but mostly I just stay secluded. The fears I’ve developed from this trama (and other situations) has sucked the life from me. It’s like he is all I have as far as a friend and I love him so much. I know he won’t change. How in 5.5 years someone “doesn’t know” what they want. When he broke up with me I asked “so it’s just over, and you don’t want me anymore?” He said “well I don’t know, I just have to focus on other things and I don’t have time for a relationship.” He claimed all this school he needs to focus on but he hasn’t done anything with school yet. I feel like he deprives me and then puts enough in his hand for me to chase. It’s as though he enjoys seeing me this upset over him. Anyway…I guess my point and inquiry is I am scared to let him go, and don’t know how. I am scared to be alone. I don’t like to be alone and I have no good friends to really be with and turn to when I struggle, I believe the one friend I do have is rather toxic as well, it’s seems as though I am only good for them when they need or want something but my needs and wants are never tended too. I am seeking therapy which hopefully will help. If you have any advice or if there is someone who has had a similar situation and has overcome I would love your advice, opinion, and/or help. People like my ex do not see the actual damage they do to someone’s spirit and mind. It’s very sad. I am thankful I am not that person though. That’s one thing to be grateful for!

Reply
Hey Sigmund

This relationship sounds like a lonely place to be. It is scary leaving a relationship, but what you’re giving up is a habit that has been hurting you, not a love that has supported you. As long as this man is in your life, you will not find the love you deserve. There will be a relationship that can be more loving, more supportive, more gentle and kind but first you will have to let go of this one so something better can find you. You can do this. You are strong and you will get through. If you don’t believe this, look at what you have been through already.

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Kora

I dated a guy for 5 years. I met him through a mutual friend. He’s been to jail 3 times over the course of our relationship. This last time was 2 and a half years. I found out that he had another girlfriend on the side. She would call my phone from different numbers and everything. His excuse would always be that she’s paying for the lawyer or she’s paying for this cell for him to use. He gets out and he’s living with her. She breaks my iPad, Keyes my car and then of course I’m upset that she did that, so I go to his house and she’s there. He dragges me or of his house and then told me leave him alone: I found out that she’s pregnant and he proposed to her all the while denying it when she sent an email to my phone. It hurts so bad. He proposed to her so obviously I wasn’t nothing, it was something for him to use until he was ready to leave me alone. He’s going to be everything for new child and his fiancée. I went on her page and she’s talking about how she’s a wife, a mommy and she loves her life and family while I’m sitting here crying every night.

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Hey Sigmund

This man has done you a favour by getting out of your life! Don’t let him back in. He has shown you that he is unable to give you the love you deserve. Find your strength in the pain he has caused you, and move forward without him. There is a better life waiting for you.

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Tina

I had been married to a toxic man for 38 years. He drank and at the end he did drugs. Run with woman and made me feel like it was my fault. I loved him with all my heart but had lost respect for him. We have been divorced six years now and he just remarried his first wife and I was hurt because we had been married longer than there first 1 year. Why can I not move on I do not like the way I feel

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Hey Sigmund

Tina relationships become a habit. This is healthy and normal and it’s what makes us fight for the relationship during the hard times, which are inevitable in any relationship. In healthy relationships, this is a good thing but in unhealthy relationships, the attachment can be more to the relationship than to the person in it. Leaving a relationship activates the same areas of the brain as withdrawal from a drug – it’s an awful thing to go through. This will explain more about that http://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. Six years is a long time to be still hurting. It may be that you need extra support, and therapy can help with this. It is also really important that you start to shift your focus to things other than the pain this breakup has caused you. I know how hard this is, and at first, it will feel as though you’re faking it. This is completely okay – keep going and in time it will become real. Spend time with people who care about you, find other interests, preferably ones with other people, exercise, even if it’s a 30 minute walk each day (to get the feel-good chemicals in your brain doing their job). Keep moving forward – this man has done you a favour by getting out of your life. Now you need to clear the path emotionally so something better can find you.

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Meghan

I am in a toxic marriage and it’s hard to admit this. I am often told that I am too sensitive, that I just need to “get over” his emotional affair because they were “just friends”. I find I am building A LOT of resentment and I can’t flush it out because when I try to work through issues I am often met with “This isn’t a good time to talk” or “okay, what are we going to fight about now” kinds of comments. So real issues and hurts that I experience are swept under the rug and I am afraid to bring them up because it just doesn’t feel worth the fight. And I know this is how the controller wants it….Again I am just really getting angry and resentful! I feel so sad and unfulfilled most the time, and my partner approaches it as “they are your feelings, not my problem”
I also want to have a child … but now with him I am not so sure, but I am 35 and scared I am running out of time.
I think I know what I need to do but this is hard and scary.

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Renee

You have jumped over the first hurdle and by admitting you have an issue with your husband…and recognize the fact he is indeed a toxic individual. Leave, live your life. Realize if it does become too late to have a child naturally by the time you find that man of your dreams than consider other options like adoption or foster care. So many kids need love. Most importantly, you need love. Staying in a toxic relationship will not provide you any and will only give the child you have in it no stability. Love yourself, allow GOD to love you. Just walk away. Don’t make any fun fair. Don’t tell him, be like Nike, JUST DO IT!

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Sue F

Hi Tina, change is hard and scary and confusing and messy and it takes a lot of courage to do this. You think of what you are losing after being together for so long. Think about what you will gain. Focus on what the future can bring you. I lost a relationship that I had for most of my life and with that relationship there was others that fell by the way. It was very difficult and has taken a couple of years to really get back on track. But I found new interests, new friends. It was really rebuilding my life again. It was something that I needed to do for ME, for my sanity, for my peace of mind. I read lots of books to help me understand the issues involved and that helped as well. I wish you good luck.

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Lisa

I’ve dated a man for 3 or 4 months in the course of 7 years now. He would always come and go, i haven’t seen him for 2 years now and i’m still suffering. Last time he broke up with me because he is religious and i am not. 9 months ago he sended me a message after 2 years of not hearing from him, and he said he was sorry and realise that was stupid what he did to me, he told me that he changed. So i decided to give him another change and then he said he didn’t want me back because he would hurt me again. He told me he’s not suffering anymore but whishes that someday we can get married or be friends. I struggle to understand what he means and why he keeps coming back for me. Now he’s dating a girl from church, that happened only 1 month after we talked last.

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Renee

Dear Tina,

Do know that letting go is hard. You are worth so very much. However, you must realize it. That woman he was first married to feels she got a prize because she probably attract toxic men and he may not been as bad as the others she had through the years. You were with him for 38 years. You are full aware of what she is getting. keep that at the fore front of your mind……and than pray for his new wife that she does not have to deal with all the hurt disappointment and pain he caused you. Accept the truth of who he is…….and begin to thank GOD each day that you no longer have to deal with his toxic behavior. If you start each day by stating the truth and praying for his new wife, you will eventually feel so much better. LET GOD’S TRUTH SET YOU FREE!

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aimie

This sounds a bit like my relationship of 8 years. My partner has an issue with drink and has done a lot of very hurtful things to me in the past ( never physical). I have broken up with him in the past but when he wasn’t there I had massive anxiety and I did miss him. After he has done something bad usually involving drink he is always sorry but not before blaming me for his actions first and us having a massive argument. I do not trust him at all where drink is concerned as with our little boy who unfortunately despite my best efforts has seen his dad in some states. He is not supportive and is very jekyll and Hyde it’s like his way or no way. At Xmas he lost his grandma and while at the wake I became very ill and ended up in the hospital and despite my best effort to get him to come with me he ended up shouting and balling at me and stayed in the pub while I was laid in a hospital bed. I have had countless argument with not just him but his family members who are all like him and he has never stood by me i have had to fight my corner. I love this man but as times gone on I realise it isn’t normal how he acts and he has killed a lot of love I have for him I want there to be a future for us and our family but I don’t no where to turn anymore I can see my life been like this forever as he changes for a couple of weeks and then changes back to his old self. I no I have let him get away with a lot but I’ve mostly done it for my son I don’t feel he will have much of a future with his dad without me. My partner had a bit of a crappy childhood and feel it has caused a lot of issues in his adulthood. We never talk about our feelings or relationship as I think he is embarrassed about his actions n the past he gets angry and shuts down so I never feel anything is resolved. I feel lost.

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Hey Sigmund

Aimee there is nothing about this relationship that is normal. I can hear what a beautiful, strong, open heart you have and this man has trampled on it. I understand that he may have his own pain that contributes to his behaviour, but none of that pain makes it okay to treat you and your son the way he is treating you both. None of this means that you can’t work towards a healthy relationship, but it will take a strong and honest commitment from your partner to work on his relationship with alcohol, if that is where you see a lot of the problems coming from. The choice seems to be a clear one – he can have you and your son and stop drinking, or he can keep drinking and lose you and your son.

The fact that you miss him when he isn’t there isn’t necessarily a sign of love, but a sign of habit. Relationships are addictive and when you leave those relationships, the effect on the brain and the body is like withdrawal from a drug. This article will explain that http://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. That is not to say that you don’t feel love for him, but those feelings of love don’t make the loneliness and pain worthwhile – for you or your son.

As the relationship is at the moment, and what it is doing to you, it sounds as though it is not a healthy environment for your son. Your little man is relying on you as his mother to keep him safe, and free from having to witness unecessarily awful things.

Please Aimee, believe that you and your son deserve better, because you do. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get this with your partner. What it means is that you have to expect it, and act as though you deserve it. Your partner will live up to your expectations or down to them. It won’t be easy for your partner to change as it will probably invove him dealing with a lot of his own pain, but if he wants you and his son enough, he will find a way. You and your son are worth fighting for.

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Elina

Hello,

I’m 19 and this article fit every aspect of my current relationship. I know we’re young so a lot of people dismiss my problems of me just being “a stupid teenager” but I’m definitely in a toxic relationship that I’ve been struggling to leave for years. We’ve been together for 3 1/2 years and I’ve tried to leave multiple times and I always get pulled back in. He’s cheated multiple times, he lies compulsively about everything and he’s very emotionally manipulative and extremely verbally abusive and I’m scared it’s going to start developing into physical abuse. He treats me like crap and walks all over me, I’m fully aware of this and I know 100% I need leave but every time I try I just go back a little while after. I’m so afraid of not being able to find someone new and being alone because I’ve isolated myself and lost my friends by sticking with him. He’s constantly doing things that hurt me and things that are so inconsiderate, his anger issues are terrifying and he’s such a big hypocrite he constantly says that if I treated him the way he treats me he’d leave me. I know I’m stupid for staying with him but he’s my first everytjing and I’m so in love with him or maybe just extremely dependent on him now I find it so hard to walk away!!! I need coping mechanisms to stay away from him when I find the courage to leave. I’ve currently begun my journey to leaving him again but I can feel myself getting weak and gravitating towards him again. I don’t want to fall back I don’t want to be his doormat anymore I want to be happy again and confident again I truly believe I’m never going to find someone better now and I hate that. I’m going crazy I am fighting so hard to stay away but I have a feeling I’m going to give in again I hate being this weak I never take crap like this from anyone else but him I used to be so happy and confident and strong. I don’t know how to stay away when I’ve been with him for so long. Please help I want to change!

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Hey Sigmund

Elina, this is not love. You have said why you stay, ‘I’m so afraid of not being able to find someone new and being alone because I’ve isolated myself and lost my friends …’ Leaving any relationship is always difficult, however bad the relationship is. But you need to know this: Things will not get better for you if you stay. You have already proven this to yourself. It will take a big push from you and a huge amount of strength and courage but you have truckloads of that. Staying this long couldn’t have been easy either. Reach out to the people who care about you, do things that make you feel good. Let the day you leave is the day things start to get better, but know that if you stay in this sort of relationship, it can certainly get much worse. Make your plan and keep moving forward. Print out your comment and keep reading it to remind yourself of why you left. Something good will find you, but first you have to clear the way. You are brave and strong and capable of anything. You can do this.

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Wendy

This is one of the best of many writings about
toxic relationships/people I’ve read. I’ve been learning about narcistic people and trying to stay on my path of breaking free of a devastating
5 year intimate relationship. I’m disappointed in my failure to have better boundaries to protect my heart, especially because I lost my husband to cancer several years ago. I want to be happy and whole for my now grown sons that lost their father during their youths. I can’t believe that when I finally allowed love again in my heart, I made such a bad decision.
I cannot find a good counselor that understands
the impact a verbally abusive, toxic relationship
has had. It would be great to have therapudic
support.
Great Job and very helpful!

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Ross

Male here. Toxic relationship for 35 years. Label her anything you want but her caring and giving were care taking not giving.
4 counselors and the last one finally said to start reading about control, manipulation and don’t label her. I have been insulted, demeaned, criticized and told not to think just do and we will have a happy life.
Left three times before and she became this wonderful person. Yes to manipulate me back.
Now I am guilt free. Still reading to stay strong and why I am here.
Simply put you need to do what is right for you and to H#$% with anyone that calls you selfish.
Don’t avoid relationships just be strong enough not to work to please. If they love you, you already please them by being yourself. Not by pleasing them.
Good luck

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Ross

Thanks Sue,
Having a weak moment. Realize I am so familiar with this toxic relationship it feels abnormal to picture myself free. I tried several times to discuss calmly leaving. June was my last attempt and she became so nice just to manipulate me. I am secretly planning an escape. I have an apartment. Going thru the motions with her makes me feel cheap. I don’t know why I am so worried about her reaction. Since I have left twice before. She is so over the top. But, I should know better.
This week we met with our financial advisor. I made a comment about my future income as I wind down from full time. She interrupted and discredited my statement. In hindsight she corrects my statements to others on a regular basis.
I guess I am wondering why? Just throwing it out there to anyone reading this blog.

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Sue F

Hey Ross, I think you are so courageous having a Plan B or exit strategy. You are putting things in place to make your life easier and perhaps that will take a little time. I don’t think you are having a weak moment at all. It takes so much courage to do what you are doing. One day you will have “no contact” with that person and you will be free. My “abuser” was a sibling who had been my best friend for many years so I can really relate to what you are going through. I liken the relationship to an addiction: always got a high when I tried to reconcile. But my gut feeling was I knew I could not continue with the relationship. There is also some fantastic reading material out there regarding these sorts of relationships. Good luck!

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Ross

Thank you. I think hanging in there with her 35 years I can feel guilt free.
One more comment: I have practiced medicine for 30 years. No one should ever feel inadequate for the time they took to try. You are never too old to change and look to a new adventure in life. It is what we went through that makes us who we are. Abuse can happen to anyone. Funny how I was able to see it in others but not believe it could be happening to me.

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Ross

Jo,
I have found courage in realizing I am not alone. Since finding this site I know this time I can close the door behind me without guilt. Sadness is there but not confused with guilt. Now I have to resist her being kind and sweet. I know it is a tactic she has used many times. The other is we all come from different walks of life. I practice medicine for 30 years. You would have thought I would have left long ago. But it is in us to hope and give that makes us easy targets. Good luck to you. Life is waiting.

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Lyle

Thank you, Ross, I’m in a similar predicament but only for 9 years now. I too have called it off only to have her come back all nice and sweet. The last time I followed advise from someone and felt so guilty on the way I broke up I asked for her forgiveness. Which she had been loving for a little over a month now but the claws are starting to show themselves again. I have an exit plan which is the same as the advice given to me. Cutting it off cold turkey, blocking phones and accounts, and moving. I’m too weak to confront her and it does not do any good anyway since I’m always against her or wrong about everything. I have been in the hospital many times due to anxiety caused by this relationship where after she becomes the most friendly sweet person again for a while saying I do not know what his problem was he is just dramatic. My chest is so tight I’m in emotional and physical pain most of the time. It is not always there are good moments and moments of memories of better times. Which has always keep going back. Once I can be free of this I’m not sure if I will ever be able to open my heart up to others again or if I would be a good man to others. Some of the toxic tendencies have entered my mind and I’m afraid of hurting another person. I’m praying for the day I will be free again, able to make some friends since she had me push all mine out 7 years ago. She is the only one in my life which scares me to leave and I work alone in the house never leaving without her. Funny thing is I studied to be a psychologist in college, though picked a different path, and know the traits that I’ve gone through. I read case study after case study but when you are the one it is happening to your mind is blindsided. My family will be there emotionally for me but they live on the other side of the country and I have not talked to them much in the past 7 years. Other than a few months ago when I called my father and said “I’m leaving her I think I can do it this time” Which he responded about time. When I told him she was back I could feel the disappointment through the phone, voice, words. I hope I can escape this time this is slowly killing me.

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Ross

Lyle,
I am in my apartment now for two months. It does get easier but this is my 4th time leaving. You can do it. It hurts and I realized this time that you don’t have to dislike the person. Although they make us hurt stop thinking you need a reason to prove to them you want out. You have a right to live the life you imagined. Friends are waiting for you to meet. Reach out and you will see how strangers respond to you when you are finally free. Good luck. Keep me posted on your progress.

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Lyle

A couple of months ago was my second time trying to leave, it was cold and heartless way of doing it which hurt me more than the torment I go through with her. Though at the same time I felt the corset around my heart was loosened and the pile of bricks upon my shoulders dropped off. That time I was of two minds , standing in the doorway half in and out. That time even though I did not feel right about the way I was doing it a pastor and psychologist that knows us said it was the proper thing to do, (I had an emotional break down a couple days before talking to him). He sees how I’m treated and how my attitude changes when she is not with me the few times he saw me alone. He said if I do not leave I will be miserable for the next 10, 20, or more years if I live that long since this emotion is taking a physical toll on my body. With his support I lasted two days before caving, I felt worse in the way I was leaving than the emotional torment. I called her and talked, she was upset that I blocked her out but also so sweet and understanding in her voice that made me feel worse trying to leave. I was still standing up for myself as she was not in front in me, visiting her son, then a certified letter came for us to see a lawyer on a matter that happened 8 years ago. Which with all things happening and I still and will probably always love her asked her to come back. Now I realize she understands she has more control I feel like a corset tightened around my heart and words and actions make it squeeze harder.
The first time I left her I felt so elated, freed, my neighbors knew she was kicked out and I was trying to get back into a normal life. She was trying to get back into my life; though I had so much joy – no remorse on my decision. That was a little less than 5 years ago the relationship had changed the first two years were good then little by little I felt pulled down the giving up of friends, the wondering who I was talking to at work (I worked in an office then), the sighs if I wanted to do something she did not suggest or want to do, the talking got defensive. The times trying to do something and getting I’m sick I cannot go, won’t you stay with me. Which if it was only a few times I would be more understanding but it is a daily occurrence and if there is something she wants to do or something comes up she wants to do she is magically healed. Though I always stay. I saw all of these things happening to me it took a while for it dawn on me but I saw them after a neighbor told me about them. That time I was free…. then her sister died. I had only left her for a little over a couple weeks and we had over four years together at that point. In my heart I could not let her grieve alone and put her through anymore pain than she was going through. Her sister raised her; her mother drank and she never knew her real father she had seen him once or twice in her entire life. Her sister protected her from step-fathers touching in bad ways. Her sister, her guardian, her friend, was gone. I took off work and stayed with her through the grief, we talked about us and her family and other things going through the pain. It was comforting that at that time even though she was sad and grieving the person I loved was back. To her credit she actually listened during that time not defensive did recognize some issues and did make some changes. We got back together and now the cycle continues though it is not as bad as it was before which has me guessing, I feel there is hope. Though I am still emotionally maltreated.

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Ross

There is never a good time to leave nor a right way to leave. That is what keeps us people pleasers stuck in hope. Hope this time they will change. Things were not so bad. And a hundred other reasons to think we are wrong and they are right. I saw my psych tonight. I am helping her almost daily. We have an enmeshed family. Yet tonight I sit guilt free in my place. She thinks I will come back. But I withhold, not out of anger but to protect myself until she has no financial hold on me. When I am free financially then I will file. We will be going to couples counseling so I can calmly let her know I changed. I want a different life. It will be then that she will have to move on. You do not owe her. You cannot be responsible for her happiness. No one but you is responsible for you. Make her happy by staying and yourself miserable or make yourself happy and she will move on to what makes her happy…..another victim. This is not about you. It is about her and she does not want you to realize that. I wish someone 25 years ago would have made me realize that this is not selfish. Going your own way. Make sure the next relationship is one on your terms. Don’t repeat the same mistake of loving out of pity.

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Lyle

Ross:

Thank you for your words and support I need them at this time in my life. I’m glad I found this website it has helped me in many ways, reading others triumphs on these matters. I asked her about going to couples therapy but no interest on her part. I lost my hope today as I found out she has another victim she is seeing when visiting family. It started right before her sister died, he left when the sister died but returned later. I just found today. Guilt is gone I confronted her today about it but no emotion, guilt, or understanding on her side. Just a shrug of the shoulders and that was it back to normal. Like I said nothing. I asked her again and just blank only the eyes give response, confirmation, and that was slight at most. Now she is “sick” which I need to watch her because she has tried to take her life before. So in many ways I’m better but in a big way still stuck in caring. At least this knowledge has given me a backbone again I was without one for so long. over 9 years I will not get back, but at least we do not have children together she had some from her previously husband now who has been deceased 12 years. She is leaving in November hopefully,

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Lyle

I have to be the dumbest man on the planet, here I know what I saw but she has me doubting myself. I took her out to eat and bought jewelry to make up with her. I do not know how she has so much control over my emotions even caught red handed I’m stuck. She has complete control. I’m seeing a group tomorrow that hopefully will give me a spine I need. She is toxic for me, I cannot eat, I cannot sleep, I’m suffering but I keep staying and going back to her.

Ross

Lyle,
You are not dumb. Just stuck by hope. A false hope that your actions will change her and that what attracted you to her will come back. It will for a short time and then you will realize you are in the same place you are now and why you are on this site.

It is hard letting go of someone you love. However, some of us mistake loving someone when we really pity them. When they make us feel sad for them. That we are the only ones in the world that can “complete” them. It is a manipulation tactic to keep us under their control. First you need to get into a group not to get a spine but to understand how another can make you feel guilty for going your own way. The fact that she let you buy anything for her at this time means it is all about her and nothing about your feelings. You will learn that and eventually let go and find someone you will allow you to live in peace.
Hang in there.

Lyle

Thank you Ross, I have lost 15 pounds since my last message, stress is getting to me. I know I’m being used and she is using the other guy in the same way. So she already has a another victim but claws still in me.

Katy

Thank you for sharing your opinion. You don’t hear a man often actually opening up about such matter. But it is true. Something I used to always say to my significant other is “If you can’t love me as I am, someone else will, because I am not perfect but neither are you”. They try to mold you into what’s perfect for them, and when you stand up for yourself, they criticize you, belittle you, and make your opinion seem meaningless. It is indeed toxic, luckily I had the help of family members and many who love me to keep strong the first time. It was not an easy decision, but I decided to start loving myself once more, and if he didn’t want to stay in my life under my conditions then he was free to go.

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Lianne

I agree with you. I have toxic parents and it is very complicated when grandchildren are involved also, sad in so many ways. It is tiring just trying to think about talking this through with counsellors altho I have done this with some success, including hypnotherapy. it is very supportive to readthis article, very helpful.

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Lisa

Lianne, I too have toxic parents and, like you there are grandchildren involved- it is sometimes hard to stay strong when you think about how sad the situation is. Rest assured there are others like you and me out there and if we can provide a safe, happy and emotionally stable environment for our children, then they won’t miss toxic grandparents. That way, we break the cycle and can build a wonderful life with our own families.

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Another Lisa

Another Lisa: Like the two of you, I have an extremely toxic mother, an emotionally checked out father, and the rest of my family just has this “pitiful” look on their face, honestly, I believe, because they don’t want my mother to paint a target on their back, like she has on mine and my father’s. (My father now gets her “daily abuse” since the rest of us are grown and out of the house). It’s so sad to see her drag him every time the family gets together, but he allows it, has allowed it, and I think he likes it when I’m around, since he can get a small break…because I am her FAVORITE target. I cannot express how grateful I am for this article, because I copied it, emailed it to my immediate family members and let them know that I wont be coming around anymore. For years, I have literally had anxiety attacks before family functions. I know she is going to dig into me before I get there, and yet, I’ve gone, because the idea that I walked out on my family was too hard to imagine. It’s gotten so bad, though, that I literally get gutted every single time I talk to my parents, and with all of the things I have going on in my life, I need support now.
It’s time for me to start fresh….loving people who love me back. Until I meet said people, I will continue to draw my strength from articles like this one, that reinforce what I have always known, but never been able to make realized in my life…..What my family gives me isn’t love…..it never has been….and love has been missing from my life for too long. I am such a sad soul…and I don’t want to be sad anymore. I want to give myself an opportunity to choose….and if that means I have to choose to let my family go so that I can love and be loved, then I choose that, finally. I am 50 years old and that woman still literally enforces her control on me in every aspect of our fay togetherness. At the root of it is evilness, and I have never been able to tolerate it, or understand why the rest of my family see’s it going on and gives her silent permission to continue with it. THAT is why I must leave all of them now….and get into, embrace, a world where reality reigns supreme.
….wonder who her substitute victim will be as a result of my taking myself out of the equation? My father is already her top hit in my absence, wonder if she will just dig into him more when the family gets together, since I am no longer there for her to batter. You know what? I hope it is him because he was never there for me ….he stood aside and let her do this to me and never parted his lips. Now, when I see her do it to him, I cringe and sometimes speak out against it….but in my absence, he will suffer…..and he should, because he is and always has been wrong for not speaking up all those years when he could have and when he should have.
We all cringe when she rips into him and me (and others)….but nobody ever says anything….ever…..insanity has been the rule of the day….
but I have set myself free…..

to love and be loved……

for a change…..

a good change.

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Melanie

Hi Lisa I too am 50 and have recently disengaged myself from a toxic mother. It is possible and freeing. This article is the best worded I have seen on this subject and I have read many in my atempt to investigate why I felt like I did and why my mother was the way she was. My father was lovely but complicit and enabling. He’d need with her for do long he couldn’t fight back, I didn’t get to know him properly, my one regret, because from an early age I couldn’t stand being in the house/room with her so that affected my relationship with him. Now you are free of the toxicity you will develop more confidence, make sure you try to love yourself and love will find you. Good luck.

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Jennie

I’m 44 years old and I finally let go of my family. They’ve never been there for me and my son. My mother only wanted me for money or do things for her. She’s never worked and has this sense of entitlement. My dad died 1.5 years ago and now she’s trying to be my best friend. I told her we’ve never been close and never will be. She only wants me around for her benefit. She has no other family but me in the state. I feel bad for her but she chose her life. I’ve never had a loving, nurturing parents. I was emotionally neglected as a child. I wasn’t allowed to have feelings. This has hurt me as an adult. I chose unhealthy relationships. I was quite the codependent. It took me a couple years to step out of that codie behavior. My next step was letting go of my mother. I feel guilty but I also feel stronger standing up for myself. Anyway, I understand how you feel. I pray for all of us. We deserve a happy, healthy life!

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Paula

Hi Wendy I was in one to 5 years to and trying desperately to move on for me and my boys, it’s very hard but determined to do it. Well done you for coping with everything. X

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Grace

I think i have been in a toxic relationship. It has now ended but it was my partner that ended it rather than me. I have been unhappy for years in truth but was always hoping and praying things would get better, trying to change how i reacted to her temper or accusations to avoid flare ups, but whatever i did she could not sustain being ‘nice’. She has a hard upbringing and i think felt neglected in some ways, however, she would not admit this, i believe it’s left her reaching for anger when the real emotion might be fear or guilt or actually that was sorry for something but couldnt admit it, i dont know

Im now out of that relationship but finding it so hard to still not make her my top priority, im always wanting and waiting for her to text or call or ask to see me, but she is cruel and being tough and still fixing all the blame of the relationship going wrong onto me.

Im sure there is blame my side but reading these articles really hit home as she has many of the attributes that make up a ‘toxic’ person.

I feel like i have had the life leeched from me and now been tossed aside when i had nothing else of interest to offer. But even now if i act disinterested she will send a message saying she wants to see me and apologising and saying she thinks she may depressed or something. I want to help but if i reply sympathetically she soon turns and i guess perhaps its all about regaining power.

ugh. i really hope i see the signs and never get into a toxic relationship again, its made me feel like i will never meet anyone new and i feel panicked about the future. Ive been left with nothing is how i feel, rock bottom.

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Anonymous

This message also hit home for me as well my life is very similar to this passage . In 2013 I dated this girl for about a year an a couple month things went well in the beginning until she wanted to eventually break up , I guess I didn’t make her happy the break up was so terrible for me I thought I would never get through it but we tried to remain friend for a little while until we became involved with each other again and as I knew , it did not work out I felt so dumb, angry , and betrayed because I gave someone I thought knew me best another chance with my heart but all I got in return is for it to be shattered again, and it’s like when you love or care for a person so much you don’t want them to just walk out of your life but you know they are no good to it either so your stuck thinking well what do I do know I know I love them but I know there no good for me so just like this message said ” Be whoever you can be if the small minds and tiny hearts of others couldn’t stop you” listen to heart and most of all listen to God cause I have to say I would’ve never made it through this before with out him and yeah I know some days may be bad , just pray cause he is always there to listen when no one else is he’s your #1 fan who will never leave you .

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Alex Valdez

Reading your story really help me stay away from this person and not fall for there bs, really glad I found those xite

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sherri sentieri

You couldn’t of that better. I feel exactly same as you, alone, feel like I will never have nobody again and anxiety I’m just depressed even though I was the one who left him it still hurts like hell and there’s times you want to run back to them but I know or I could go back once that I will never turn back this time people don’t I gave it a try now I know for sure it don’t make you feel any better though sometimes I wonder if he could ever feel their love sometimes I wonder if he has a conscience I know I’ll get stronger every day and I will feel better because I do feel better but you will hurt as well just work through it you won’t hurt as much eventually it’ll be gone and your eyes will see A Whole New World but if you stay in that relationship your whole world will come down and you always I wish you the best

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sharon

My parents are 79 and 83 ..They moved from 5 of there kids to be with one kid in Californis he braggs of this kid because he successful but his other kids are doing great as well ..My dad is very negative he beat myself and other siblings to a inch of there life when we were little …He never help us get through anything in life …When he gives u money u need to pay it back …My mom watch him beat us ..He always put us down as kids and he still talks about us to each of us …They sold there house and moved away my dad got sick and ,we all believe he didn’t won’t my mom left in this city with us so he rush her to move in with my brother who had just got married …I believe all these years that my parents were never let me play with other children now as a adult I have no friends ..They always han his children but he don’t have a highschool diploma or my mom his kids have graduated from highschool and some of us have college degrees …He has been so negative all our lives ..He use to make statement to my mom ur kids go get u in divorce court why would a parent be this way …I cry so much at 51 …I cry all the time and now my mom don’t hardly call ..I think he wants her to be away from us all by not calling ..My other brother they bragg on him constantly but he lived in the same city and never came around ..It was us five that came over went to the doctor with them sat on the back porch ..I don’t understand ..I loved my parents I put them up high but I realize they were not right at all..I still say maybe Iam wrong about them ..I met a lot of bad guys cause they never supported me ,they never told me about like …Why are they this way? Now why would they leave like this 3000 miles away …We all call my mom and we don’t call dad that much because he so negative …He finds something wrong with everyone…They had to moved out of my brother house because he wife treated my parents so bad …They had to find a place ,2 old people in a new city trying to find aplace to lived when they promise to take care of them …Now they pay rent …They sold there house they had for 42 years and when he got that money he ran but noone ask for anything from them …Iam sooo hurt because today I realize who they are ..I keep trying to be nice but they talk behind all our backs ….What should I do ..They are in there last years and I try to call and be kind but I seem like I putting all the energy in ..Should I just not call and stay away or what ….I love family but I think its hopeless

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Hey Sigmund

Sharon, there is no right or wrong answer here, but you are right – things aren’t likely to change. If you decide to stay connected with your parents, have your boundaries. Accept that you probably won’t get what you need from the contact, but be clear about why you are maintaining the contact.

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G

Hi,

I have been in a 3 year relationship on and off… I have been so forgiving for all the cheating that were justified by telling me ” it didnt mean anything, I pushed him away, he was mad at me and needed to get it out of his system, he was drunk, he was high.. and the list goes on and on.. I have given him so much love, helped him grow.. Got him a job at the company I work at.. take care of all his doctors appointment.. he wasnt controlling towards me.. but every weekend he would say he needs to go with his boys and have a boys night out… and if I would ask to tag along he would say no and scream at me and tell me I dont give him any freedom… he always made all the decisions (movies, food.. and I could tell him I really want us to watch this and he would justify why his choice is better and mine is just stupid and I could watch it alone..)He would plan his vacation with his fmaily and friends.. and never ask me .. I always felt greedy and needy for his attention and time.. Towards the past few months he was verbally abusive.. and every time I cried (very very often) he would tell me if he sees one more tear he will smack my head against the wall till I bleed to death… and I would actually stop. He spit on my face.. and made me appologize to him for making him so mad.. he said I made him become this horrible person.. I went to therapy and worked on my flaws.. but he kept breaking up with me .. and come back and forth.. or I would try to save the relationship applogizing for his behaviour . This time, he told me he doesnt want to ruin his summer he wants to have fun and he will see later.. but I told him I will walk out.. and I have.. its very fresh 1 week but I have not contacted him once.. It breaks my heart even though I am completly aware that he was not good for me.. or like he says we are both not good for eachother.. I feel unloved and like a failure that I wasnt able to save or change o rmake things different.. and with all the pain he caused me I still feel like I do love him.. I have no idea how to just have hate towards him

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Paul Gasson

I just read your story, G. Please.. Imagine coming our of your body, looking back at yourself. Imagine what it looks like, to see yourself, in that relationship. Now, imagine that you are to look after the person that your see (yourself). Protect her, be kind to her, and make a situation where she is loved and protected, and free to do as she wants. Keep her away from this extremely toxic, deluded person that was once her partner. Keep doing this meditation. See yourself, and the answer will come. The reason you let yourself continue with such a horrific situation, is because of your attachment to it. Even strong aversion to such a toxic relationship can be addictive, and result in force that pulls you back in.

You deserve so much more. Please find someone who respects you, is kind and understanding.

I wish you all the best.x

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Kail

Thank you Paul, even though it was advice for someone else it made me feel so much better about ending a 9yr relationship w/ a toxic man.

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Vikki Green

I think I am in a toxic relationship. I’ve tried to end it a few times but He moved in with me and i can’t just ‘kick him out’ as he has nowhere to go. He suffers from depression and ptsd and be as a beautiful, caring, sensitive guy one day and a complete asshole the next, always on his phone playing games and Facebook. He won’t be friends with me on FB and I said he is hiding stuff. Then he says I just don’t trust him and he’s not hiding anything. I do everything, cook, clean, wash, mow the lawn. He doesn’t even taken the bin out. I have 3 boys to a previous marriage and they don’t like him and say he is lazy I have cried most nights it has been nearly a year. I wish it could just be all over but Ido love him and always see that he could be so great if he got past his personal problems and he is seeing a psychiatrist.

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Kim

Im in the process of letting go of a toxic person its hard because he calls and contacts me like he always need my help. Then after that day or weeks will go by and I wont hear from him until he needs something. I left one toxic relationship and got into another. I substituted one for the other now it feels like one long toxic hell. I have to make a decision to stop answering my phone and his text. Its the only way Im going to save myself. Im in therapy and its really helping.

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Red

To Kim: I have been dealing with this same situation for about 9 years. It has been worse for the past year or so. I finally cracked 6 months ago because of the toxicity coming from this guy. The lack of him being present when I needed him, not texting back, not committing to even stop by for 10 minutes… He tries to guilt me whenever I do not respond to his texts now so I answer but with very minimal responses. Just a few emoji’s or a couple of words. I’ve given up on asking for help from him or relying on him anymore. It’s sad because he used to be my knight in shining armor so to speak. Now he has had some issues and he is no longer capable of being a good person around me… I feel bad but I also have to look out for myself. I can’t go thru another breakdown because of him. I luv him so that’s why I must let him go.

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Deedee

I am sitting here reading this thinking OMG am I the toxic person??? My ex husband was more physically abusive than anything before I divorced him. I am still drawn to him after 9 years since the divorce. I read this and think I am the crazy one, I am the one with issues, what is wrong with me. I feel the pain so deep as this is what a toxic person will leave you thinking, feeling and believing.

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Sue F

Always remember that it was not your fault. The abuser wants you to believe that you are as mad as a hatter and that it was never them. I have wasted years of my life analyzing this same issue…it leaves you feeling that you are absolutely powerless. Please don’t waste another 9 years of your life feeling like this. We all deserve to live the life that we deserve. Good luck!

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PP

This article really helped me realize that the person I am trying to be with is toxic. We have been together for 5 years, I am 20 so I grew up with this guy. We recently broke up due to him cheating on me, lying to me, hiding things from me, making me feel small and weak. During the time we broke up, I fooled around with one guy. My ex found out, attacked me verbally with cruel names, and then told me he loves me and made a mistake in cheating on me. Weeks pass by, he is still bringing up what I did during the break up and calling me a “hoe” a “liar” and telling me i am easy. He tells me that he is going to have sex with my friends, and he also told me he had sex with other people while we were dating. I stop texting him because I cannot handle this cruelness, he texts me hours later telling me he loves me and misses me and wants me. Its a cycle, a cycle that I cannot break ahold of. But this article is helping me realize that this guy is toxic! And i can always leave the door open for him when he reaches my point. But at the end of it, he will never change. He was supposed to change months ago, even years ago when he made 5 dating websites while being with me. He was supposed to change when he was hanging out with girls and lying to me about it. He never changed and I’m stuck here feeling more hurt than ever. Feeling that if i leave, i didn’t try hard enough and that it is my fault that the relationship is like this. I feel i made it worse. He makes me feel that this is all my fault and puts the blame on me! He said what I did when we broke up is worse than what he did when we were together. I begged him to stay with me so many times and he left me. But i need to gather the courage to leave him.

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Hey Sigmund

The courage is in you. It will come in tiny steps. Decide on what that first step will be – let it be as small as you need it to be – remind yourself of why it’s so important, and do it. Keep taking tiny steps forward and the path will open up to meet you. I promise you – you have incredible courage in you and you can do this.

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Ross

My soon to be ex was bringing up a one time moment from 20 years ago. Don’t waste your time girl. Move on you have no binds to this person. You owe him nothing. It took me 30 years to understand this. Ok….I’m a man…we are slow learners. You women…those of you who are not manipulator sand abusive are way too hard on yourselves. I don’t need a woman to take care of me and you don’t need to sacrifice for a man. You just need someone to love you, respect you. Good luck.

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Still hung up

I know I made the best choice for me leaving him. I just can’t help but feel so hurt and sick how quickly he moved on after 4 years and everything I went through in the relationship. It feels so weird acknowledging its actually over. I do have anxiety about ever finding what I thought I had with him. I think I’m most bothered accepting he couldn’t change for me. Knowing he is intimate with someone else. Just being still in love with him when I know I will find what I’m looking for. Its hard.

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Hey Sigmund

Letting go of someone you care about is always hard, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. Be patient and kind with yourself. You’re adjusting to a new normal. This takes time, but without a doubt, you will get there.

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DEE

I’ve been struggling with this for ten years. I thought it was me. I thought I was doing something wrong. I thought he was the best thing that ever happened to me. But then I started losing myself. I didn’t want to see anyone. I stayed in my room by myself. He told me I was needy, anxious, insecure, that I overreact, etc. and I was. He told me I only had what I had because of him. I got so depressed I tried to commit suicide. I would have never thought of that before I met him. I loved life. I’ve tried to leave so many times, but he would talk me out of it and tell me how much he loved me. This article has made me realize I am married to a toxic person. I thought it was me. Now I know I need to move on. It will be hard… so hard, but I will do it. If not for me than for my children. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

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Ds

Dee I can relate to you… I am not married but have bee in a relationship with a man for ten years. He has told me those same things and I came to a point where I just wanted to give up on life as I felt so useless so worthless so insecure not good enough. However I have bee encouraged by a sermon by to jakes to ‘let them walk’. That nothing we go through is without purpose so I hope you find strength in knowing God will never leave you or forsake you and will be your help. Be encouraged we are all too good for those toxic people and they don’t deserve us!

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Hey Sigmund

Dee it’s so okay. This is how big change happens. This is a huge thing you’re doing. Big changes don’t always happen in one leap. Every step counts. Even the ones that seem to be backwards ones are getting you closer. The path will be windy but keep facing forward – you’re going to get to where you want to be. Don’t worry at all if your path doesn’t look as straight as you imagined. Hard paths never are.

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donna

Hi I m in a 16 yr marriage with a toxic man who is ruining my life I can’t live with him or without him and I’m angry at my self I feel so low I dont know what to do

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Hey Sigmund

Donna I can hear how stuck you feel. Relationships become habits, and leaving those relationships can feel impossible. It’s important to recognise your own power in this – you have a lot. Try changing ‘can’t’ to ‘won’t’ and see if this changes your feelings of personal power at all – so instead of ‘I can’t live with him or I can’t live without him’, try ‘I won’t live with him or I won’t live without him’. Leaving a relationship, even a bad one, can feel like breaking an addiction. Here is an article that explains that http://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. Even in a bad relationship, there will be some good things. This is why you’ve stayed for so long. Be careful not to give them more weight than they deserve. You have the strength in you to do whatever you need to do – you really do.

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Julie

Shes right. Thats what it is…we dont believe its possible. We dont believe. Its scary, so we cave. We dont believe in ourselves. We second guess ourselves. We dont want to be alone. We have too many excuses. My situation is not as bad as what I read about others so Im constantly second guessing. But Im learning that “not as bad as others” is no prize either. Stay strong everyone and believe. I dont know what Im doing but at least Im doing something.

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Lianne

I am trying to find a way to stay strong at the moment and this article is just brilliant. Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Lianne. The strength you need is in you – it always will be. I’m pleased this has been able to help you connect with it in the way you needed.

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Lizzy

I’ve just split with my partner of 2 years,the first 3 months were absolutely fantastic,he knew I’d had a toxic relationship previously and was the total opposite,I couldn’t fault him apart from sometimes drinking too much!
This seamt to change overnight, I’m a friendly person and all of a sudden I was after every man I came into contact with,young,old,ugly,anyone!He said it was because he loved me so much and I constantly tried to reassure and help him,he made me anxious,I was constantly walking on egg shells,he was really jealous of one of my older sons yet I still ‘tried to make him better”,To cut a long story short we split for 6 weeks at Christmas and he promised he’d changed,he tried everything to get me back,he saw a councillor and I gave him another chance,nothing changed,he got worse if anything and we split 5 weeks ago!
Again he’s trying everything,he even followed me abroad when I went on holiday for a few days!He really can’t understand why I won’t give him another last chance!
He’s proved time and time again that he can’t change and I won’t go back but it is so hard and I am grieving the relationship that we first had and I wanted back but obviously this wasn’t really him,he was just a wolf in sheep clothing!

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Sue F

This relationship is co-dependent. You can never “fix” anybody else…only yourself. What is happening is that the victim is saying to the abuser “don’t worry I’ll help you, I can fix you. You don’t need to do anything” therefore enabling the abuser to carry on with his behaviour. What you let happen will continue to happen. I think shame is also thrown into the mix. The message here is “I deserve this”. Lizzie you need to find out why you keep attracting these relationships. Good luck!

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Anonymous

I married my husband 5 years ago. We have children. We have a home. He works. I raise the kids. I stay home all day. All night. I’ve left him 4 times. Stayed away. Got happy. Promises were made, things were supposed to change. And I’d come back. And it would be okay for awhile. But the promises were never upheld. Lately I’ve been asking to go to counseling with him. And he keeps saying nothings wrong. That everything’s okay. And the end of the conversation involves him yelling that it’s all in my head and me crying. I don’t understand. I truly don’t. Why wouldn’t you bend over backwards to make your spouse feel loved, important. That their feelings mattered? It’s just counseling. If nothings truly wrong it won’t hurt will it? Or is he right? Am I being too needy and trying to find an issue when there isn’t one?

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Hey Sigmund

If you feel as though there’s an issue, then there’s an issue. You don’t have to be able to name what it is and it doesn’t need to make sense to your partner. That’s where the work is in a relationship – trying to understand what doesn’t feel right or what isn’t working and both committing to trying to put it right. Your partner might feel as though nothing is wrong, but that’s his experience. Yours is different. There are many reasons people are reluctant to go to relationship counselling, even when they want to hold on to the relationship. Often, it’s fear. Counselling means there is something broken, so it is harder to live in denial. There may also be fear that you might find out through counselling that the relationship is too broken. We can only speculate about what is happening for your husband. The clue though, is that you were happier out of the relationship than you were in it. It’s very difficult to heal a relationship when one person doesn’t believe there is a problem.

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Lane

Ive been with my husband since we were kids, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder this year after I left him. I went back thinking he could change and after he promised me the world. I realized it was 16 years too late. I had been put down, my kids had been put down way too much. He still tells me I think too much, that I dont look for his triggers. I have put my heart and soul into our relationship only to be torn away from my family and friends. My kids are yelled at constantly and its time for me to leave but I feel weak and insecure and even though I know Im ready Im scared he will talk me back into staying and I dont need to turn back. I need to find a future with happiness. Ive been depressed and alone for way too long. This article has helped a lot in seeing the toxic person that he is and I hope I can achieve what I need to do.

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Hey Sigmund

Lane you sound so clear and strong. You are absolutely right – you deserve a future with happiness for you and for your kids. It’s never easy moving on from a relationship but you have it in you to do what you need to keep moving forward. There are wonderful things waiting to find you.

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Kat

My husband left me for another and I meant prince charming and who I thought was my age but had facia work done and was 14 years older. He was a neighbors friend and I thought I had the world by the tail, he was financially secure, charismatic, giving, a gentleman, everything you could ever want in someone. I couldn’t believe this man who come into my life after what I had going through. He was a problem solver, intelligent, like a sale to my ship. We had the most wonderful time eating out, dancing, listening to music, you name it. But then, I found out he had an old girlfriend in another state that still live in a house you own that he said he was trying to sell and he couldn’t get her out as a live together for six years. His son also lives in that state and is quite ill. He will get up every so often unannounced and leave and just go visit the sun, but I knew he was staying with a girlfriend. I broke up with him several times, only to deeply sorry to have them back. I was so lonely without him and always got them back in off-line from myself fighting the other woman mentally to have him. That was 2014 for four months and he left Christmas Eve to go back with her. I left him and was heartbroken for about a month he did not return to the area till five months later. He came to my door and said that he had made a big mistake and him broke up with her and want to give him another chance, I did not want to and told him so. I told him I didn’t believe him and he bag and bag just to go out one nigh, And it was a fun night and all those old feelings were still stirred up and he was going to help me is my divorce was ending finally after all the red tape and he want to help me with my house sale etc. If they are, he bought my house. I was only there a month with my Dell daughter and then he said he had to go on a trip without me and couldn’t make up his mind and he asked me to move out. I was devastated as we could live in the house another six months. My daughter ended up in apartment and I ended up in a rental home I still grieve his loss and wanted him back and when he came back in the town we saw each other again. Eventually move back in the house with my daughter, and went out several times to the other state to see his son after I thought but will girlfriend was gone. She wasn’t gone we got there but the house eventually sold and then she had to move. She still wants him him back. She doesn’t care if he cheats. You asked cheetah mean April after I just been there to visit a sick son I flew back immediately as I knew from watching his things. I confronted him and he told me he loved me and told her never to bother him again he was over her and he said it was just a matter of lost as he has bipolar. I ended up very ill while I was there and had to stay or otherwise I think I would’ve just come back. We came back and he dealt delve deep into counseling, Bible study, church, doing anything you could for me. Yeah, fast warning to this may he was doing his best I thought, but then he was getting quiet again by June. He was not going to his own counselor, but wanting to go to couples counseling to just press forward and forget the past. I was even alive by the past and couldn’t trust him. I finally just contagious until my daughter who is at her friends I was picking up the few things we had their moving out in the middle the night and I move back into the condo that she had rented. He was very upset that I moved and said I told him I would never do that again and he was for once trying to be the man I wanted bye doing everything including counseling etc. Yeah, I saw a few messages to the ex-girlfriend that were generic, but still he so there will be no contact. The first it was on a high when I move back with my daughter and felt relieved. I was searching on dating websites money to date. But then those old feelings came back up missing the life I had with him in a nice home on the water eating out dancing etc. He immediately began to date one if dealer, but coming by and seeing me flowers tell me was only dating because he can’t stand to be alone and he’s very needy. I didn’t want to succumb but do you go out with him a few times to movie and went to dinner and I also slept over because he became so angry with me and said he didn’t want to see me ever again or talk to me and I was too much for him with the drama etc. He said he was trying to do everything you could love me and even wanted to marry me, but I was rejecting him by living away it if only it will come back he would make everything right and marry me and there will be no more problems. My daughter was beside her self and said she would not move yet again. I am sickened by what I’ve done to her. I was with him last night if you’re not going to the store after sitting around all day thinking about how lonely I was and I missed him. He wanted me to commit to him and tell me love me, yet he continues on with this dating and he has a woman coming into town to look for an apartment and he will be seen or her over a three day period in August and she’s very intellectually like him both with PhD’s. She is as a side it is can be to have met hey Dr., someone she feels will be her emotionally cool online. Nobody but me knows the five or six medications for bipolar and then he drinks the night. As with me both times and when he came back strong he so charismatic, give nice gifts, is handsome, and treat you like a queen and Princess with the highest esteem you could ever imagine. I am jealous of the fact that he treats other women like that. I think part of the reason I want him at times is because I know he’ll be with somebody else. I can understand that rational at all and it sickens me. After sharing all that he had done that was bad and good both counselor said I was living in a birdcage and I was his hobby. Definitely we were not intellectually like, but that would not matter to me if there was true love. It should not matter at all. I saw him as a means of security too. Overall, he cheated on me eight times with the same girlfriend and lunch with another ex-girlfriend each time explain the way that I have pulled away from the relationship, which I did is I knew he was talking to them. Basically a not shell he has to have someone almost every day if not every day as company. He is explain it in detail that’s part of his make up and it may not even be somebody he wants to be with. Is very hyper sexual as well. I cannot hurt my daughter anymore and I promise that we will live in a place for at least a year together till she gets on her feet and she has just been pummeled by what happen with her father, loss of most of her family because of embracing the new girlfriend, in my roller coaster relationship with Crai I cannot hurt my daughter anymore in a promise that we will live in a place for at least a year together till she gets on her feet and she has just been pummeled by what happen with her father, loss of most of her family because of embracing the new girlfriend, in my roller coaster relationship with My guy. I want to me they be with someone too, I want to love myself, if I myself went alone very depressed by the overall rejection of my ex-husband who I never thought would do that ever as things seem good but he had a girlfriend that would never let go, and she was quite young. If this new man had kept on the Paysee was in the beginning it would’ve been joyed your joy, but it was not. He does not buy anymore about what happened and desires to look to the future. I believe that he does love me, but does not know how to share me either. He had trouble when I spend time with my daughter or was out and about. After I left teamaker comments about how I needed my church friends, my friends, my daughter, maybe I should just marry someone at church. He said that he did everything he could and what I wanted and I still would like a swinging door. I don’t know it’s a manner with me and my still miss him and want to hug him and occasionally talk to him. I know that when I hear of him with another woman or I see it it drives me up a wall. Then himself must be my issue and I don’t know what it’s title is, but I wish I didn’t have it. I dread going out on dates again, starting over is on 55. Most men think I am under 40 as I’m very slender and they all think I’m attractive. I just don’t know who to trust in the same way I Mrs. guy and I will add in, I miss the life I had with my ex-husband is another woman took my place in completely live the life I had , My whole 40 member family on my husband side embraced her, she goes and all the vacations, gets all the nice things, everything she could’ve ever wanted. In addition she slammed me many times during the divorce to keep me away. My counselor doesn’t know I’ve been seen this current man often on, encouraging me to stay away. I am wanting to not hurt him, still wanting to be his friend, not wanting him to be mad at me. It seems he can be friends with all his ex-girlfriend of long-term. Why do I feel this way? Why do I want to see him occasionally? What can I do to better myself aside from counseling, trying to pray and knowing God is not a place of my actions at the same time, and trying to move forward. I’m so sorry this is so long. I’m grateful for any thoughts in guidance.

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Hey Sigmund

Kat this man has caused you so much pain. The reason you feel like you do is because you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to adjust to life without him. I understand you want to be his friend, but it sounds as though contact with him will keep you stuck. Explain to him that you need some time to heal, then take some time where you don’t make contact with him. It’s very difficult to be friends while you still have feelings for him and want to be with him as more than friends. Give yourself a fair chance to heal by letting go of him completely for a while. There is a happier version of you and your life waiting for you but first you have to let go of this one that is causing you pain. You can do this. I can hear through you words that you have the strength.

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Anonymous

I married my husband 5 years ago. We have children. We have a home. He works. I raise the kids. I stay home all day. All night.
I’ve left him 4 times. The longest for almost a year. Each time I became happy. I felt so relaxed. I struggled as a single mom, but it was happier. And each time somehow I came back. He made promises. Said he’d change. It would be okay for awhil . And then slowly we get back to where we started. No physical fights this time. No name calling.
But lately he’s been drinking more. And I’ve been feeling unloved. Unappreciated. I suggested we go to counseling (like he promised we could) and the conversation ended with me crying and apologizing for asking for too much and being too needy. I don’t understand.
He keeps saying it’s in my head that nothings wrong. Maybe he’s right? I’m the only one upset and feeling lonely. Maybe I do just want too much. I’m just so confused.
Is it a toxic…or am I just being needy like he says?

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Hey Sigmund

Having a need does not make you needy. It sounds as though there are some very real and very normal needs that aren’t being met in this relationship. The clue is that you have been happier and more relaxed when you have been out of the relationship. If you feel as though there is a problem, then there is a problem. It is not for anyone else to tell you how you should or shouldn’t be feeling. We all need to feel loved, nurtured, safe, heard in relationships and when these needs aren’t met, it’s painful. To move forward through this, when you are talking to your husband, try to shift the focus from how you are feeling to the exact behaviours that are hurting you. That way, there will be something concrete for your husband to respond to. If you feel ignored, what are the behaviours that trigger this feeling in you? If you are feeling disrespected, what are the behaviours that contribute to that. It is then for your husband to decide whether he wants to work with you on the relationship and these behaviours, or not. If he doesn’t want to work on them, that is not a sign that your needs are unreasonable, but an indication of his commitment to making the relationship better for both of you.

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Ross

You already answered your own question. Like many of us you return and realize you were happy alone. I am leaving again and this is number 5.
It is hard but you have done it before. The key is next time don’t feel sorry for anyone else. Not even yourself. Live the life you imagined. Good luck.

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Penny

I moved into a house as a co-tennant with my daughter and grandson about 8 months ago. She recently asked me to move out when I told her that because of my work and school schedule I may not be able to sit for her son every Saturday, as I have been doing. I felt so restless and uncomfortable about telling her this because I knew she would be angry. I gave her over a months notice of this change so she would have time to find a sitter. She told me that she either wants $180.00 more a month in rent from me (to pay for a sitter), or I can move out, which she would prefer I do. At that time I was leaving on a trip to visit my 91 year old mom and asked her if we could sit and talk about this as adults when I returned from my trip. She said no, she had nothing else to say, I needed to move out. On my vacation she forwarded craigslist apts for rent that were in our area. Mind you, I was visiting with my 91 yr old mom. I live in CA, she lives in CT. I really don’t know how many more visits I will get with her. Before I returned home I did text my daughter to see what I was coming home to. I said that I was in agreement with her that living together is not working out, and that I was coming home to joyfully prepare to move out by November 1st, when our lease is up. I asked her to please be kind and cordial, as this really should be a joyful event. I moved to CA 4 and a half years ago to begin a new journey in my life, and to help her out as a single mom, as much as I could. She knew I had to still work to support myself. For 4 and a half years I have been sitting my grandson and rearranging my schedule and my life around her needs with that. I have lost job opportunities trying to accomodate her schedule and needs. In the 8 months we have lived together she has not vacuumed once (she did vacuum her car once when she had a date), not cleaned the bathroom, nor washed the kitchen floor. She does not help with housework or yard work except to occassionally water the plants, but believe me, they would all be dead if left up to her. She also has the large bedroom, and the carport. I pay 40% of the rent and the bills, she thinks I should pay more. She treats me as though my life is less important than hers, and tells me whenever we argue how horrible all her friends think I am. I could care less what her friends think, as I know I am not horrible. Of course now that I have agreed to leave she is becomming meaner and meaner. Today she went to a big kite event with her son and some friends of ours, and neglected to invite me, then posted it all over Facebook so I could see how much fun they were having. Last night I had to work late. Before I left I turned the porch light on. She turned it off while I was at work, knowing how dark it would be when I came home. The other morning she turned the coffee pot off. She does not drink coffee and did it deliberately to be mean. My daughter is almost 33 years old. This has become unacceptable to me anymore and I am leaving. My question is, how far do I go? Part of me wants to stay nearby so I can see my grandson who has been a huge part of my life for the last 4 and a half years. Part of me wants to run very far away.

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Jackie

All of these stories ring true but my problem is that the toxic person is my daughter. She cannot and will not admit that she has a problem she has completely alienated her sister and the other sister simply tolerates her to keep the peace. Her husband admitted to me that he knows how I feel “he lives with her”, he then denied saying this later.
My problem is she is the mother of my only grandchild and although I rearranged my work schedule, did a job for her 1 day a week so as she would be able to return to the position after maternity leave and drove to her home once a week to mind him he was taken out of my care as she said I was “too distracted” while watching him. This came about because I asked if I could mind him at my home as opposed to hers as I had tutoring arrangements (I’m a teacher) that made it difficult to return home in time. I then said she wouldn’t have to rush home and thought it would be easier all round. She then told me in her condescending way that her and her husband felt he would be better off in day care than with me! I was so angry and hurt I told her to leave and locked her out of the house. She then proceeded to bash on the door until she smashed all of the glass and cut her arm receiving 12 stitches. The violent outburst are common.
She then calmed down and a few weeks later offered to buy a present from the family for a friend’s baby shower I asked her how much I owed and she replied $100 I nearly fainted asking are we putting $100 each in for the present? to which she replied NO you’re paying for it all. I said No…you have a job you can contribute as well she then called me a “bitch” and hung up. I have had enough. This emotional and psychological belittling and aggression has gone on for 10 years and I’ve had enough. I told her I wanted no more contact until she could treat me with the respect and courtesy I deserve as I will not be treated like this anymore. She replied “That’s cool no worries I’ve got dad”.
These instances have gone on and on over the years with her abuse and violent outbursts but absolutely nothing changes. When my husband went out to speak to her she just rolled her eyes and said I needed to get over it. I mean my God she smashed through our window, belittled me swore at me it’s crazy. She is very very attractive, very intelligent and holds down a good job BUT she has nearly no friends because of her controlling behaviour. I have stuck up for her and helped her all her life even to the extent where an adult wanted to take an AVO out against her for hitting him when she was 16. I could regale you all day with stories about her behaviour but it’s becoming increasingly worse now she has a child. When it came time for her university graduation although I’d helped her with all her essays, with everything she became agitated for some reason and told me the night before the graduation that it would be “best if I didn’t attend”.
She even trapped me in the car once when it was just her and I and screamed abuse at me for 1 solid hour to the point where I just drove and took it, as I thought she was going to grab the wheel and hurt us. When my other daughter rang her in the middle of her tirade she calmly stopped screaming, answered the phone and said we were coming back home as “Mum had had one of her moments”. I oscillate continually between is she mentally ill or is she just a control freak nasty person who has chosen me as her target.
What on earth do I do? I desperately want to see my grandchild but I’m uncomfortable alone with her and she just turns around as though nothing happened. She can be charming thoughtful and nice and then the minute anyone makes even a slight change to her ideas or plans she becomes so volatile it’s scary. My other daughter has told her she won’t have a relationship with her until she seeks professional help to which she replies that there’s nothing wrong with her it’s other people. She insists that the problem is other people she just simply doesn’t see that this behaviour is wrong and hurtful. She thinks I’m being melodramatic when I say how hurt I am by her behaviour. She actually admits that she gives me a hard time and laughs about it saying “she’ll get over it” this is the way I always am this is our relationship!
What do I do I haven’t spoken to her in 3 weeks but it’s difficult as we work together and although we are in different departments she somehow finds a way to come into my department where I am forced to speak with her via professionalism. What do I do I have had enough and nothing seems to work? Any strategy that allows me to see my grandchild but not suffer the abuse would be greatly appreciated.

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Hey Sigmund

Jackie this sounds like an awful way to be treated by anyone, but when it’s by your own daughter I imagine the pain is even worse. Your hurt and frustration and fear are completely understandable. The sad part is that it is impossible to change anyone who doesn’t see a problem with what they are doing. People will change when they feel enough pain. Your daughter has already lost her sister and friends, and it sounds as though her capacity to blame others entirely for the fallout will keep her stuck. The issue here is your grandson. I can hear how important he is to you and how much you love him. You would be important to him too. This will come down to managing the relationship so that you can still get what you need, which is access to your grandson. Do this from a position of strength. This might mean having to put up with some of her behaviour, and it is for you to decide what you will tolerate. This means shifting the way you look at it from ‘she has the control’, to you are taking back control and managing her and your relationship to get what you want. It won’t be easy, but if you can remember why you’re doing it – for your grandson, hopefully it will be worth it.

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Ross

Feeling ashamed that now I am leaving and she is not aware of it. Over the weekend she broke her fascade and went into a rant with verbal abuse for about a half hour before I caved and apologized. Then all was better.
Ashamed also that I took several friends into my confidence over the years. Wish I would have just kept this to myself or found an anonymous site like this sooner.

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Sue F

Please don’t feel ashamed or guilty Ross…you’ve done nothing wrong. You have to protect yourself and get on with your life. Happy days ahead for you.

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Ross

Sue,
Again thank you. Now that I am so aware of her behavior, I have a hard time how someone can be so caring and sweet only to get their way. If you voice an opinion the beast arises. I am now more than ever aware of how she is still so involved with our grown children. Thinking that her advice unsolicited is important to a 40 year old child. She is angry if they don’t follow her guilt trip. How she tore down a 13 year old over his sport. She is truly a care taker controller not a giver in anyway. Thanks again. I will get thru this. Two weeks and I walk. Best regards to you.

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Ross

Just a thought: I have left and came back like many others. Recently, I tried to leave her know I am leaving only to be ignored and hoovered big time.
But I have my apartment and am leaving. What struck me through this is my adult daughter has asked me several times how I am doing. I realized last year when I left and came back that neither she nor my wife really care how I am doing or feel. When last year and earlier this summer I answered honestly I was met with; “Mom does a lot for you and you have no idea what its like to live on your own.” Or from my Wife, “you have no idea how to live on your own.” Same from the wife that I have no idea what it costs to live and you can’t afford two places. To put this into perspective I have helped step-sons and daughter buy homes, cars and step-sons bills paid when they hit hard times. wife has not worked in 30 years. When I drop the leaving on her she will be in a brand new home without a mortgage in a great neighborhood and income somewhere north of $60,000 from me. Won’t mention the retirement account.
My question is does anyone really care about how I feel and why not? Was I considered a servant all these years? There but only in a monetary role and schmoozed just to keep the money going?
How did I get so delusional? I am smiling at this point.

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J

Yes Ross that’s one thing I’ve discovered no one really cares. My husband’s attitude to our daughter’s toxicity is well we “just have to live with it” . In a way they’re right there isn’t anything we can do except make changes to our own lives that allow us to live more comfortably. I am absolutely distraught over my daughter’s lack of respect and like you I’ve done EVERYTHING and more for her and she continues to treat me with disrespect and belittle and humiliate me. My problem is I have a grandchild she uses as a weapon to ‘control’ me; if I want to see my grandchild I have to tolerate her ever changing moods. The thing that upsets me with these people is that THEY have the problem yet WE have to do all the hard work to try and rectify the situation, they’re oblivious. Karma never seems to affect these people the only small hope I have is that if I’m out of the picture then she’ll take it out on someone else and then, only then, will people appreciate how I was made feel.

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Ross

We have Grandchildren too. When I left 7 years ago the wife threatened me with never seeing the grandchildren. So, I came back among other reasons…namely guilt and obligation. The fact is I have now seen where, even with me here, she has targeted the 13 year old grandson, My son, and daughter. Her sons who are now in their 40’s have estranged themselves from her. They lived with me since they were 5 and 7 when we married.
So, whether you stay or go you won’t be the only target. I cannot say whether it will work for you but my leaving will at least demonstrate what should not be tolerated. Good luck.

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Sue F

Ross, it’s time to look after YOU. I’m sure the other members of your family will do just fine. You have to live your life just as they have to life theirs and if it means it’s going your separate ways so be it. We owe nothing to anybody except to ourselves to have the best life we can. Good luck!

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Ross

Sue,
Again, you reassure me that we need to focus on ourselves and that we do not owe anyone. It is hard to realize that our identity was wrapped up by a dysfunctional person. I have lived a life of dreams and put them aside to be the person others expected. My parents, my wife and my children. As a practitioner of medicine I have cared for others so much that I lost myself along the way. There was no balance to my life. Now as I face the reality of age I realize I have one shot left to do my thing. This is far from a midlife crises at 63. Lol. I just feel sad at the tract that I left this happen. But happy that I saw the light before it was to late. Occasional panic at having the confidence to know I am justified in my truth.
Again, thank you for whoever you are and why you answer when I need it most. Take care

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Anonymous

I am 19 and currently living with my extremely toxic parents. I have wanted to move out of home and begin my own life only to be told i wouldnt make it out there in the real world and am moving out for a boy and not for my own purposes. I am not moving out for a boy, i do have a boyfriend that they highly depise and constantly abuse me about. We have been together for nearly 2 years and they have banned me from sleeping at his house/ going on holidays together for this long because they are “scared i will get hurt”. But when they abuse me every day about him they tell me i am a S#*% for being in an intimate relationship. And that nobody will ever want me. And that im wasting my time. But this is also because they want me to find a perfect boy in their eyes. I feel so empty and lifeless in this house and i want to move out an experience what the world has to offer. Currently i stay at home most days because i don’t want to be faced with a circumstance that i could get into trouble with them because boy do they rain down H3** upon me when i dont do what they expect me to do. Im so frustrated but also scared of what they will do if i move out. They can be very physically aggressive and don’t care about boundaries in the slightest. How do i find the courage to live the way i want to live?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

The courage is in you. When you live with toxic parents who are constantly putting you down, the time will never feel right. The reason they do what they do is to keep you small. Don’t wait to feel sure about making the move away from them – they’ll make sure that you never feel certain or strong. You are 19 and you have every right to live the life you want to live. You deserve to be happy and live every day free from the put-downs. Make your plan, get advice from the people you care about and take your first step. It won’t be easy because of the messages you’ve been told. If you feel tempted to believe those messages, stop and know that you can do this. Write it down if you need to to remind yourself. You deserve to feel happy. You are brave and strong – now it’s just letting that courage and strength work for you, which it will.

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Deb

Married to a pastor everyone sees the good side of him he keeps me feeling bad about me and has done some pretty immoral things makes it worse when no one. An see what I live with

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Hey Sigmund

Deb, don’t let anybody make you doubt your truth. You have knowledge that nobody else has, because you live there. Toxic people are often masterful at presenting one version of themselves to the world and another version to the people they are meant to care about. Your truth is your truth.

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Anon

Six months ago parted from my husband after 48 years – I understand so many of the comments. Because you are a giving person you hope against hope that you can give and show them enough of how to be kind and loving that they will change. NO, NEVER. While you continue giving they continue taking. In the end I think you have to accept that you are part of the problem and once you begin ‘grey rocking’ and detaching yourself emotionally it begins to be crystal clear that the problem is them. A year ago I started to keep a journal of all of the unkind things that were said about me and others and his interactions with friends and family. This helped at the time to look at the situation without emotion, but has also helped since we’ve been separated. It is amazing how soon you forget the feelings you were going through, but you mustn’t because you are still a nice person and they will take advantage if they can. At the same time I also started to make a separate life for myself – new hobbies, new friends, etc., though he didn’t like it and was the reason in the end that he left, telling me that I couldn’t make him happy and that we wanted different things from life – how true!!

I have had the most wonderful six months – lots of laughter, kindness and no more walking on eggshells. Yes, I sometimes think why did I wait so long, but I have decided not to concentrate on what has been and that my life is like being in a car and the windscreen is far bigger than the rear view mirror.

At the beginning of our separation I tried to include him on some outings with mutual friends, but that didn’t work out so told him I could only see him alone. That’s when he told me he never wanted to see or speak to me again and wanted a divorce. Obviously because I was setting the boundaries and not conforming to his agenda.
I knew that this would and did initiate a torrent of texts, emails, etc. from him telling me how I had destroyed both him and our marriage – no remorse, just more of how it was all my fault. So why this need to abuse me again, surely if it were true most people would be happy to be free, but not the narcissist – they have to be right!!

Anyway, will be legally separated within the next two weeks, with no need for any contact with him ever again, hopefully.

Stay strong all – as the sayings go ‘ this too shall pass’ and soon ‘all will be well and all manner of things will be well’ These are my new mantras.

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LaToya Johnson

I had toxic relationship for 4 1/2 years but i finally ended it but still remaining to be there for him because he is disable now. I use to think it was me for a while now being i wasn’t much affectionate, my mood and my attitude but realizing he never accept me from day one. He abuse me mentally and a little bit physically. To the point i thought i was the problem and told me over and over if i don’t get myself together he going to leave me. And i told him i would repeatly to save the relationship until i start having thoughts i do not love him anymore and this isnt love. He snap on me for the littlest of things, if i told him fix a sandwich he gets extremely mad and call me names and say i am lazy but in the midst of this all i was sick. Things i told him he throw in my face, he embarrassed me in front of his family. He ripped my clothes and through them out of his space. He belittled me. He made me feel worthless and yet i thought it was me. I was going to school at the time, and when something didnt go right i got the bad tail end of it and said me going is stupid and he doesnt care about it. I got to the point where i shut down and dont talk about how i feel because on what he dones. I wanted to end my life by jumping out of car because he held me captive, on me not wanting to be with him. I try to leave but in the midst his anger and his temper was scary to the point he choke me. I really thought it was me. He apologize and said this isnt him i try to believe him. It got to the point where i had enough and he was okay for me to come clean to his pastor. His pastor was shock from what really happen because he made it seem it was me. I know who i am but i dont hide it. I am a silly goofy young lady who also sweet and strong but when i was with him all of that was gone. I told the pastor all i want to do is help him and he kept saying that love. Which is true i love him but i am not in love with him big differences. I just want to help him. But me helping him is still painful because i haven’t heal from everything even though we are no longer together. I am finally okay with searching and commenting on stuff like this because i know i am not alone. He claims he is changing to be with me but i tell him repeatedly i do not want to be with him anymore. I gave him multiple chances. I see somewhat of a change but i am afraid he will revert back to his old ways regardless. I know my heart is damage and i am trying my best to come back to self because i been gone for a very long time. I just hate feeling that its my fault because i wont give him another try. he makes me feel bad about it though. When he says if i get another man, he says he hopes i don’t get man that’s abusive and treats me right. Then he also say i am doing him wrong and im going to fall. I use to believe that when i was with him at the time but i do not now because i know i didnt treat him poorly like he did me. Don’t get me wrong has some good ways but his bad ways out way it.

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Travis Douglas

I know how you feel. I’m in a similar situation, lil different as I’m a male. I’ve been in very toxic relationship for 5 yrs. At the moment I’m trying to end it, but as you I’m being made feel I’m horrible person for trying to end it. I tell ya it helps reading other people have gone through this and made it out OK. For me the guilt of up and leaving her alone is very hard. But the relationship is terrible for me.

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Charon

I finally got the strength to leave.
I am tired of being too nice and trying to understand the actions of a man who does not care about what happens between my unborn child and I.

After all him denying us was a break through to finally see the light.firstly I am finding a new place,it won’t be easy without his support but I can do this,God has a plan.
I deserve better and my child needs a good father and someone to love her unconditionally.

Finally I am free and hope for the best for my baby and I,new start and new possibilities of growth and self discovery.

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Ross

Yesterday I left for the 5th time. This time she knows I am serious. As in this article and many, many others she has used all the tactics to guilt me and portray me as crazy. She has turned the family against me. I expected this but still is hard after all the years. As of today she has turned off the charm and is proceeding with a divorce. It is true when you set the boundaries they go for another target.
My grown daughter called and wanted me to list why I thought I was a father when all I did was go to work and give money. It makes you feel that your life of caring was all a delusion. That they feel I gave them no emotional caring support. Money and nothing else. I will make it through but it is easy to see how one can doubt his/her perception of reality. Thanks for listening

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Dee

Ross, I am so sorry this is happening to you. I know exactly how you feel. My children were convinced (via remarks from him) that I was the one to blame, that I was angry and bitter and if I had just tried harder, things would be better. It made me feel so useless and worthless, but remember… it is NOT you. This is all part of their plan. Your children (like mine) will come to realize this and things will get better. I know this sounds corny, but it is true “when one door closes, another opens”. Keep remembering then and push through. It will be worth it in the long run!

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Ross

Thank you Dee. I appreciate the thoughts.
You are right about one closing and another opening.
It will all be better in the long run. Just hard not to take what comes out of the mouths of people you cared for but they say you did not.
The day will be better.

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Jamie

Ross,

I am the adult child and I am FINALLY realizing ‘she’ is the one who is troubled and sick and sad. I am after 35 years seeing she is the toxic one and my dad was not the man I thought he was! He is a kind and caring and loving and loyal man who got mixed up with the wrong woman way too soon!! I see it now that I have children of my own and he cares for them and all his grandkids with love and respect. My mom on the other hand doesn’t listen to their needs and is trying to use them against me. Please give your children time (I know it has probably been a lot of time already) but keep loving them and love their children! your daughter will see if she can! Toxic moms are the worst thing that can happen to a family!!

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Ross

Thanks Stuart,
There aren’t many men who are admitting this situation. Even fewer articles directed at men.
I sincerely appreciate the support of others on this site.
I did not get a chance to see other comments. I hope your story is on there too. Good luck

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Mike

My 13 yo daughter is now a spitting image of her mother’s manipulative, scheming ways and her user ways. If nothing else, paying child support should at least buy peace so 5 years ago I walked away from everything but left a door open for my daughters once they got older and could deal with me without me dealing with their mother. As I expected, 5 years was plenty of time for her to brain wash them and the came to me as little Trojan horses but I sniffed it out immediately. Unfortunately, I’m keeping my distance but leaving the door open for the pure innocent daughters I know and love.

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Ross

Mike,
I understand completely. Yesterday was one week since I left. I was informed by the wife that my only daughter was pregnant with a boy. My daughter refuses to speak to me. She is a clone of her mother.
My wife left me with, ” I hope you go to counseling and find your way back to us. Otherwise you will never know your grandson.” Nice touch from her.lol
Yes, I can be positive despite my pain. After 35 years of this behavior and me being “casper milk toast” I am ready to leave the asylum.
Good luck to you. My older brother went thru a horrible divorce. His son connected with him after 25 years. So, anything is possible.

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Ross

May have had an obvious but light-bulb moment for me. I am mourning a way of life that is ending. As toxic as it was for 35 years it was what I knew as a marriage. Despite the pain and frustration I had adapted to tolerating the verbal abuse because the way of life physically was comfortable. Mentally stressful but that was harder to accept as damaging than if there would have been physical discomfort.
I wonder if we had been less than fortunate and that the travel, vacations and living comfort had been hard financially, if my toxic partner would have stayed??
Instead of fearing the loss of my partner I am realizing I am fearing the loss of the dysfunctional lifestyle and atmosphere. I had become so attached. No matter how your logical brain tells you the attachment is unhealthy you will still miss it until you attach to a healthy lifestyle.

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Donna

Ross, that is such a good point. I’m in the same path, trying to leave an unhealthy and quite dangerous situation. Your message about fearing the loss of the dysfunctional lifestyle is exactly what I’m grieving. Incredible as it may seem, but that’s exactly what I’m longing for. I just sent a series of messages begging for him not to cut me off (it’s a controlling thing he does, making me beg to speak to him). Reading your message, all I can think is what could I possibly be longing for? And it’s the dysfunction. I found this article tonight and it might be my life saver. Your comments, in particular, resonate so well. May we all find peace.

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Ross

Donna,
This is day 6 since I left. I am in an apartment that no one knows where I am.
Tonight I must meet her to discuss moving forward. she has thrown every angle at me to keep me close and hopefully break down my resolve. This has always worked in the past.
Last night I had a moment of wanting to pick up the phone. I have not talked to her in 48 hours. that is the longest we have not spoken in 35 years.
Please don’t lose sight of where you want to be. It hurts, you will feel nauseous, you will have doubt and fear. You will look back at what you perceived as reality only to realize you are not the crazy one.
You will doubt your abuse if it was only emotional or verbal. Do not give in. Do not doubt you as a loving giving person who does not have to answer to anyone. There is another in your future if you choose. But first, keep in contact with here or a counselor so you stay grounded and believe in yourself. I realize I never had boundaries at work or family. I have no “friends”. I found “joy” in helping people. But at a price of me. Learn that you do not have to have another to make you whole. Tom Cruises’ “you complete me” is foolish Hollywood sales. No one needs to complete another. Good luck to you and you will find peace. It is just waiting for you to reach out.

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Donna

Good luck to you as well. I made it through another day without reaching out. And I told my family about the situation, for the first time. It’s holding me accountable and now I don’t want to go back. My counselor is keeping me grounded. The human nature of longing for love and compassion is beautiful and paved with some thorns along the way. But as this article suggests, we don’t have to live with the bad if there is no good in it.

I hope you were able to have a good discussion last night, free from any more troubles. You are right — peace is waiting for all of us. And we can complete ourselves.

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Ross

Glad to hear you are not going back.

Thorns are a problem in life. They grow on Rose Bushes. Fragrant and beautiful but ready to hurt if you don’t take care of yourself.

Untangling from a toxic relationship is hard but remember that it is now on your terms. That you have the power to do what you want and it is not selfish but self-care.

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Val

Donna, I’ve been in your place of the most bizarre pain & emptiness from leaving someone toxic, manipulative, and emotionally abusive. But also generous when he wanted to! They make it so that everything is about them. The ups & downs, extreme highs & lows that we were so used to, disappear when we leave. That creates such a void, and craving contact with the toxic person, anxiety, etc.
Ride out those moments, seek out online forums, make lists of what hurt in your relationship…cry or shout or exercise or whatever you need to do. It will get better. There’s a big a-ha moment. The void of toxic chaos & drama suddenly becomes a nice hug of normal peace, and enjoying being healthy on your own.
Congratulations on a big step to feeling like yourself again!

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Rick

You’re so right Val, we can feel so anxious and ‘crave’ that toxic person because we feel the ‘missing’ lows and highs. It can feel deeply confusing and lonely but it does lift, and quickly if we can recognize it and allow it to lift. Then there is blessed ‘normal silence’ that is just plain self love and acceptance. Great comment.

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VinLy Q

Hello, its my first time here. I must say that your article have touched my heart. Sadly, my own family does not accept me as who I am.

I am a bisexual and a bigender. I never had a choice. I tried to change and fit in for many years. At a very young age, I was being threatened by my own mother because for wearing clothes of the other gender.

Every time my mother talks about it, she cries. Once, she believed that some sort of evil spirit is possessing me. We went to see a counselor. Sadly, the counselor, along with my parents are heterosexists who believe that a heterosexual marriage should be the ultimate joy of everyone’s life.

I am being called selfish, for being myself. But, who is more selfish? Someone who only wants to be accepted. Or someone who guilt trip others into changing themselves, just because they don’t fulfill his or her ideology?

Does this count as an abuse? I have already tried to compromise. For example: only wear clothes of the other gender when alone. Yet, all my requests are rejected.

Still, I have to thank them. They did a fine job ensuring that I am not malnourished. Somehow, their beliefs that I am lost and “its just a phase”, makes me stronger in believing myself.

Does this count as an abuse? Should I do what was mentioned in the part, ‘The growth’?

Please, your advice will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

It is certainly NOT selfish to be who you want to be and to be accepted for that. You deserve that. It sounds as though your family are struggling to understand. This doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It is for you to decide what you will be prepared to tolerate and what you won’t. What behaviour is okay for and what behaviour feels unbearable Decide on where your boundaries are and protect your heart. Talk to them about where those boundaries are so they have a clear message about how imporatnt this is for you. I wish all the best for you.

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Denise

My older sister has excluded me from Christmas at her house going on the third year. The entire rest of the family is included. The first year it hurt a lot to be alone on the west coast knowing they were all enjoying Christmas. My other sister, who is a good person & one of my cousins are sad and upset with my mean, dishonest sister and wanted to intervene. I told them not to bother as my mean sister would then turn on them. I feel brave & strong in my resolve to have no contact with the toxic sister who has never admitted to ever doing anything wrong. She mocks & blames others for things that are definitely her fault. She will outright lie about anything that will make her look good and say I said or did things that I never did just to frame me! She is always putting me down in front of other people to the point that several have pulled me aside to ask why she always sounds so angry and what is wrong with her. Although I will never get to spend Christmas with my family again, I think cutting out this hurtful monster is best.

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Lynette

Thanks to http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/

I can honestly feel better about leaving the toxic relationship, held on for 3 years because of my daughter. But i am ready for my happiness and for my kids to see their mother happy. I couldnt have found another website to explain the toxic relationship i was in. I was feeling like i was the only one in the world feeling like this.

God bless, May everyone get thru it strongly.

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JPB

10 year relationship. She is emotionally detached. I tried to work things out and talk to her. She is gone. I am done. I am grateful this is over now. I thought we had a great relationship but I was the last one to find out. The thing I don’t understand is why couldn’t she talk to me and be honest. I guess thats why they call it break up – things always end with things untied, unsaid and undone. Fuck it- I am better off now. Someone who goes behind your back is scum. Thats exactly what she did . And all I ever read is guys cheat- such f-ing bullshit – it takes two and this woman i was with is a cheater. I have got through the grieving and now I am starting to feel happy again. Thank you for reading and letting me vent- I feel better now lol Life is a crazy ride….

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Julie

So sorry this happened. We get into relationships and there is never a guarantee that either one will stay. A huge risk but that is love. You take the good with the bad. Moving on is hard. Take care of yourself and much good luck to you that each day gets a little better.

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Joe

Hey Karen, I wanted to say thanks for the article. It’s the only article I’ve read that helps explain a difficult relationship I went thru, and provides a little comfort. I’m in my 40’s, and the only woman I’ve ever fallen in love with, fits your article to a “T” ! It’s been almost 2 years. Even now, I struggle NOT to think about her every day, and yet, deep down at my core, I know I don’t want to ever cross paths with her again…it just feels right.

Thanks

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Joe you’re so welcome. I’m pleased the article was able help to bring some comfort for you. You can care deeply someone and not want to be with them at the same time. It’s sounds as though you have great clarity and strength on this.

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Winnie

I have tried for the third time to walk away from my ex-boyfriend. He has drained me emotionally with his abusive ways and I always end up feeling stupid for going back to him. It isn’t love but a great weakness on my part. Hope I can muster the strength this time and walk away for good!

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kendra

i am in the same position that you are. i really hope it works out for you and that you find some peace and happiness !

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P jones

I’m 17 and have been with my boyfriend for 2 years and it was all great at the start as it would be young and it all being new, all that. But then over the two years he was unfaithful too many times more than I can count on my fingers and he was a heavy user of cannabis which I never believed actually did anything wrong to you but I realised it changed him and he would care less about me and treat me so badly.
The thing is he can be such a lovely young man so kind and caring and loving and considerate and very emotional, but then something just turns him and he’s manipulative and is incredible mean and hurtful towards myself but I always always ended up apologising for it every time because I was scared I would loose him and he’d tell me to go elsewhere and that he’d find somebody else.
At the start of this year he improved himself and I started to honestly gain all trust as he reall showed he loved me. Still struggled with his cannabis habits but considered me more then he cared less and less and we had our first holiday planned with his family for a few months time.
I then found out he had secret accounts and was sending innapropiate pictures and receiving them off girls but they weren’t just girls, they were 14 YEARS OLD! He was 18 years old so this came as a shock and reading this article about control makes me realise that he is a toxic person and that he wants to control because he was older and saw a young girl as being vulnerable.
I admit from everything I’ve experienced in our relationship I’ve got some trust issues so I would be very discrete and check up just to make sure I wasn’t being a mug again and every time I found other things.
The relationship started getting violent and he started to lay his hands on me and grab me which was concerning as one time he said if he ever found out I’d been unfaithful he’d want to drive he car very fast and for us to die together because he didn’t want anybody else having me, these things just weren’t normal.
So after these young girls we had a big massive blow out, a fight, and I lost it.
I struggle with my emotions I get attached and I feel scared when things don’t feel like they will work as I am vulnerable, when younger I lived with my mother who I love to the end of the earth but her ocd caused emotional abuse and psychological abuse, it was a tough start to my teenage years then moving in with my father who provided a completely different life it was hard to ajust and I still am.
I admit I can’t be very paranoid but everything that happened in our relationship was blamed on me, he once made me believe I followed in the same footsteps as my mother and often calls me mental and crazy.
I’ve just had my GCSEs results and himself and his whole family were so unsupportive and he made me ashamed of my results whereas my entire family congratulated me and we’re proud, he doesn’t pay attention in my things, he will not ever take me out, I have spent the holidays waiting around every day until 5 (when he finishes work) to see him and then sit in his house and do nothing all day, no colleges away from home does he want me to go, I don’t have a life.
Today I’ve found more accounts with girls and I was shouted at for looking on the phone, I was penalised for looking on his phone, was pointed at in my face and given the worst looks because of it by him, was spoken to like a piece of rubbish on the floor, and then when I decided to leave was grabbed and restrained around the neck till I have the keys back.
I am in a toxic relationship and I am stuck because I don’t want to leave but I do because I’m loosing who I am, I’m loosing the fun side to myself, I’m becoming dependant on seeing him and so upset and not knowing what to do with myself when I’m not with him.
If that isn’t control then I don’t know what is.
I know people would say I’m young and have many more relationships ahead of me but that’s doesn’t make my feelings irradiated, I love him but I’m in a toxic relationship.
Hopefully one day or soon I will build the strength to leave and I will stick to that to give myself a better life and allow myself to be treated how I deserve.
One day.

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beanz

P.Jones

My dear young girl you have no idea just how beautiful you are do you… your boyfriend sounds like my ex constantly texting girls breaking trust then turning it around to me sayin he would kill us both if he found out I did any of the things he did.. last Nov having had his baby who then was 4 mnth old he was supposed to come back to mine to get up in the morning with him instead he stayed the night with a girl I caught him walking out of hers as friends told me where he was… He got in the car and becuz I’d said I spoke with his male friend to find out he strangled me so hard he broke the hyoid bone in my neck it’s the bone that hold up your wind pipe. .I was told it was potentially life threatening.. The hospital called the police and I went along with it in a daze.. he’s now serving 3yrs in prison my son is over one now and doesn’t know his dad.. its definitely difficult having this tie to him. My msg to you dear girl is don’t put up with it as I did for it to escalate to a point it becomes life threatening u sound as though you have a supportive loving family.. u did good in ur gcses and that u should be proud happy excited for the new life u are about to imbark on.. he’s afraid he will lose grip of you if you start college meet new ppl new friends that’s what these abusers do they want to keep u sat around waiting for them all day no life no friends any attempts to look good or feel good are met with them causing a fight blaming you saying you have changed.. The min u try to be strong thats when they get worse but believe me you can be strong without him.. life will go on without him and you can and will be happy if you walk away from this bully. The times I found pics with girls not in his phone just the girls putting it as there profile pic on fb and things while I was pregnant haha gosh I laugh now but it still burns.. These girls now go to visit him in prison and as hard as it is to come to terms with him never truly loving me or my baby I still have a good cry every now and then but my life has peace again.. I find happy moments being with my family going to have lunch with my dad or an old friend peace…calm… I don’t have fb anymore or any social media just peace and calm and happy… I think back to the days with him always hurting always afraid always distrustful always thinking when the next thing he’s guna do that’s guna break a piece of my soul… u can leave… u can walk away.. u can be strong.. The only one stopping you dear girl is you….ultimately no matter how much we may be led into believing we can not be happy without these people it’s really the only the biggest lie we fall for… u can and will be happy and ok after leaving an abuser! Find noah elkrief on youtube he’s very good and helped me alot. Take care xx

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kendra

i have been in a toxic relationship for three years now. Sometimes i feel like i wasted/ am wasting my early 20’s. I’m 25. he made me fall for him because it seemed he had all the answers to life. he had been in a five year relationship and got cheated on, but tried to stay with the girl anyway. she left him.
We fight and break up constantly. he bought an engagement ring and i said i didn’t want to get married yet and he freaked out.
We have huge, emotionally draining fights. I believe he is bipolar/boarderline personality. i recently discovered he had been on a dating website while we were together (though going through a rough patch) when he at the time insisted he wasn’t on one or pursuing anyone else.
He is pretty successful and somewhat famous so i cant give too many details. but i just wish i was strong enough to make a clean break and get back my independance . i just know how much it will hurt when i see in two weeks he’s found someone better (he used me for this with his exes). and i also have to see him in the media/ spotlight all the time.
i dont know why we cant get away from each other.

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Shannon

I was dating a guy for about a year, first 6 months of dating, we weren’t exclusive because we lived in different cities. I ended up being relocated to where he lived for work. Nothing I planned, it was due to a lay off. After getting there, things had changed with him, but he wanted to date me and we were working on building a relationship. Then out of the blue, the woman he was seeing before I moved there called to say she was PREGNANT. I had already fallen for him, and asked if he was going to be with her, he adamantly told me no, he wanted to be with me. He said it was a careless mistake and they both knew that they were going to co-parent. I trusted it.

Well after a while….AND I KNEW THIS WAS COMING…she lost her job. Guess where she’s staying……WITH HIM……he asked me to understand and just give him time. Now unlike some of the people on this thread, this man was Charming, he seemed caring and it seemed like it pained him to be away from me, so I trusted him when he said it was just an arrangement until she got on her feet. Well the baby came 3 months early….She was born on Aug 20 2016, and he kept me informed on everything.

One afternoon, he was at my house and I asked where the mom was from and he froze, refused to answer the questions. I got upset, and felt like he was protecting her. Well I found out she’s 15 years younger than he is, he’s 45, she’s 30, I’m 40. And I told him it bothered me that she was so close to his daughter’s age, and told him I felt like he was lying and trying to force me to be the outside woman to a 30 yr old. WTF…He said I was judging him, I told him I wasn’t, but I was baffled as to what he saw in her and why he wanted to keep me around……I’m obviously not or in no way on the level with the women he made the baby with. I can respect his choice, but didn’t understand it. He tried to say it was something new he was trying, but didn’t enjoy being with her because of her maturity level……we had a big blow out and we haven’t spoken since.

I feel relieved that it’s all over, but I question why I stayed through all of that. I’m a single beautiful woman who does not have a problem attracting men, but I seem to only want to be with the ones who are a CHALLENGE. Reading this article made me realize that all TOXIC people are not mean, crazy, some of them are as charming as Prince charming, using synthetic love tactics to keep you attached. I mean, when I would leave, he would tell me how much he loved me and didn’t want to be without me and I melted like butter every time. Thanks for writing this. It cleared up a lot and when he comes back, I’ll be ready to stay away. I still love him, but I don’t want to be the outside woman and I refuse to let him control me any longer. To all the people on this thread who has gone though things like this with people they genuinely love, I would say don’t feel bad about being a person that LOVES, you’re supposed to be that way, but LOVE yourself first and always be willing walk away. We are cursed with a gift of heroism, we want to save people, but sometimes it’s just not worth it.

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Ofelia

Every time I set boundaries he sucks me right back in. I know I’m in a toxic relationship and somehow I end up convincing myself he will change. It’s so hard to accept that I have been loving a man that does not consider my feelings or wellbeing. That I feel unsafe in every way possible and his anger is so unpredictable and scary. I’m not even a real person in his life yet I do what I can for him because I think that he has problems he cannot control and I believe he can overcome them. Truth is he can only help himself and he won’t. Why is this so hard and how did I end up in this mess. How did I not see this pattern or why could I not except it? I just want to give in some days and just do what he wants, but what’s a few days of his “love” compared to uncountable days of unhappiness and misery. Why do I feel responsible for any of this?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Relationships become habits. Don’t break your own heart by staying with somebody who isn’t able to love and nurture you the way you deserve. You see the pattern now, and you have the power to break it. Staying might feel easier in the short term – that’s what habits do – but staying in a toxic relationship also means long term pain. Toxic people don’t change themselves, they change the people they’re with.

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Sarah

Great article, thank you for writing it. I am just coming through the last five weeks after a man I was getting to know did something very shady to me, with the full knowledge of our large circle of friends.

I have had to step away from them and from him (of course), and it has been hard to sort out my hurt and anger at his crappy behavior (he stood me up, in front of our friends). Seeing him since twice, he has never even acknowledged that he blew me off even tho everyone around us knows. So, how he could just pretend I don’t exist or act like nothing had happened or that we don’t even know each other even tho we have known each other for 8 months.

I think our mutual friends are sympathetic to me, but his friends side with him and so I have been left to leave our group of friends. So, double ouch because now I feel pushed out by his crappy behavior. My girlfriends want to remain in the group but privately side with me.

I can see now how he was a very controlling and fearful man, and he tried to control me and make me small. I am a happy and openhearted person, I like to love with my whole heart. Something that maybe was attractive to him but also – may have frightened him. Who knows. I am starting to come out of my funk and see all that I learned. It was abusive and I made it clear that his behavior was not ok, it was hurtful. He won’t change or apologize, and that’s on him. I can only take care of myself and be the best that I can be. Feel sad at the loss of what it seemed it could be, but he was not willing to participate in a healthy way. Our friends liked us together (and we liked us together) and tried to help, but – there it is. A very big lesson. Sad.

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Dr. CommonSense

Ok…I don’t mean to sound brash, but here GOES, you were not being abused, nor should you have left your circle of friends. You were dating or had a date setup with a Jerk. I think you’re overdramatizing it. Nothing about him standing you up makes him controlling, here’s the fact, what he did by standing you up is controlling your emotions. You feel bad about it and you can’t control your sadness and anger because you liked him.

You said you were just getting to know him, so who cares if he didn’t show or acknowledge it, you shouldn’t have allowed him to take your circle of friends away. I don’t understand that part. You gave him way too much power as you guys didn’t even know each other that well. I’m not sure how long ago this was, but I sure hope you’ve gotten over it, or there’s no way you’re going to ever handle being in a real relationship. And the lesson wasn’t that big, I’m over 40, guys do stupid things all the time, it doesn’t mean they’re abusive or controlling. You just have to not take it so personal. By doing that you’re allowing the situation to control you.

This was NEW and sometimes NEW doesn’t work out, you have to move on. It shouldn’t have been that detrimental to you being that you guys were just getting to know each other. It bothered you to that point because you created an illusion in your mind about the friendship.

I truly apologize if you feel like I’m attacking or disregarding your feelings, because that’s not the case. I just want you to be STRONGER than this. In the future, don’t consider DATING as a relationship. they’re both entirely two different things and try not to take it so personal when things don’t workout in your favor. Good Luck!

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Val

Sarah,
My heart goes out to your unfortunate relationship & difficult situation of common friends. With respect to standing you up, in front of friends, and never acknowledging it – that absolutely is a red flag for someone who is disrespectful, likely controlling/abusive. That incident also tested your boundaries. Your response and attitude indicates if he could continue to infringe upon your OWN self-respect. This is not someone to give a second chance to, because that’s just permission for him to disrespect you again.

I agree with some of the comments from Dr CommonSense, to not take things too much to heart, and to certainly not leave your circle of friends!!
However, when you describe him as controlling and fearful, that suggests there’s more that bothered you than just the standing-up incident. So you are correct, this wasn’t a healthy situation. To that point, I’d suggest abandoning the idea “we liked us together” – someone who made you feel small is not someone to feel a “we” bond with.

Even a brief relationship with a toxic person can begin with the most amazing whirlwind of everything perfect, walking on air. When it falls apart it’s confusing and crushing, painfully so. It’s not like a normal short-lived dating experiment, the mind-games take a toll.

There are some great articles here that describe toxic patterns & people, check them out, arm yourself with knowledge. If you are happy and openhearted you for sure are a target for toxic people, as highlighted in the articles. Don’t feel sorry for this guy, thinking he was attracted by that or spooked by it, “poor guy just needs to work on things”. Nope. Someone who chooses you because they can take advantage of your caring traits is NOT to be pitied. Walk away, don’t look back, reclaim your friends, and learn signs of toxic & manipulative people to avoid them in future! Be kind to yourself!

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Anne

Sometimes things are so hard that you dont even get to know where to end things. I’m in a relationship for about4 nd1/2 years now and its been a whilr since I remembered that am I even happy?
This person I’m with, he’s making things even harder for me.
He’s never happy, always insecured, jealous possessive and to a extent a lot suicidal.
Whenever we had the talk that I wasnt happy with him, or when I try to tell him that I want to leave him things always get worse and he threatens to kill himself.
This relationship already took what was good of me. And now I cant even figureout how to leave him.

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Ross

Dear Karen,

This is my third week out and I cannot express how important this site was to staying my course.

How being able to share our stories and the myriad of feelings that the realization it is them not you.

How they have a playbook determined to hold you fast with guilt, fear and blaming you from running away from your obligations.

Being honest with them is impossible as it will only bring more attacks. Withholding an honest answer to survive living with them and dealing with them as you proceed to escape. Only to be told you are the liar. How they do not see the value in counseling for themselves. Counseling is good only for the abused so the abuser can better understand what is wrong and why you want out.

This has been a hard 35 years and I have no regrets how I managed to leave finally. Again thanks to all here and to your insightful article for both men and women.

My counseling has been so much more productive this time because of your contribution to understanding this subtle abusive issue.

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Ross

I wanted to correct the perception that counseling is only good for the abused. My abuser told me that I am to go to counseling so she understands what is wrong with me. I was being sarcastic in that last post. Just a clarification.

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Julie

Hi Ross,
Heartbreaking to hear that youve had 35 hard years together. Proves how much people can be impacted by others to say the least. My boyfriend-ex fiance- and I have had a hard time, too hence the reason Im even on here. Theres definitely been some toxicity but to what extent is the hard part. You sound like youve figured your person-or ex person- out. He has just completed his five sessions(she cut him a deal..we are not rich) with his counselor and says hes going to continue periodically. My first is tomorrow. But weve decided to give it another go and work our way back to an engagement. We’ve been great for about a month and just got into our first fight yesterday so now Im back to shaky ground but only not as bad as before, thankfully. So my comment because you brought it up refers counseling in general and and her take on it. He has said the same thing to me. That he cant wait til I go and find out how messed up I am. I wont try to deny that I sometimes dont know how to commnicate the right way with him or that I can be insensitive and selfish at times, but I am a highly sensitive but loving and kind person and do not try to hurt or manipulate people out of fear of not being in control and he knows this. So anyway, Im happy that you are now on a good path. I agree, I am so glad Ive found this site. Its so great. I also belong to The Friendship Blog which is a bit more intimate where you get plenty of feedback/advice from people sharing their personal experiences. No relationship is easy, but hopefully worth all that hard work. How much work is the big question of the day.

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Ross

Hi Julie,

Glad you are both going to counseling. Hope it does work out. I was in counseling twice before and once with her at couples. I never went long enough to understand being manipulated and controlled. After each time I left which was 4 previous over a 20 year span. Things would be a honeymoon phase. Then within 3-6 months she would start back up. This last year I spent researching the way I was made to feel at some point every day by her. So, instead of getting angry, I started reading what she said to me. The words the way they were used and found out that this was abusive. We shared so many interests that I thought staying was worth it. Then I realized that I was more comfortable with the troubles I had than what troubles I might have by leaving. Not exactly a way for self-fulfillment. The hard part was the guilt. Feeling responsible for her emotions and ignoring my own.
Now I am on my own and working to separate our lives which naturally, at my age, is complicated from a financial standpoint. But, strength comes from knowledge and I learned a lot about me. I keep a daily log and started a bucket list. At 64 I have relished cooking and cleaning and yes getting in a car at 7 AM on a whim and driving to the beach. Last comment is a humorous finding. I do not have any friends. Only family which I may lose through this. Last night while going to the “Red Box” for a movie a woman struck up a conversation with me about movies. We talked for a few minutes and parted. Interesting for a guy who women looked through for many years. Confidence does a lot for a person and I guess it is shining through. The best of luck to you.

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Julie

I cant believe I left out an important piece to this. The counseling was/is because of his manipulative and controlling behavior( included us walking in eggshells) stemming from being abused by his father as a child. Very sad. Hes made a lot of changes but Im still leary. I cant help it.

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Ross

Julie,
Give him credit for trying. Remember, if he reverts back it is not your fault. Be prepared for a future with him or without. Also, hopefully, counseling will help him realize it was not his fault with his father. He may be able to unlearn this way of thinking.
But, never forget your own happiness and the right you have to live it. You don’t have to dislike someone not to want to live with them. You owe your life to you first. It is not selfish. Trust me when I put 35 years into trying. It was not a waste just went longer than it should have. All of life events are a learning experience. We can grow from it or spend life angry which is a total waste of energy. Best regards to you.

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Julie

Ross, I am just seeing your comment now. Sometimes I forget Ive even written! But tonight I posted a new comment about something I need feedback on. How are things going?

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Julie

Thank you, Ross. You are so right. I think Ive lost myself in this relationship. Ive been unhappy thinking those things that were making me unhappy would improve and they haven’t. Its just hes always been there and hes steady in my life and the fear of losing him, not the relationship, is too much to take when I finally do break it off all of those times before. Financially, I could barely make it without him. If my daughter were not with me, I could. She will be 18 in two months but she will be with me for a while still. Otherwise, I would have left for good. I need a better paying job but until then I feel like this is the best thing for my daughter and I. I keep seeing glimpses of hope. But I dont feel the same about him anymore. I think all of our issues have led to this. After a while, you just feel depleted. Thank you for listening.

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Ross

Julie,
To make the decision you are making is empowering in itself. You are choosing to stay for a legitimate reason. You know what you are dealing with and see light at the end of the tunnel. Now, while you have to stay with him for practical reasons, is the time to plan what life will be like when you are able to leave. It is not wrong or deceitful. You need to care for yourself and planning for your well being is going to help you heal.
Things on my end are a slow process. She keeps using things and saying things in the hopes that I will return. Since we have entanglements that I cannot avoid dealing with her I am planning each step to file for divorce when organized. I have my first attorneys appointment in 2 weeks. I am in my apartment and find it a sanctuary of peace that keeps me on the path. I wish you strength and courage to rely on yourself and not worry about what others might say or think. Good luck.

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Ross

Week 4 after leaving.

Seeing a therapist more to know how to defend myself emotionally from her than not understanding myself.
No contact is not possible with all our entanglements of property and finance.
She is blaming me for sacrificing herself for the family, running from my obligations and responsibilities. Leaving her at 65 years of age she does not want to live alone. Refuses to go to counseling for herself and feels I am the crazy person. Makes her and my grown children with grandchildren a package deal. Cannot have one without the other.
Despite the fact that I continue to do all I did other than sleep in the same house she somehow cannot deal with life.
She is still in control of the money and I simply take a small amount every 2 weeks to live she is angry.
Should we divorce she will be well taken care of yet claims she will be destitute. Of course our whole married life was never enough money. Yet we travelled helped our kids with cars, education and even paying bills when they fell on hard times.
I cannot seem to reason with her and never could.
I agreed to couples counseling in the hope she will understand I have a right to my own life now. That I will divorce her.
She cannot understand why I chose to live alone….there has got to be another woman….and yes at least 20 years younger. Sorry, but there isn’t another woman. After 44 years I find being alone quite satisfying and peaceful.
Just felt like rambling to keep me on the path of freedom. She does not want me seeing any therapist that permits me to feel I have a right to leave. She is trying to dictate how often I go. Yet does not understand what I mean by her controlling personality.
Thanks again for having this site. This has been a savior for me and has given me courage to finally feel like a whole person. This article was the most significant influence in me finally leaving and staying gone. Not even feeling guilty for the first time in 35 years. Thank you again Karen.

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Sarah

It’s always good to remember that men as well as women suffer from abuse. It is easy to believe that only women are abused, but – for sure, men also suffer in the same (or worse) ways.

Sorry to hear about your struggles. I definitely understand about the financial abuse of men that many women seem to feel is their birthright. You feelings seem very valid to me and I appreciate hearing what you say.

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Ross

Thank you. Part of going through this and being able to feel validated is having someone respond and not feeling alone or the only one experiencing the subtle and not so subtle effects of a toxic relationship.

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Meena

Wow! Reading all the comments, tears me up to see how much people suffer because of another’s blindness to their own behavior. I say this because I understand as well. I put up with it for 3 years. It took for him to leave me 10 hours away from home without food, shelter, water and money to realize that no one deserves this. I can’t believe how much control one can have on you if you let it. I still think about him but I know I can’t go back into it. I tried to help this person. I thought I loved him too but I realized I was just trying to help. Help him to the point where I now have nothing left for myself. No job, losing my savings, lost my happy go lucky self. I feel like I am in a dark cloud, but now that I am away from him, I feel like the darkness is slowly lifting. I have an interview next week and working my butt off to learn about the company so I can nail this job. I believe strength comes from faith. I haven’t lost my faith. My faith is in my own abilities. I know who I am. I have always known and I tell myself, I tried. I tried to help another and now it is out of my control completely. I am now focusing on myself and feel the recovery. I am thankful that I’ve been made as strong as I am and I can see my path towards forwardness. I hope everyone that is suffering in this similar situation knows that they are placed in that situation because they are that much stronger to bear and conquer. Don’t lose that strength and don’t lose sight of who you really are no matter what anyone says. You are beautiful, handsome, courageous, caring, loving and above all, extremely tough. You will be alright. Don’t be scared. We are not alone.

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Julie

You are an inspiration and now you have the rest of your life to be free from all the negativity.Although losing it all was hard, in the end you found yourself and discovered your strength. I personally believe life is hard and we need to have the right people by our sides supporting us, not holding us down. Toxic people suck the life right out of us right before our eyes and choose the sensitive good souls as their victims. You are fortunate that you didn’t spend more time than you did wrapped up with this person. Thanks for sharing your story.

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Nancy

Your articles are so clear and thorough. Enjoying them very much. Also, I love reading all the comments & my heart goes out to each of you. It is one of the hardest things to live through. It truly is, but they will destroy us if we stay.
Four years ago I got out of a toxic relationship & didn’t even entertain the thought of a man until recently. I never thought it would be possible for me to fall for it again, and I am a senior, which has made it harder for me to accept (How long will it take me to learn?). The newer relationship has been long distance for the most part. We talked on the phone for hours upon hours and, I fell deeply in love with the man he presented himself to be. I don’t believe I ever felt such love. But, there were the red flags and I ignored them. But because I had done so much research & support groups, etc., I couldn’t help but to be diligently watching for further signs, which there were-many. It is crazy how well they are able to suck us in so thoroughly before begining the cycle of abuse. Even more puzzling is how we allow ourselves to ignore & rationalize and question our own knowledge, especially having been here before. Mind boggling. But they are different people with different styles, however, with the same ultimate goal in mind power & control. The last guy promised me the world & this guy showered me with the illusion of deep love. Anyway, he did it! After demeaning me, then, if I got upset, it was my insecurities & no other woman he had ever been with had gotten upset about these things, he left me craving that person who was so incredibly loving, brilliant & tender . He had a harem of female friends and no close relationships with males. He would, oh so subtly, insert into a conversation very ridiculous comments that never seemed to fit. He would tell me things like, “Well, she is a soulmate & you have the potential to be there someday.” When I responded by saying that was a hurtful thing to say, he says, “I would think you’d be excited about that.” Then he would go on & on about how I was so insecure and normal people don’t get upset about these things. He’d be holding me tight in bed & tell me about a sexual conversation he had with one of his female friends. It goes on & on. But the thing that was the most telling for me was how he would show absolutely no interest in anything that would be considered something I was proud of or maybe had a talent in. I once showed him a sketch I did. It got barely a quick glance, then totally ignoreed as if I never showed him. He couldn’t allow me to have something that might be a talent. That would mean taking the risk of me feeling good about myself. He was so jealous of anything positive about me.
One thing that seems to be a fairly common theme with many of the comments I’ve seen is, “I still love him/her.” As much as I had fallen in love, it was an illusion and it simply wasn’t real. I have accepted that I was in love with a made up character, a fantasy. These toxic people are really not lovable. It doesn’t equate with what real love is or does. It just makes me sad to see the word love used here and for anyone to be stuck in believing this is what love looks like. It just doesn’t.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Nancy thank you so much for sharing your story and your insight here. The idea of ‘love’ can be so blinding can’t it – blinding enough to make the wanting of love, feel like love, even when it’s so far from anything like that. Clarity always seems to come eventually, along with the strength and courage to put things right.

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phil

Hello, I am currently in the process of coming out of a toxic relationship.. I really loved and still love this woman, In the past because of her placing her hands on me I put a restraining order on her. She tried to take her life after and I dropped the order to be by herside because I was her POA and her family was also very toxic and was not in her life. She promised to go to therapy and to take her meds as prescribed. She was doing really well until she dropped the meds altogether and continued her ways,. Nothing I ever did was ever good enough. I took care of her and her children. I have custody of both of my sons who are teenagers and she shares 50/50 custody with her 5 and now 9 years old children. She is very verbally abusive. Purposely argues about my children out loud so that they can here she is talking about them. Recently she had one of her moments and I had to take out another order of protection against her to protect myself and my sons from her verbal abuse. She was also planning on beating me to the punch to have me removed. The very same day she was removed she went out to a night club. She knew she could not be around flashing lights or alcohol especially when stressed due to a weird seizure disorder she has. She ended up in the hospital and had to be intubated. She was in there for 10 days. As hard as it was I had to keep my distance. Every day that passes even now my stomach is in knots and I have a heavy feeling over my heart. We talked to each other the other day. She knows I love her and she swears she loves me. I was engaged to this woman. She was my everything although she never showed that I was to her. She says she can’t live without me. That her health is deteriorating because of me not being with her. It hurts real bad…As I am typing this I am in tears.. I don’t know what I should do or the right thing to do.. I don’t know if this is real or her manipulating me in an attempt to get back..She has caused severe friction within the family. My family does not want me with her.. But my heart hurts to the core. I can not eat, sleep, or even think straight. I know raising a family with two people bringing children into the picture is not easy… But I know I tried. She always made it seem as if I didn’t no matter what I spent, did, etc…I am torn down to my knees. I find myself staring at walls all day. I am 35, strong on the outside but when it comes to matters of the heart I am weak…. I love her God knows I do even as I shout in anger towards him for my life being the way that it is…. I’m lost and we have court next week..I don’t know what to do……….

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Phil this sounds like a chaotic relationship – abuse, court appearances, restraining orders. Is this the environment you want for yourself and your children? Sometimes love isn’t enough and sometimes, it feels like love because we want so much for it to be that. Sometimes, it’s the combination of two good people that is so explosive and volatile. Loving each other doesn’t always mean you are good for each other.

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Phil

ok I am back again…time has passed and I still have mixed emotions. During this time I found out she was cheating on me. I feel terrible. She swears up and down that she didnt. I met with her to talk and we ended up getting a room. Even though I was in pain emotionally we still had angry, and passionate sex. I was comfortable laying with her but all the while I could not remove the betrayal and what had let us to this break up. I know I have to continue to push forward. I just do not know how I can remove this person from my mind. Why after all the damage this person had caused can I not fully rid myself of the love I have. The thought of seeing her with anyone else makes me sick to my stomach. Is this normal?

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Stevia

OM Goodness!!! I am married to a pastor, whom I thought would know about love and marriage. Looking back, I know…I know…hindsight is 20/20—- I see the error of my ways. He showed me who he was (toxic) from the beginning AND I CHOSE to believe that a pastor would KNOW about love and commitment! This article is so spot on!!!!! He was a man BEFORE he became a pastor! This article reads like the author is actually inside of my marriage! Before I married him and even while we’re married people talk so highly of him. People love him, which causes me to blame myself for the demise of our marriage. He sings praises about how he loves his me to everyone. After the first year of marriage he put me out and filed for divorce… and couldn’t give me a reason why he wanted the divorce. He then rescinded the divorce and I immediately restored him WITHOUT seeing any changes! My spirit has been vexed about our relationship for a long time, I feel little and unimportant, and I know that by reconciling I am signing my own emotional death warrant. Thank you for giving me the impetus to leave and begin to heal. Thank you for validation! I am not crazy. THANK YOU!

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Clive

Just come out of a 7 month toxic relationship myself, I fought so hard to make it work, put my heart and soul into it as I really loved that woman and wanted to spend my life with her. But sadly, nothing I did was good enough. The highs were always followed by crushing lows. It would have always been a yo yo relationship.
Highly intelligent she would twist and manipulate everything I said to make me feel worthless. I couldn’t talk to her without fear of this shit kicking off again.
Emotionally spent I resigned myself that this was never ever gonna work, never resolve itself unless I had the courage and conviction to stand up and walk away.
I ended it last night… incredibly difficult and sad.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Sounds as though you have acted with great strength and self-respect. Letting go of relationships is always difficult, even the bad ones. Keep moving forward. There are better things for you.

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chrystal

(I am a woman btw) I started dating a woman 2 years ago. From the beginning she seemed different but at first a good different. Shortly within 3 months of getting to know her, she started acting extremely jealous of everybody, I even allowed her to talk me into getting rid of good friends because they were female and she was jealous. Shortly afterwards she starting trying to control everything I did, where I went, what I did etc. We fought because I am not the controlled type. She told me we needed therapy, within the first 6 months of our relationship so I finally decided to try. I really wanted it to work. There were things she would give me that no other person had at first, but then things she would take away the other things that made me feel good about myself. Almost like I couldn’t do anything without her approval. Therapy wasnt helping bc the therapist would almost assuredly say nearly everything we had problems with stemmed from her (without actually saying that). She never worked on herself but expected me to just keep bending to these ridiculous requests. She downplays everything I say, never supports me and treats me like im dumb though Im well educated. I know standardly people do that when they feel threatened when they feel less about themselves. I just cannot take it anymore. It feels hopeless and I dont even care about staying in this anymore. So why do I feel hurt, sad, lonely? I mean shouldnt i feel relieved and glad to have gotten out of it, and appreciative that I can make it out alive. She keeps manipulating me now that im trying to leave. Idk what to do anymore. I am just over it. She has beat me down so much i cant take it anymore.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Chrystal remember the person you were before you came into this relationship. That will be your anchor. It sounds as though you have worked hard to make this relationship work, but it’s still leaving you miserable. Nobody can make relationship work by themselves. It takes love, nurturing and support from both sides. It’s not surprising that she wants you to stay – you sound as though you are a giver – but it doesn’t mean that you should.

You sound strong, intelligent, generous and open-hearted. You also sound very clear. I know you say that you don’t know what to do anymore, but to me, it sounds as though you absolutely know what to do. Listen to that. You already have the answers inside you and as scary and as daunting as change can be, it can also be life-giving.

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Nancy

I’m actually feeling bad right now trying to leave a relationship that I know isn’t right. In a sense I’ve been away from physcially for 3 months now but that is because he told me to leave his house. He say he didn’t mean it, but I even stuck around for an extra day in the city at a friends house to see if he would talk it out. He didn’t. He waited til I left and went back home to family. We’ve still talked since on the phone and he wants me to come back acting like I just left on my own and he had no parts in it. It’s like he only misses me when I’m not there. When I was there he showered me with gifts and things, but it never felt special. Honestly I always thought he had been up to something because he gave a lot, yet he was so cold when I greet him at the door. I did all of the housework, cooking, cleaning, ironing his work clothes and it was a lot. I paid the small bills and I wasn’t even working. Maybe I’m reading too deep into it, but its pathetic to ask a woman to pay this and that and she’s not working. I had a job, my own place in a previous state, but he wanted me to move with him. I told him it will probably take at least 2 to 3 months before I find a job as I know how times are these days. But after a month he started asking me to pay this and that. All of my savings went into paying bills in the house, stocking the house up and I paid for everything when we went out for a night. Even that he only took me out twice in the 3 months I lived with him. Always had an excuse as to why we couldn’t go out even on his off days. He went to the mall and stores without me when he would leave work before coming home. I didn’t have a car and I don’t expect a handout, but I told him before leaving my job that moving with him wasn’t a good idea. Stupid, I let him talk me into it as he said if I love him I would. I felt sheltered to be honest. And whenever he got mad he would attack my character and disrespect me. Always found ways to make comments about my body or my career or whatever low blow he could find. I don’t think that is love just like him even texting me to leave his house. He said he didn’t mean it but if you put it in words it makes me wonder how long you’ve been waiting to say this. I just don’t know if I’m the crazy one or him. Every other day I learn something new about him, a new cell phone that he claimed I always knew about, he has told me 4 different stories about his child’s mother and his life, he even told me he was stuck behind a door one day at work when I was calling for hours and he didn’t answer. Something in me told me that it was a lie because a month earlier he claim he got stuck in the elevator and that was also while I was calling and for hours. Is it really wrong for me to choose my new found peace of mind over old overdue toxic relationship? Yet still, when he ask when I’m coming back, I don’t know how to say that I’m not. Maybe I feel guilty. Maybe I could’ve tried much harder to find work and he wouldn’t attack my character. Maybe I wasn’t enough. I just wish I had an answer for the both of us, but I don’t. I’m thinking about just going back and give it another shot, but I know it will be stupid. I don’t know anymore. I’m lost.

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Tracey

I think he’s leading two separate lives if there wasn’t anything to hide why two phones, too many lies. Build yourself up good luck x

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Terrie

Sweetie, your much too good for this guy I sound to me he’s controlling and it’s not about you at all. He’s not a real man.he should be greatful that you care enough to up root and come to him.ask yourself this what have he done for You lately? And what man would put down a person they love.stay away from him if you go back he knows he can have you anyway he want and it’s not going to get any better only more pain.

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Sarah

What if the guy you love is determined to help you grow, but sometimes it’s really painful because he points out your flaws in a really abrupt way.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Sarah it’s only helpful if it feels helpful. Talk to your man and let him know that you’re really open to what he thinks, but it would mean a lot more if he could be gentle about it. Feedback should never feel shaming.

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Shay

So I’ve been in a relationship for 6months and it’s been rocky . He tellers me he loves me reassures me we are together but he still post pictures of this one female and it’s not just any pictures and it’s multiple pictures .they look as if they are a couple . He tells me it’s just a friend he promised. But he hasn’t posted any pictures of me at all . Should I break it off ? Be concerned ? Am I’m over reacting ?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Shay, if something doesn’t feel right for you, then it’s not right for you. The points you make are very valid and don’t sound like an over-reaction to me. It is completely okay for your boyfriend to have female friends, but it is reasonable for you to ask that he also publicly acknowledge your relationship. Decide what you need from him moving forward and ask him for it. If he isn’t prepared to give you the things that are reasonable and important, that is something for you to listen to.

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Lost Soul

Hi Shay,
I have the same problem as you, and I am really suffocating now but I do feel I still love him. I need to get out of this relationship in order not to be confused and manipulated, is really toxic for him to control my life and the same goes for you. It hurts like hell for sure but is for the better, most definitely will be, just need to give time , time.

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Karen

I have been with a toxic man for almost a year. While I know I love him and he loves me, he is definitely a borderline personality disorder type.. very toxic! He is charming, complimentary and promises to make all my dreams come true. We are incredibly compatible and we have exceptional chemistry. We are just fine until he decides he wants to go out with his friends and drink excessively (pubs in London). He wants to marry me, but rages when I express my concern at his drinking or disappearing, making me feel very uncomfortable. Of course everything is always my fault.. he tries to say I am insecure and jealous.. truthfully he is far more jealous and insecure. Controlling doesn’t begin to describe it.. he has a double standard.. he can do as he pleases.. I need to stay home and away from any social engagements or other men. He is educated, successful, very interesting & engaging.. but his emotional issues make it impossible to have a balanced, stable relationship. I need to take care of myself and realize it’s better to be alone and have peace, than settle for a toxic, dysfunctional relationship.
Thanks for the great article..

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Karen you are absolutely right. In your heart you have all of the answers you need. What’s important is to listen. You are whole on your own and you don’t need anybody to complete you. The relationship you open yourself up to should add love, nurturing, fun, and warmth to your life – not worry, isolation, insecurity or jealousy. This sort of relationship is unsustainable. We can all put our own needs on hold indefinitely, but there will always be a great cost to this. That cost will come in the way of happiness, and the love that will be beautifully nourishing and healthy for you.

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Scott McCoy

great article, I should make this text into a poster.

“Loyalty can be a confusing, loaded term and is often the reason that people stay stuck in toxic relationships. What you need to know is this: When loyalty comes with a diminishing of the self, it’s not loyalty, it’s submission.”

many thanks from the SF Bay Area

I needed this.
Feel like a wounded bird right now.

Toxic behavior comes over like warm water, its hard to spot at first but over time, its very apparent.
For me it took 20 breakups and finally I get it now.
Must I always learn the hard way, the expensive way.
yikes

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Friend Who's Hurting

A friend and I have been really close for about a decade. About half a decade ago he was betrayed by his family, denied his birth right and screwed over in a major way. This stirred up tremendous hurt and anger in him, justifiably so.
I’ve tried to be there for him as best I can. Listening as much as he wanted/needed to talk and being supportive. I tried to offer honest input when I thought it was needed, but he was Not receptive to that and practically seemed ready to end the friendship for gently encouraging him to see another persons perspective.
He doesn’t really talk about the family betrayal any more. Just says “It is what it is”. Though I don’t think that he’s actually worked through all of the emotions that go with it.
Over the last few years, I’ve sensed a decrease in respect, kindness and compassion towards me. I try to be very patient, as he’s been through a lot, and has a lot bottled up inside that he just doesn’t know how to deal with (yes, I’ve suggested counseling, but he nixed it, in part because he travels a Lot for work), but the disrespect and taking me for granted is really starting to wear at me.
He is truly the most stubborn person that I know. Very set in his ways. One of his traits is that when he gets upset with me, he stops talking to me. Just shuts me out. Won’t answer calls, texts, etc. Eventually, he’ll answer a text the day After I send it. When this used to happen, after a week or so we’d talk and he’d tell me ‘I was upset because you didn’t tell me this, or that’ generally something minor and very improperly diagnosed. I apologize, explain my perspective, get the impression that he doesn’t believe me, but we move on.
About a year ago he just stopped talking to me. This went on for NINE MONTHS. Every once in a while he’d respond to a text, but that was about it. He also declined a friend request on Facebook and unfriended me on another account there (He’s got about 4 facebook accounts for all of the games he plays). I have abandonment issues (something that I just realized fairly recently) and was deeply hurt. After those nine months, he finally calls, admits he was wrong, we talk a bit and move on.
We all have our baggage and I’m no exception. And I now have baggage specifically regarding him. We still haven’t/hadn’t worked through MY issues of feeling disrespected and taken for granted, etc, but I figured…when the time is right.
He’s not speaking to me again and has now unfriended me from all of his facebook accounts. He’s got a lot of insecurities, which I can understand, considering what he’s been through.
However, he hasn’t been treating me well for a long time. He’s got ego issues and everything is about Him.
This is the most volatile political season that I’ve ever experienced. He and I are on opposite ends of it. I refuse to talk to him about it any more, as it goes nowhere productive, but once in a while he needs to rant and I let him. He gets upset when someone gives different views than him and goes off, and says he has the right to express his views too…though he gets mad at others views. He has a lot of double standards, I guess. 🙂
Anyways, I care about him a lot and would like to help him heal (multiple people have mentioned how he’s changed. Used to be all peace loving, now much more angry rants), however, I’ve been sacrificing Myself in my efforts to be there for him. I Know that I deserve better. And allowing him to treat me this way isn’t genuinely helpful for Anyone.
My question: HOW do I release myself from this disrespected, unappreciated torture?
And while I really like the idea of keeping the door open, HOW do I let him know…write him and tell him that I’m stepping back for my own sanity, but that the door is always open for him?
So, how do I heal my heart?
And how do I clear that doorway, while letting him know that I’ll keep it open?
Thank you!! 🙂

Reply
Jenna

Hi Friend Who’s Hurting, I am in the exact same situation! Or at least I was, until I listened to a very wise friend who said ‘if there is nothing that can be done then please, do nothing!’ So I did nothing and by doing nothing I was able to fully let go, pure and simple. I cannot change the way my friend behaves any more than I can change the colour of the sky. It is up to him to see the faults and make the change but until then, I’m doing nothing! I could no longer stand by and allow him the opportunity to hurt me anymore. By stepping back I have come to the realisation that I was not respecting myself or him to put it another way, by continuing to contact him or even think of him I was enabling the toxic relationship to continue. I am afraid to say the only way you will be able to heal your heart is to let go. That doesn’t mean you’ve closed the door or no longer love your friend, I am sure like me, you will always love your friend and please do that, send him love every time you think of him.

But to heal your heart you need to nourish yourself and replace the toxic relationship with a really healthy one, the one with yourself. Really really love yourself, be your best friend!

I can recommend Louise Hay, she helped me through this awful time, I had to learn to love and respect myself before I could really let go. I was taught along the way that when you learn to love and respect yourself, you yourself will change and the toxic people in your life will either change too or they will leave your life. Everyone in your life is your teacher and your friend is here to teach you a lesson. My friend has taught me how to love myself, that is the lesson I gained from him. A HUGE one and I predict your friend is here to teach you a big one too, especially given how much you hurt.

I hope that this helps. If it helps to know too, my friend didn’t leave my life but I don’t see him as much as I used to. He changed, for the better, he is still healing but has made massive positive changes that I know will benefit him in the future and who knows, once he is truly healed we may pick up again where we left off but this time our relationship will have a better foundation and rather than toxic it will be nourishing. I wish you peace and love, namaste. ps you may also like this poem, it helped me to let go too… all the very best, take care

SHE LET GO by Rev Safire Rose

She let go.
Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming
around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.

She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.

And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Reply
lyle

I would like to tell you how much I appreciate this and the other articles on this website. I have been in a toxic relationship for years now. I would like to believe it has not always been that way when we started out the relationship was great we have so much in common and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Looking back at the first couple of years there were underlying symptoms of toxic relationship a little of “the controller” starting relationship I wanted to her be happy and changed for her and “the attention seeker” at first it was spending time with her but now is to the point where I stopped doing anything with family and friends or going out all together without her. This is embedded in me now that even if the company sent me to another location I feel guilty going out to lunch with co-workers. To regress I did not see these and figured it was the part of being in committed relationship we are supposed to give and take on both sides. I give a little more but that is being a provider. We courted like this for two years then I proposed to her which went well for a short time. Talked about the wedding and then things started falling apart, she is a widow and lives off her deceased husbands stipend, when she found out there was a clause that is she remarries she looses the money she turned. I told her I want to be married even though we would have to cut back on material things. She quipped I cannot do that, which I should have called everything off at that time. In doing research found there was time limit and after that time she would be entitled to receive payments for the rest of her life so we decided to wait. Now is when the manipulation and guilt increases. Since that agreement any argument has her saying “you never wanted to marry me!” or “If you had a better job we could …!” I’m not the wealthiest person and she does not work though we can survive on what I make just not the life style she wants. To make matters worse is in my heart I was raised with Christian values and living like this is against my belief, hers too which she also uses against me. To move on with story a year after I found out that she was unfaithful I do not know to what extent but know they planned to meet after talking with each other for a few months. She tells me they never met and does not admit to doing anything wrong, just that it was mistake (though I feel in her words that I found out) and she was planning on leaving me. (looking back I wish that would have happened, but know now it would not as she is too attached to monetary things) After talking about us, since any conversation about the other guy ended with her saying I do not want talk about it, we decided to move on and work this out though my heart is more callouses and I have never felt the same though still do everything for her. She has not done anything for me on birthdays, Christmas, other holidays for the last 5 years but if I do not get her at least a new phone, tablet, jewelry, car, or other gifts I hear about how much I do not love her and how I cannot provide for her even though I gave smaller cost items. She has become more of the “the manipulator” If I talk to her she is always defensive, the article I had that exact conversation multiple times. She is “Absent” she has family in a foreign country and when we are apart I will call to she how she is doing or send a message she will only respond when she wants me send money or buy a gift for her family. She tells me how much her deceased husband did for her bought her family everything and how I do not do that. Though she also tells me they lived on food stamps and see showed me the one bedroom house they lived. She asks me about insurance and my will. I see she lies to her family, I do not have dreams anymore because it is why waste my time and money. I feel my heart which is already in corset is being squeezed more to the point I end up in the emergency room with anxiety 6 times now. I have had many stress tests and wore heart monitors for a few months because doctors thought my heart was bad, and I was still so blinded I did not see the anxiety first 5 times. Further is because of being in this relationship I have become “the controller” due to her “the cheater” I have traits of “the jealous one” and she has talked to other guys and if I ask her about her day I know if she talked to one of the guys by her tone, oh you are accusing me of ”x”. Which is not healthy. I have tried to leave her a few time and each time I have mixed emotions part of me wants to hold on tight the other part wants to run. My psychologist says I need to leave, just cold turkey lock the doors, no social media, block numbers this and I tried but after a couple of days pleaded her to forgive me. As mentioned the heart going through barred wire. My parents are disappointed in me that give her another chance, my neighbors say how many chances does a person get. Christian values instilled in me says I do not give up on anyone. One pastor I talked to says I need to leave and showed passages that allows to give up and see this is killing me. Another pastor tells me I need to work things out and all things will work. All I know is that I’m happy with her for short times, I know she uses me for support, I know she was abused as a child and has trust issues, I know her deceased husband hit and abused her. I know she grew up poor and did not have food most days and begged on the streets. I feel like I’m abusing her by “The controller, jealous one” but I have been hurt so long and caused trust issues and she continues to play with emotions. I’m so tired and miserable most of the time. My work is suffering because of the emotional stress, I try to talk to her about my feelings but it never goes anywhere due to “Manipulator” tactics. I’m in limbo between what I realize I need to do and what my emotions want. Thank you for the articles they tell me the same my psychologist mentioned that I know but do not want to accept.

Reply
Lyle

Finally have been out of may relationship for over a month, It took a lot to get me this far. I know I can never see her again she has too much control on my mind. What finally helped me is reconnecting to friends I had before I met her. Also found out she was indeed cheating on me and had me so convinced I was just jealous. The toxic environment was branched out more than just her, her family, friends, church members, various random people. Everywhere I turned for help they had me convinced I was the crazy one. It actually took video evidence of infidelity before I could break free even then I doubted myself because she said she loved me and it was just a one time mistake. 9 years of my life gone with this person, but luckily no more years going to be spent. My health is regaining and starting to find myself again. My psychologist asked what I enjoyed doing and I said i do not know I have done everything she wanted for the last 8 years. This toxic person is still a drug for me she called and like a trained dog I stopped and did what she asked, luckily my friend was with me and stopped me from doing anything too dumb, he just looked at me later and said for that hour after i heard her voice i was a different person he could not talk to me, he could not add reason, i defended her to the bone. Even though I heard him talking to me I could not stop myself. I do not remember who I was. Now I am starting to do things I enjoy though worry about my trust issues for the rest of my life. slowly getting out into the world. It is going to take a while and just over a month now, have the numbers blocked and moving on… my Psychologist says it will most likely be 8 months to few years until I can be back in a relationship even then it will be hard.

Reply
Ama

I have been in a toxif relationship for almost 5yrs. We have and 8 month old and I want things to work between us, but ithe feels one sided. There has been red flags that I chose to ignore such as in the beginning of out relationship he was on dating sites, then I would find numbers, then progressed to Craigslist and now to having another phone prepaid. He always makes up excuses or apologizea for his wrong doings and it won’t happen agian and he doesn’t know why he does stupid things or I am too insecure. He is quick to walk away and pack his stuff up and leave. I have never loved anyone the way I loved him and I beat myself up for not being the woman that he loves that he wouldn’t do things to jeopardize us. I am lost at this point. I don’t want to give up but I deserve better. I know I am not perfect but I do not know how to make this work anymore.

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Sam

I am in the same type of toxic relationship, I want to make it work because when it’s good it’s really good but that isn’t very often anymore. I know what should be done, I just don’t know if I’m strong enough to do it. My girlfriend is always telling me she doesn’t feel good and she has a bad feeling that she is going to die soon…how do you break up with that? What if she really is sick?

Reply
chloe

i have just left this man after almost two years of on and off.
he came from a marriage and has a child and i accepted all of that but he had so many issues and insecurities from that breakdown and if we fought he would shut down and stop talking to me. I always was the one to go back and talk to him, and if we broke it off and I would be moving on he would come back into my life and try to make it work. I love him and would still do anything for him and he knows that. The worst was after 7 months of a solid relationship he just broke up with me for no reason, he never tried to talk to me after or let me know if it was me or him, then finally i spoke to him 4 weeks later and he told me he had a breakdown and that he still cares, so we agreed to try again. But at this point my family and friends were upset with me as they have seen me go through good times with him then after two days i decided its not going to change and it never will. It hurts because I want him to open up to me and I want to help him through this but this isnt my job yes i can help him through it but he needs to do this for himself and not just because it will ‘fix our relationship’. I am still upset and feeling guilt for not wanting to try again but despite my love i dont think it will ever work. The hardest part is he finally called me and said hes sorry for everything and he relises how much pain he caused me and that he will seek help but if I would be willing to try again when he was ready, I said no and that was so hard because I still feel we have a strong and special connection and all I want is for it to work out…. but long term i dont think it will or I am trying to tell myself that to stay strong about my decision

Reply
Ross

Dear Friends,
I am in my apartment now for 2 months. She moved into a smaller home in a nice neighborhood. The grandson, living with us for 4 years, has his high school friends there too. It is brand new and I have been helping hang mirrors, towel racks etc. Mowed the lawn and helping where I can when asked.
This morning I called to say that I will pick up the grandson and take him to school to give her a break. She was upset because if I am not coming back to her she does not want me to be nice. Somehow, because I do not want be a husband, she states I am leaving the family and I am not a part of my children’s and grandchildren’s lives anymore. That if I do not plan on living with her I am to be mean and nasty. I want us to go to couples counseling to heal and work together. She sees no reason if my purpose is not to “heal” and return to her. Its like I joined the mafia when I married her. Its all or nothing. I want to stay in my oldest grandson’s life as I am the only stable male figure for this 14 year old boy.
I am hoping that being in counseling with her will help the transition but I doubt it. Interesting enough she apparently has been reading and portrays me as the toxic controlling person.

Reply
Julie

She is 100% manipulating you. She is feeding her own self serving needs with no regard for yours and this is where the problem lies. Distance yourself from her. She cannot continue to manipulate if you are not there. Tell her that you plan on seeing your grandson on your terms and then take him away from the house for visits. Her behavior is going to drive you nuts. Also, tune in if you can to Alanya:fix my life. Facebook..and she has a show as well. Shes terrific and I have been following her. Shes an expert in the behaviors patterns of abusers and more. As long as you keep responding to her, she wont stop. Set loving boundaries and distance.

Reply
Ross

Julie,
I thank you for your reply. I feel like a nut case constantly doubting myself and saying the same things over and over. Despite being in counseling for myself this site is a god send to finally seeing the light. Thank you Karen and Julie and all who lend their support. Because of all who understand that caring for oneself and growing emotionally is ok I will finally be living the life I imagined. After 44 years between 2 marriages I am done negotiating my life away to others. It is so hard to explain to another when a man is the one that suffered abuse. Funny I was a tough farm kid that left to practice medicine. Behind closed doors a manipulated whimp for “love”.
Well, life does not end until we are dead. So it is never to let to find the joy in life. Thanks again.

Reply
michael V.

“It is likely that toxic people learned their behaviour during their own childhood, either by being exposed to the toxic behaviour of others or by being overpraised without being taught the key quality of empathy. In any toxic relationship there will be other qualities missing too, such as respect, kindness and compassion, but at the heart of a toxic person’s behaviour is the lack of concern around their impact on others. They come with a critical failure to see past their own needs and wants.”

This hit the nail on the head. Its a shame these types of people lost a lot of themselves due to a breakdown in their lives somewhere/sometime only to wreck theirs and the lives of others. This article is a lifeline for my recovery. Nothing physical, just very controlling, the hidden lies, the disrespect and zero compassion. I can go on and on.

Thank you for a vision forward

Mike

Reply
Tanya

Thanks for the article, I have been in a relationship for 10 years and would have thought I would be married or engaged by now. I feel like we have lost respect for eachother in the way we talk a lot of the times, it feels hurtful. I feel I’m not the story person I used to be because the old me wouldn’t have tolerated this.

Reply
Linda Jones

You hit the nail on the head, Tanya. This is what I’m going through exactly. I figure that if we are searching the web for articles like this, we are at least starting to take action.:-)

Reply
Lee R.

To be honest I’ve never been in a situation like this. This lady and I dated for 7 months until she dumps me out of the blue and 2 weeks later she’s with some other guy… Now they’ve split and we are talking again. We had a rocky relationship but we were definitely in love. She says she still loves me but doesn’t know what she wants and needs to work on herself before she can jump back into things with me. I feel like this is all an excuse to keep me attached to her. I understand people need time but how long is long enough? If I do the slightest thing wrong she blows up on me … Telling me shell never talk to me again or that’s none of my business… I don’t know what to do usually I can recognize a bad situation but this one is different I just can’t shake her. How Long is long enough?

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Anonymous

I chose to have an affair and ended up in a toxic relationship. Thinking about it now, all the signs were there from the beginning but I chose to ignore it. I focused on the loving, positive things he said and excused away the negative. (Probably due to the fact I so needed to feel loved and important.) Eventually his behavior and control got unbearable and I ended up having to get law enforcement involved. My heart is breaking over my decisions and the fact that I still care for this man and feel empathy for him because I know he has mental health issues. I am having a very difficult time dealing with all this but I know I have no one to blame but myself, which makes me feel even worse. The only advice I can give anyone is if it doesn’t feel quite right step away and don’t look back. Time makes it more difficult to walk away.

Reply
Ryu Hayabusa

Just cut ties witb a friend of 32 years. Hadnt seen him in 4 yrs. His life is a horrorshow of six-figure debt, underachieving, broken relationships. Lately he has become a snob…a liar… a con man. He’s been living off a very well-off older woman. She kicked him out. He had no place to live. He is a smooth talker so my wife and I believed his tale of woe and opened our home to him for a week. It was the absolute worst decision we have made. He walked around like he owned the place, kept giving this stupid meaningless life advice, said and did insulting things…. I could go on…. it was the week from hell.

The comments the author made that most resonated with my situation were:

This toxic friend wants to keep me in the box he knows me to inhabit. We grew up together. His family ultra wealthy. Mine normal middle class. Fast forward from the mid 80s now we both have graduate degrees and jobs but I own my company I built brick by brick. I have a gorgeous wife with a Phd. We own a modest but cute home. No debt. Savings. Things on a major upswing. We worked our ASSES off to get to where we are. He has no home, a mid-level admin job he hates (says its “beneath”) him, has no significant other. In fact he’s proposed to 4 women and all the proposals have come to naught and at nearly 40 years old he still carries his mother’s credit card for “emergencies”.

The box he wants me in is that of the insecure blue collar kid who worshipped him because his family was such a big deal. Well his family has had a massive fall from grace and while I sympathize with their pain their own greed and egos are at the center.

The other point was control. EVERYTHING he did in my house was some form of attempt at control. He took a suitcase out of our closet without asking. Had to get that back. I asked him a question while he was texting and he held his finger up in my face as if saying “my text is more important”.

There is a litany of other demeaning things…

The experience has left me deflated sad angry hurt confused…. but also free.

He was the last connection I had to a group of people I grew up with who were all (and still are) toxic as hell.

He texted me this morning acting like nothing has happened.

He wants my submission…. to text back…. to say hey man! Did you have a nice time? Hows things?

Well Im not gonna do that.

I am going to lay back and be silent. If his growth and healing catches up to mine and he makes honest amends in the future then we’ll see if we continue.

If not then 32 years of friendship has come to an end.

All things for the highest good for all.

Reply
Courtney

This is so beautifully written. My husband and I have struggled to cope with my toxic in-laws. We have tried and tried to implement boundaries and explain our choices when they are relentlessly critiqued. We struggled to find the right words to help them understand but now we are finally understanding that the right words are irrelevant if they aren’t willing to listen. I carry a lot of guilt about this situation. My husband is more used to their games but it wreaks havoc on my mental health so he and I are trying to find a balance that works for us individually and together. I restrict my time with them to major holidays while he supplements with a few additional lunches interspersed throughout the year. I want to have a baseline of a relationship with them to support my husband and children having a relationship with my in-laws as along as they find it beneficial. It’s not perfect but I’m hoping this is closer to a situation that works for our family. I feel extremely guilty about implementing these boundaries and choices. I beat myself up about not playing my part in the charade that they try and put up for the world. They are making choices too, and I can only hold myself accountable for my own part of this situation. I’m trying to make my peace with this. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me feel strong and empowered in these choices.

Reply
Chris

When I read the this article, I feel like I’m the toxic one. I feel like it’s me who’s trying to get things back the way they were.

But when I read other articles here that identify toxic behaviour, I see some of me, but more of her.

Still confused! 😛

Reply
Conflicted

I have been in a relationship with my partner going on 4 years.in the beginning I knew she was broken..she was very sweet and considerate but she has a vicious temper..I found myself being assaulted a few times in the beginning once in from of her family…blood was everywhere..the verbal and mental abuse was worse
.my son would wittness arguments sometimes..I stayed..I stayed because it didbt happen everyday and I knew she hated herself afterwards about 2 years into the relationship I noticed EMENSE change
..she barely argues she will walk away first she is more considerate etc…but recently a I was in a bind financially her biggest issue with me is money and I recently landed a good job but i hadn’t gotten paid and I reached out to an old guy friend who stays stares away for some help….it was innocent it was for me and my child to have a means to get to work and school. She didn’t have it and neither did the family members I asked have it. Long story short. I had living room furniture when I first moved into my place..when she left here she have me hers because mine was a little worn..and she had no room in storage her sister helped with the tables…I come home to all of my furniture thrown on the side of the road…my work bag was missing..my makup missing…my bedroom vandalised..I know that I made a mistake but I think that was a but extreme she beat the life out of me in the past and I would ignore her but not tear up her things. I want to take a break because I have been in a financial hole..and I need to find myself altogether I don’t want to have to ask anyone for anything and I want to get myself together alone and it’s hard…I have apologized so has she but I’m torn…when in with her I’m conflicted and when she is gone I miss her…idk what to do

Reply
Lisa

Love does not inflict physical pain or hurtful words. End of story. Don’t allow a child to see these actions portrayed as “LOVE”. If you can’t find the strength to get out for your own self respect do it for the child.

LRocks

Reply
Ryan

I’ve been with this girl for 5 and a half months now and she is my first. During our first month she was cheating on me with her friend and I found out about it on our 2nd month and forgave her but the pain can still be felt. She told me that she would tell me this when we’re engaged which is quite ridiculous as to why wait that long for me. About 2 weeks before my B-day she wasn’t able to see me for 1 week and started kikking this guy and flirting with him and they’re sending pics back and forth and I found this out because she was kiking me and it felt weird and I checked her phone when she lend it to me and there it was the kik of the guy she was flirting with and both she said she promised to never ever do it again yet I don’t know anymore as to what to do, I forgave her for both yet the pain is still here, I can feel how I’m not enough, not good enough, how useless I am as a guy. I did as much as my body can do, from cooking food for her and bringing it to her in my room when she does come over, setting up dates and making sure it’s what mostly would make her enjoy her day and it makes me happy to see her like that, to taking in harsh words she can give to me when she gets frustrated and mad at times, she hates it when I check her phone from time to time after the things she did and says that she promised already so there’s no reason in her eyes as to why I should check. I don’t know what to do, it’s my first love and I don’t wanna let go but if I have to then it’s inevitable.

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Charles

It was very difficult to read this article, simply because I feel like I am the toxic person in the relationship, but I’m not sure. I have been dating my g/f on and off for a few months, but we’ve known each other for a little over a year. She has a history of being in abusive relationships, the kind where the guys would be very physical with her and call her mean names. I’ve had a history of being in relationships where I don’t feel appreciated, or where I’ve essentially been put in a grey area, not fully being embraced into the relationship.

My fear is that because I was hurt in this way, I have become the very same type of person. And because my g/f is accustomed to abusive behavior, she doesn’t want to leave me. I do love her more than anyone I know, but I don’t think I’m “in love;” I don’t know how that is supposed to feel. We have broken up and gotten back together maybe 3 times now, and we recently broke up about two weeks ago. I am trying so hard to walk away from this, but planned events such as Halloween or even a wedding are coming up that make us both want to quickly rekindle everything and make it work out. But I’m not happy, and I know I’m hurting her by being so unsure whether to stay and make things work, or leave and not look back.
I have never hit my g/f or called her mean names, but I fear I have made her feel small by not being on the same page as her in regard to being in love with each other. I have good intentions, but I feel that my actions of constant staying and leaving contradicts everything. I miss her every time we’re apart, and I love to talk to her, but I’m not in love with her, and I can feel that.
I recently started counseling for myself, but I don’t think I should be in a relationship while I figure this out, and I know I can’t ask her to wait for me to get better. So my question is how do you find the courage to leave and stay away so that you can no longer be the toxic person in their life? More importantly, how do you do this without breaking their heart, and their confidence in themselves? She has such great qualities about herself that she doesn’t realize, and I’m afraid she’s going to blame herself for everything and depreciate her self-value if I leave.
Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

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Melissa

I have been feeling very sad and depressed about a relationship I have been in a year and a half. I can across this article googling how to let go and I found this to be a very interesting read. My partner and I have both grown up in dysfunctional families. Some things you said mad me feel I’m the toxic one and others made me feel she’s the toxic one. For about 5 months we have been broken up. I left because I was tired of constantly being accused and told I was doing things I wasn’t and I tried to break free. I wanted her to see what she was doing and stop so thank we Could be together but instead she insisted that I did it wanting something with someone else. That wasn’t the case however! She’s been my everything. We have both done things to hurt one another and in September I decided I wanted to start over with a clean slate. I started giving her the love attention and understanding she always asked for and she’s telling me I’m everything she’s wanted me to be this entire time. Yet she isn’t willing to get back together. She and I have a long distance relationship, we live an hour and a half apart. I’m the only one making efforts to go to her and she is barely making time for me. She and I used to spend every weekend together and now I am only seeing her one night a week . She’s making plans and doing things with everyone but me. I feel all of this is just revenge for me walking away 5 months ago but I never stopped spending weekend with her. I always wanted time with her. She just keeps saying she wants to go slow. I don’t know what to do anymore because I have let walls down opened my heart and gotten closer as she’s pulling away. What should I do? Any advice is appreciated.

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BenNy

Am afraid To live my girlfriend because I donT wanna be alone and just a thought of losing her is suffocating But she dont really want like I need her.everything I do for her Is not enough and when she does something wrong I apologize to make her feel good because I dont want her to get mad at me cause when she does she does’nt call me or say sorry and when she is with other guys she’s so happy and I go to her she becomes unhappy and I just tell myself maybe am jelouse but she treats me like somebody she hates and its painfull because she wont talk about us its just about how much of a failure I am…please help me because am lost I dont know who to talk to

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Benny this relationship is unsustainable. Your fear of not wanting to be alone is setting you up for a miserable life if it makes you stay in relationships that hurt you. You can’t change other people if they aren’t willing to change. There is someone out there who is looking for someone just like you to love. Sometimes there is great need to act with enormous strength and courage, to let go of the relationship that is wrong for you, so that the right one can find you.

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kerry

I can’t deal with the pain I’m a feeling. I am in love with a man that is toxic! I have been seeing a man for the last 3.5yrs i didn’t know he had a girlfriend till 8 months in and by then I had fallen in love. He has cheated on me, beat me, controlled me, lied to me and made me feel like i am nothing, he has taken everything away from me my confidence, my social life everything! This summer he split up from his girlfriend and told me he wanted to make it work between us but lately he has been kicking off over silly things and i knew something wasn’t right, yesterday I found out he is still with his girlfriend but in an open relationship he has gone mad because i messaged her and Ive not heard anything from him since. I wish to just wake up and not feel for him anymore but i don’t know where to begin I had 8 months of counselling to try and get over this last year but nothing is working. What can i do?!

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Charlie

I’m going to confront one of my friends about her toxic behavior, but the fact that I’m so afraid of doing so really bothers me. She makes a lot of little barbed comments that hurt my feelings and she always has to control the situation completely. I feel like I have to submit to her all the time or she’ll cause a scene. Normally, I would have no problem telling people that their comments hurt my feelings, but I’ve tried to tell her in the past and she refuses to accept criticism and twists the blame to me, saying I’m being overly sensitive, or imagining things, or I actually hate her (which isn’t true). We’ve been friends for years and there are parts of her I genuinely like, and I know that she cares about me as a friend and doesn’t seem to realize she’s being toxic, so my discussion with her will probably seem like an attack. I can’t think of a way to tell her nicely that I’m upset with her or tell her that I don’t want to be friends anymore. This confrontation would be a complete shock to her because she doesn’t realize that she’s toxic. I’m being so overwhelmed by guilt and bitterness and fear and irritation that I can’t act like a good friend with her. We share a lot of mutual friends who accept her behavior, what should I do?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

There is no nice way to tell somebody that you don’t want to be friends with them anymore, but I understand that sometimes it can be necessary. Be gentle with her and as kind as you can. Let her know the combination of the two of you doesn’t work and if you can, be really specific about the behaviours that aren’t working for you. Be open to her and listen as much as you talk. I know this is a difficult conversation for you. I wish you all the best.

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Hurt in Chicago

After reading this article, I see that I was/am toxic. I have been looking for answers to find out what my problem is. I have been going to counseling and starting to see the total issue of myself. I had trust issues, experienced trauma growing up, and it’s not until a few years ago, I’ve started walking down a dark path. Bottling up frustrations did not help.

I also realized that I was holding my ex- girlfriend to my ideas of what a girlfriend should be, instead of accepting for her who she is. Every time we broke up, I would come back in tears and pain. Mostly because I no longer had the control that I attributed to what I thought was love. Early on in our situationship, I had no problems letting her go, but I wanted to remain her friend.

Now this is year four and this has been our worse year ever. We have been through so many ups and downs this year, that I think this has finally met the end. We were suppose to get married and start a family. I am tired of hurting the women I love, but after reading this article, I’m too embarrassed to even contact her. I’ve caused so much hurt and pain with my words, tempers, attitudes, lies, and manipulation, I don’t even know who I am anymore. After I finish with counseling… I’m going to write her an apology and hit the road. I don’t ever want to harm a living soul again.

~Hurt in Chicago~

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

I love how open you are to this. We can al change, but the only peope who do are the ones who are open to the possibility that they might need to. You’ve done that. Never be embarassed about putting something right. Even if you aren’t heard, or if you are shut down from the start, the reason you apologise is because of who you are, not because of how the other person will respond. You may have done toxic things, and you are now also someone who is open, brave, strong, and clear. You are moving forward. That’s what’s important.

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~Hurt in Chicago~

Yes, I NEED to change, for myself and others. Some of the things that I did to get her back were very controlling. Then when we were back together, once the “love high” subsided, I was right back to pushing her away, not effectively communicating, not complimenting her, and thinking that she was the one with the insecurities. It was all my doing.

I will apologize to her when I am sure that her response, if any, would not place me in the controlling aspect of pouring out my heart to force her to accept my apology. I can only apologize to her when it is truly sincere and no matter the response, if any, will still have me in a healthy head space.

Sometimes forgiving ourselves is better than anyone else’s forgiveness.

Thank you so much for your article and response. Let the healing began 🙂

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Diamoni

I can feel the passion in this article. This gave me so much life and energy to let go of this toxic person of 2 years. I truly needed this. It is so pure

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alicia

This was a good read I have been in a toxic not even sure what to call it for over 4 years because its for sure not a relationship in this time this narcassist has made me loose all self confidence and i have become to feel as though i deserve someone toxic and there treatment moving on is hard after you have been warn down emotuionally for so long

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Julie

Hello everyone. Well, I did it. I/we finally ended the crazy train ride and called it quits tonight. I knew I had to say it but it was he who innitiated it thankfully. Of all the times Ive broken it off, I just couldnt do it this time. Very hurtful. My ex fiance was abusive and couldnt stop hurting me which wasnt physical but I could not take the bad feelings he would cause me to have using guilt and manipulation. No matter the gifts and nice gestures. Im done and now Im in that place of fear again although not as bad this time. I just wanted to share this and I will check in as to the progress of all of this. I do not think hes going to beg and plead this time. I think he knows. Its sad. I need strength. Fear of the unknown.But I am no longer worried about anyone else. I am whats important now. I can move on.One step at a time. Peace.

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Julie

Weve discussed our future living arrangements. Im moving out Jan 6. Its very civil for now and hoping it continues. How bout you?

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~Hurt in Chicago~

Well, for me, the most positive news is that I’ve been getting counseling. The bad thing though is that my behavior hasn’t adjusted yet. It has gotten worse and I can’t seem to exhibit self control when needed. I haven’t talked to her in weeks (although I have tried), she seems to have taken all of the control back.

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Debbie

Reading Thro all these is giving me hope! I’m a struggling so much to walk away from a toxic relationship but the main problem is it my neighbour can literally see him from my window. He is a troubled person heavy drinker but I saw past this and was a fool to get involved , now I feel I’m going mad, he goes out regularly drinking , blanks my texts when I can see him sitting there at home. Turns up at mine drunk when I have cooked for him. Feel so angry at myself for letting him in and now feel so hurt and sad most of the time, have finished the relationship once again but am driving myself mad as he lives just opposite, have my blinds shut as can see him walk /drive past he has to go past my house to get out of road! It’s so hard to resist looking out window to see if he in or out feel going mad! Asked him to leave me alone to heal but he never does, thinks it all funny .

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Julie

One thing I need advice about though! He is now asking for the other half of the rent and one bill but in order to move out, Im going to need what extra money I have. He can afford to live here on his own but wants his money. It was our agreement that I pay a certain amount according to my income all these years and now that I broke up with him, hes being stingy. I dont want to cause more tension and would gladly agree to it but I need it in order to move out. Help!

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AA99

i have been in a relationship for more than 4 years. he says he loves me, but he broke it off few days ago saying he couldn’t do it anymore. we had too many issues. all we did was fight all the time and loved each other at the same time. he is very manipulative and abusive. i love him and i know that this relationship is toxic, but i am not able to let go of it and move on. it hurts. i don’t know what to do. help!!!

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

It is rarely easy to let go of any relationship, even one that you know is bad for you. If you are in a manipulative, abusive relationship, What will you be like in ten years if you stay?

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J

I want the person im with to get out we live in a apartment and his name is not on the lease but he said he pays most of the bills and hes not going anywhere but he is mentality abuse of any suggestions

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NoahDN7

I don’t feel like I can get out at all. Even after reading this and knowing I need to get out I can’t. I need help and I don’t know where to go…

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Sharon

This post helped me so much! My sister has a gambling addiction and through her actions has been homeless twice. She admits she still gambles but now attends meetings. She is 60 years old and has a daughter with disabilities who lives with her ex-husband. As her older sister I somehow feel responsible for her finances as she loses jobs, gambles, has no money. My entire family (all of us) gave her money for years and now that they all have passed she is wanting me to help her. I feel conflicted with the charitable aspect of Catholic/christian tenets to help those in need with the need to not go down with her ship while she uses me. She has stated she was always jealous of me and resented me. It’s such a long story, but I feel phenomenal angst every time I see her text. I feel sick that I would have to take care of someone who chooses to not take care of herself and the expectations of being the good sister, when I know all she truly wants is money. It’s been an ongoing heartache since all family members passed. She has never wanted to grow up and be responsible. I do not want anything to do with her, really. It’s never true as I feel she really does not like me either as I made different choices in my life. Distancing myself as suggested by this article will be my first step but if anyone has other suggestions, I would truly welcome them. Bless you for this article!

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Sharon

Dear Karen,

Thank you for sharing such a revealing and poignant article regarding this subject. I feel I could write a book in response. This article really needs to be imprinted in my heart as it is the heart that seems to be the most troubled. How can I live and be happy with a sister who has so little? When I reason it out in my head, I will often respond with the thoughts of wanting to tell her, “I can’t save you from yourself.” But, I never do because of seeming like a bad person. Sigh… Thank you for your insightful articles and genuine compassion.

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Karley

I am currently struggling with my decision to finally walk away from my chronicly alcohol dependant mother. This article has helped me considerably.
Walking away has been the hardest choice I have ever faced in my 41 years! The guilt is overwhelming at times….it is so much harder when i am forced to repeatedly justify my decision to walk away to siblings and other loved ones. Your article has been truely uplifting and helped me to be strong and stand by what I know is the only choice I can make for myself and my son.
Thankyou.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Karley. You sound strong and clear. I can hear how difficult it was for you to walk away. It’s never easy to let go of a relationship, but sometimes there is just no other way to keep yourself and the people you love protected. I wish it wasn’t this way. Know that you don’t have to justify your decision to anybody. Nobody else can possibly know your experience or the fully reasons you have made your decisions. It sounds as though you have acted with great courage. Keep moving forward and don’t let anybody’s doubt become yours.

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stranded

Dear Karen

I’d really like if you helped me out since I have failed a million times at helping myself.

Your article is empowering. After reading this article I am certain that my gf is toxic and I kind of knew that even before I read the article which brought me to reading it.

I have tried before to let her go but failed MISERABLY. When I try to leave, her cruel, manipulative behavior comes into play and if i am strong enough to make it through that, she starts getting softer and even begging to get me back until I am. But once I am back she is the same toxic person again. And we are in a cycle. And if i manage to leave her I miss and crave her too damn much. I see her in everything around me. I even think you look like her. It drives me crazy and I end up going back to her, feeling shitty.

I am in deep grief and misery at the moment. I want to get out of this happy. I dont know what to do. Please help.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

There is no easy way to let go of a relationship. When you leave, have the list of reasons with you all the time so you can remind yourself of why you left. It might be screenshots of texts that came to you in fights, or a handwritten list of why you need to get out. Make the list when you are feeling strong and certain and use it as an anchor when you are feeling wobbly. When you leave, try to spend time with the people who care about you to remind yourself of how relationships should feel. Then, write down a simple line to give you strength when you need it. This will come from you. Remind yourself that just because you miss her, it doesn’t mean the relationship is right for you. People miss all sorts of addictions when they let go of them, even though those addictions slowly break them. Here is an article that might also help you. It explains how relationships are like addictions, and why you go through what you go through when you leave http://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. I hope it is able to give you the strength and comfort you’re looking for. Everything you need to move forward is in you. Now you just need to trust that.

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Mari

Hi,
I am 56 years old and a few months ago, had a stark realization that it was harmful for me to continue contact with my 2 sisters. My relationship with one sister has felt one sided and I was having reocurring dreams over the years, that I was trying to connect with her emotionally, and she would walk away, not quite acknowledging I was even there. I realized this was a pattern I had in intimate relationships with men…trying to connect and communicate while they were cold and uncommunicative and passive aggressive. I realized that, with my sister, I felt guilty, like I was never doing enough. I had also resigned myself to accepting that when I would send her a gift, something I put thought into and was personal, like a necklace she had wanted and earrings I had made for her last Christmas and mailed, I would hear nothing, no thank you or acknowledgement that she even received it. I decided to accept that I would never hear from her upon receiving a Christmas or birthday gift, until I realized that I was diminishing myself and my life force by this acceptance and pretending it was ok. This is not to say I don’t receive gifts or cards from her for Christmas or birthdays, I do, and they are always filled with I love you!!! which is the confusing part. I feel there is no relationship there. She lives with her husband and family 3 1/2 hours away, and I have driven there for Christmas some years, but she has never even seen my home of 11+ years. I have tried to suggest we meet half way for lunch but she says she is too busy with work and her kids, one who is 18, and the other 2 in their 20’s.
So, after trying to call her and have a conversation and getting no answer, I texted her, and asked her to respond that she even heard or understood what I was trying to say, and I heard nothing back from her which is her way of saying she is angry, which is her being passive aggressive, which is why I can’t do this anymore. This is really hard, because I am her older sister, and have always felt a loyalty to her, but I can’t do this anymore…
The hardest part will be Christmas, because she is the only family I have close by, and I am single, so I have to be brave and not feel guilty.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You are wise and open-hearted. It sounds as though you have worked hard on your relationship with your sister. Trust your intuition about what the right thing is to do for you. When you come from a place of generous intent, as you are, whether it leads you away or towards, it will be the right thing for you. The key is to trust that. I wish you love and peace over Christmas and hope your relationship with your sisters is able to find a way forward. I can hear how much you want that.

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Julie

I love this advice. Your story angers me because most people would give their right arm for a sister, let alone one who makes such an effort as you do. I think that since you are the one making all the effort while she half ass engages you, you should stop. It has been my experience that she will either wonder where you went and enquire or she wont and either way this will tell you what you need to know. Two qoutes come to mind here:

“You have nothing to lose if there’s nothing to lose”

“Don’t push me away and wonder where I went”

Its painful to be in your position mostly because you feel like your sister is more than a friend who you could cut out of your life if they dont fit, shes family. Everybody says that. But thats just it, who cares if shes family? Shes a person who is not there for you. Period. And I would tell you to set your boundaries with her and let her know youre ready if and when she choses to meet you in the middle but it sounds like shes already let you know her true intentions and really you need to be ok with it because your life is precious and not to be wasted on feelings of guilt. She certainly seems fine. Peace and much love to you.

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Mari

Dear Julie,
Thank you for your caring and thoughtful reply…
Everything you said rings very true for me and gives me strength.
I had a softening a couple of days ago, a calm feeling of sensing my sister is doing the best she can, in her overwhelmed life. I am also not willing to move toward her anymore under the current circumstances and waste my precious energy. I have a beautiful, peaceful, creative, and loving life to live.
Your words helped me clarify my feelings and intentions for myself and my life moving forward.
Wishing you all love and good things in your life!
Warmly,
Mari

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Julie

Mari,

This makes me so happy to read. You have such a warm spirit and you truly sound like youre in a better place now and that is such a gift. When the light clicks, it just clicks. It just takes time. Im happy I could help you. I feel that I am good at understanding and empathizing when peolpe are hurting because I can feel it almost as much as they do and in turn, speak from my heart with raw emotion and honesty. I hope my love for helping shines through. Keep being amazing and doing what you love and what makes you happy. Peace and love to you tonight my dear.

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Mona

I kept reading this article over and over today! I’ve been feeling overwhelmed to call him but I know I cant! Its for my benefit and my future! I broke the relationship a month ago for the 6th time. His really nice to me and a sweetheart but his manipulative and had a meth and pornography problem and has also starting in this past year I believe having sex with men! When I read this article its given me the strength to not contact him and especially the part where you say I can keep loving him but leave the door opened that when he is ready and has accepted to come to my terms is life-giving and courageous!

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~Hurt in Chicago~

Update: She has made the decision to move forward with ending this. She claimed that she needed space, but in reality, it was a ruse to say that she wanted to end our situation. She blocked me from calling her and I flipped out. However, I do realize that the child that hurt inside, came out to represent. Nonetheless, I am now able to accept it being over and it was for the best.

I assumed that this is completely over and have tried my best toxic way to burn this bridge. I am actually sorry I did that, but I accept the response and reaction.

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Tricia

Great read and it has led me to one question and issue that I’m really struggling with. What helps to get over someone who you dated for almost a year and have been repeating a mistake of talking to them on and off for almost a year and a half after the break up? The relationship was toxic but I find myself missing some of his characteristics. And I have tried to get over this person by ‘moving on’ but I don’t want to put myself out there again until I’m back to the person I was before I dated this guy. I want to be confident and happy with who I am like I was before I dated him. I hope this makes sense! I also haven’t met anyone who meets my expectations for what I’m looking for in a man.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Tricia your comment makes complete sense to me. Even the most toxic relationships will very likely have something good about them – you were drawn to him for a reason. This doesn’t mean the relationship will be good for you, as you know. The problem is that time can tend to dull the truth about a relationship and have you believing that the good was better than it was, and that the bad wasn’t as bad. This will be stirred up every time you have contact with him. Letting go of relationships can be similar to letting go of an addiction. Here is an article that will explain that and hopefully give you some clarity around why you are having trouble letting go http://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. I hope this helps. You might not have met the one who is right for you yet, but that doesn’t mean that you should settle for someone you know to be wrong. Stay strong. The right person is out there.

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a girl

I’ve always been telling myself that things can and will get better. And I guess at times it has, but now it’s here again. It’s always been here. I thought everything was going well until now I’m starting to see those elements from my friend, how she doesn’t seem to show me the same respect or priority as she does for others. Considering that we’re close, I always wonder why she seems to ignore me and treat me poorly. Does she even know? We’ve had arguments in the past and I regret not bringing up THIS issue before. Now, I’m still too scared to. What if I lose her for real this time? What if she starts defending herself? What if we fight again? I don’t want to argue. I just want her to listen and hope she knows what she’s doing in my eyes. A part of me feels like she’d understand, but still what if? What if she doesn’t?

It’s ironic of her situations. Whatever she tells me, she doesn’t realise that’s how I feel because of her. It’s all so stupid.

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Cigarettebutts

Hello, in all honesty I don’t know if I’m in a toxic relationship (friendship specifically), but i’m confused about the whole nature of it. A few of my friends pointed it out, what they thought to be some weird-ish behavior. Most of these have been my own observations however, like:

Always wants to know where i am (I mean it’s fine, we’re close friends, we used to have a circle of friends and we all hung out together, but now that I’m not studying this semester, they don’t hang out with them anymore?? They willingly isolate themselves, I thought we were all good friends but apparently they don’t care enough except to ask them about me).

Making me feel like all my plans for the future are bad.Like shooting them down almost immediately. (Specifically if this means, not interacting as much with said person, by moving away to a more distant place.)

If I make a decision that takes me to somewhere distant, this person “adjusts” their plans so that they converge. Do they not understand that sometimes life takes you in different directions? It just comes across as very clingy, like they just don’t wanna be apart from me.

Always giving too much. (It makes me feel like i run a charity. It’s not like i don’t appreciate it. But sometimes it’s like i have no say in the matter.)

Being too clingy in general. Not giving me the personal space i want (even after confronting said person about it.)

Making inappropriate jokes and/or comments about sensitive topics about your life.

This person also harbors romantic feelings towards me and (used to) make indirect jabs about it although I had already told them I didn’t feel the same. It’s almost as if they want me to feel guilty about it. Once (although they passed it off as a joke) they made a comment about there being something wrong with me because I’m not in love with them.

They also provoke me when it comes to religion themed topics. I had already said i believe in God, and they know this. This person however doesn’t believe in anything. I believe it’s fine to have passionate conversations about said themes, but they say it in manners that are offensive. Disrespectful, almost like what they say it’s the right answer.

Maybe I’m just being dramatic or sensitive but I’ve noticed all these things for years now, but have continually brushed it aside in favor of continuing the friendship. After they told me they wanted to be more than just friends with me, although things were never the same I tried to still keep being their friend because I genuinely thought that they were a good person. It’s not like they’re a bad person, but over the years I’ve just noticed that there a few things about them that aren’t exactly favorable, and I’ve never had this sort of problem with other friends. After interacting with them I usually feel exhausted. I feel bad about feeling like this, but the feelings of discomfort have always been there, even before they confessed to me. I’ve only now chosen to do something about it and even now I feel bad about it. People have pointed out problematic things about them in the past but like always I brushed it off. I’m not entirely sure if my situation qualifies as toxic, but your input or help would be appreciated. Thank you for writing this article, it was very informative and if you take the time to read this answer I would be eternally grateful.

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Mari

These words are life affirming and provide an anchor when in doubt or confused…
Thanks, Karen

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Vega

Thank you so much for this article 🙂 just walked away from a 9 year to is relationship. I needed this.

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distressed

Hi, I think my twin is toxic. We’ve done everything together all our lives and there has been so many examples of this type of behaviour. I opened up to my boss eventually and she said if that was my partner behaving like that she’d tell me to get out of an abusive relationship. The problem I have is that our bond is so deep and strong that I t imagine anything else. I am married and my spouse is amazing. She does what she can to bring him down but he rides the waves with dignity. As a couple we are happy and have a lovely family. But when issues with my twin crop up it just ruins everything. I literally have no friends, heck I don’t even know how to make friends, I’ve never needed to. How do I break this cycle without ruining everyones lives? She lies to me all the time and she thinks I don’t know. She belittles me telling me I can’t do things can’t cope with things, can’t have friends and I just let her walk all over me. I really want to change my life and often feel like running away from everything.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though there is only one thing in your life that needs to change, and that is your relationship with your twin. This is a time of enormous growth for you. It’s not easy to realise that the people we love, and who love us back, have so much power to hurt us. The way you break the cycle is to decide on the things you will tolerate and the things you won’t. Discuss with your partner what is needed to protect your marriage from being damaged by your relationship with your twin, then, if you agree with them, discuss these boundaries with your twin. You can’t make her respect them, but as the article explains, you can decide when she comes into your life. If she chooses not to respect the things that are important to you, that is her decision, but she is the one deciding not to do what she needs to do to be a part of your life. Let her know that the door to you will always be open, but for the sake of both of you, the relationship needs to feel safe, kind and loving and respectful and the important people in your life, such as your spouse. Be specific about the things that aren’t working for you in a way that she can respond to. For example, ‘you make me feel bad’, is vague and difficult to work with. On the other hand, ‘I need you to stop saying negative things about [spouse]. If you can’t do this, I’m not able to spend time with you. I’ll miss you, but I’m not prepared to stand by while you say these sort of things. I’ll always be ready to have a relationship with you when you’re ready to treat [spouse] with respect.’ – or something like that. It won’t be easy, and it will take guts, but for the sake of you, your relationship, and your relationship with your spouse, it sounds as though it’s time to put strong boundaries around her behaviour that feels hurtful for you.

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Manda

Wow such a good read! So I have been in a toxic relationship for the past year and half. Never in a million years did I think I’d fall in love with such a difficult man. He is soo emotionally unstable I can’t even fathom things anymore. I love him more than I’ve loved any man and the love I have for him runs deep. It’s like I can’t give up on him. It’s not about us, it’s about him. I was always the one to end a relationship because the guy wasn’t what I wanted or I didn’t feel the love. It’s so different this time, I care about this man so much. I’m practically a part of his family, mind you he has a very big family and we live in a small town where everyone knows everyone. I’m only 30 years old and everyone tells me I deserve much better where he is 10 years older than me. He’s never been physically abusive but the way his feelings change from one day to the next just drives me to my ends. I have come to the fact that he buries himself in his career for a reason. He has issues soo much. I mean either you love a person and make it work or you don’t and let them go right? It’s not that easy with this man. He claims to want to spend the rest of his life with me and things will be great and then bam I’m blocked for “overreacting” or some nonsense. It’s always me. I just don’t understand him at all. I know I need to let go but I see something in him that I can’t give up on. How do you let go of someone that has shown you a love you’ve never felt before? I feel like if I walk away I may never care this much about another man in my life again…I just don’t get it. I’m a good girl with a big, forgiving heart..outta all the guys out there how the heck did I fall for one that is impossible to love? Gosh I wish I knew…

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Julie

Oh, Manda. I was there. Right where you are and like so many of us on here. It feels like its all about him because for him IT IS and you wont change that. I know it feels like giving up. Like an impossible feat . Like a waste of time if you dont make it work. A let down to yourselves and others. I know this all! It took me three years of knowing it wasnt right to break free. Its not your time yet, but youre getting there. I know you fear him reading your phone, or criticizing what you wear, what you say, who you associate with. The list goes on. I know your fears. I know that he can be very loving and nice at times. But thats what he uses to control you. Im sorry but manipulation by anyone is a tactic to try to control you. I got sucked in because I knew the hurt he was causing me wasnt intentional. He couldnt stop and so I had to put a stop to it. Sweety, you cant be happy with someone who does not offer you security in everyway. I know your security is shaken. I know with each day, your self worth is deminishing because you cant seem to please him enough and you cant believe you, a smart , kind girl could be wrapped up in this. You probably even see his friends and family believe and see what you do but they dont say a thing because they dont have to live with the accussations of cheating, of talking behind his back, of not inviting and including him, the list of how hes a victim goes on and on. So Ive been there but my light turned on and my tears are gone and I dropped the dead weight once and for all. Im not saying you should. I just know your story because it is my story. Its like I wrote this and not you. I know youre not ready. You havent reached your limit. But you will sweety and he will not be able to feel anything but the understanding that he was the root of the problem which may or may not be admitted to. Take care sweet girl.

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Joe

My relationship with my wife in ending in divorce. I was the one who was toxic. She moved out 10 months ago and I have been trying to get her back. I was head over heels crazy about her since we were both 14 now we are 48. We have been together 7 years. 2 years ago I was forced to retire from the military and I got really depressed. I put her down and hurt her feeling often and I don’t know why. I am seeking counseling now but I am so heartbroken. I miss her more than anything and I don’t know how to stop hurting. She was my best friend. She says she hates me and has moved on with someone else. Our divorce date is in 2 weeks. I am so hurt I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be that toxic person anymore. What do I do?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Joe it sounds as though you have been through a really tough time, aside from what you are going through in relation to your marriage. I’m so sorry this has happened to you. You have learned a lot and you are moving forward with new clarity and new wisdom. Toxic people don’t have insight into their behaviour and they also don’t have any empathy or regret for the damage they do to other people. You and your wife are now on different paths, but there will be a happier version of you and your life. I know it doesn’t feel like that now, but there will be. Sometimes the only way to end the pain is to learn from it and to start down the new path that is waiting for you. The time has come for you to stop punishing yourself for what has happened. There will be new experiences and new relationships, all of which will be better for the learnings and growth you have gone through because of your heartbreak. I can hear your regret and your wish for things to have ended differently. I’m pleased you are seeing a counsellor. You deserve to feel happy, and you will. It’s often he changes we want the least that have the most life-giving effects on us, and open us up to a new way of being and relating to the world, ourselves and the people in it. This takes guts, and you’re doing it. Love and healing to you.

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Kat

I just wanted to say, I am sitting here in my apartment, bawling my eyes out because I have to break up with my toxic girlfriend. I love her with al of my heart and I don’t want to do this, but I know how she makes me feel now. Everything in this article was true, and it made me cry harder. I have tried everything, and nothing has been good enough to make things work. Every time she hurt my feelings, I felt belittled, like I didn’t matter, and I ended up thinking everything was my fault. It was my fault she snapped at me, yelled at me in front of people, criticized me. I believed she criticized me because she wanted me to be better, but her criticism changes a lot about who I am and now I feel I am losing just what it means to be me. My girlfriend has put me down in jokes, through criticism, telling me I am too sensitive, need a thicker skin, and so on. She has belittled me publicly and privately. We have only been together for a year and 5 months but at least 11 months of it has been increasingly hell. We fight daily, when I fight back. I am mustering up the courage to do it in 30 minutes and I feel weak, small, and I feel like I am no match for her. She is my first love, first relationship, and this hurts like hell. Anyway, I could go on about this, I just wanted to say, thank you for this beautiful article. It forces one to see reality instead of what we want to see, no matter how bad it hurts us. This article is giving me strength and clarity. Thank you so much.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Kat I’m so pleased this have given you the strength and clarity you needed to move forward. It’s never easy to let go of a relationship, but it sounds as though you have worked hard to try to make this work. I wish you love and srength.

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Julie

You have just got to start the conversation. It feels painfully awkward but once you start, it wont be easy but it will make you feel better with each new admission. If this is the very first breakup, she will resist and you will retreat out of guilt and shame and you will both fight to keep love alive. Ive done it at least three times but what you must know is that if its there now, it aint going away. You will try , both saying you will make changes but you will go back to how it always was, but maybe a bit better but still not enough to keep trying. Plus, once you are made to feel bad and small repeatedly, you feel a little less for them each time until finally you have no more tears to cry. And its THE GREATEST FEELING IN THE WORLD. Freedom from the shackles. Freedom to live free of being their doormat to wipe all of their insecurities, shortcomings, and anger on. Im sorry I did not see this until now. Youre coming forward and speaking on this is going to free you in one way or another. But its a step you must take and congrats for taking it. Youre gonna do fine. Listen to your gut and your heart and like Karen says, if it feels bad, it is bad. You just have to reach the place where there is no doubt in what youre going to do. Much love and peace tonight.

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Mimi

It has been a month since he ended up in prison yet I cant stop thinking about him. I was offered counseling from a victims advocacy group but I dont feel like talking to them. I feel like I should try to beg for his forgiveness and take the punishment I deserve because I am an awful person. It is just eating me up inside. I wish the constant pain would end.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Mimi the way you are feeling now is really normal. It’s only been a month. Letting go of a relationship is like letting go of an addiction – it takes time and the temptation to run back to the familiar, even if it was so broken, can be overwhelming sometimes. This article will explain that http://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. If this is the relationship you have known for a while, this is where you will likely feel most comfortable, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Clearly it wasn’t right for you! You have to fight for yourself through this. You know how this relationship plays out. You’ve seen it so many times before. You have to fight for yourself through this. There is a happier, more secure version of your life waiting for you but you have to let go of the things that are hurting you so that the right things can find you. Sometimes it’s the changes that we want the least, and resist the most, that bring the most life-giving, most ‘right’ changes to our lives. But it takes strengths and guts – you have plenty of that inside you. You wouldn’t have got to this point if you didn’t. Let the victims advocacy group help you. Right now, there are two paths you can take – to go back or to let go. You know what your path looks like if you go back. It’s time to try something new. You can do this. You have everything inside you to do this. Trust that. It will be worth it.

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Joe

I’m currently experienced something very painful. The relationship I had is very bizarre for me since I have never met a guy like this. He is 32 years old man who has low esteem and depression problem started from his young age. He pursued me for 7 months after we really met. I knew some of his problems but I feel he is still a good person that I want to know him better. Therefore, we started to date for two weeks and then he started to change into someone totally different / maybe that’s the real himself and I don’t want to put myself into too much because I knew he could not handle it. After a while, I tried to encourage him to come out more to have fun like everyone would do. He went totally shut down on me and sent me text that I deserved someone better. Just because I encouraged him to have more confidence and believe himself a little more because he is not bad as he thinks, I don’t want to change him but he didn’t even see how negative he is, everything is not gonna happen, I don’t even know whether he was faking it or not because maybe he just want get laid by pretending to be sad. He had so many short term girl friends and he said each one of them has different problems and he kept talking with his long term girlfriend after they broke up while he was sleeping with other girls. He is so damaged and I feel sorry for him, But he hurt me by blaming me not into him that much, relationship is two way dynamics. I supported him to find a better job and to have a goal in his life, but what I got in the end of day, I deserve someone better. What’s wrong with him? Thanks!

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beanz

Look up poor me people and then run a mile… don’t be sucked in because it will drain you and then they blame you and you wonder how did I end up here when all I wanted was to help… All the many girls he says have problems ha! What’s the common denominater between them all…HIM…. bet ya they didn’t start out with problems just got sucked in his poor me pity party and ended up with a massive one and his way of keeping that under wraps is to say it’s them they are crazy have issues or whatever. The celestine prophecy is a good book teaching about all the different types of people and explains the poor me person… very energy draining. My advice walk away now before you get too drained with the negative and end up stuck fighting to help someone who has no intentions of helping themselves. Poor me people learn early on that they don’t need to do much in life to get by if they can make people feel sorry for them they will do all the hard work x hope this helps

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Jess

Sounds like he’s still with his long term girlfriend. He also sounds like he’s too damaged to have a healthy relationship.

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Paul

Toxic relationships
I have just come out of one ,what a bloody disaster it was and I’m left feeling I’m the guilty one it was all my fault . If I could only have changed it would be fine I could have saved it .Wrong !!!! I still think about her I still miss her I still love her ,but I know she was so wrong for me the pain of letting go ,of course it’s my ex where the pain lies and not the letting go .the steps to happier times are long and lonely it’s what we have to do ,when the ship goes down swim away from the wreckage.

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hannah

i know i deserve someone better and that he probably doesnt even love me but its still so hard. i dont know what to do.

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Amy

@Hannah I feel your pain. I know I deserve someone who will treat me the way I deserve but that fear of being alone and not having anyone to run to at the end of the day is hard.

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Leigh

I have just left my alcoholic husband. I have met someone who treats me really well and gives me the love I deserve yet I feel so guilty about destroying a family and leaving my husband. He does not give me what I need and makes me feel bad about myself so why is it so hard to move on

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Leaving any relationship is difficult, even if it is a relationship that is hurting you. No relationship is all good or all bad, and when you leave a relationship, it is easy to focus on the parts that were good. That doesn’t mean the relationship is right for you. Take the time to find your strength and heal, so you can move on completely.

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Shelly

I copied many of the statements in this article. I really liked the last one about letting go of people until they are ready to treat you with love, respect and kindness.
I have been involved with a very toxic man for over 4 years. He has been physically, emotionally and financially abusive. He has treated many people in his life including his children poorly for many years. He is really left with no one at this point and still has trouble forming relationships.
When he perforated my eardrum from hitting me I decided it was time to end it before he killed me or caused me permanent brain damage. There is an now an order of protection and he was forced to leave my home but his stuff is still here. I have the legal right to do whatever I wish with it but I am too kind of a person to get rid of someones belongings. I know its ridiculous after all hes done to me. I could make back the almost 20,000 dollars he owes me by selling it but I cant do it.
The worst part of it all is I still love him. I check back with him often to see if he’s changed or making progress with the counselor he is finally seeing. I am quickly reminded that he is an excellent manipulator when his anger at “what I did to him” cant be held back. I turn around and run away again, but the problem is I keep going back. I have to come to terms with the fact that he will not change.
This turmoil is holding me back from a productive, happy, healthy life and I am very aware of it but I still do it anyway. I have read many things, seen counselors, but this article hit me differently when I read it. Why do we waste time on unhealthy people, especially when we are surrounded by so many good ones?????

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Shelly I’m so pleased you found this article. Relationships become habits – it’s that way for all of us. All relationships, even the bad ones, generally have something good about them. If there is nothing good about them now, there are generally memories or the reasons you became close in the first place. It’s easier to give these ‘positives’ more weight when you are out of a relationship, and to start questioning whether you could have done something to save the relationship. Give it time, but don’t look back. Keep moving forward. You know what your experience of this relationship is – it’s lonely, unsafe, confusing and painful. It takes time to adjust to a new reality that doesn’t involve someone we have been so close to for so long. Keep moving forward. If you need to, lock onto a memory or something solid, like a text to remind yourself why the bravest, strongest, wisest part of you knows how important it is that you keep walking away. Stay strong.

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Austin

Reading this… it is all correct. You know how I know this? Because I am a toxic person. I had a girl who had been my best friend for years and we dated for 3 and now that she done with me and she has given up on me I understand what she said when she said I am a toxic person. I blamed my mistakes on her, always ruined things then ran back to her and blamed it on her again, treated her poorly. She is a beautiful and caring woman so she stuck by my side time after time but I never changed. I kept being the arrogant douche bag I am… I constantly stay up and think about her and run our relationship through my head over and over… I can’t get a grip on how toxic I really was. I hurt her, but she is free from me now.. she is healing she will get better she’s amazingly strong. & to be honest the toxicness does come from childhood.. It was rough for me but it is mainly my fault for letting it take over me. Girls, women, if you read this article and you feel like this is your relationship.. get out. Heal. You deserve better. Guys, if this is you don’t constantly bother her and chase after her after she has had enough of your crap. Let her go, respect her as a friend. She deserves to heal for what you put her through and find God. He is indeed the only one that can fix this, I myslef have found him and he has worked amazing things in my favor. I’m learning, one day I may have her in my life again, but as for now I don’t deserve her. Ladies stand up for yourselves make him go fix himself, drop him flat on his face. Toxic individuals need to hit rock bottom before they seek help just remember that. I pray the best for all. -AM

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Julie

I love what youve said and the insight is appreciated. I hope she does come back into your life because that would be a success story. For me though, the hurt, the loss, the pain, the craziness, the damage is already done and I cant imagine being together again with this person especially when I ignored so many red flags and knew that we just didnt “get” each other, aside from the abuse. You have already taken the biggest, most difficult step of all. Keep working on yourself. I believe you will get there. Love and peace

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Shelly

Austin, I loved reading this and I pray one day my ex will do the same. I truly love him and want to spend a healthy life with him but as you said for now it can’t be.

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Melanie

Austin… *Thankyou so much* for taking the time to share your opinion.

I’ve been reading articles like this for nearly 2 years (still) trying to detangle myself from a very, very toxic relationship (the kind that needs police/court involvement, family/career intervention, mandatory counselling, etc.)

—and the biggest issue I’ve had with ‘moving on’ is dealing with the pain of feeling like I’m ‘abandoning him’.

I know what he did (and continues to do) is wrong; no one should be treated/talked to/hurt the way he has done unto me for the last 3 years. But like you said, I know his issues stem from a difficult childhood and mishandling his anger. I’ve justified it all along, blinding and deluding myself about how bad it was actually getting (emotionally, physically…)

The fact is I still really love ‘the good version’ of him, and it kills me to have to ‘abandon him’ when he manipulates me to make me feel like ‘I’m the only one that can make him feel better’. Ironic considering I’m also the only one that makes him erupt in (borderline psychotic) rage too…

TLDR: Thankyou for saying the words I needed to hear (from a real guy; not a counsellor or a ‘self help’ article). Knowing that men like you are capable of ‘coming round’ makes me feel less crazy/guilty…

I used to wonder “but who’s going to love the ‘bad people’; because surely they’re the ones who need it most” and maybe now (because of you) I can trust that one day *they can be loved* without hurting/killing someone else’s spirit. Thankyou more than words can say Austin <3

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Randy

I enjoyed this article, and the one before it (I clicked a link from a previous article). Had an argument at Thanksgiving with the family today, and I left. My father has been that toxic figure-head in the family my whole life. Belittling, critical, and shaming was his way when I was a kid and has continued from time to time as an adult, becoming less to none in recent years. We’ve had our troubles since I was a teenager when I began to speak my mind. He punched me in the stomach once when I stood up to him. Our relationship was quite poor for many years, but I always maintained a relationship with the family because I didn’t want to punish my mom she has always been there for me and we are close. I stood up for her many times over the years. My father and I haven’t had any blowouts for a few years, and even though he and I never do anything together except when I visit the house, our relationship has been even for awhile. Today signified that he is always one moment away from being his old self. I finally had enough when I spoke up about something and was more or less told that my opinion wasn’t important. My sister had brought her laundry over to the parents house to wash a couple loads (she does this every Thanksgiving/Christmas), I’ve always let it go, but last year it really bothered me. This year when she arrived basket and clothes in hand, I expressed that I didn’t think it was right to do laundry on a holiday, that we are all there to spend time with family. She had a meltdown about it and walked out. My mom, as she always does, went to her rescue. My dad yelled at me “goddamit Randy” and the mess began. I asked “do I not have an opinion?” and he said “NO”. I had him repeat it…..and I told him if I don’t have an opinion then I don’t want to be part of the family. I walked out and told my sister (at her car) to stay and I left. My mom called about an hour later and asked me to come back, I told her I love her dearly and would do anything for her, but I am done with him, that I’m not putting myself in that environment anymore. I know this hurt her, all she wants is the family to be there at Thanksgiving and to get along. We’ve never had a situation like this on Thanksgiving, but I suppose that was my “enough is enough”. I don’t know what will occur moving forward, I don’t expect anything to change……this article helps me to understand what I can do to move forward, create boundaries, and express them to those in the family that want to listen.

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Jess

Thank you so much for this article. It has opened my eyes and for once made sense. Especially love this part of the article “Breaking away from a toxic relationship can feel like tearing at barbed wire with bare hands. The more you do it, the more it hurts, so for a while, you stop tearing, until you realise that it’s not the tearing that hurts, it’s the barbed wire – the relationship – and whether you tear at it or not, it won’t stop cutting into you.” For almost 5yrs I have been with my baby’s dad. And for that whole time he continues to lie and treat me with no respect. On top of doing whatever he wants and when he wants. Deep down I know he truly doesn’t love me. But he manipulates me into thinking he cares. So I hold on to that. Hoping one day he will be different. But I’m so tired of feeling unloved and I’m sick of being belittled all the time. So yes I’m going to work on me and hopefully leave him in the past.

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Mr. Get out

Married for just over seven years to a toxic woman. In and out of rehab for alcohol abuse. She was terrible to me, oppressive, jealous, controlling. So abusive in many ways, but I loved her and although we’ve been apart for a few months now, I’m still having problems with this. I just started seeing someone, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that either. I’m angry. I’m not sure what I’m more angry about, if it’s that life we pictured for our future that vanished in the blink of an eye or the seven years wasted with a toxic jerk.

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beanz

I don’t think it’s healthy to regret time with someone. Each relationship we go through we either learn what we do want in a life partner and what we don’t want so at the very least you have grown in knowledge about what your willing to tolerate. I use to have anger about a toxic ex I stayed 8years with built a home together litrally with our own bare hands when it was complete he moved in his mistress and out I went. The letting go of a future you have set in your mind is difficult but at the other end of the scale I was happy to not have to put up with the abuse anymore…I was free… I look at the me back then and I don’t even know who I became and although there’s times I miss my house and the future picture we painted. I’d never want to go back to that life. In time the anger does fade I find it helps to say out loud at least once a day all the things I’m grateful for and all the things that make me happy in the here and now. No matter how big or small focusing your mind in the now, today, this moment and being grateful for that helps to shift the focus of a life thats no longer relevant and keeps it grounded in what’s actually important… reality… reality is now…not what was or will be. Worrying serves no purpose other than to hurt us twice. Live in the now and you will feel better. Hope this helps.

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Marie

This article was excellent and really spoke to my situation. I didn’t realise I was in a toxic relationship I just thought my boyfriend was a bit ‘stubborn’. In the end every positive change was resisted because he didn’t want to grow.

I’m sorry I wasted time but thankful I tried enough scenarios to really feel like I can walk away and not look back.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased the article was helpful. As much as we would like for some people to change in positive ways, people will only change when they’re ready. I wish it could be different, but know that no experience is ever wasted. It sounds as though you have gained wisdom and insight, and that this will lift you forward.

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J

I’ve been in what I feel is a toxic relationship for going on 13 years now…..3 kids ….living above his family and I don’t keep in contact with mine ….we kinda went our own separate ways…..our relationship has always been a rollercoaster of emotions ….it was either really bad or really good ….when we had gotten together I had just left my ex to whom was cheating on me after him and I had just lost a child together…then I met this guy……I was 20 so was he …he was going through hard times and I was too….we were there for each other….i had found out 6 months later I was pregnant ….both happy and scared….we both left and moved in together …not even a month later physical and emotional abuse started and escaladed….then it would calm down it was like that for years …. after time the physical stuff stopped and things were getting better….so I thought…..now I Find myself sitting hear in tears again….he just recently got promoted and I understand it comes with a lot more responsibility but now he works all day and on his days off….then the little time he does make he goes out to the restaurant with his co-workers to eat and have drinks… doesn’t call …he said he doesn’t need to check in that it’s not necessary ….he no longer Finds time to spend with the kids and I ….he said his mind is on his money….I recently walked in on him in the middle of him texting his co-worker…he started deleting it…but the previous text said…”I don’t know why I’m feeling this way ?” And she had wrote back why? It’s just me ….he had no response but to say it was an accident and he should of never hit on her…..then another time he came home so upset….I had asked him why and he has said because this one girl he works with is so sweet and she’s with this guy that is such an ass….go figure … really????…. he’s been critizing me about everything and making me feel crazy for having feeling ….. I don’t know why I stay I know where to go or what to do …that’s just a bit of what’s going on ….thank you for letting me vent ….am I the toxic one in the relationship ? Idk….thanks for any advice

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

The important thing here isn’t so much about who is the toxic one, but that the relationship is hurting you. Whether one of you is toxic or both of you is toxic is irrelevant. The point is, the relationship doesn’t feel good for you. When there is physical and emotional abuse, the relationship is in trouble. I understand how difficult it is to let go of any relationship, but the truth is that sometimes staying is harder, more painful, and more damaging to the person you are. If it’s love, it feels like love.

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Angie

I believe I was in a toxic relationships but sometimes I’m wonder if I was or am the toxic person. However, I tend to always say sorry to people first or only even with things that are not my fault because I don’t like arguments or anyone being mad at me.( this being pointed out by friend and by sisters). Here’s my story. That’s changed me. I met this guy at my job I had for 11 years. He courted me, came by my cubicle at work everyday to visit me and was or seemed sweet. We had things in common one being both lost a brother when they were 19 and we were tweens. It started off as friends really going out to eat, movies, texting and calling everyday. And then a relationship. Physical. He had told me he dealt with depression and I assumed it wasn’t that bad because one he’s a police officer and he was generally nice. He did say he had a commitment phobia later on. Which I didn’t care about because I then wasn’t looking for anything long term. Now to try to make this long story short. He started to get irritated with me, for instance I text him one time what are you doing and he saying driving to D.C. I don’t remember what the next thing I said was but he blew up at me called me screaming that I shouldn’t be texting him and do I want him to get in a car accident and die. I was taken back and hurt because I never seen him this way. And it hurt. I had a fear of driving for one my brother was killed in a car accident and he knew it. I left him a lone after that but he came back to me. I don’t think I ever got an apology he was smooth and I think he made it look like my fault. After a while I noticed I was always afraid to voice my opinion because it might offend him. And when I did he would ignore me for a long time and not come around. He would come back. Say he depressed but then say, he cares for me and I am number one. i ended up pregnant, lost the child and this is how he comforted me. Hugged and kissed me, slept with me one last time. And on the phone later on he told me it takes more than that for me to love someone. I was crushed. It’s been a while since but this has hurt me bad. He recently told me he lied he did love me and still does and possibly wanted to work it out with me. God knows why but I was hopeful. He then ignores me and when I say hey what up he tell me look, it’s not going to work for me, I love you still but not in the same capacity. And that’s it nada. I was sitting on my porch with neighbor about a month later and he drives by my house staring me down twice up and down road and I text him. We can be cordial you can say hello or wave in not mad at you. Which at the time I was feeling optimistic and he text me back don’t call or text or emAil me ever. I will get a warrant and have you arrested and anprotective order served. Yet he doesn’t patrol my area and he was riding up and down my road and parked at the corner of my daughter school, two street behind mine a day or two before and also doesn’t patrol my area. i am a recluse now. I stay inside and I’m afraid of even the smallest conflict and timid. He said I lash out but I never hurt people I love. I have told him he’s hurt me and how. And I’ll admit after his meanest I have said f*** you and go to hell. However was I in a really toxic relationship or was it me?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Angie the most important thing here is that the combination of you didn’t work. It sounds as though there were many things that happened that were cruel and hurtful for you. Don’t keep hurting yourself by assuming that the world is like this and that other relationships will hurt you the way this one has. There will be someone there who is looking to love someone like exactly like you, and who will have the very same ideas of what a healthy relationship should look like. You will have emerged from this relationship with greater wisdom and insight into what works and also the warning signals that should send you running. Use this wisdom to strengthen you, and to open yourself up to the love you deserve.

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Angie

Thank you. I’ve been punishing myself for years. I’ve never met anyone like him and it makes me fear men. I even deal with depression now because of this relationship. I was vibrant, outgoing, and full of life. For 6 years now, I’ve been a homebody… So much so I’m vitamin D deficient. I do wonder one thing, it’s seems he keeps popping up in my life. He’s been popping up since 05. Would it be wise for me to move out of state or town? I really want to though I’ve been here in VA my whole life.

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Georgie

One of the best articles on the subject that I’ve found. I came to the realization after distancing myself from a toxic diminishing family member just how much better I felt as the weeks went on. After months, they tried to enter my life again as if nothing had happened. Drew the line saying not interested unless they are interested in knowing my terms of the relationship. Haven’t heard from them which reinforced and made me realized just how right my choice was-just wants control or some other self serving agenda. Let it go with peace and in my gut it feels right. Hopefully now again as time passes I will continue on the path to feel better and stronger than ever.

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Jessica

I was married for 19 years to a man who had me on an emotional roller coaster as well. He did have his great qualities. He was a great provider, he was faithful, he was handsome. When things were great, they were awesome. However, when they were bad, they were really bad. He never physically abused me but the emotional turmoil was more than (at the end) I could handle. Everything I did was wrong and he constantly was belittling and criticizing me. Eventually, he became sexually manipulative. I lost who I was and was in a horribly unhealthy situation. I was depressed, lonely, and sad all the time. I’d beg him to communicate and let me be part of his life. He’d come home from work and as I ran to greet him with a kiss, I’d be met with a cold shoulder and a cheek at best. It hurt more than I could stand to be constantly ignored and rejected.

He left last December. That was the point that I decided that I would never let someone treat me like that again. He has asked me to lets fix things and to let’s work on us but I have something inside that will not allow me to do that unless I see some changes. He says he has changed and that he is trying to be a different person.

When he learned that I was involved with someone else, he became very jealous. He once sent me over 80 emails (email bc I blocked his calls and texts) in two days. He says he loves me and wants me back and that he is changed. Part of me wants to go running back but something is holding me back. Something won’t let me get back with him. I guess deep down, I know people like this don’t change. Thoughts? Help.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

I can’t tell you what to do. This is your relationship and your life and you are the only person who has the detail of what this relationship is like to be in. You have 19 years of knowing what this relationship is like and what it does to you. This is your time to do what is right for you, rather than looking outside of yourself for the answer. You say you are confused, but in your comment, you sound very clear about how damaging this relationship has been, compared with the good. Knowing what to do doesn’t mean that it suddenly becomes easy. It’s always easy to become hopeful again when you hear the right things from the people you want to love. It sounds as though you have a lot more evidence of the harm that comes from this relationship, than the good that can come from it – but again, only you can know the truth about that. Use the history of this relationship – because it is a very long history – to inform your decision. Has it been loving, close, supportive, nurturing? Or has it been hurtful and damaging? Act with self-love and self-respect, and with strength and courage. Use the wisdom you have gained from 19 years of knowing this man – his behaviour, what the combination of you has been like – and let that guide your decision.

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Fiona

Great article! I have found for my own sanity and wellbeing I have had to walk away from certain family members in my life. I don’t feel bad for doing so but I feel for what they are going through. I can only help so much but decided the more I do for them, the more I am enabling them so I have had to walk away to let them figure things out for themselves. I am not perfect either and I can identify with some of the behaviours in myself. No one is perfect but it takes a big person to walk away when the situation is not improving and that’s what I did. I am so much happier…. The door will be open when they learn to respect my boundaries.

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Iris

I’m hoping if someone can help me with what I’m going through right now, Is it I who’s not a good wife or my husband is a toxic person.

We’ve been married for 6 years and we have 2 kids – 5 and 3 yrs old. Early in our marriage, I’d put so much into making him happy. I’d stay up late at night ironing his clothes, taking care of our baby so he always has a full sleep, even though I have to wake up at 2 am to go to work. I did that because he had a job that he doesn’t like (but I do) and I thought that me taking away the tiredness will help him reduce his stress. He never once had to wake up in the middle of the night to help me with any of our babies.

Then we moved, he changed his job, I still did it. Woke up at 4 am to make him lunch, went back to sleep to wake up in an hour to go to work. The 2nd baby came, the same thing happen. It’s only me who had to stay up at night with the baby, every single night. This time I asked for help but the answer was “I’m tired” and my job is stressful. He started to berate me more.. if the kids’ face were dirty with chocolate, he would say “Really? Are you going to let the kids walk around with that dirty face?” Something like this happens a lot, if the kid’s clothes get dirty and we didn’t have a spare in the diaper back, it’s automatically become my fault that I didn’t prepare it. Yes, he never had to do it. He didn’t help me clean the kid’s room. I only have a driver license for a short time and when I’m struggling with parallel parking he’d get mad and yell “What the hell are you doing?”and started to steer the steering wheel himself., left me frightened from his yelling and I never understand why he’d use that kind of language with me.
I don’t use a swear word, not at all. Even when we fought, he’d never hear that from me because I think it’s very rude and disrespectful. He uses that often and he said that because he worked somewhere that people use it a lot and he has a lot of stress.. so he has a good excuse for his anger and language. I always try to understand that and keep telling myself things will be better once he finally gets to work at the job he likes.

But when the time comes, he changed to the job he likes, it doesn’t stop there. It still happens. And a lot of time when I wanted to hang out with my friend he’d say something like “You do whatever you wanted but if it was me, I won’t go.” Or “I don’t want you to go, but you can do whatever you want”.. then when I insisted I wanted to hang out with my friends, it came back to me as ” you didn’t care for my feeling”…

The kids are closer to me for some reason. They often cry if they didn’t get to hold my hands while we’re walking somewhere.

When we fight and I tried to express my feeling toward what he did, he will “you’re too sensitive”. Recently, he made a joke that’s insulting to me, I got upset and then he mad at me for getting upset. He said I should be able to know that his joke is a sarcastic and I shouldn’t be upset.

These are just some part of things that happen. We’ve been seeing a counselor but it’s not going anywhere. I questioned myself a lot, I tried harder and harder to make him happy in the past 6 years, but he’s still not happy. I was at the point where I have a suicide thought but I couldn’t do it because of my kids.

I feel worthless and scared of myself, scare to have new friends. I started to convince myself that I’m bad, I’m manipulative ( that’s what he told me) and no one will like me. I started to think I might have a mental issue. Even now when I read this article, I still question whether it’s actually me who’s not a good enough wife and I shouldn’t be asking this question. Nothing was his fault. Yes, he apologized after he snapped at me but it never stopped. He blames his anger on his childhood and his stress. Stress that caused by work, the kids, family and me.

I don’t know what to do, I feel like my mental is messed up and I second guess every single thought I have. I don’t feel like we have any hope. What am I suppose to think?

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Jessica

This is the life I lived for 19 years. I encourage you to look up the term gaslighting. That’s when they make you feel crazy with their manipulation. I posted earlier and really have gained insight into my situation. Look at Karen’s response to me (right above your post) and ask yourself those same questions. Good luck to you.

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Athena

Thank you, Karen. This is just what I needed to read. I finally took a step towards letting a toxic relationship go and it felt really good for the first few hours. But then it got back to tears rolling down my eyes while at work and just the general feeling of sadness and loneliness. It’s all so hard, but I know this is the right thing to do. It just bothers me more because it comes combined with losing a couple of close friends too. Plus I’ve never been close to my family due to my parents getting separated at a young age. The friends and the relationship was a huge part of my support system and I’m finding it really difficult to cope. I don’t know what to do. 🙁

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Letting go of any relationship is difficult, even if it is a bad one to be in. What you are describing makes a lot of sense. You are adjusting to a new normal. In time you will see how much better, stronger and healthier this ‘new normal’ will be, but it takes time. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will have good days and bad days and in time, the bad will get less and the good will get more. When you feel strong enough, start to look for social groups to join – there will be plenty that would love to have you. This isn’t easy and again, it takes time to feel comfortable, but a big push at the beginning to meet new people will be worth it. Your loneliness is understandable, but it isn’t the reason to go back. It is a sign that you are in transition, and the change will be such a positive one for you. Keep moving forward and stay strong. You have all the strength and courage you need inside you to find a happier version of yourself and your life, you really do.

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Bo

On target and to the point! A very helpful article that has reinforced my decision to let go of a family relationship that became toxic and disrespectful. I’m at peace with my decision-and more importantly am calm and joyful. Will only allow uplifting people to occupy my the remainder of my life now. Plan on a tranquil existence for the rest of my days. Thanks for piece.

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Lisa

I am the child of narcissistic parents, as a result of some incredibly toxic behaviour, there has been very little contact with them over the last year or so. My health has been seriously affected as a result of the emotional stress. They recently sent an apology letter. The “letter” was a small card with the following…”we would like to write to you to apologise for the hurt that has occurred. We love you and miss you and want to move forward to have happy times like we used to”. That is it- this letter has taken over 3 months to write ( I heard from a family member that my mother was writing it ages ago). My dilemma- do I continue to with no contact or do I write back and explain that is no apology. After the hurtful things they have done ( threatening legal action to see their grandchildren saying such nasty things to me about who I am and what they think of my husband) I know that a reply would probably fall on deaf ears, but no answer will make them so riled up and angry- other family members are pressuring me to speak to them.. but I have absolutely no interest. Should I just stay strong and say nothing? keep quiet?

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J

When I searched this topic I didn’t expect to get an article that really hit as close to home as this one does. Due to past childhood abuse I am like a magnet for toxic relationships; and being an empath, it only makes it worse. Ever since I can remember I allow people in my life to treat me like garbage, all the while I am the one apologizing and wondering what I have done wrong. I am happy to say that I now recognize the behaviors of other’s as toxic, but I am still working on trying to move on from/let go of them. Here’s hoping 2017 is the year for that!

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Ken

Hi, just as u I am also an empath, and it is true. We are a magnet for toxic people. I am myself escaped a bullet there. But I also feel guilty anc that I was the one that did wrong. And of course the saying sorry part. I feel sorry that at a certain point I stood up for myself. I did what I could for that person cos she is really ill. But her ilness didnt stop her of blaming me I did not care for yer, starting to involve other men in it so I would bow. Telling me I am no man at all, many cursewords anc treats.

I took all of that for a short while, I m building bit by bit my ownlife so I didnt have much. But I bought food, small medicin and other small things. Till one day after 2 days of insulting me, she asked me to come over cos shd feels bad. She was on the insulting spree one hour earlier, I tried to explain that I m not really in mood to do that after all she said to me. Buuuut what does empaths do, exactly. I went with some stuff at midnight with bike, 1h in snow. Once arrived she didnt even open. I drove back home, angry of course. To read from her that I dont care for her.

Now I m trying to let go and try to understand why toxic do things like this. And doubting myself if I was not the toxic one.

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Paul

Many of us were Never meant to find real love the way that i look at it and most of the time we put ourselves in very bad relationships unfortunately. Been there and done that.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Paul I honestly believe there is a love for everybody. Sometimes it’s about looking for love in different people to the ones who have hurt you in the past. It is very easy and very understandable that people keep repeating the same relationship habits, but if you can step outside of different habits, there will be different people, different potential and new opportunities for the love that you deserve.

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Ren Ren

I have been with my boyfriend for six years now. In the first few years everything was good but now its horrible he cheated on me on mamy occasions he always tries to make it look like i am the one in the wrong doing he doesn’t want me to go out with friends or use any social networks. He insults me he curses me he doesn’t carry me out he always wants me to come home by him we have sex and that’s about it. I caught him with a secret phone and lied directly to my face and said it was a dummy fone. I cook i clean i wash and sometimes I feel like he is using me for hid needs. He always accusing me of cheating or seeing other people. The first time he cheated i cheated then I realized it made no sense. If i have male friends it is a problem he wants me to speak to male colleagues or even my female friends but i love him so much he is my first and only bf I don’t know where to begin to try to leave he always makes me cry calsd me a whore a bitch and he runs me and tells me I am sickening and he fed up of me i i like to much man He always accusing me of some man I am starting to feel depressed and stressed out completely…….. HELP

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

As long as you are with someone who: cheats, blames, controls, insults, uses you for sex, lies, accuses you wrongly – it is very likely that you will continue to feel depressed and stressed. This man has shown you what a relationship with him looks like. Believe him.

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blackrose

Thanks all for sharing. I’m currently in a very toxic relationship with a girlfriend of mine. She is a person that treats people as friends for a season, she is 29 and never had a permanent friend in her life. Her friendships last 3 months, However when it comes to rships she sticked with the same guy for 13 years.
For a very long time i thought that something in the past happened to her and it’s not her fault that she is unable to trust people and push friends away.
It all started two years ago when i started working with her. She befriended me and told me personal things (she said no one else knew) and i knew she was very a very cautious person so i felt special that without knowing me she took an interest in me and confided in me.
It only lasted 1 and a half month. The past 16 months i spent them running after her trying my utmost to make her see that she is not alone and that she has me and she can trust me.
Needless to say most of the time i was pushed away harder than before. But i stayed cause there were cases were she said i was the only one that knew her and that cared enough to be around her.
As someone mentioned i love the good part of her and every 4 months or so she would pop back into my life and accept my help only to disappear (sometimes 48 hours later sometimes 3 weeks later). it never lasted long.
She makes me feel so bad! She makes me hate myself. I am not able to hate her. I love her as a sister and i feel for her cause by time everyone realizes what she is and if they don’t, they eventually get turned down by her. She is the most lonely person i know.
Once she said that she is jealous(in the good sense) of me that i have good long lasting relationships and if she ever broke up with her bf she would end up alone. I just wanted to go over to her n hug and reassure i would be there for her when she said it.
She left my place of work in april so finally i was able to move on altough it took me some months to get her out of my system. In the meantime her ex bf contacted me cause they broke up and said i was the only friend she had so i contacted her and offered my help. We met once for 3 hours and then it was back to giving me the total silence treatment.
I tried getting through to her with long detailed emails,calls,fb, whatsapp. She turned down every attempt i made. she never bothered reading the emails (she said she doesn’t check em often) fb and whatsapp she logs in various times a day but she rarely or never bothers to check my messages let alone answer.
I feel guilty of letting go of her cause i know i’m the only one who cares. Last time we met she confessed that I’m the only one who knows her better and she only feels comfortable opening up to me. However i feel as if i am some rechargeable battery. She comes to me recharge and then leaves. Plus she never gives me the opportunity to help. She just drops these bombs of statements then she leaves my life and leaves me dead worried for her.
I tried various times telling her how much her attitude hurts. Sometimes she ends up apologising and her apology really seems sincere but then she just forgets all about it and goes back to ignoring me.
I’m trying my utmost to move on. I sent her long detailed email explaining her how these 2 years have been for me and what i had endured. I explained in detail so if it’s a question of trust she would realize that she has nothing to fear from me. I also told her that its maybe bit my fault for her to treat me like this cause i never stood up to her and made her think her behaviour was acceptable. I gave her an ultimatum. I told her thta if things will not change this year I will not take it any longer.
My plan is to block her from whatsapp and calls/sms so even if she sends anything i will not be able to see them and fall for her.
I’m tired of feeling this miserable. She needs help and i know i could be of help but she doesn’t allow me to help her so my feeling miserable is not helping any of us, on the contrary it’s making me feel as my best is never good enough and never will be.
Sorry for venting but i really need to talk to someone about it.

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KK

Its the family heres the summary……I don’t enjoy spending too much time with the family & just want to do what I have to and return to my space. I realise I have been heavily conditioned by the family & expectations level being high & I am resenting that & want to put a stop to it by finally living my life
My family consists of my widowed mother who lives in another state with a domestic help n a sister overseas who is forceful n authoritative, I am the only daughter here ( I am single) & have made it clear that I am there in any emergency.I have been there for my family for the last 30 yrs whilst my sister “lives her life” The family now thinks I’m “cranky” and that I am mixing with a wrong group of friends, They bitch about me behind my back and somehow it always gets back to me. I have accepted this nor will expectation level stop, no matter what I do. As long as I do what they want , be the fall guy they are happy ….I am not, I just want to live my life and not have expectations of me hence I maintain my stance. They are “superficially happy” for me but its so obvious they dont like it as they prefer me to be on a constant “standby mode” and available at all times. It is a sad state of affairs as it involves a parent & sibling, but its the truth unfortunately. Theres a wedge between me and both of them…but so be it. I am so very tired of constantly pandering to their requests. I will be heading to Australia with my mum to celebrate Xmas (3 weeks in total!!!!)with my sister which is a nightmare for me (4th Australian trip in 3 years….overload!)and God give me the courage and strength to remain sane & calm. I had no choice but to accompany my mum (she refused to go alone and either way I wuldnt have heard the end of it…damned if I do & damned if I dont!) At times I am so strong and at times I fall off and have to work hard at getting up again and detching myself from them…..surely theres more to life than just family???? I never thought of them as toxic , but after reading the above article , theres so much of truth there.

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Stephanie

I’m in a huge confusion! Idk what to do I’m in a dilemma where I don’t know if I’m the toxic person in my relationship or I just blame myself for everything! I had an ex boyfriend who I can say wasn’t toxic I felt trapped I Felt like I couldn’t breath! He was really insecure I couldn’t step outside the door without him thinking I was gonna cheat on him he controlled everything I did clothes my friends and family I wasn’t aloud to leave his side I stuck around for 4 years because I thought I loved him and I had 2 boys with him so it would scare me to live I thought I couldn’t live without him! When I decided to leave I felt such a big relief I felt like a big weight had been lifted and I could breath! I cried for the first 6 months but eventually found myself again and was able to move forward. I met a guy couple months ever who treated me the total opposite he was nice kind everything I had never had yet I couldn’t stand him! I wasn’t used to that kind of treatment he fought about 2 years for my love I repeatedly would tell him he wasn’t for me he was to nice for me we would never fight and to me that wasn’t normal he never told me I couldn’t go to certain places or control anything in my life and I couldn’t understand why! I finally gave him a chance and started falling in love! We recently had a daughter 3 months ago but since I got pregnant I’ve been really controlling over him! He changed so much with me he was loving understanding caring I felt like I was loosing him and me being scared I wouldn’t want him to go anywhere! He started getting into drinking a lot would come home blacked out! And would cry saying he felt suffocated but I didn’t know why I started reading a lot into relationship and how they worked I stumbled across your article and I’m afraid that I might be the toxic one I beg him to be himself again but last night he told me it wasn’t that easy! I told him I miss the old you! But he says he does everything to make me happy and that I control his whole life I don’t know how! OR why he thinks that I’m really confused but I’m scared to loose him I love him but I don’t know what to do and if I’m the problem here.
Help please

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Stephanie it sounds as though both of you might be doing things that are hurting the other. The only way through this is to talk about it. It’s important that when you do, you are willing to listen to each other. Ask your partner what you can do to make it easier for him to love and support you the way you need to be loved and supported. Also do the same for him, and be open to hearing what he has to say. When you talk, stick to the facts as much as you can without getting emotional. Hopefully your partner will do the same.

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beanz

Hi sorry you find yourself in such a confusing place hope this helps…
Because you spent 4 years with someone controlling you had it programmed into you a negative association with what constitutes as love and affection you hated it because you yourself was not that way… In meeting someone after the oposit of your ex albeit what you wanted and likly a great match because you are both the same (non controlling) the relationship starts great but because of the programming from previous relationship you attach his non controlling behaviour as meaning he doesn’t care about you and in turn you become controlling because one it’s a behaviour you learned from your last relationship as a way of making someone stay much longer than they should as you did and two you self sabotage it all wondering what the hell am I doing this isnt me how did it get this way… I suggest less self sabotage and more understanding that you was a victim of a controlling relationship but it’s down to ou to break the cycle. Hugs x

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I'm hurt

I loved this article, thank you! I have been in a relationship with married man for over two years. I am married to. When we met we were both unhappy with our spouses. After dating for some time we decided to be together and had some kind of plan (what’s needed financially) to be together. With time I disattach more from my spouse that I was living with ( which included not sleeping in the same bed, not going anywhere together, no family vacations, no trips, no social events) I totally ended any family activities because I was so committed to the person I love, while waiting for us to finally be together. He the opposite, continued his family life with his wife and kids ( I have a child too), went always on trips, family vacations, social dinners together with his wife. All these things that he was doing ( not mentioned that he continued sleeping in the same bed, using excuse that he moved to a smaller apartment as it was part of the plan and there was no where to sleep ( he didn’t want to sleep on the couch) were hurting me and making me jealous. I became more careful with him and more reserved ( more reserved in sexual aspect). Time was passing by, nothing was happening,in felt that we just kept seing each other like lovers. I got so down and depressed and didn’t know if to believe that he really wants to be with me. We had talks when I was concerned and not feeling well about life that we living, I was complaining that it was so painful for me…all the time we spoke he was making me feel that I don’t “give enough love “, that I should look into myself and give more love. It worked for sometime, I was feeling bad feeling careful with him, but I found it very painful living this life and giving all myself to someone who is living the same family life and sleeps in the same bed with another woman. Passed two years, we still living the same life. It’s been such emotional Rollercoaster for me because I love this man and want to be with him, but he’s still living with his wife and kids. I became so miserable and hurt, when I see him in try to be positive, but when I feel more down we talk and all we talk about is that I have to change the way I was at the beginning of the relationship when I believed him and wasn’t hurt so much by his unchanged lifestyle with hisfamily. He says that I need to fix the situation and “put the love back ” that I took away. I told him that it’s painful knowing that he’s living with another woman and doing things with her and kids, but he said that we started that way and if I really loved it wouldn’t be in pain and focused more on love and not the negative part. I’m so lost and feel bad and guilty, but at the same time I’ve been faithfully waiting for this man for two years, sacrificing my time with my child, going on the dates with this man and hoping that one day he decides to be with me. When we are together, feeling good he’s telling me that I’m amazing and he loves being with me and how I make him feel. But when I feel sad because of the life we living, he tells me that I don’t love him, that I pulled away love. Please help to understand what am I doing wrong? Should I “fix ” and accept pain?

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Debs

keep strong.

keep this in mind. You are the victim not him. As the article said.

Toxic people have a way of choosing open, kind people with beautiful, lavish hearts because these are the ones who will be more likely to fight for the relationship and less likely to abandon.

Last but not least again quoting the article

The cold truth is that if anything was going to be different it would have happened by now.

If you keep giving him what he wants he will never make a move or change. Why should he change when he is perfectly served by his wife and lover? He’s living a “great life”, why should he give up any of you.

Why should he give up his spouse when you both treat him well and it’s “working” well for him. Why should he give up his spouse and having to go through financial and emotional turmoil and probably be forbidden to see his child for a while and face the shame from the families when by saying nothing and keeping you there his life is just perfect pampered from both sides?

Get out as quickly as possible. if he truly loves you he will follow you. if he doesn’t than good riddance unfortunately he just used you.

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beanz

He doesn’t intend to leave his wife and why would he? he has his cake and eat it right now. The fact you would rather sacrifice time with your child for any man is beyond me! I d say leave your husband who your stringing along and probably hurting because you clearly don’t love him to be having an affair for two years.. dump the lover who clearly doesn’t love you because if he did he would be with you already I’m sorry if this is blunt but I feel u need it. Your being used!! Stop.. be with your child who loves and needs you… when the right guy comes along there will be no need for secrets and lies from either end. U really need to see this married man is using you as side sex. You should take time out to be alone and figure out what makes you happy without a man. The alternative is to stay this needy and insecure forever.

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Fragile

I have been in a toxic relationship for almost 10 years. I met a man who I had the most intense connection to I couldn’t see straight. After 6 months of dating and thinking his wife had left him because she was so career driven, I found out she was about to go into labor with their second child.. I didn’t even know they had a child. After him pleading with me that his family were religious folk who didn’t agree with divorce and being told that he couldn’t tell me that he had children, I naively gave in and decided to give him a chance. That was the beginning of my isolation from family and friends and my co dependant relationship began. He was never abusive physically but I believe emotionally. He suffered depression and always made me feel like I had done something wrong. He would ignore me for days without telling me why and I would constantly try to make it bettter and apologise for things that I didn’t even know I had done wrong. I would get so much anxiety that I would be ignored that when he was nice to me it was like a drug. I went from being a vibrant, social creature to being introverted, anxious and so lonely. I had no friends, no family and was constantly in tears because I knew I needed to leave. He was recently diagnosed with MS and I did everything I could to make it ok for him and stay positive. If I tried to stick up for myself in an argument he would blame the stress I cause on his condition worsening. My inability to speak up became so intense I had a breakdown at work and nearly lost my job. When I asked him to be kind to me he just told me I needed to grow up and realise that life isn’t meant to be easy. We recently had a fight and he walked out. When I woke in the morning he wasn’t home. I finally left and I feel so guilty and sad he’s alone as he doesn’t have any friends. I still love him but I know it’s killing me… he won’t stop calling and I’m scared to give in.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Stay strong. You have made your decision to let go with strength and courage and self-respect. It’s understandable that you would feel tempted to go back – that’s really normal, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you. You sound as though you fought for the relationship for a long time, and gave it everything you could. Now it’s time to fight for you. Keep moving forward. You have everything inside you to find the life and the love you deserve. You can do this.

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Healing and Confused

I’m going through kind of the same thing. I’m young lady in college. In the end of first semester of grade 12 a guy who is two years older then me, messages me on Facebook. I knew him because I used to hang out with him when he went to my high school. Last December I had to call the cops because he threaten me. He would ignore me for days even weeks with out a reason. He would leave me with out saying anything. Every time he would leave me I would wonder if I did something wrong. Any time I gave him attitude or swore at him he would choke me. He convince me to sneak out and “Hang Out” at his house. He would never tell me about his problems. Every time he left he would come back a couple months later. I would feel so bad because I felt it was my fault. Eventual I got so used to it that it didn’t even hurt any more. I realized that their was a pattern. All I expected from him was this toxic pattern. Last summer I got a job next to where he worked. While I was working their I found out that he had a girlfriend for two years and he lived with her. I had to find that out through a co-worker. We would always fight because I was right about him having a girlfriend and he would always lie. I would ask him if had a girlfriend. I would find pictures of them kissing and them be together while he was gone. When he came back I would send my prof to him. He would still lie. He even tried to get me pregnant to make me stay with him. But I not pregnant. He even asked me to move in with him. I went to their place and I didn’t see any sign of a girl living their. I told him I’m done and I cant deal with his crap anymore. So I left and I went straight into college. That was a get way to get my mind of him. Now, he is back. Now I have mixed feelings and I cant think about cause I will cause tears and headaches….

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Sharon

Don’t give in – I am doing something similar… I am trying to get out of it now, but frightened that the mental and emotional abuse may become physical…I am leaving anyway in March. I admire that fact that you left…..the process that you are going through now is called pruning and its painful. It does get better – I have been there before. The guilt will go away. I leaving no matter what the cost! Hang in there – don’t give up!!!

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Lynnette

Everything I have read, sums up what I’m going through and it has given me the strength to say NO and be able not to be dragged into a situation whereby, I felt I should defend myself, thus now being the one in the wrong. Thank so very much

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Lynnette. It’s so easy when you have an open, generous heart to be dragged into these situations. I’m pleased the article has helped you to find the strength that is in you, and will always be in you.

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Nika

I met a guy 5 years ago at a time I was getting a divorce. I was leaving my 8 year relationship due to physical, mental and emotional abuse. When I met him I knew that he was a player and a bit immature, but he was there and charming. All signs point to trouble to be honest, but because I wanted so much to be loved and wanted and I was very co dependent I wanted to be with him. I was addicted to people that mistreated me or hurt me. Deep down I felt I could change them. Long story short he was emotionally unavailable and manipulative. He cheated while I was pregnant, and had multiple affair but only admit to one because he was caught. I felt like because I was financially independent and outspoken, I was fighting back and that made me feel better but the truth is I was fighting a losing battle and I was drained. Everytime he lose control and we get extremely angry. He damage my property, multiple times and played alot of mind games. I started seeing him for who he really was and did not like him one bit. He was only nice after I leave, he would promise to be better. But it never last. I got restraining orders multiple times but they never could find him to serve him. He was very smart and sneaky. He would sabotage my childcare for our son by picking him up and being very disrespectful to the daycare providers. He would cause conflict with my friends and family so i was isolated. I changed my locks called the police and they never catch him. I would leave and come back because it was just exhausting and I cared. Recently I’ve turned to God to guide me when dealing with him. I have faith that one day he will move on and exploit some other needy woman. I’m over being afraid to let him go. I just want peace. I refuse to live my life letting anyone try to control me so they feel comfortable. Lesson learned, now I’m just fixing my mistake and healing so I never get involved with anybody like that again!

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Wendy

Nika,

You have all the right insights! God bless you for thinking this all out and becoming determined to move on! I am also just in the midst of fleeing/ending an abusive relationship. Please let us know how you do and manage. I need to know it’s possible too. Love.

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Jenny

I am with my adult child, her narcissist husband and kids on Christmas Day. They are being small, manipulative and controlling. I am grateful that I found this website as its is giving me a sense of support. I deserve loving and healthy relationships!!

Not sure how to let this go, but It doesn’t feel good to hurt, and I don’t have to anymore. Just not sure how to let this go, and what will replace it. I think its the Grandkids that has me hooked. I chose to have faith that one day they will move towards me.

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Bel

Thanks Karen for such a clear, compassionate life-affirming article. I have been trawling the web for any information I can get my hands on ever since I finally realised about a month ago that my partner of five years and father of my two beautiful young children is quite narcissistic and toxic and probably incapable of loving and supporting me in the way I deserve and dream of.

Today is Christmas Day and here I am, still searching for guidance and answers and affirmation that I am heading down the right path. I couldn’t help but notice, Karen, that even today you were on here offering the same to your readers. Your warmth and generosity shine out from these pages and give me the courage to share some of my story here too.

First of all, I’d like to wish all of you here a bright and beautiful new year, especially if your Christmas wasn’t all you were hoping for.

The toxicity in our relationship is somewhat more subtle than many others who have bravely shared their stories here, but nonetheless damaging and scary. I have decided to leave in a month or two and am taking steps to prepare for this but am scared my immense sense of guilt will prevent or delay me from doing so. I am also really struggling with feeling as though I am deceitful even to be thinking this way, but now that our relationship dynamics have become clearer to me I feel as though I have no choice but to prepare in secret in order to protect myself and the kids from the sh**storm that is likely to ensue when I make my intentions known. I can already hear the friends and rellies urging me to give him another chance, to try counselling or to stay for the sake of the kids. Even now he must know something is afoot as I have been setting much clearer boundaries lately and he has gone into totally charming mode again, giving me an eloquent Christmas card today professing his love and telling me how empty his life would be without me yada yada yada, helping out around the house and suddenly wanting to move back into our room with me and the baby after nearly ten months of sleeping in our toddlers room under the guise that said toddler needs that. I used to live for this kind of “change”, but I have now grown cynical (or perhaps can just see more clearly) and recognise that I have unwittingly allowed myself to be trained to accept only crumbs and then shower him with praise and gratitude.

The separate sleeping quarters (never a stated decision or agreement) have been a blessing in disguise and have allowed me time to read, reflect and ruminate (not always healthily) about our situation. In the early days I tried time and time again to encourage my partner back into our shared bed but I think I eventually gave up and embraced it. I had not realised how important this nightly ‘alone time’ (which I happen to be enjoying right now) had become until he started talking about moving back in, and now I am really scared it will make the process of detaching and letting go so much harder.

I have three siblings who know bits and pieces but have no idea I have decided to leave, and I constantly swing between whether I should let them know what’s happening so I have their support and encouragement if my resolve wavers, or keep it a secret in case someone lets something slip (would be disastrous) or I end up staying and want to keep propping up the illusion that he is essentially a good person who is trying his best (which, to be honest, a big part of me still believes).

So how did I find myself here? I am hoping in the telling that I can learn to forgive myself. I think now that the’unusual, unique’ personality that was my mum was / is narcissistic and contributed to my people-pleasing, care taking, extreme giver nature.

I recognised these traits (and blamed myself) after two significant relationships which were emotionally abusive, the latter of which nearly cost me my life despite never having had a hand raised at me (it took a dramatic incident for me to finally trust my intuition in that relationship). During a difficult period of probable PTSD, severe depression and crippling anxiety, I had the liberating experience of being diagnosed as an adult with ADHD, which suddenly helped me make more sense of my world and centred my search for help within a more holistic framework. I had a short relationship with a true giver, and the pampering he gave me really helped me on my way to learning how to gracefully receive, but alas, he was clearly still in love with his ex, so I moved on.

Having nearly given up my dream of becoming a mum (seemed an impossibility during the depths), I did enough healing to start working again and to open myself to the possibility of meeting someone. I was determined to strive for a more balanced relationship and was very proud of myself for recognising and sidestepping two potential toxic relationships.

Then I met my current partner, and I felt it was love at first contact, destiny, a brighter future for me, soulmates, all that stuff…and I fell hard. And here was my chance to finally create a family. I recognised early on that the giver /taker balance was way out of whack, but I assertively addressed this and didn’t believe I would ever end up there again. There were many red flags but I really didn’t want to see them. Maybe I had a fantasy that my love and support could help unlock this man’s potential.

Well, it seems he ran with that, and took up the challenge to assume control and extract what he needed from me, mostly without me noticing that I was getting very little in return for my investment. My children bring me such joy and I am quite an independent soul and I have grown accustomed to more overt criticism and anger and almost comical controlling measures, so this felt like a big step up and I kept pushing aside my nagging concerns about his selfishness, laziness, sense of entitlement and constant distortions of the truth.

I thought about leaving many times, and held him to account and declared my needs at least once every twelve months, but when I did he would always seem to take responsibility and promise the world, be on his best ‘behaviour’ a couple of days, then get some mysterious illness or ailment that flipped the focus back around to him again…

Well, I fell asleep before posting this last night and it’s long enough already, so I am just going to post as is. Part Two will be along shortly…

Happy Boxing Day and thanks for reading!

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Bel I’m so pleased you found me here. It’s no accident that your partner chose you to love – your heart is so beautifully open and it sounds as though you have fought hard to make this relationship work. I imagine the decision to leave wouldn’t have been an easy one for you. You deserve the love you give – we all do – and it sounds as though you have given a lot.

Subtle toxicity can often be harder to deal with because of the guilt and self-doubt it can raise. Don’t let this interfere with your decision. It’s not unusual for people with open, generous hearts to feel guilty, or to blame themselves for any pain that happens when a relationship ends. These feelings don’t mean that what you are doing is wrong. They certainly don’t mean that. What they mean is that letting go is hard, and that you are someone who feels compassion and empathy when someone else is hurting. The pain for you or your partner that comes from the relationship ending, won’t last forever. Letting go is never easy, even if the relationship isn’t working. The pain of being in a bad relationship, on the other hand, will last as long as the relationship does. If you stumble on your way out the door, that’s okay – come back and read what you have written as a reminder of the reasons you want to let go. Your reasons are valid and clear and they make so much sense. You have the insight, courage and strength inside you to move yourself and your children forward, you really do. Love and strength to you.

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Bel

Thanks so much Karen, your response means such a lot to me!

And Sad (this may as well turn into Part Two) I have had some luck negotiating with Centrelink to hopefully be put on Single Parenting Payment under the ‘separation under the same roof’ clause even though I haven’t yet told my partner of my decision. This will keep my head above water as I will get a higher payment, maximum Family Tax A and B, a higher threshold for personal income and my payment will not be reduced by my partners’ income (a recent hike in his income has now cut my Partnered Parenting Allowance to zero even though he owes me about $50,000 (on my credit cards, unfortunately), and pretty much stopped contributing the little he was bringing in as a full time Uni student at the beginning of this financial year when I told him I wanted to split finances (possibly started stashing it for himself)). Since I brought it up AGAIN that I want some of that debt in his name soon, he constantly tells me about every dollar he’s earning and how he will gladly do the right thing and take responsibility for his debts. I am taking a ‘look after myself and the kids’ attitude at the moment because I will believe that when I see it. At the moment, the more he works, the less I get. So, I currently have much less than no money, no significant assets (I already sold my little block of land in the country to pay off HIS debts, silly me) and two kids, and I think with this little bit of financial independence I will still be OK to rent a little place and put food on the table while I build myself back up. The key was getting the forms from Centrelink (if you pick them up personally, have it noted on your file and then get them back within two weeks, you can get back paid to form collection date) and then asking to see a Social Worker. The SW called me up for a phone interview a couple of days later and, after hearing about my situation, and that a new psychologist I just started seeing who knows a fair bit about narcissism recommended I don’t do any ‘prodding’ until I see him again on 10th of January (ie focus on looking after my own health and set healthy boundaries but no confrontations), she wrote in my file that she had recommended I proceed with a claim without my partner’s knowledge or consent, follow the advice given and provide supporting documentation from my doctor and then later from my psych, and then tell my partner when safe to do so. I feel very nervous about my partner finding out somehow before I tell him myself, but it is the only way I can think of to survive as I am guessing he will immediately stop any loan repayments that he may have finally started making to me as punishment for me leaving, and the interest alone on his debt is costing me hundreds of dollars a week. I know, crazy right? Finally I see all the excuses for what they are.

I am also submitting an application for an interim rental of a two bedroom cabin in a family-friendly caravan park as a back-up plan in case things turn nasty and he won’t move out. Rent is the same as we are paying now, but I can rent from 4 weeks to permanent without signing a lease.

One of the biggest issues that has brought me to this decision, other than finances, is that my ever-trusting soul has finally started uncovering a web of lies and I really don’t know what is true and what is not. Although there has not been any cheating (as far as I know, anyway) and no obvious abusive behaviour, I have noticed a disturbing passive aggressive pattern in his communication, accompanied by associated dysfunctional responses from me in an effort to keep him calm, happy and nice (I have always been so scared of angry). Although he has always been very self-absorbed, it never occurred to me that he would lie to me, but over time, the stories just don’t add up eg 11 months bed rest for a broken back that nobody from his past, including the ex-wife who was supposedly caring for him, knows anything about. There is a fair bit of gas lighting…blaming my memory, or I must have misunderstood, plus more lying to try to cover up what’s going on. This has been devastating for me as I hate that I sometimes feel like I have turned into a suspicious, untrusting, heartless individual full of resentment. I don’t like who I am in this relationship anymore, and when you have spent so much time building someone else up while they are slowly chipping away at your soul, it is not an easy pattern to break.

I’ve tried lots of strategies aimed at creating a more balanced relationship, but he is very smart (IQ-wise), and adept at inventing a new illness or injury to excuse him from his responsibilities (to the point where for a long time I suspected he may have factitious disorder). I know some are genuine and my level of empathy makes it hard to challenge him because what if this time he really is in pain? Well, I guess psychologically he is always in pain, but now I know that that is no longer my responsibility, and if I keep focusing on his needs my needs will never be met.

I can see now how he manipulated the situation to paint a carefully-crafted picture of who he was, mainly using shyness, illness, his own ADHD (which now I think may have been an invention to match mine and help create a bond of understanding between us, as well as to demonstrate how much better than me he is at dealing with it) and his own empathy as excuses for his at times cruel or anti-social behaviour (eg “I just have to switch off from what you are talking about because I feel it too deeply and I have to protect myself”). He has been very ‘helpful’ pointing out all the other narcissists in my personal and professional life and advising what I should do about them, and how they are liars who have no empathy and are at the opposite scale to his ’empath’ nature (making sure they are all the grandiose type to reinforce my misconceptions of what narcissism is and to avoid me suspecting what has been right under my nose). I had considered everything BUT narcissism until I recently stumbled across an old book of his of the same name, and finally recognised all the signs of covert narcissism in him, which was quite liberating in itself to have a framework for understanding the patterns at work in our relationship and my role in that. Interestingly, he recently seems to be demonstrating the more typical grandiose signs now that he has started achieving great success and many accolades in his academic and professional life for the first time ever. And even now, with all this new knowledge, I still doubt myself and wonder if I have somehow got it all wrong, but I am trusting my feelings and forging ahead anyway.

I am a lot happier since I have come to understand that I need to look after myself and the kids for now and stop pushing for change and that it’s not my fault and that I can still have empathy for him without rescuing him at the expense of myself again, and I am allowed to choose to leave at a time when things appear on the surface to be going well. The hardest thing at the moment is feeling like I am living a lie as I pretend everything is fine while I execute my exit plan. The saddest thing is that it is easy to do as most of the time he is so wrapped up in his own goals, ambitions and details that he doesn’t care to ask about what I have been doing or how I am feeling anyway.

Ok, now I am just rambling and I have taken up more than enough airspace, so I will wind up and hope that some little morsel in here has been useful to someone, somewhere. Love to you all, and stay strong! Bel x

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Wendy

Thank you so much Bel. From your first post, the phrase “selfishness, laziness, sense of entitlement and constant distortions of the truth” struck me so strongly. These do indeed constitute [psychological] abuse and are what I have been experiencing in my relationship over the last seven months. Your current struggles are felt also. I really relate to the feeling that you are ‘living a lie’. My own need for authenticity is very strong and is commuted only when my even greater needs for safety (emotional and physical) and tranquility (mental), as is happening now. So, you are, temporarily, overwriting your need for authenticity in order to meet your greater needs for safety and the possibility of growth. And as soon as you no longer have to do that, you will stop. It is actually a sacrifice you are making- give yourself that. Empathy. Love.

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Bel

Thank you Wendy, you articulate it so well and with so much clarity…and it really helps me feel OK with myself and my situation, despite the agony of it.

I just came out of an appointment with my psychologist where we made a plan for the separation ‘talk’ for next Tuesday, and now I am sitting down at a waterfront table with a special meal to celebrate choosing life and authenticity, and I just flipped open my IPad to see your message there to greet me.

I think the universe is on my side….

Have a lovely day, and thanks again for your perfectly-timed message.

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Sad

How do you leave a toxic relationship when you kids, no money and no where to go? I’m desperately trying to leave; not only for my mental state but for my health as well. I NEED to leave but I honestly have no way out!

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Speak with the welfare agencies in your area. They will have the resources and contacts that will help you with a strategy. I know this isn’t easy, but there is help out there.

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Hope

Sad,
You just get up and go! Don’t think about it. I recently had to face the same situation as you. Narcissistic family brought me into a narcissistic relationship and when I finally had enough I had nowhere to turn. Limited income due to a child on disability as well as another child wh both of their needs we’re and is still what chews up my finances. The state I lived in could offer me no help, or defense in my situation. All shelters were full which was my only chance at getting immedesimazione help. With just $40.00 ish in the bank I took off the overdraft protection on my account and at once over drew it until I couldn’t anymore. I packed some clothes, a cooler with food, and my kids and began to drive with no destination. Miles and miles away from home and everything I had ever known as well as no friends or family around to help or back me up I threw a dart at the map and just landed in any place I saw fit. I found a shelter to take us in and while I was there sought out help from that states government. Within 3 weeks I was out of the shelter and into my own place on the road to find the me inside that needed to come out and rescued the shell of me that I had become. I have never been happier nor had I ever felt how beautiful and intelligent that I was (and some nice people in my life would often remind me that I was even though I never bothered to see it for myself at the time) until I was happy. I started to let all my telents and intellect shine in this new life I am building for myself, the same tallents and intelligent that I had hidden from the world because I was always put down for them as well as for the way my mind works and thinks. After that experience I now feel that I can achieve anything in this world that I choose. It was the healthiest most empowering moment of my entire life and the scariest decision I ever made while I thought about what would happen if I didn’t find shelter or help, would I had ended up in my car on the streets or worse my kids taken away because I was not financially stable enough to care for them? I think showing the way I battled to save them and myself from a toxic life is what actually made the difference to prompt complete strangers to help me get through this. Believe it or not millions of people live in this exact situation daily some don’t even realize it because of how accustomed they have gotten to a life like this giving that it’s all they had ever known and seen growing up and all around them as it has both hereditary and environmental factors. So show your strength and your beauty for yourself and your children and stop wondering what will happen if you leave but rather if you stayed! Be strong for all who face this very battle and share your story as I have with you! Give others the strength and encouragement they need, the same strength and encouragement that you are seeking right now. I’ve never been happier, I’ve never been so brave, I never felt accomplishment as a mother as I do today. It isn’t easy! The shelter was pretty tough too as it was not a life I was accustomed to but once you make it past them hurdles you will feel that same as I do. My only battle now is that my oldest child (7) shows signs of this narcissistic behavior that I now am aware of and I absolutely hate so much. The lies and manipulation used to get his way is unbareable! I find this trait coming out in myself only towards him to exercise my authority and try to shut down his need to control everything and in both cases of myself and him I don’t like it. I don’t know how to change him so he don’t grow to hurt people like me such as his kids or his lover or if I can change him, but our relationship is being damaged because as much as I love him ever so dearly I honestly can say I hate everything about him too. This is my own child! Do you now how hard and long I have fought to protect him and raise him right? I don’t like to think I could hate my own child especially because I love him so very much but just as if it were a lover that all of us have experienced this is the truth. I can rid a relationship so toxic with a lover or adult family member but what do you do when it’s your own child? Do you keep fighting or do you give him up for adoption or to the narcissist members of your family that you just ran from? Any advise would help!
Good luck to all of you on your journey to build up enough strength and courage to change your situation. Remember that getting up and leaving a toxic life is something you have to do blindly and not think to hard about (unless it’s a minor child your questioning).

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Bel

Thanks for the super-inspirational story Hope. I wish you all the best, and really hope things work out for you and your children.

Please use your beauty, intelligence, awareness and courage to not give up on your 7-year-old! Do not underestimate the devastating effects of parental narcissism or even the impact of having a sibling with a disability. He sounds as though he has learned these ways in order to get his needs met. If you can detach yourself for a moment and try to identify those needs, perhaps you will be able to model and support healthier ways of getting these needs met. If he senses your hate, as kids usually do, I imagine it will only strengthen the existing patterns of behaviour.

It may help you to remember that all behaviour is a form of communication, and also that sometimes (dis)ability is hidden.

All power to you and your little family!!!

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Hope

Thank you. I am really trying to be patient and understanding of him and his needs but at the same time my son has learned his ways from my narcissistic mother and it scares me because as previously stated in the article we love the person we are in this toxic relationship with and we stick around hoping it will change but it never does. This fact scares me. There is always friction between us. I do believe that he also has other disabilities that have gone undiagnosed and I am working on getting someone to run the tests needed to get this diagnosis. He is mean, he tends to be mean to his sister who don’t walk or talk and is helpless when it comes to defending herself so then I do what he does to her to him so he will react and say I’m mean and then I tell him well this is what you are doing to her and if you don’t like it than don’t do it to other people. It don’t sink in for him because 10 minutes later he’s doing it again and he is also starting to feel like I’m picking on him. I’ve tried many approaches with him and so far the only thing that seems to work is taking away materialistic things (he is selfishly materialistic) but this also only works for the moment. I yell to assert my dominance as the parent but honestly it gets his attention and upsets him and stops him in his tracks or again for the moment but has no actual effect on behavior other than him resenting me. If I punish him and tell him to go sit in his room or go to bed he will scream so loud and cry so loudly that my neighbors think I am beating him. I’ve tried a spanking or two or three but he went to school one day and told the teachers “my mommy hits me” and I had CPS at my door questioning abuse. Granted I left a red mark above his bum but I only spanked him after 3 days of warning him I would if he kept repeating his behavior during our morning routine and so on that 3rd day I did and it was 5 mins before school. CPS said that what I did was fine and I just need to not leave marks but we are very light skinned and it’s virtually impossible not to. It was opened handed and on the bum and I was disciplining him so the case was unfounded. He pulls these screaming fits everywhere we go. Going out in public is an embarrassment and more trouble than it’s worth. I’ve had relationships fail because my partner “hates my child”. I’ve tried one on one bonding and explaining to him as a friend why I make rules and why he just can’t do whatever he wants but again nothing processes and that one track mind is thinking about everything else other than what I say to him. It’s to the point where I don’t even want to spend time with him anymore, I don’t want to take him anywhere, and I distance myself from him to avoid him and I having conflict that is only going to cause him to resent me more. He sees how I don’t have this problem with my other child but then again don’t understand that she don’t talk and therefore don’t behave the way he does. He has an IEP and many services to help him and academically is doing way better than a year ago and I’m proud of him and I encourage him and tell him this at every chance I get and then I show him with these examples the difference in outcomes when he does well and behaves well oppsesd to when he don’t. Again it dont sink in that brain of his and he does what he wants no matter the repercussions. Things he does and gets in trouble for he will just keep repeating over and over such as playing with cigarette butts in the community ashtray, picking up the nastiest garbage from the ground, excessively knocking on a neighbors door every 5 minutes, repeating himself over and over again because I didn’t answer him right away because I am busy with something else and when I stop and explain to him why these things are not ok or healthy and the possible outcomes of doing these unhealthy things he just ignores what I have to say and interrupts me with a question completely off the subject. I’m at my witts end with this child but I love him so very much that I could never give up on him. I just don’t know what to do anymore. His father once told me that as a child he was very angry and him mother put him in counciling which onlyade him angrier and I have a half sister who went through the same thing so I have tried not to go that route to its fullest extent other than through the school councilors. His behavior makes me run and hide in my room so I can lower my stress and anger towards the situation which is not healthy for our family either. I understand that there are many factors that contribute to this behavior negatively but they are also unchangeable factors that must be worked around. At this point I am desperately seeking a resolution to save our relationship but I just can’t find one anywhere.

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beanz

Have you tried visual aids for good behaviour such as a star chart? Children usually respond well when they can see progress toward something they want so say 10 stars erm a small toy have the chart set up so there is a picture of what he wants at the end stars are rewarded for good behaviour and taken away for bad and he don’t get the toy till the stars fill up? Kids can definitely sense when they are disliked in the family unit sounds to me like your doing all you can though. Have you ever asked him why he behaves so badly…wonder what his thoughts are on the matter? Stay strong hun… It won’t always be this way I promise xx

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Hope

Yes, with the chart he became worse because he always expected a reward even when he bahaved badly. The crying and screaming was horrible if he didn’t earn his reward. I even tried buying the toy first and then letting him earn dollars to buy it from me that way he learned how to save money and always knew he was making progress even if he had a bad day. I have asked him. His answer is always I don’t know. Today he come home from school and was in a bad mood but didn’t know why. Was mad if I asked and even went into full tears because he just didn’t know what was bothering him and was upset that I kept asking because he did not have an answer. Some days are good and some days are horrible. He snaps at me and gives me an attitude like a grown man which he picked up from me (when I have pms) I’m sure. I know it won’t be this way forever but I wish we could over come this behavior soon because it is really hurting our relationship and I don’t want him to grow up this way and think that his behavior is ok.

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beanz

Sounds like you try everything hun behaviour is learned so whatever he’s been subjected too in early years he’s picked up and it’s going to take some undoing all I can suggest is keep doin what your doing in that your always trying to find new ways to communicate with him in a positive way. It may seem like your getting nowhere but if your consistent on showing him what good behaviour achieves perhaps one day it will sink in. Don’t give up…is it possible he is bein bullied? Or abused in anyway that he feels he can’t say? I’m sure you already thought of that though. Sorry I cnt be of more help. Keep strong hun he will one day be grown and in his own life nothing stays the same forever. We take things out on the ones we love the most if he’s frustrated at school perhaps has difficulties with the work or other children he will come home and take it out on you because he knows he can ul love him anyway ur his mum. My brother as a child would be horrid to my mum turns out he was just far to intelligent social situations frustrated him and my mum took the brunt now he’s grown a successful graphic designer and stuck around to look after my mum in her older years they are the best of friends so yano what is now won’t always be so bad 🙂 x

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Moving Forwars

Your article really spoke to me. I am leaving, for the second and final time . He managed to kill my love for him, which makes me feel healthier. But up until tonight, I have been pushing back, stronger and stronger foolishly believing that if I am strong enough he will hear me. I now finally realize thats not going to happen. Nut tonight I was really mean. It started out with me once again hoping he would hear me, but as usual he turned the tables and made the failure of our relationship my fault and the. I just became angry. I had spent the day packing and organizing my move and felt resentment that his inability to be a decent and loving person has put me in such a difficult position. But now I am just wracked with guilt and so angry at myself for saying such hurtful things. I know better. And I especially know in my calmer moments that for whatever reason, he cannot help being what he is. I suppose I am writing this hoping that you will tell me my behavior was understandable or anything else that will assuage my guilt and diminish the anger I feel towards myself.

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Bel

I hear you Moving Forwards. I, too, have unreasonable expectations of myself even though I tend to set the bar too low for others. It is very hard to contain suppressed anger and resentment, especially when your buttons are being pressed and you feel completely unseen. Your reaction is more than understandable, it is basic human emotions. Allow yourself to be imperfect and even embrace that. It doesn’t make you a bad person. You are being pushed because you are doing the right thing in setting healthy boundaries and some people don’t like that!

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Mike

I’ve been in a toxic relationship for nearly 20 years. I fell in love with a person that from day one has done me wrong. Lying, cheating, stealing, etc. and to top if off was on the road to becoming a full fledged drug addict. I now have a 10 years old child with this woman. I have raised him and have custody since age one. She’s been to prison twice since his birth.
IF ANYONE HAS READ THIS FAR PLEASE HELP ME!

I have spent these last 10 years holding on and wishing this person would change even giving her the open door to stability and a settled life with me and our son after both her short prison terms. I’ve even lost other relationships because of her. I hold on….. I hold on because the thought of us as a family and her sexy stylish feminine ways keep me in my lust for her. Her way of manipulating and controlling me is with sex. Yes sex! And Even though I’ve had other woman in my life my mind is always on her.
It goes way heyond this though. My story is a long and painful journey with a woman who destroyed her life and has nobody left (family) but me and her son and boy has she taken me on a ride. I always try and be her friend and it ends up with her throwing herself at me In the bed to keep me without being able to move on with my life.
I haven’t lived with this woman in two and a half years but I always let her manipulate me with sex.Every time she does and I realize that my fantasy of having a family with her is not possible I break and destroy myself. When I tell her she needs to go and we cannot be she becomes a cold cold, selfish, self centered and knowing exactly how to break me. Almost making me feel like her life without me is so much greater and leaving me doubting my own.
Recently I let it happen again father a few month break and thinking that I was beginning to let go. But no, here she comes and there I go giving in to her manipulative ways. This last time she told me she had to see if she loved me or not after I tell her to go. She said ” yea I don’t love you had to check one last time.
IT FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME SHE HURT ME LATELY! This woman has broken my spirit as a man and has left me broken. I’m suffering inside and am trying to let go but feel like I can’t and will never remake my life with someone who will truly love me for me. She is as toxic as it gets for me and I hate myself for being so weak to not have let go a long long time ago. She has battered my self esteem and I feel I’m not worth it. No matter the great, stable amazing man and father that I am I can’t understand why she doesn’t want to be home with me and her son.
She is actively going to methadone clinic and is still in her own destruction. I guess I’ve been wanting to save her life but it’s left me with a completely diminished sprit.

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beanz

If you think this woman is doing all this negative stuff to you think what your 10yr old has been through and that’s his mother. I’m sure he would like a more stable happy relationship with her too but I can’t imagine he’s getting it. If you can’t break away for yourself do it for your son who your currently teaching it’s ok to be treated so poorly. Would you be happy to see him married to a woman like her? No… time to break the cycle of misery and go show you and your boy that you don’t need abother person to make you happy so why should you put up with not being happy? Wish you all the best.. there’s more to life than sex

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Mike

Thank you for your thoughts for a better way for me and my son beanz. I’m lately extremely depressed and feel alone as ever without the same old shit with her. Sometimes when she’s not around I’m At peace. Yet when I get that lustful taste of her I’m back to step one and knowing she has taken control once again. And she knows it because I let her know I’m broken.
My social and family circle is not too big and far from the norm. My support team is barely visible. I can’t stop thinking about her and what she does or who she’s with possibly enjoying her life and having fun and in here suffering. But then I also realize how much she hates herself and her life and think she’s just in her box suffering with herself as well? Im not quite sure of where this will end but sometimes I feel as if I won’t make it past this point in my life and thus will steal my life away. I will never find love again or the wife my heart desires I feel. Im too broken and feel ashamed and worthless because of all this time wasted in someone like her. I feel she will be happy even though she’s such a hiorible person and I will be torn for ever. I just survive for my son but my loneliness is slowly killing me.im a broken man beanz. Thee is more to my pain that stems from a torn family of my own with my father being gone in my early teenage years. I don’t mean to ramble on and I’m not looking for pity. Im just lost and feel I have no support so I’m searching wherever possible. Thank you again.

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beanz

Dont apologise it’s why we’re all here nestor looking for answers to questions we can’t answer for ourselves because the hurt is so blinding and the loneliness of the situation gets to much at times to bare…. Some things you say mirror a place I was in.. its not a nice place to be and at my lowest it was fade away or get up and keep moving for my son. My toxic relationship with his father landed me a broken hyoid bone and him 3yrs inside and allas I still care for the man… there’s that side to them right? That amazing perfect side that we so love lust and crave… feels a rarity to hold it but when we do it makes all that hurt dissappear for a time and in that time the weight of all the pain is gone… I crave the break from all the hurt and yet went to him to seek relief because he was the one causing it. I also feel bad to give up on someone I care for… on my journey of self discovery I’ve learned that just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean the love wasn’t real..that it’s not my fault.. I’m not a bad person for saying no more thankyou.. I can love a person and not put up with how they treat me because in the end of the day I have to love me first. That im not alone no matter how small my circle which like you is extremely small and really have only me to rely on. I have my kids and they are my everything. Being alone and being lonely are two different things with one thing common. They are both thoughts.. I’m learning it’s the thought that creates the emotion.. and yet it’s us that holds the power to change our own way of thinking about any given thing.. change the thought process change the emotion right… put this thing with her away for awhile and just tell yourself yano il revisit that another time when I’m stronger it’s not going anywhere anyway right and then use the spare thinking time to throw yourself into other things…reading self motivation soul search find you what u like who u are and want to become. Do things with your son who I’m sure needs the break to talk to him bout how u feel he is a great friend if you let him my 16 yr old is my best buddy. Ul soon find after so long not tormenting yourself with thoughts of just her that there is much better use for your time…. I’ve stopped trying to fight my empathetic side I’m always going to be to caring and forgiving but I’ve also learned one massive thing I never seemed to get before… I put all my time n effort into the betterment and love of others yet I don’t give myself the same treatment? How silly is that? 🙂 I’m a person too I deserve love and respect too who better to love and respect me than me ay! Love yourself nestor. Don’t waste the short time we have on this earth being horrible to the one person on this planet that’s got your back when there’s no one else around…you!! We are in charge of our own happiness. X

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Mike

Wow! Thank you so. I have for another caring response.
I believe my pain stems from my first marriage that didn’t work and also involves a child. My first son who is now 21. I was 23 when I walked into an empty apt. we were living in. His mother only 20 at the time wasn’t ready for that type of life (family life) . She wanted to party and met someone else and just walked away taking my son who was my life. I believe that started this pain and sorrow within me. I shortly started my relationship with this new woman we speak of believing she loved me and truly cared. She was a few years older than me, was in the process of starting a career and I just fell completely head over heals. Only to soon realize I wasn’t at the top of the list in her priorities. We would go out with friends we were both aquanted with and at times she would want to leave the party or gathering with me always flirting and loving the attention she recieved from others. These moments were some of the worst at the beginning. Her desiring others instead of me. I would break up with her and what do you know here she came looking for me and if it wasn’t her it was me. It was back and forth for a while until she really well all in to her drug addiction. She started getting arrested and going to jail for short moments. Few months here and there. I would take care of all her belongings and go see her and answer her calls. Upon one of her releases and living in a halfway house she visited me and this is when our son was conceived. How freaking stupid was I!! She went back to jail unknowing she was pregnant and then a few months into her stay was tested and we found out. She was ordered to a live in rehab until the baby was born. Thank God! This saved our son from a pregnancy with her using and abusing drugs and destroying his brain.i would go see here and she would give me promises of her being ready to change and how different things were gona be. I had an apt. waiting for her and the baby. I was ready to start a new life with her only to find a few weeks after she was home her using opiats once again. I left her as hard as it was. Our son was only 6 months old and one of the hardest things I ever did. I love my boys and am a family man, a loving father who had my dream of my own family, my wife and support, my kids and our fun adventurous life full of love and encouragement. Shortly after he left her legal troubles once again started and I saw my opportunity to take my son. I did and have had custody of him since age one. She went and served prison time trying to sneak in drugs into a jail. Recieved a year and a day in prison for it. When she was gone of course I started receiving the letters of sorry and I love you and she’s gona change and my dumb ass believing it and writing back and going to visit.
Here I am 10 years later and trying to move came on???I feel so exhausted and knowing that I have to deal with this person because of our son makes me hate everything good I have. Through go all this time I’ve managed to still pick up all the pieces and find success and stability in my life. Yet my spirit is broken. I’m trying to find the strength and you know what’s funny is that there’s been times for instance when I made her leave about 2and a half years ago I felt peace knowing I didn’t have to put up with her drama and chaotic behavior. Where I’ve went wrong is continuing to see her on and off sexually and expecting her to be more loving and caring or change her ways. Nope! She is still stuck and to this day is at a Methadone clinic every morning to start her day. She lives with her old step dad who has took her in fortunately for her because she has no living family left to help her.
I appreciate your advice and I’m trying my hardest to be strong for my boys. I have had my oldest in town visiting from college these last few weeks and spending some time with both. It’s been nice but I’ve been really empty inside regardless. Last night me and my little guy actually camped out in the back yard with a fire and iPad movie on Netflix. He was so excited.. I was pretty cool. Im trying my to find my strength and push on.
I think being Im on vacation and took some time off work has affected me too. At work I’m always active, working out and in front of the Atlantic Ocean. Fresh air and life. Being home during these holidays and processing things have been hard. The loneliness his and steals my joy. I’m trying beanz, believe me I’m not giving up. I just pray one day I’m past this and God gives me the wife my hearts desired since I was a young man. It’s all that’s missing in my life. It’s all I’ve wanted. I see so many out there who have one and yet don’t appreciate her and are unfaithful. But she’s right there always as his backbone even if he is doing her wrong. I don’t get it?? It baffles my mind not understanding how humans work. Anyways didn’t mean to ramble on and on about the same stuff. Thank you once again for your kind and caring words. I will try and push myself today and find some strength and joy in my life. Thank you Beanz

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beanz

Your welcome I mean we are all here in similar boats getting to understand your situation in turn helps me look at my own and that helps me appreciate the differences again some of your experiences mirror my own and I too wonder how being this loyal n caring winds me up on my own with 2 kids when others are married and cheat or seemingly have it all but yano along my journey through all this I’ve found its staying in that perpetual cycle of negative thoughts gets me nowhere but feeling more rubbish than I do anyway… change the thought pattern change the feeling… so you and your boy had what’s sounds like a really awesome night camping 🙂 you live near the ocean? And you camped under the stars with what sounds like the most important person in the world to you ….wow…. breath them happy thoughts in for a moment.. now take yourself to a parallel universe somewhere and your wife is there on that same night…would you have had the same amazing night would your boy have loved it as much would you have even camped at all or would you have spent that time feeling anxious upset put down or just negative in any way? Which night would you choose? Go watch noah elcrief on loneliness on youtube it really helped me he said something that really kinda made sense it went something like this if you had two choices one was you could have the love of your life forever but you’d always feel hurt upset belittled etc or two you would be alone forever but always happy content and loved which would you choose? Well we would choose two right? Other people don’t create our happiness…We do…. its all just a way of thinking if you attach negative meaning to santa you’d always hate santa right? But santa isn’t bad 🙂 being lonely doesn’t have to be a bad thing… what’s so wrong with takin time out to work on you? Be with your son before he grows up and leaves to start his life…These are the best years. Another thing I tell myself everyday is nothing ever stays the same look back over your life and it’s a journey that’s always moving forward someway or another everything changes year to year month to month new jobs homes pets.. kids milestones. .. always moving forward.. nothing stays the same.. This too shall pass… stay strong buddy 🙂 we can do this

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Beatrice

I’m not sure if I’m crazy? It it’s wrong. I was going to get married, to a pretty great guy! I mean we had our issues,but he was kind. Then his best friend convinced me he wasn’t a great person and that he was the best thing for me. Talked about pedestals and loving me deeply for me. Talked to me morning noon and night it was fresh air from previously feeling ignored (one of the issues) and I left my fiancé and then started dating the friend. It was intense and the love and compassion was strong and I had never loved and been loved so deeply. It was.. some of the best days of my life. He talked about making my dreams come true and the future and he made me feel so special, but one day everything changed. And now he’s mean he makes horrid comments about me being a whore or him cheating and then when they upset me says they are jokes and gets disgusted that it upset me. But he makes these jokes all day. The love stopped the talking stopped the kindness stopped. He never stopped talking to his ex and we watched a video on his phone and her text popped up saying “missing you to” he deleted the feed then dumped me when I asked why he deleted it. Promptly undumped me, he won’t hang out with me in town but insists on going a state over (20 minutes away) I’m not allowed to post anything or pictures of him or us together on Facebook yet his ex keeps posting pictures. He ditched me christmas and up went a photo of him at his exes, which he says is old but I’m sure he’s still with her to. But I have no proof and it makes me feel crazy. Idk where his love went but I feel like it’s my fault. The harder I try the worse it gets if I stop trying it gets even worse. I just want the love back. I used to be bubbly and cheery and now I’m deeply depressed, scared to leave lest he accuse me of cheating (again) and scared to even text. We fight constantly (mostly about me doing or saying something wrong or getting upset that he is so meAn. But occasionally I get a glimpse of the past and it keeps me coming back. Am I crazy?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Beatrice you are not crazy, but it sounds to me that you are living in the past. Read back to yourself what you have written, and then ask yourself if this is the way you deserve to be loved. It’s not. You deserve to be treated with kindness and love. You deserve to feel secure and you deserve not to have jokes made about you. You have been dumped, undumped, and you have good reason to be suspicious. You have