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Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal with Them

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The 12 Things Toxic People Do and How to Deal With Them

We have all had toxic people dust us with their poison. Sometimes it’s more like a drenching. Difficult people are drawn to the reasonable ones and all of us have likely had (or have) at least one person in our lives who have us bending around ourselves like barbed wire in endless attempts to please them – only to never really get there.

Their damage lies in their subtlety and the way they can engender that classic response, ‘It’s not them, it’s me.’ They can have you questioning your ‘over-reactiveness’, your ‘oversensitivity’, your ‘tendency to misinterpret’. If you’re the one who’s continually hurt, or the one who is constantly adjusting your own behaviour to avoid being hurt, then chances are that it’s not you and it’s very much them.

Being able to spot their harmful behaviour is the first step to minimising their impact. You might not be able to change what they do, but you can change what you do with it, and any idea that toxic somebody in your life might have that they can get away with it.

There are plenty of things toxic people do to manipulate people and situations to their advantage. Here are 12 of them. Knowing them will help you to avoid falling under the influence:

  1. They’ll keep you guessing about which version of them you’re getting.

    They’ll be completely lovely one day and the next you’ll be wondering what you’ve done to upset them. There often isn’t anything obvious that will explain the change of attitude – you just know something isn’t right. They might be prickly, sad, cold or cranky and when you ask if there’s something wrong, the answer will likely be ‘nothing’ – but they’ll give you just enough  to let you know that there’s something. The ‘just enough’ might be a heaving sigh, a raised eyebrow, a cold shoulder. When this happens, you might find yourself making excuses for them or doing everything you can to make them happy. See why it works for them?

    Stop trying to please them. Toxic people figured out a long time ago that decent people will go to extraordinary lengths to keep the people they care about happy. If your attempts to please aren’t working or aren’t lasting for very long, maybe it’s time to stop. Walk away and come back when the mood has shifted. You are not responsible for anybody else’s feelings. If you have done something unknowingly to hurt somebody, ask, talk about it and if need be, apologise. At any rate, you shouldn’t have to guess.

  1. They’ll manipulate.

    If you feel as though you’re the only one contributing to the relationship, you’re probably right. Toxic people have a way of sending out the vibe that you owe them something. They also have a way of taking from you or doing something that hurts you, then maintaining they were doing it all for you. This is particularly common in workplaces or relationships where the balance of power is out. ‘I’ve left that six months’ worth of filing for you. I thought you’d appreciate the experience and the opportunity to learn your way around the filing cabinets.’ Or, ‘I’m having a dinner party. Why don’t you bring dinner. For 10. It’ll give you a chance to show off those kitchen skills. K?’

    You don’t owe anybody anything. If it doesn’t feel like a favour, it’s not. 

  1. They won’t own their feelings.

    Rather than owning their own feelings, they’ll act as though the feelings are yours. It’s called projection, as in projecting their feelings and thoughts onto you. For example, someone who is angry but won’t take responsibility for it might accuse you of being angry with them. It might be as subtle as, ‘Are you okay with me?’ or a bit more pointed, ‘Why are you angry at me,’ or, ‘You’ve been in a bad mood all day.’

    You’ll find yourself justifying and defending and often this will go around in circles – because it’s not about you. Be really clear on what’s yours and what’s theirs. If you feel as though you’re defending yourself too many times against accusations or questions that don’t fit, you might be being projected on to. You don’t have to explain, justify or defend yourself or deal with a misfired accusation. Remember that.

  1. They’ll make you prove yourself to them.

    They’ll regularly put you in a position where you have to choose between them and something else – and you’ll always feel obliged to choose them. Toxic people will wait until you have a commitment, then they’ll unfold the drama.  ‘If you really cared about me you’d skip your exercise class and spend time with me.’  The problem with this is that enough will never be enough. Few things are fatal – unless it’s life or death, chances are it can wait.

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  2. They never apologise. 

    They’ll lie before they ever apologise, so there’s no point arguing. They’ll twist the story, change the way it happened and retell it so convincingly that they’ll believe their own nonsense.

    People don’t have to apologise to be wrong. And you don’t need an apology to move forward. Just move forward – without them. Don’t surrender your truth but don’t keep the argument going. There’s just no point. Some people want to be right more than they want to be happy and you have better things to do than to provide fodder for the right-fighters.

  1. They’ll be there in a crisis but they’ll never ever share your joy.

    They’ll find reasons your good news isn’t great news. The classics: About a promotion – ‘The money isn’t that great for the amount of work you’ll be doing.’ About a holiday at the beach – ‘Well it’s going to be very hot. Are you sure you want to go?’ About being made Queen of the Universe – ‘Well the Universe isn’t that big you know and I’m pretty sure you won’t get tea breaks.’ Get the idea? Don’t let them dampen you or shrink you down to their size. You don’t need their approval anyway – or anyone else’s for that matter.

  2. They’ll leave a conversation unfinished – and then they’ll go offline.

    They won’t pick up their phone. They won’t answer texts or emails. And in between rounds of their voicemail message, you might find yourself playing the conversation or argument over and over in your head, guessing about the status of the relationship, wondering what you’ve done to upset them, or whether they’re dead, alive or just ignoring you – which can sometimes all feel the same. People who care about you won’t let you go on feeling rubbish without attempting to sort it out. That doesn’t mean you’ll sort it out of course, but at least they’ll try. Take it as a sign of their investment in the relationship if they leave you ‘out there’ for lengthy sessions.

  3. They’ll use non-toxic words with a toxic tone.

    The message might be innocent enough but the tone conveys so much more. Something like, ‘What did you do today?’ can mean different things depending on the way it’s said. It could mean anything from ‘So I bet you did nothing – as usual,’ to ‘I’m sure your day was better than mine. Mine was awful. Just awful. And you didn’t even notice enough to ask.’ When you question the tone, they’ll come back with, ‘All I said was what did you do today,’ which is true, kind of, not really.

  4. They’ll bring irrelevant detail into a conversation.

    When you’re trying to resolve something important to you, toxic people will bring in irrelevant detail from five arguments ago. The problem with this is that before you know it, you’re arguing about something you did six months ago, still defending yourself, rather than dealing with the issue at hand. Somehow, it just always seems to end up about what you’ve done to them. 

  5. They’ll make it about the way you’re talking, rather than what you’re talking about.

    You might be trying to resolve an issue or get clarification and before you know it, the conversation/ argument has moved away from the issue that was important to you and on to the manner in which you talked about it – whether there is any issue with your manner or not. You’ll find yourself defending your tone, your gestures, your choice of words or the way you belly moves when you breathe – it doesn’t even need to make sense. Meanwhile, your initial need is well gone on the pile of unfinished conversations that seems to grow bigger by the day.

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  6. They exaggerate.

    ‘You always …’ ‘You never …’ It’s hard to defend yourself against this form of manipulation. Toxic people have a way of drawing on the one time you didn’t or the one time you did as evidence of your shortcomings. Don’t buy into the argument. You won’t win. And you don’t need to.

  7. They are judgemental.

    We all get it wrong sometimes but toxic people will make sure you know it. They’ll judge you and take a swipe at your self-esteem suggesting that you’re less than because you made a mistake. We’re all allowed to get it wrong now and then, but unless we’ve done something that affects them nobody has the right to stand in judgement.

Knowing the favourite go-to’s for toxic people will sharpen your radar, making the manipulations easier to spot and easier to name. More importantly, if you know the characteristic signs of a toxic person, you’ll have a better chance of catching yourself before you tie yourself in double knots trying to please them.

Some people can’t be pleased and some people won’t be good for you – and many times that will have nothing to do with you. You can always say no to unnecessary crazy. Be confident and own your own faults, your quirks and the things that make you shine. You don’t need anyone’s approval but remember if someone is working hard to manipulate, it’s because probably because they need yours. You don’t always have to give it but if you do, don’t let the cost be too high. 

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1,002 Comments

mary c charest

This article is painfully true. I had two toxic friends who tried to convince me that I was the toxic one — after reading this article I know I was not toxic — they were. It was all about them. Geeze.

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heysigmund

Yes! Toxic people are experts when it comes to convincing reasonable people that they’re being unreasonable. When you know the signs, they’re easier to spot and it makes it harder for them to pull you under their spell. It’s great that you now have the insight. Thanks so much for making contact!

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Maureen Gotimer

Some good points, but sometimes, ignoring tone of a conversation misses the point. Also, most of the most painful arguments in a relationship do come from past experiences and dealing only with the current situation makes you seem petty. The point of the difficulty is many times in the history or pattern rather than a single slight. Finally, what may seem irrelevant to one person may be a keynote to another.

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Sara

You just completely described the narcissists in my life. Sadly one is currently destroying a friendship group moving from person to person befriending them on a high scale and dropping them when it suits.I’m wise to the behaviour but others aren’t and sadly you can’t explain to them what is happening as you become the poisonous one. Thanks for a good read.

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heysigmund

You’re very welcome. I’m sorry to hear that this is happening to you. It’s so good that you have the insight though and you’re right, people have to figure it out when they’re ready – which sooner or later they do. Toxic people are well-practiced at what they do and that’s what makes them so hard to wise up to. I hope things get better soon. Thanks so much for making contact.

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Satalynn

I agree with Sara, this article completely describes the nurse assist in my life! The narcissist is my sister-in-law,my husband’s sister! For years she is been doing this to me and other sister-in-law’s of hers and including her sister. For the past two years I have tried to work things out. But it seems like when things aren’t going good in her life like her getting a divorce for the 100th it’s my time for her to lash out at me. She starts with picking at me, trying to start fights with me and this time she went as low as making up a fake profile and blaming me for things that another sister In law was writing. I have text showing that I told her I didn’t want to fight. And now her excuse for not talking to me is because I supposedly told my other sister In law about her fake profile! She has gone as low as posting horrible tho ha about myself and my other sister in law and when confronted she plays victim and says its us. I hate to say it but I am so glad that she is no longer in my life because the ones in my life are absolutely amazing. Blood is def not thicker then water sometimes. And I’m glad that I have my husband. Who sees her lies and everything g she’s been doing and backs me up a 110%

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heysigmund

Toxic family members are harder to walk away from but well done to you for your insight and being able to see it for what it is. And it’s great that you’re married to a man who has your back! Thank you for taking the time to comment – I hope things settle down for you soon.

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Saufiyah

Please tell me what do I do to get them out of my life and putting them in their place! I need advice asap on this friendship

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heysigmund

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer for this. All you can do is recognise the behaviours and protect yourself from them as you can’t change people who don’t want to be changed. I wish I could be more helpful.

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Sue F

I don’t think you can ever “put them in their place”…it’s just too exhausting! Strong boundaries, low contact and just walking away have worked for me. I bowl with a woman who is like this. I am polite and only talk about things like the weather and bowls…never anything personal. They seem to target the caring, sympathetic types but I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t do much with these people. Good luck!

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KH

I was raised by a psychotic malignant narcissist for 18 yrs. I have also just put the pieces together that my sister in law is also a psychotic malignant narcissist with histrionic tendencies. (neither have been diagnosed because *they* don’t have a problem. i do… *ahem* … ) My stepfather is out of my life, but after 15 more years with my sister in law and her latest round of shenanigans, I was triggered really badly and I am now seeing a therapist. She has diagnosed me with Complex PTSD due to the years of abuse as a child, and now this person as a constant trigger. She honestly “gets off” on causing pain and chaos, endangering people’s lives and stirring the pot. She throws emotional grenades into the mix of the family and then stands back and says “wasn’t me…” She has, once again, caused major upheaval in the family, getting all of the adult siblings involved and even her teenage daughter to help her with her pity party. The saddest part about all of it is the way she uses her children as pawns within the family (and with her ex husband) and then tells us that we are cruel to her kids. She has convinced the entire family to hate me because I am “stealing” her brother from them. Um. He just doesn’t think that EVERY. SINGLE. GATHERING. needs to be drunk-fest 2015, and he certainly doesn’t want to act like that in front of all of the teenage kids in our family. We have 2 teenagers and a pre-teen. And we choose NOT to drink with our kids. I’m just heart broken that someone could hate me so viciously (after going thru 18 yrs of that kind of hatred from my step-dad). I am a born again Christian, which of course is their primary way of attacking me. Apparently I am supposed to perfect because of my faith, and I apparently want everyone to believe that I am perfect.. *ahem*. Actually- what I really want is HONESTY, TRANSPARENCY, KINDNESS, Actual LOVE- ya know- the kind where you’re nice to your family? I’m asking for all of us to come together and discuss the TRUTH. No more lies. No more projecting. You can’t spend 15 yrs talking bad about someone behind their back and then simultaneously claim to be all about family. And all of the other family members just stand there and let her talk that way. And they defend her and say all she wants is for all of us to just get along. If she really doesn’t like me, THEN JUST SAY SO! I can handle it! But she gets more pleasure from attacking me, slandering me, dividing the family and then pointing at me and saying I’m the one dividing the family. I’m sorry for the venting but I’ve spent a lot of years in the dark and confused, and now its all pouring out. I do want to share a few titles of books that I have read lately that I have found tremendously helpful :

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron PhD

Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward PhD

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick

Setting Boundaries with Difficult People by Allison Bottke

Toxic In-Laws by Susan Forward PhD

I hope these titles help someone else like they did me. Thank you for your blog, its very helpful and a great resource.

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heysigmund

You have so much insight. What you’ve been through has clearly made you tougher, braver, clearer and more insightful. I honestly believe that people are more beautiful for the breaks. We all have them. Your ‘wants’ are completely reasonable and you deserve to have people in your life who can be honest, loving, transparent and kind. I’m so grateful to you for sharing your story and the books that have helped you. There are some great titles here. The response to this post has been enormous – there are so many people struggling with toxic people in their lives. Toxic people will only ever go for kind, reasonable, generous ones. I LOVE hearing when people have broken away. You’re amazing. Thank you so much for making contact with me.

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Nikki

It’s to bad that I have to watch a good friend of mine for the last 30 years get mixed up with someone like that! She’s got him believe that’s love!!
I’ve tried to make him see it’s not! He won’t listen and comes to her defense. It’s almost like a domestic violence thing with out the beatings and he’s the victim.
How do I get him out of this mess? It’s been 5 years now. It only gets worse for him every year! He had lots of friends & a job he loved and now he’s lost everyone but me! I am no match for her toxic manipulating personality, I’m barely hanging in there. He does screw me over to make her happy. I’m the last thing she hasn’t been able to cut him off from. But, I’m almost giving up hope. We are like brother & sister.
But his girlfriend has thrown a lot of wedges between us over time.
Time is running out. He use to be a wonderful man who loved life, people and family and friends, now he’s just angry and judge mental and hates everything. But I believe there’s still a little piece left of him to work with. A very small window of hope. By the way, she’s turned him into a liar and he’ll tell you he’ll do something and then a fight will break out between them and then he won’t keep his word. He always kept his word before she came a long.
There’s got to be someone in this world smarter than her!! Can anyone help me? To help him, get out of that hell hole life he’s in?
He’s 10 years older than she is, but she has literally turned him gray and into an old man and he’s only 53! I worry what she will do to him next. It’s like he’s brain washed, like a cult would do, I don’t know how to deprogram him. I just don’t have the capabilities and no money to try.
If someone has step by step instructions, what to do, I’d be greatful to you, I just want my good friend back. He was a true loving soul, good to everyone. He’s a victim and can’t see it!!!
Thank you for reading this!
Sincerely, Nikki

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heysigmund

Hi Nikki, First – you’re friend is so lucky to have you. You sound like an incredible friend. It’s awful watching people you love fall apart. One of the mistakes people make when someone they care about is in a bad relationship is that try to talk those people out of the bad relationships. It seems like the obvious thing to do, but what it can often do is inadvertently drive those people (your friend) to prove you wrong and push them further into the bad relationship. Nobody wants to feel like a fool, and if people think that’s what their friends are thinking, they will often work very hard to disprove that – which is pretty understandable. The best thing to do in this situation is to keep loving your friend hard. Pushing against his relationship might drive him to push back harder. I know it’s counter-intuitive but when you judge his partner, your friendship will likely feel it as judgement against him. It’s absolutely not your fault – I’ve done it myself and like I said, it’s the obvious thing to do. But it doesn’t always work. If your friend asks for your honesty then of course, give it. Otherwise, be as supportive and as non-judgemental of the relationship as you can. I know how hard this is but if what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to try something different. The issue you’ve raised is an important one and I can see a bit of a theme in the comments. I’m going to do a post on it so stay tuned. Thank you so much for making contact with me and for sharing your story. You would be surprised how many people are in the same situation!

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jessica

I am currently on a bus to get away from a toxic relationship. It started as emotional manipulation and started getting physical, so I left him. Thank the Lord I was strong enough to do it.

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heysigmund

I’ve got goosebumps reading this. It’s not easy leaving a relationship but you’ve done it. Keep moving forward. You’re amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. You never know who will read this and also be inspired by your strength and courage. Thank you!

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Larry

thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us , you have just made me realize that it’s happening to me, now with your help I’m going to sort this out , thanks again .

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heysigmund

You’re so welcome. I’m so pleased this has been able to help you. I love it when people find their strength and it sounds like you’ve certainly found yours. Thank you for making contact with me.

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Jim

Do the toxic ones know who they are, and is there any way to address them for change. You have described my spouse to a T and I am at the end of my wits to make her happy. Thank you for the article and insight. Very helpful.

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heysigmund

The difference between toxic people and the rest of us is that when the rest of us realise we’re hurting someone unnecessarily, we tweak our behaviour. Toxic people don’t. I believe that anyone can change, but they have to realise the need for change and be willing to change. You can’t change someone who doesn’t think there’s a problem. It’s so impossibly hard when you’re in a relationship with a toxic person because until they’re ready to listen, the relationship is stuck. I’ve been really surprised at the response to this article. There are so many people struggling with toxic relationships. Will do more posts on this in the future. It’s great that you have the insight. Thank you so much for making contact.

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Ginny

Thank you. I needed to see this today. My narcissistic and very toxic husband left 5 months ago for a much younger woman. He also left behind 3 teenagers, a house in disrepair, incredible debts and much emotional debris. I spent many years walking on eggshells trying to make him happy and keep everything ok. He abused my good nature and took advantage of me at every turn. He is a master manipulator… After our separation 3 years ago when I first was confronted with his affair, he lied and tried to keep conning me. I let him come home after he was evicted from his apartment, got his car repossessed and drank so much that he was writing bad checks and pawning silver and his wedding ring! But he promised to change and made me believe that everything but him was to blame for his downfall . I believed in my vows and tried to help him overcome his issues. For better or worse, he was my husband and father of our kids. He paid me back with lies, cheating, fraudulently opening a credit card in my name and then kissing me good bye on a Wednesday talking about what we should have for supper and never came home again. I have to pay for the divorce and am selling the house so we don’t get foreclosed on. He has made some minimal support payments and sees his kids maybe for a meal a couple times a month. That’s it. Never helps in any way with what he left behind or any parental duties. Never asks how I’m doing. Just all about him and his feelings he can’t change now, he says. The crazy thing is that we have been friends since we were in high school and I still love him or at least love who he was once. That guy is dead and gone and now the pirate has taken him over it is so sad and I am distraught by the loss of our family. A lot was caused by alcohol and by his selfishness. Like the wolf story. There are two wolves, the good one and bad one and whichever one you feed is the one that stays. I see a lot of what I felt around him in your article. He was good at keeping me off balance and convincing me that I was crazy or over sensitive or incapable of handling adversity. He tormented me and I am fighting to put it all behind me. I lost a lot of my self worth and self confidence. He has caused so much damage to me, to my kids and to my family who tried to help him. it is scary. Thanks for letting me vent!

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heysigmund

You’re so right – it’s frightening how quickly toxic people can work their way into the hearts and lives of good people. They are so good at what they do and they pick their targets well – reasonable, honest, kind, generous people. You’ve been through an awful time and now thankfully you’re free. Your comment about the person you love being the man he used to be is so insightful. You loved him once – of course there are going to be things about him that are harder to let go of, but when you feel bad more often than you feel good – well there’s your answer. You’ve done the right thing and you’re putting in a heroic effort to get you and your girls through this. I have enormous respect for you and any woman who can do that. AND if you can’t vent here on Hey Sigmund – well where can you do it. Come back and vent any time! Thank you so much for sharing your story. There will be so many women with stories like this who will relate and it will mean a lot to them to know that they aren’t alone.

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Pam

Hi Ginny, I so much hear what you are saying and want to let you know you aren’t alone. I wonder why they can actually get away with being so mean, and why the heck do we still think we love them and can help them? And why do we try so hard for such a thankless situation. And I still find myself crying and missing him so much, when I know he has never ever been there for me emotionally at all. And when I talk to him, try to get him to open up, his face just looks at me with big stupid puppy dog eyes, and when you are done, they just get up and walk out. Or mostly, they don’t even wait for you to finish, you’ll still be talking as the door shuts. I’ve caught myself many times waiting til he comes back in, but he doesn’t. When my Mom died, I was naturally just destroyed, and one time I started crying, and he go up and came over to me, put his arm on my shoulder for maybe two seconds, and that was it forever. He lost his Mom and I never saw him shed a tear, then he lost his brother, and I went to the hospital and sat with his brothers wife until she finally gave in and shut off life support. And they were so close, my husband and him. Not a tear tht time either. And he left on a job the day of his funeral. Didn’t even consider going. Why is it so hard to let go of these guys? I think a lot of it is because nothing seems to make sense, one day they say they love you, the next, they say they never did and they want out. And they don’t even understand why we are sitting there just destroyed, there is no emotion, no remorse, nothing, just like turning off a lightbulb, it means nothing..we mean nothing when they are done with us, and it’s the most difficult thing in the world to feel like you mean nothing to the most important person in your world. The one person you never thought could hurt you so badly, and they don’t even feel sorrow, nor sorry. i don’t know if i will ever be able to trust anyone very much anymore, i’m terrified of trying, my judgement is so bad. Anyway, you are not alone in your hurt and suffering…Pam

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lynn dillon

love the article. Seen some people I have known in the past and also seen some of myself. Soul searching is a never ending process.

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heysigmund

Oh you are so right! I know what you mean about soul searching being never ending. Everybody does all of the toxic behaviours some of the time. Nobody’s perfect and we’re all allowed to make m Being toxic is a question of degree and regularity. The fact that you have insight and a readiness to soul-search, means that you will never be toxic. You might have ‘toxic days’ – we all have them – but you won’t be a ‘toxic person’. Thank you for taking the time to make contact.

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Claire

Thank you for this article, it very clearly sets forth the actions of personality disordered people and I’ll be forwarding it to family with the hopes of waking them up to the behaviour of the narcissists in the family.
I do have just one question, I was wondering why you’ve labeled these people as merely “toxic” when those who have the unfortunate pleasure of having personality disordered family and friends have been keen to note in the comments that they have narcissistic or histrionic family members. For those who don’t know about these cluster B disorders, they will only search the internet for “toxic people” and net some very vague results whereas by calling a spade a spade (calling a narcissist a person with narcissist personality disorder) you will arm your readers with the key words to search the internet and book stores for the wealth of information that is out there on personality disorders. They will learn that the reason these people don’t change by leaning from their mistakes is because a “personality” cannot be changed.
My experience in marrying a narcissist led me to therapy where I learned my parents are narcissists, my sister is histrionic and I’m recovering from depression. It took plenty of research for me to learn what was what, and knowing the key words to search for this topic that was so new to me was extremely helpful.
Thank you for your clarity on the subject, I hope my family will be receptive to reading it. And I do hope you’ll write a follow up on cluster B disorders, particularly narcissistic personality disorder, as the comments are flooded with people who have suffered the fate of having one in their lives.

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heysigmund

You’re welcome! In relation to your question, personality disorders are a serious diagnosis and I would be reluctant to encourage anyone to make that sort of diagnosis for themselves or of anyone else through a Google search. If people already know what they’re dealing with – and I can see the people who have used the terms clearly do, as you do – then those people (and you) don’t need to hear it from me. What’s important is being able to respond to the symptoms and toxic covers all of them. I’ve also seen people with personality disorders use the label to excuse their destructive behaviour. ‘It’s not my fault because I’m a narcissist.’ That sort of thing. I don’t buy it. It’s toxic, it poisons and it destroys and they can call it want they want, there is no excuse. I’d prefer not to give them one. I can see what you mean when you say it helps to have a label to research to know what you’re dealing with, and I’m all for anything that can help the people who have been damaged by others. I suppose I’ve just seen too many times where people have wrongly labelled people and that has it’s own consequences. I’ve also seen too any times where people with PDs use their label to excuse their behaviour. You make a really valid point though and I’m grateful you took the time to state it. You have a lot of insight and I’m sure your comment will help a lot of people. Thank you!

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Shelly

My husband is a narcissist who needs constant praise, all the time. He owns his own business, doesn’t work too much, but is never home, ha needs to be out talking at people, look at me! all day long. It’s sickening. He’s mean, loud, aggressive, everything’s my fault, if I have a different opinion than him he gets hostile. I’m left alone most days and nights while he’s “busy” running a business. He is literally insane. Cannot have a conversation with him that makes any sense at all, unless I just listen to his incessant rambling

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heysigmund

This sounds like an awful situation to be in. You’re so unhappy and I imagine it feels very lonely too. I expect you have good reasons for staying. It’s not always easy to leave. Hopefully you’ve read through the comments and are able to realise you’re not alone. So many people going through the same thing. I’m so sorry you’re in this situation.

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Maghan

Avoid these people at all cost… If you can spot them before the damage is done…that’s the tricky part! I WAS desensitized to these people, but after having a narcissist mother and husband, I’m finally starting to get it… It’s a battle I’ll be fighting for a long time I know, but I AM NOW FIGHTING!

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Claire

Thanks for your reply, I hadn’t thought of it from that angle, but it really makes a lot of sense…I could just see my narcissistic ex husband and my father using NPD diagnosis as an excuse if either were willing to admit it to themselves.

I was led to your site by a friend who linked to your blog on speaking to children about anxiety and that was the best post I’ve seen on anxiety to date. I don’t have kids but I read it anyway and I’ve been enjoying your other posts too. Thank you for putting so much thought into your writing and for taking the time to reply to every single comment you get!

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Dh

I am going through this after a friendship at home. I did everything for him. I was used. He wasn’t nice. Disappeared. Caught in lies no communication for two months. Left me the day after mini stroke. “Everyone has ministrokes” I paid everything. He didn’t work. I paid his medical. I paid for his DUI treatment through medical, supported him for almost three years.

Now its been three months and he just up and left and moved in with I suspect with another younger girl. I can’t believe I didn’t see all the signs. My friends and family saw. He would get upset, turn questions around. I was so in love and took so much from him. He was mean, rude and I took it so desperate. I know I am better off but somehow I miss him.

Why I don’t know. I see a pattern. He is a player. Never wanted a relationship. ” do you ever think I would change my mind” that hurt! Never said he loved me! Ran him everywhere! Did so much so he could go to school. Most of facebook is all women. Flirts. I guess I did think he would change his mind. I went to talk about my first ministroke to him he asked whats wrong with you instead of calling 911. The next hit day after Christmas and he left. Never are you ok. He only used to say get healthy because I had diabetic ulcer on foot, diabetes and fibromyalgia which he didn’t believe. He was selfish it was all about him and his needs.

Totally spoiled. I am totally better without him.

Now at work if thats not enough I went back to work after being off on medical and work environment is toxic and I am singled out. By boss and toxic coworkers praying to get out. Job interview next week.
Trying remain positive.
Thank you for this article!!!!
It was perfect timing. I am working on healing and building my self esteem!

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heysigmund

I’m so pleased this article found its way to you. You’ve have been with someone you were way too good for. You are so much better without him! There’s a pattern and it won’t change. Take the time you need to learn from this relationship so no-one like him comes near you again. Think about what drew you to him? What stopped you leaving sooner? What was it that kept you there, even though that voice inside you was telling to run? Did you hear that voice inside you? Or was it too quiet? Try and understand as much about your relationship as you can so the same things don’t repeat in the next relate . If any there are lessons that remain are unresolved the risk is that you will be drawn. Leave him so far behind you. Then thank him. It’s because of his cruelty that you are about learn more about yourself than ever and grow into someone phenomenal.

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Cathleen Richins

Thank you for this article. It is very helpful… it breaks my heart to say I have a toxic daughter-in-law and I am at a loss on how to deal with her. As I learn from articles such as this one I think I will be better equipped to weather the storm… and to be there for my son and two granddaughters… if they should need me.

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heysigmund

Some toxic people you can’t walk away from but hopefully understanding what they do helps to, as you say, ‘weather the storm’ (such a great description!). The most important thing is not to say anything bad about your daughter in law in front of them (even if what you are saying is true!). One of the way toxic people do so much damage is by dividing people by pitting one against the other. You don’t want to give her any reason to say to your son ‘look what your mother is doing to me. She’s always hated me …’ You can imagine how it would look. Also, if you say negative things to them about her it runs the risk of them feeling like they can’t talk to you about her because of the ‘I told you so,’ factor. She will always be the mum to your granddaughter and unfortunately, you can’t do anything about that but you can be their greatest protector. It sounds like you already are. They are very lucky to have you.

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Jo Ann Clark

Thank you so much for this article. I have had several toxic relationships, people who mistake kindness for weakness. The most current toxic relationship is a friend who I was close to, but he wanted to become more than friends and I am married. So when I turned him down, his ego got stepped on and he started becoming manipulative, making me feel guilty over my decisions, etc. I started to question my own better judgement. I decided today (actually before I even read the article) that there really is no room for this person in my life. He is toxic, plays the games, one day he’s talkative and seems fine, the next time he makes “digs” that he knows will hurt my feelings. I’ve had enough. Why keep going back and trying to make this friendship work. Friendships should be natural and easy ( for the most part) and when they become more trouble than they are worth, then it’s time to cut ties. I will continue to pray for him, because God requires us to love all people, enemies included. I wish him well. Bless you for the article, it was extremely helpful!

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heysigmund

I’m so pleased the information found its way to you. You’re right. Too often people mistake kindness for weakness, but the kindest people I know have been some of the strongest. You’ve shown real strength in your relationship with your friend. It’s not easy though is it. You have wonderful insight, so let that continue to strengthen you. You’ve done the right thing. Thank you for sharing this. You never know else who will get strength from your story.

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Pete

This is me, not all of it but most of it. I have made my Wife’s life difficult and I don’t want to be this person.

To answer some of the comments above, Toxic people don’t know they are doing it and may well be devastated that they are making other people feel that way. If it’s your boss the. I can’t advise you, I’ve been let go from jobs the last 2 Christmas’. If it’s your spouse, then all I can say is that it’s about communications people. I don’t believe anyone wants to make anyone else feel like poop.

I want to change, I will change and I will not be a Toxic person!

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heysigmund

It takes strength to be able to own your part in contributing to the pain in someone else’s life. It’s so encouraging to hear that you have gained this level of self-insight. One of the things that makes toxic people so toxic is they just don’t get to this point. Communication becomes manipulative or non-existent, and they are masterful forming relationships with people who will always want the best for the people they love, so will bend and twist for the sake of the relationship. Meanwhile, the toxic person contributes nothing. The fact that can see what you’ve done that has hurt your wife and that you want to change it is enormous and I can hear how open you are to trying to make things right. I know it sounds cliche, but that’s the hardest step. The second hardest step is staying changed – there might be the occasional two steps forward one step back. Sometimes there might be three steps back. The main this is you keep moving forward and not be discouraged by the times you fall a little. I know you can change. I know you can do this.

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tara

I am trying to post a comment on this thread, not leave a reply.

so here goes.

I have a very toxic relationship with my ex-husband.
I REALLY NEED TO GET OVER IT, or at the very least learn an effective way to control it, instead of it controlling me.
We have two children together, and have been divorced for over 10 years.

his nickname is DQ for Drama Queen. He is a full fledged narcissist, contradicts himself, bullies, manipulates. Undermines my authority, involves the kids in adult situations, and then when they ask questions he says its none of their business.

I could give many more details if you want to write a book LOL or an article.

kind regards
t

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heysigmund

I have a better idea. No pressure, totally up to you, but why don’t you write the article. I’m starting a new section, ‘And Talking About It’ – the blurb is under the talk and it’s for people to write about their experiences so people can come along and not feel so alone if they’re going through the same thing. Just an idea!

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singsing

Argh! I’m not so sure about all of this.

I think labelling people is never a good approach (i.e. this person is “toxic”). By labelling the other person as the “problem” you become a poor, helpless victim. This position robs you of an opportunity to explore your own role in the relationship, however small it might be. Your role might be that you didn’t maintain healthy boundaries because you seek validation from others. Or your role might be that you didn’t have the courage to say “no” when they asked you to bring the dinner to their dinner party. Exploring your own role gives you some clues about what personal growth you can work on.

A close friend recently told me I was “cold” and “selfish”. I’m resisting the urge to label her as mean or toxic. It’s tempting (and probably easier) to do that but I know that doesn’t help me or our relationship. Instead I’m trying to see my role in the situation. If I cast my mind back, I felt pressured to do something she was excited about so I avoided phone calls and delayed making a decision. So, I can see I have some work to do around speaking up for myself and reducing my fear of upsetting people. Also, I’m trying to understand, from her perspective, how she came to these conclusions. Perhaps by doing this, I exposed some sort of need or vulnerability in her and she was trying to protect herself? Or is it the projection thing you mention in the article? I’m not sure. But I’m thinking about it. I’m trying not to label her and victimise myself. I may decide to end the friendship, but it won’t be because she’s a “toxic person”, it will be because she’s a person…whose definition of friendship is different to mine.

Also I couldn’t see anything about having compassion for “toxic” people. If people are behaving in the ways described above, perhaps it gives some clues about the pain within them (we all have pain and wounds that sometimes control how we behave in the world). Boundaries in relationships are essential. Boundaries with compassion are ideal. I think the world needs more compassion less labelling.

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heysigmund

First of all, it’s important to point out that everybody gets it wrong sometimes. We are all guilty of doing any or all of these 12 things some of the time. Doing them now and then doesn’t make us toxic – it makes us human. What makes people toxic is the degree and the regularity of what they do, coupled with an absence of insight, remorse or concern for their impact on people. If you are looking at your behaviour and engaging in some self-reflection, high chances are that you’re not toxic, but that perhaps you just got something wrong. That’s okay. We’re all allowed to do that sometimes. In fact, it’s essential – it’s how we learn.

Secondly, sometimes the other person is the problem – and that doesn’t make you a victim. Toxic people generally land in relationships with people who are constantly assessing and adjusting their own behaviour to make the relationship better – constantly. If there was a time you didn’t return phone calls because you weren’t ready to share your friend’s excitement – that doesn’t make you toxic – not at all! Even if you were to do it regularly that doesn’t make you toxic. BUT – if you do most things on the list most of the time, as well as other behaviours that serve to constantly undermine the friendship, then that may be headed to the toxic end of the spectrum. I would challenge anyone to claim they haven’t done at least a few things on the least at least a few times before. We’re human and we’re allowed to get it wrong sometimes!

Being in a relationship – be it family, friends or the people we fall in love with – always involves letting our guard come down little by little. It involves being open and vulnerable to the other person. We are open to their love, their trust, their respect, their appreciation, their wisdom. We are also vulnerable to their potential to hurt us. We all have our scars and our bruises and we have to hope that the people we have chosen to be close to will treat our scars and bruises with love, dignity and respect. We have to hope we’ve chosen well and that the person we are with will not exploit our opening up to them but of course, we can’t always tell straight away. Toxic people take that opening up and vulnerability and they do damage. They make the scars deeper and the bruises darker and they just don’t care. We are all fighting our own battles. Nobody’s battle gives them the right to damage, humiliate, shame or hurt another person over and over.

Having said all of this, I deeply respect your opinions. The are wise, insightful and compassionate. Thank you for taking the time to share them.

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psyche74

I strongly agree with you, sing sing. Reading many of the comments here, there seems to be an overwhelming tendency for people to see themselves as the victim in their relationships with others. I don’t believe that’s an accurate or healthy perspective in general.

We are all flawed and have a natural bias that allows us to see more clearly where others have wronged us but not necessarily where we have been wrong. It’s far too easy to label the other person as The Problem, and I suspect ‘toxic’ people are highly prone to labeling others so.

I do believe it’s critically important to walk away from people who clearly do not have your best interests at heart–after you’ve done your best to be sure that *you* have not been the one creating the tensions in the relationship. There are certainly plenty of people out there who will lie, manipulate, and take advantage of others to the extent possible. Healthy boundaries are necessary for every relationship.

However, if you find yourself repeatedly in relationships with so-called toxic people, you might want to remember that the one common factor in all those relationships is you.

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Hey Sigmund

True for toxic friendships or relationships where the cost of leaving is less than the cost of staying, but sometimes the toxic person is a parent, a sibling, a family member, a step-child, or an ex-spouse with whom the relationship has to be maintained on some level because of shared parenting). In these cases, it’s not always easy or possible to walk away from a toxic relationship because the cost may be too high, but I agree with you completely that if there is a continuing pattern with intimate relationships or friendships, it’s time to look at your own expectations, and the reason you’re drawn to these type of people. It really depends on the nature of the relationship and the cost involved in leaving. I understand the point you’re making – thank you for sharing it and for keeping the conversation going.

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Laurie

Wow, this was written about my daughter, as a matter of fact she is keeping my 3yr old granddaughter from me 3rd time in 3 yrs. All I did was ask about Easter this year. That was it she dis owned me, now keeping my little one from me who for the past 3 yrs has stayed w/papa & I for 4-5 days she loves it here, when she was a baby she use to cry well scream & cry when it was time to go home!!
If she does not let me see her this easter I’m going for grandparents rights in CA I have 14,000 pics & Pics of her own room @ Grammy & papas house.
I am done putting up w/her lies, manipulations. She will not us my little one as a pawn!!

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heysigmund

Oh no I’m sorry you’re going through this. I hope you are able to find a way through and that there comes to be some sort of resolution for everyone.

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Summer

After reading this and thinking for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that this article could actually go the other way as well. For those who can’t grasp the fact that they might actually belong on the other side.
I think that everyone has a little of each in them, and when they deny it they are only lying to themselves.

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heysigmund

I absolutely agree – we can all do a little bit of all of them. It’s a question of degree, intent, and what you do when you realise you’ve overstepped the mark with someone. I think we all exist on a spectrum – it comes with being human!

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Becca

My toxic ex uses everything I say against me and says and does very cruel things. He never apologizes or takes responsibility for his abuse. He says if I don’t like it don’t talk to him? Now, he is doing nice things for my daughter and contacting her behind my back which is putting a wedge between my daughter and me. She doesn’t think there is anything wrong with it but I know what he’s doing. My toxic ex won’t respond to any of my messages regarding my daughter. I have told him whatever correspondence he has it can go through me and have blocked his number from her cell phone. They text each other 8 times yesterday? All because he got her concert tickets.

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heysigmund

Oh I really feel for you – this is such a difficult situation. The most important thing above everything is to keep your relationship with your daughter intact. Whatever you think of your ex, he’s your daughter’s dad and the only one she has. Kids will always want to see the best in their parents because they are a part of them. It’s very easy for kids to think that if their parent is bad, perhaps a part of them is bad too. Of course, as adults we know it doesn’t work like that understandably, kids just want to see their parents in the best light they can. The more difficult you make it for her to make contact with him, the more you might be encouraging her to contact him behind your back – and you don’t want that. It seems to be that way with people generally – the more we push against someone, the harder they push back against us. If he’s not doing any harm to her – if he’s being a loving, responsible dad, perhaps the best thing you can do for your relationship with your daughter might be to let her know that it’s okay and that she can talk to you about it. Of course, this depends on what he’s like with her and whether or not the relationship is a loving, healthy one. I know this won’t be easy but it’s the capacity to do the hard stuff for the sake of their kids that makes parents to amazing. Again, this all depends on whether or not his relationship with her is a positive one. In the meantime, I know it’s so difficult to watch but it’s important that you’re the steady, reliable, available, loving parent. You also don’t want to do anything that will shut down the communication between you and her – she needs you. Try and see her relationship with him as separate to his relationship with you. I expect he is a very different man with her to the one he is with you. I know this isn’t an easy situation. Hold tight though, kids see things for what they are eventually. Your daughter is very lucky to have you.

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Lee

Toxic is another word for sociopathic…get out why you still have the chance and cut the sociopath out of your life!

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Diane

I’m married to a narcissist and this article describes my everyday battle to survive. I tried leaving once with the kids, and the onslaught of terror and hell that he directed at me left me cowered in a corner. He lied, cheated, and manipulated the situation with the courts until I was destroyed- made to look insane and incapable of caring for our children- and he was given the children. The children he’s never even bothered to change a diaper for or remember their birth dates. The children he didn’t want and accused me of getting him drunk (he’s an alcoholic) and seducing him when I was fertile so I could get pregnant without his consent. For years I thought he was just having a bad day and that’d he see my value and remember why he fell in love with me. It wasn’t until we had three kids and had been married a decade that I read something about narcissistic personality disorder online and had the biggest “a-ha” moment of my life. From that moment everything fell into place like a million piece jigsaw puzzle. Not one piece out of place. That’s when I tried leaving with the kids. It finally hit me that he had never loved me and never would. He’s incapable of love….except for himself. The man I had fallen for- that charming, funny, intelligent, kind, sweet man I had met didn’t exist. It was an act while he got his claws in his next supply. He needed someone new to suck dry until they are nothing more than a dried out shell of their former self. Ican’t leave again. I won’t leave my kids in this kind of life and I won’t lose them. He won. He has me trapped.

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heysigmund

Oh Diane, I’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through. You’re kids are so lucky to have you. I can hear how important they are and one day they’ll understand what you’ve been through for them. Whatever he thinks of you, make sure you always know you’re better than that – because you are. Look at what you’re doing for your kids. You’re extraordinary. I hope you can recognise that this is a decision you’re making in strength, because you are exceptionally strong. It would be really easy to feel defeated but don’t let him have the win. You’re the strong one. You’re the one going to extraordinary lengths for your kids. You’re the one with the clarity and wisdom. I understand you feel stuck there for now, but it won’t always be that way. Do you have people you can trust who are looking out for you? If not, are you able to talk to a counsellor, even if only to make sure you feel as though you have someone in your corner. Know that you would have a world of people behind you.

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52 and just seeing the light

I know the feeling so well…I was so lost for so long knowing deep down there was something missing. It was an emotional attachment he never had and win his verbal abuse I grew ton enjoy the good and accept the bad. But after 30 years it seems my whole life haso been a lie. I just keep telling myself there is better on the horizon. Good luck to you all.

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Hey Sigmund

It can take a long time for good people to see what toxic people are doing because it’s so hard to believe that anyone could treat people the way toxic people do. I know that you feel as though your life has been a lie, but I really want you to hear that no experience is ever wasted. You will have emerged from this with a mountain of strength, wisdom and self-awareness all of which will be setting you up for a better version of your life than the one you’ve been living – just wait and see.

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Iva Ursano

I’m sorry, what? You can’t? You’re trapped? He won? I’m shaking my head over here. I pray for you to find the strength to know that YOU are far more important and deserve to live a life of happiness, not the misery you describe. Your children deserve more too. Many, including myself, have been in similar situations, even worse and have managed to leave and find happiness and freedom. I get that everyone’s situation is different. I totally get that. Have faith for goodness sake!!!!

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Hey Sigmund

It’s important to remember that we can’t possibly know what somebody else is going through. Diane, it sounds as though you’ve put up an incredible fight – and that you still are.

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Michelle

Diane said he was able to get custody of the children–through the courts. If she leaves, she leaves without her children. So, she’s either “trapped” there to be with her children, or she leaves them behind in her quest to be free.

I applaud you, Diane, for being a wonderful, caring and selfless mother. I have no doubt that when your children are grown they will realize the sacrifices you made to protect them and love you even more for it.

Don’t give up hope, maybe he will tire of you and leave you AND the kids. I wish you the best.

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Andrea

Diane you can leave. Take back your power, get those kids and get the hell out of there. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your children! Think about it, they are in a toxic environment and the dysfunction they are exposed to will damage them. There are safe houses and those who will help you until you get on your feet. My mother told me something very wise. She told me to sock away small amounts of money in an account that you tell “NOBODY” about, not even your kids. That money will grow. When and if the time comes that you need that money to get out, get a lawyer or what ever you will have it. It’s called a F*@K you account. A mama bear will tear to shreds the one who endangers her offspring. Get your power back, get your haunches up and do something. Don’t just fold your hands and give up.

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Iva Ursano

Amen Andrea!! Absolutely NO ONE is here to live like that. We are here to experience joy, love, beauty and be ridiculously happy. That’s why we are here.

Sigmund I totally get what you are saying. I understand we don’t know what people are going through. I get that, BUT there is always a way out. The only thing she is doing for her kids is putting them through the same torment she is going through. Period. Find a way out and stop telling a story of sadness. Turn that story into happiness and freedom. Your story is going to get old one day. Get out. IT’S NOT going to be easy BUT it is soooooo worth it. My God you owe it to yourself.

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McG

She isn’t here to live like that, yes, but that may be where she has to be right now, no matter how much we are worried for her and wish things were different. When I read her words, I read that getting out of the marriage with her children intact and with her isn’t a possibility right now. Platitudes won’t help her right now. I think that compassionate practical advice (like the “tuck the small amount of $ away over time”) would be more helpful (I might add: document everything- and Mail copies offsite to a trusted friend) as well as our emotional support and belief that she will eventually find a way out. I’m sending those last two to you, Diane, in spades!

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Andrea

McG,

I don’t think you understand the brevity of dealing with a narcissist energy vampire. These people are like machines that don’t feel real emotions like you and I. Their need is to dominate and destroy. Their is no casual withdraw from them, you must make a clean break. They get into your head and that is where real damage takes place. They suck your life energy out of you until you can’t leave. They manipulate you and have you thinking you are crazy and that your decisions are based on insane ideas you have in your head. The problem is you believed them when you didn’t know about them, and that is when they surreptitiously planted the seeds of doubt. Diane, don’t second guess yourself. This monster has planted lies in your head about everything. Narcissists are the great pretenders. They loathe themselves and everyone else, then build a false persona that appears to you as everything you ever wanted in a mate. They need to feed this false persona to keep it alive. They will destroy everyone around them including the children. Diane, put on your own mask and pretend all is well. Go about what you need to do in secret and plan your escape. And while you are doing it, don’t think you are imagining this, or second guess yourself. Look up Narcissistic Personality disorder and you will recognise this monster for what it is.

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McG

Responding to Andrea’s response.

Actually, I do understand. I understand intimately as a step-child of a narcissist. I have been made to feel crazy, to feel unsafe and trapped, to unworthy of living… to the very edge of what that means and very nearly over that edge. And I had to make the clean break in the dead of night with just a garbage bag as a teen. I know. I imagine that most of us reading the article *know.*

But the point in replying was that Diane was likely expressing how she was feeling *today* – overwhelmed and stuck. Today, currently, she IS stuck. Perhaps, most likely, not forever, and she knows that. My concern is/was that the response of “no, you’re wrong, get out,” can unintentially discount her emotional experience. I’ve come to believe that we help best when we start by first hearing the other before “fixing” it. I would have found it demoralizing to have expressed such pain and frustration to be then told that my experience of feeling stuck right now is wrong.

I believe we can support her without telling her she’s wrong and damaging her kids in every day she stays. She is hearing a message of “wrongness” every day from her narcissist spouse. I don’t want my anger and distress toward the narcissist in my life to color my compassion toward her. I believe she has contemplated and assessed her situation (needing to protect her children from being in his care alone, or being homeless and having them removed) and is making the call based on the specific factors she is dealing with. I hope fervently that she can find ways to shift factors enough to change that, and am struggling to think about what I might know or be able to do to assist. To do that properly, one needs to hear her, and feel her experience, in order to bolster her with support and perhaps practical info. But it starts first with hearing the person where they are at. And I felt like we were jumping over that straight into do theoretical advice.

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Colleen

There is always a way out…and remember that! It might not be this year, or the next, but keep in mind, and plan for the day, when you are free to live the life you and your children deserve. Try to stay true to your self, and educate yourself for the future. Be the healthy person in the family for your children. Place all of your personal documents in a safe and secure area (not at your house). Keep copies of your tax records for the past three years. Try to keep family life as “normal” as possible, and you will eventually see the light that you and your children deserve.

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Cassandra

I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. That must be extremely difficult. You deserve better! Whatever your decision is, just be sure to reach out for help and avoid toxic people as much as possible. (whether it be emotionally only if you feel you must stay in the relationship) so that you are not damaged even more. Since the court system has taken his side, you, as well as your children (depending on age and what you feel is appropriate) can go to Al-anon meetings for the sake of being able to vent with others who share similar experiences. At least you would have some kind of an outlet that doesn’t cost anything. There may be other support groups out there too for you and your children that are free of charge. Any outside support that you can get would be beneficial. I personally have found that outside support, outside of people I know in my life, are the most beneficial. Support group meetings are great and I always feel better after going to them. There is no one judging you or making you feel bad about yourself. God bless you and your children and I will keep you and your precious angels in my prayers!

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Patricia Chubb

Oh Diane, I don’t know you but feel as if I do. I am the only child of a narcissistic mother with an enabling father. While she had me in her clutches for 50 years until I realized that it wasn’t me, at least I could divorce her. Just goes to show you no matter how bad you think you have it, there’s always someone in a bigger pickle. I cried when I read your story, recognizing that trapped feeling. If you haven’t already, search narcissistic personality disorder and look for one or two sites that you identify with. There’s lots out there and it’s almost overwhelming, so just pick a few. Also there was an article in Forbes maybe 2012 about how to shut down a narcissist. While online resources will give you lots of validation, get a good therapist if you can afford it. I’ve been going for 4 years (started weekly, now only monthly) and it saved my life.
Meanwhile, I’ll be praying for you. Better days are coming, I promise.

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Elaine

Diane, I totally understand where you are coming from. Once you work up the courage to leave, you think the courts are going to be supportive and see the abuse, etc. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that way and the abuser wins in court. (Domestic Violence groups teach that a man who is narcissistic is more likely to fight for full custody, just for the power trip and since so few men will take the custody battle to that extreme, the court is impressed and labels them a “good father”). People that aren’t in your situation won’t understand. Heck, I didn’t understand until it happened to me! They just tell you to leave and it isn’t that easy. While filing for divorce, my counselor recommended I take the children to a women’s shelter for safety and counseling. The court accused me of abducting them and rewarded the father with more time. While we lived at the women’s shelter, I was ordered to continue paying the father’s health insurance ($350/month) because he didn’t work and I had a good job. He got the family home because he refused to leave. I lost all my savings, cashed out my life insurance, maxed out credit cards to pay for attorneys. He hired a criminal defense lawyer and paid over $40,000. I would have never believed this could happen to me and the court would side with him. The court psychologist and child custody evaluator wrote “no overnight visits with dad” and were flabbergasted at the judge’s decision to give him 50% custody. I fought and appealed for four years. So, I just want to say whether you stay or go, you are doing the best you can for your children and it will be enough. Your eyes are open to him and you can teach your children how to recognize the toxicity and break the generational curse. Surround yourself with good, healthy people and ask God to guide you on your next steps. Praying for you sister! P.S. if there is sexual abuse of the children, ignore my advice and flee to New Zealand.

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andy

Diane please do not give up. Please search for help. There´s much more awareness about these matters today. Show them the info you´ve found about it. Try filming recording some evidence. Please just do not give up! I am praying for you.

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Kris

Diane I started to tear up reading your post. I relate to every word you say. I am in almost an identical situation. I chose Spiritualism as an escape. It’s helped greatly. I think non stop daily how I can some how get the kids and I out safely. Stay strong.

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A

Oh Diane,
I’m so sorry! I left my ex several years ago, but until someone handed me an article on narcissism I had NO IDEA what I was dealing with. Knowing brought some sort of peace.
My thoughts are with you!!!!!

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Annette

Diane, I understand the daily hell you are going through – I have narcissistic parents, have a broken marriage due to another personality disorder, and have recently broken off a relationship with a narcissitic man when I recognised the pattern.

As the lady from HeySigmund said, there are loads of poeple out there that now know what you are going through and will be thinking of you through this. When you feel alone, remember that.

In the end, that is the most shallow victory I have ever heard of, but then he will be a very shallow man. Even if he has your love still, it will diminish now you know what he is, and he does not have your respect. Every day that passes, your youngest child gets closer to being 18 – he won’t be able to control you forever.

Hang on in there, you are stronger than him and you’re doing the right thing for your kids – they need someone to put them first, and it won’t be him. Get help and support however you can – online chats or phone helplines, anything that helps you keep perspective and sanity because you know that’s what he will be aiming at taking next.

Your kids will always need you, and they are lucky to have a Mother who knows what love is. Take care of yourself, he hasn’t got your mind trapped. You know what he is now – he can never fool you again.

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May

I recently broke off a friendship with a toxic person who showed all 12 signs listed in this article.
This friend would call only if she wanted something from me and twist it so if I refused, I was a bad friend. Often weeks would go by without contact until I called to ask how she was then I would hear a litany of woes. Rarely a good day. Also, I was surpised each time if she asked how I was doing.
I finally sent her a letter letting her know why I needed a break from the friendship for the time being. Other people had stopped hanging out with her and she would wonder why. I thought it would be better not to leave her in the dark, point out behavior patterns without accusing her and hope that she would alter her behavior because she was hurting so many people… I know, it was a stretch.
She runs hot and cold. I was expecting one of three reactions/responses (least likely to most likely): 1. she would call me crying, begging forgiveness and with promises to change 2. she would call me up crying and angry, tell me off and hang up 3. she wouldn’t respond to me at all.
I chose to write a letter because I could get out what I wanted to say and not have my words twisted back on me while I was speaking. I wrote without malice but I cannot control how she read the letter.
So far, I haven’t gotten a reply. My assumption is that she didn’t like having some behavior patterns pointed out so she probably will not contact me for awhile, if ever.
I think if anyone needs to break contact with a toxic person, they should let that toxic person know why. Yes, the toxic person will probably get mad but I think pointing out behavior patterns in a kind way is better than just not saying anything at all.

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heysigmund

This is really well said and you make a great point. Being able to say why you’re breaking contact can also be a form of closure so that nothing is left unsaid. Being able to say what you need to say without expectation of a response is a real strength. The very nature of someone toxic means that they are less likely to hear anything negative about what they’re doing. Though all of us make mistakes and can treat the people we care about poorly at times, we’re generally quick to put it right when we realise. That’s the difference. You sound as though you are responding from strength and wisdom and have done all you can. Keep movig forward – if your friend wants to catch up she will, but you can never know who is waiting for you further down the track. There would be so many people who would love to have you as a friend and will be more able to give you the love and respect you deserve. Ending any friendship or relationship is hard though, isn’t it – even if you know it’s for the right reasons.

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Castaly Lombe

18 months ago I separated from a man after 25 years marriage who displayed all 12 of these behaviours. Towards the end I thought I was going crazy. I went to see a psychologist who was an enormous help. I went to save my marriage, but instead, got clarity and got out. Now – with the benefit of time and distance – I have some perspective. I am shocked how – a smart woman, well educated and competent – was suckered in – he was a consumate manipulator. But abuse is abuse, be it physical or emotional. And if you are suckered in by this toxic behaviour, don’t be harsh on yourself, emotional abuse can be very difficult to distinguish, especially if you are a kind person who believes in taking on advice in an open way. I had naively though that someone who loved you wouldn’t hurt you. This is very much turned around and used against you! It took me ages to see his love was very much about him and making me wrong and him right. He was controlling and critical. Eventually I’ve come to believe there was nothing wrong with me! It’s taken time. I found the book ” Too Good to Leave to Bad to Stay” also very helpful is diagnosing my situation and giving me courage to leave. I am still negotiating a settlement with him – which is incredibly difficult because of his selfish beliefs – but much less difficult than living with him 24/7. I am grateful for this article – I wish I’d read it 25 years ago. One further point – if you know someone like this, leave – it’s very unlikely they’ll change. I thought if I was good enough he would change – big mistake. PS I have since met an amazing man who is open hearted, balanced, kind and generous. He thinks I am amazing and can’t believe his luck at meeting me and falling in love. I can’t believe how sane and WONDERFUL a “normal” relationship feels. So very much middle- aged and getting a second chance. Go for it.

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heysigmund

Beautifully said. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. You never know who it will be giving strength to at just the right time. I’m so pleased you were able to do what was right for you and are now finding happiness. Good things tend to come when we put ourselves on the right path.

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Andrea

I am really glad I ran across this article. It put into words what I already know, but was not verbalizing. After my mother died, I was contacted by the Department of Health and Human services that informed me that there is a woman who is looking for her biological mother, and her last known address was my mine, where my mother lived with me. It turns out my mother had a baby when she was teenager and tried to take care of her, but was on the streets and had to give her up for adoption. Talk about being blown away with that tidbit of news. As close as I was with my mother, she never disclosed this to me. I wouldn’t have judged her, I would have loved her even more. The department sent me letters that were written in my mother’s handwriting signed using her maiden name detailing what took place. This happened six months after my mother died in June, it was Christmas time and I was grieving terribly. I flew to New Hampshire on Christmas Eve to meet this sister and her family. I had forgotten to take with me a sign with my name written on it so they would recognise me. When I got off the plane there was a crowd of people waiting for passengers to arrive and I thought to myself, how will I ever find her. I looked out at the crowd and I spotted my mother’s eyes looking around expectantly. I walked right up to her, and we embraced. I spent one week in her trailer with her and her friend. For me it was a time of revelation and great joy. Her friend sat on the only couch, swilled wine and complained about everything. Several days later they took off somewhere and were gone for hours, so I looked in the freezer where I found a roast, which I then thawed, prepared in the New England style I had learned from my mother and set a table with all the trimmings for their return. When they did return I didn’t expect to hear what I heard. I had whipped up a meal for a king, cleaned the house, and had some wine I purchased (and hid from her friend so she wouldn’t chug it down on the sly) and felt great about trying to make things nice at Christmas time. What I heard was “we had plans for that roast.” After a week it was time for me to return home. On the trip back to the airport, we talked at length and hugged when we parted. About two weeks later I received a letter from her that almost floored me. It was so toxic and venomous. She ripped up one side and down the other. I had done nothing to her except share my hopes for a future relationship with her and how happy I was that this all came about. I tried to see that she was hurt person, and even though she bit my hand every time I extended it, I felt she just needed some time and to understand that my mother didn’t have any options back in 1947, being an unwed mother on the street with a baby. After the dust settled, and we made amends, we continued to communicate and visit each other in our perspective homes. When we communicate, I hear what she is saying, but then I listen to what she is meaning. This feeling that I “had” that I must make it up to her held me in place to be brutalized. Anytime we spoke on the phone I would say, “I hope you are having a good day.” “Yes”, she would say and then begin to tell me everything rotten in her life. Her kids were rotten, her ex was rotten, people were walking on her lawn, this and that, on and on. No matter how I tried to help her see the glass half full, she would spill it. We have had an on again, off again relationship for 13 years, and this time it is off, completely off, my say so. When ever I have told her something good about my day, or something good that is happening in my life, she sweetly throws a wet blanket over it. For instance I just sold my house and made a great profit on it, and I am moving to a place that I really like. Her response, “You know, anywhere you go you take yourself with you.”This is just one of countless jabs, stabs and barbs this woman spits out at me. I felt sorry for her that she must be so miserable to have all this inside her, but I realize now, that is not my problem its hers and hers alone. Everything you have described in this article I have witnessed with her and I could go down the list everything you wrote. We were “friends” on Facebook. All she really puts out there is her hatred of the GOP. I don’t hate them, but I tend to agree with some of the posts. I don’t post the same thing about the same subject, I have eclectic interests and a diverse group of acquaintances in my friend list on Facebook. I posted something about Jesus and my spirituality. She and I don’t see eye to eye on this subject as she is a devout atheist. I don’t preach to her or anyone else, my faith is for me, and I am not a group joiner, nor am I religious. I have explained my understanding to her of my thinking that religion and spirituality are two separate things and that I am not religious, it is personal choice that I will not deny for anyone. When I posted what I did, she commented, “I wish you wouldn’t do this.” It’s my Facebook page not hers that I am posting on. I told her if you don’t like it don’t read it, end of story. She went off on a tangent about what a superstitious fool I am for believing in God, and she will not be preached to. I tried her help realize that the very thing you don’t want is what you are trying to do to me. Got nowhere with her. I finally lowered the boom on her. She is not my sister, nor is she my friend. We came from the same womb fourteen years apart and that’s it. She is stranger, a hostile stranger and I have severed this for the last time. I will not allow her toxicity to pollute me.

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Hey Sigmund

What an amazing thing you’ve been through. You’ve made the right decision to put a very clear boundary between the two of you. It sounds as though you gave this relationship everything you could to try to make it right, but you can only do so much. Nobody deserves to be in a relationship in which they feel bad more than they feel good and it sounds as though this was certainly one of those. You’ve been deeply compassionate and very open to her and this sounds like a decision you’ve made with the greatest self-respect and strength. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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sade

I came across this article while looking for ways to deal with my toxic mother in law and her daughter much of it is said in the article am all the time accused of being this and that am not good enough for her son she says i don care abt her every single day i need to deal with a different problem nothing is good enough for her ive been suffering from this for 4 years now her daughter is a manipulator she lies and lies accuses me of things i havent done and havent even thought of they suck my energy out at explaining and justifying they want to control my life even when i call they say you didnt believe me they defy logic and they always want me to join their pity party ive been trying to please them but am tired of it and i decided to stop even if i know that they r going to harass me more but am not ready to handle what theyre doing anymore..

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Hey Sigmund

The first step in protecting yourself is being able to identify toxic behaviour so you can feel confident in rejecting it or the relationship (if you’re able). You can’t always walk away from toxic relationships – in-laws are a good example of that – but you can protect yourself against it. I hope you are able to strengthen against the toxic behaviour around you. You are certainly better than what others might have you believe.

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Cassandra

I really enjoyed reading this article. My husband has dealt with a toxic, abusive father all of his life. This has contributed to many problems in our immediate family. Recently, he broke the ties completely with his father. It has made a difference in our lives. His father is no longer a shadow lurking to destroy us all with his narcissism.

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Hey Sigmund

I’m pleased you enjoyed it. Toxic relatives can do so much damage if they don’t have any insight into what they’re doing can’t they. It sounds like you’re husband has taken taken a stand for himself and you and your family. That’s a really difficult and very brave thing to do, especially when it’s your parents because as important as it is, it isn’t always easy to give yourself permission to break the ties. I hope this means smoother times ahead for you and your family. Thank you for sharing this.

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Hey Sigmund

First of all, most toxic people will never admit that they’re toxic, so if you’re doing this, massive credit to you. It’s important to remember that none of us are perfect and we’ve all done some of these things on this list now and then. The difference between toxic people and the rest is that toxic people do these things without any insight, remorse, or commitment to doing better. Here is some information about how to steer towards more non-toxic behaviour http://www.heysigmund.com/emotional-intelligence/ . Hope it helps.

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Patricia

Thanks for raising this question, and HS, for answering it. I keep coming back to this feeling that I’m the toxic one, the common denominator in the family drama. I keep telling myself you can’t sleep with dogs and not get fleas. When you’re raised and enmeshed by a narcissist, those behaviors are modeled for you, you live them, and even use them, because they are effective….after all, didn’t they get the narcissist what he/she wanted? I know that I used this same drama on my husband (who was the only one in my life to have the balls to call me on it) and on my kids. Slowly I am able now to recognize toxic behaviors in others and myself. I can only change myself. Still a struggle, but so much better than to keep digging that hole.

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Hey Sigmund

You have so much insight! You’re right, it is difficult not to ‘catch’ toxic behaviours because they work so well. The difference between you and the other toxic people in your life is your growing awareness and the pull to do things differently to what you’ve seen growing up. That takes courage and strength and you clearly have plenty of both. We are all a work in progress.

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Uncertain

Thanks for another great article
It’s so helpful having someone put these things into words when being on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour is often such a tricky thing to identify & is slippery & can leave you full of self-doubt.

That said, I continue to feel doubtful & confused about the true nature of my relationship. In my head it seems to be all about him, but maybe I am wrong & not giving him enough time to recover or enough understanding?

My partner suffers from major depression, GAD & ADHD. I know life is often very painful & overwhelming for him, & I have tried my best to be understanding & compassionate. When we met, his illness was well maintained & he was one of the most empathic people I’d met & so attentive & encouraging towards me. Though there were occasional moments where i felt fearful that loving him may mean silencing my own needs so as not to stress him or upset him.

Increasingly over the next few years I feel I walk on eggshells & that I do all the bending, though I don’t think he realises how much bending I do. He seems to feel equally wronged by me & how I put pressure on him, abandon him or anything really that triggers his sense of being controlled. The result is I feel I can never discuss important things or even simple issues with him, & we have grown very distant. I feel like the only adult in the rship, while he uses avoidance to deal with problems. He doesn’t control me in an overt way, but I do feel manipulated at times by his silence, anger or blaming me for how he feels or not being more supportive. Sometimes I wonder if he’s right & there’s more I should be doing. But I get so little back & am now caring for our baby virtually all on my own. I’ve realised I have to choose loyalty to either him or me. As I need to be at my best for bubs, I’ve decided to put my needs first & leave for the time being. I feel lots of guilt about this & worry about him as he has very few ppl he talks to. He also has a drinking problem but refuses to acknowledge this.

So hard when we are faced with the decision to care for another or care for ourselves, & there is no overlap.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. This sounds like such a difficult decision for you, but one that you’ve made in strength and with great love and commitment to being the best you can be for your baby. That’s so important. Loving someone doesn’t always mean that you are able to be with them without diminishing yourself. Trust your path and trust that voice inside you that steered you towards leaving and where you are now. You have done something really brave – remember that, and remember the reasons. When you are giving and have an open heart, it’s so normal to feel self-doubt when it comes to moving on from a relationship that has been important to you, but that doesn’t mean the moving on was wrong. It sounds as though you have worked really hard on this relationship. Relationships are hard work, but they shouldn’t feel bad more than they feel good. I hope that you are able to find some clarity – it might take time – and that you are able to find the love and happiness that you so clearly deserve.

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Delaney

His exactly describes my father… I have two university degrees, I a am a medical doctor, I have a master’s degree, I speak four languages but he has never told me that he is proud of me. I think that from some point on, the best I could hope for as a reaction from him would be to avoid his rejection.
His latest lowest point is him trying to tear my family apart. He does not like my husband because he was a student until recently. My father believed that he is not good enough for me because he could not provide for me and our son. How audacious of this man to judge others when he has done everything in his power to make me feel bad about myself. I have repeatedly told him that what I make is enough and that I am happy with my husband, but apparently my opinion does not matter. A few months ago my husband overheard a conversation between my parents and my sister, where they said that they are going to kick him out of the house (unfortunately we live in the same apartment building, in an Apartment my parents have given me). After that, the relationship between them has been dreadful, with my husband not being able to hold his temper a couple of times, which resulted in terrible fights with my parents. Obviously, this took a toll in our relationship as a couple, and there was a lot of tension between us.
Right now, I don’t talk to my parents and I feel so relieved. My husband is starting his job this week (he graduated from medical school and is beginning his residency!) and we are finding our peace again. I still need to confront my father but I feel much stronger now. Thank you for this article, it just made me feel that I am not crazy for feeling as I feel!

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Hey Sigmund

You are so welcome. I’m so pleased that you can see your father’s behaviour for what it is. You have set yourself up for an amazing life, but for some people it will never be enough. You and your husband sound as though you have a wonderful life ahead of you. It’s awful when toxic behaviour comes from family but you have been clear and strong with your boundaries – that takes incredible courage. I hope you and your husband are able to keep moving forward towards the happiness you both deserve.

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In the thick

My husband of 10 years is a narcissist. While I didn’t realize that until recently, he has also been abusive physically to me and the kids when he got annoyed or didn’t get his way. A year and a half ago I kicked him out of the house, thinking I would divorce him. But then my family stopped talking to me and my friends told me I was making a mistake because he was a “nice person” and had just made some wrong choices. Our pastor and other members of our church told me the same thing. It was hard enough kicking him out of the house, especially after he’d threatened to commit suicide. Then he suddenly got a therapist and went into anger management. He read books about relationships I had been begging him to read for years and the way he talked to me made me feel as if he really understood the problems and what I’d been trying to say. So I let him back in because I didn’t understand that it wasn’t an anger management problem, it was a manipulation. I did make one stipulation though that if he ever hurt me or the kids again he would be gone for good. Guess what happened only a year later? Yep, he hurt us again and then tried to claim that he hadn’t and that I was just being over sensetive/melodramatic. That it was just a “minor” incident. So I took steps to protect myself and the kids and kicked him out 6 weeks ago and filed for divorce. At first, he tried to be sweet, went back to therapy (which he’d stopped after I let him back in) and tried to use all the same lines on me again.
This time I’m prepared though. I expected my families silence and my “friends” disapproval. I hear that narcissistic men fight for their kids just to “win,” and am preparing myself to fight for their lives and mine.
I wasn’t prepared a year and a half ago. You always hear people ask why women in this situation just don’t leave, but it’s never that easy. I had to prepare myself emotionally, mentally and physically to leave and that’s so hard to do when you are drained of your energy in all of those areas. Sometimes it seems easier to placate the monster than to make him enraged by leaving and having nowhere to go.

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Hey Sigmund

This is a decision you’ve made with so much strength, courage and clarity. When you and your children and you have been hurt, something has to change and you’ve made that happen. Narcissists by nature are very good at convincing the world they’re charming, caring, good people but you’ve seen the reality and have done what you’ve needed to do to protect your children. I completely understand why it would feel easier to stay, but you’ve done the very hard work you’ve needed to do to prepare for this – remember the reasons for your boundaries and stay strong and clear. You’re and amazing woman and your children are very lucky to have you. I imagine there will be many women who will be able to take hope from your story. Thank you for sharing it.

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elaine

How do I cope with the fact that my daughter has cut me off because she says we always argue
I am hurt due to her uncaring attitude
She has changed, used to be my best friend and now her friends mean more to her
She lives in another country now and when I have visited, she resents having to spend time with me
She seems to blame me for everything in her past and how do I account for everything from twenty yearsago

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Hey Sigmund

Elaine I can hear how much this is hurting you. I wish I had the words to comfort you. You can’t change the past, though it sounds as though you are working so hard to put things right. It can be difficult for a while when our children discover that we aren’t perfect and that we are just as vulnerable to making mistakes and taking wrong turns as they are. Sometimes the closer you are the harder that shift will be – for them and for you. This is her time for growth now and that isn’t something you can hurry, as much as it’s hurting you. Keep your heart strong and loving and open to her finding her way back to you. Much love and strength to you.

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Linda Elaine Deckert

What do I do if my daughter has been reading others’ problems and she feels that I am toxic to her and as other clients have said they have NO contact with their parent
I love her and have tried to be there for her but now she will not correspond and I feel she has hung ALL her “woes” on me
I don’t know how much more I can take… Very low and do not know which avenue to take
Can’t talk to family or friends because this sounds so horrible

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Hey Sigmund

I understand this feels horrible and as though you can’t talk about it to family and friends, but you would be surprised how common this is. Talking to people who care about you and who you trust could be really helpful as they might see things that you aren’t able to see. Of course, every situation is different and there are personalities, outside pressures and hurts that cause their own blocks to healing, but generally speaking, if people close to you are pushing against you, it’s important to hear what they have to say, without trying to change their mind.

Do you know all of the details from your daughter’s point of view? Do you know exactly what she believes you are doing that’s toxic to her? Maybe you have done something and maybe you haven’t, but to heal the relationship it’s important to be open to the possibility. We all get it wrong sometimes. Good people do things that hurt the people they love – it’s part of the messiness and fluidity of human relationships. We all do it, but from that can come growth and a strengthening of the connection. It’s also important to be open to the possibility that there may be other factors that might be making a relationship with you difficult – other people, relationships, pressures, personalities – there are so many things that influence relationships.

All you can do is be open to what you might be doing that feels bad for her. Ask her, hear her, validate her, try to understand, admit to any wrongdoing and apologise if there is an apology needed: (‘I really understand how I’ve hurt you when I … ‘, ‘Can you tell me more about what you think I’ve done?’ ‘I really want to understand’; ‘So I’ve hurt you by [whatever you’ve done that’s hurt her]. I understand that. I would really like to try to put things right with us. I love you and I miss you. What can I do to help us have a better relationship?’) – that sort of thing.

If there is something you have done that has hurt her, own it. Don’t defend or deny it – that will just make things worse. She needs to know that you understand and own it enough to be able to turn things around. Taking responsibility actually isn’t about blame – it’s about response-ability – claiming your ability to respond to a situation, and you can’t do that until you fully own whatever is that you might have done (if there is anything at all).

What does your daughter need to from you to be able to move forward? What does she need from you that she’s not getting? What did she need that she didn’t get? What is she getting from not having contact? What does she need from you to start healing the relationship?
These are all important questions. The other thing is not to pressure her. The harder you push, the harder she might push back against you. Counselling might be helpful to work through with you the issues and to guide you more specifically about how to deal with this. I hope this helps.

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Patricia

Karen, thank you for your answer to this woman. Her response could have been written by my mother; it is everything she has said to me (but nicer).
I am just finally finding my voice and naming my emotions. Your response was measured, informed, and, though very kind, would hit a reasonable person right between the eyes, except as we now know, NMs aren’t reasonable. But it was everything I’ve said and wanted to say to my mother. Just seeing it in print somehow made me feel heard.
I hope this woman takes your words to heart.
I am continually amazed at how your posts bring light to the dark. Thank you isn’t enough.

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Delaney

This completely describes my father. He has poisoned my entire life with fear, guilt and doubt. Instead of encouraging me to move forward, he always told me that I “could not do that”. Instead of being a loving father, he was a tyrant. Instead of making my home the safest place on earth, he made it the place I was most likely to get hurt. Instead of being the one that would stand up for me, I could always count on the fact that he would never be on my side.
Despite his efforts, I managed to be a straight A student, get two University degrees, become a doctor and finish my specialty, learn to speak four languages and work on my Master’s degree. And, guess what: when I proved that I could do it, he wanted to be a part of it, to be credited for “supporting” me!
I tried to ignore him, to just say that he is somebody not worthy of my anger. But a few months ago, we just went too far: he tried to break up my family. His excuse: my husband is not good enough for me, because he was still in medical school and could not provide for me. I had repeatedly told him that I am happy with my husband and our son, that what I make is enough and that my husband would soon finish med school and get a good job. As always, my input did not count. My husband overheard him and my sister talking about “kicking him out of the house” (we live in an apartment just above my parents, that they have given to me). Although my husband managed to contain his temper for a few months, some weeks ago he ran into my father on the stairs and simply could not stop himself, resulting in a terrible fight. my father repeated in front of me that he was going to kick him out (of what is supposed to be My house!) From that day, I do not talk to him, and I feel so relieved. I want to confront him and tell him exactly how I feel and why I want to sever ties with him. I know he will try to make me feel ashamed and guilty, but O am prepared. I also want to ask my mother to take a stand at last, as he has also intimidated her for years in order to have her on his side.
Thank you for making me feel I am not crazy but that I am just taking my life into my hands.

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Hey Sigmund

What incredible strength and courage you’ve shown. I hope you are able to own this – you deserve to. Breaking free from toxic people is hard enough, but when it’s a parent it can all the more difficult. His attempt to come between you and your husband is typical toxic behaviour but it sounds as though you are both stronger than anything that can try to break you. You’ve done the right thing and I’m so pleased you feel the relief of that.

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jeremy

I agree with these things and a lot of ways but sometimes it is hard to tell who is the toxic one there might be too toxic people involved,and I believe a lot of these things are solely for people just beginning into relationships,but when you have already build a relationship promises and come to an agreement or having met or build something on the basis that two people are a certain kind of way,not saying it is not okay to grow,but at the same time you cannot expect somebody to deal with another person who drastically changes breaks promises,like I seen something to the effect of where other commitments are made and the drama is unfolded,.for example like I want you to skip your exercise classes and spend time with me,which would be understandably not a cool thing to do,UNLESS the circumstances are different like let’s say that that person has been avoiding you or neglecting the relationship and tends to find time for exercise class but not you ,for there are other issues going on in the relationship that needs time invested into and is not getting it,and you been told over and over again and nothing is more important than that relationship and you feel the same way and so you live your life as upholding that to be true then all of a sudden one person wants to drop out give nothing but has time for exercise class I can understand what the person on the other end might want to say please don’t go to exercise class spend time with me,someone who would drop out and give no time to the relationship was concerned with how they look and how their their self is doing and has no concern about the person that is hurting who is really the toxic person the one asking the person to stay or the one insisting that they go,.of course if I were the person on the other end it is an obvious sign that that person does not feel the same way anymore and it is a good time to walk away,but this whole concept of toxic people really doesn’t apply to people in a relationship that has already been built or planned for a long term,because a relationship involves two people and all these self empowerment and self centered talk and do for self do whatever you have to do to make your happy you happy love yourself first yes to a certain extent that is true,.but on the other hand when you’re in a relationship built on a promise as to become one and you care about that person and how they feel doesn’t all the self centred values become when you’re thinking of yourself you’re thinking of you and the one you love at the same time,I think the toxic person theory has its place,and I think everybody is a little bit toxic,and a sign of a strong relationship is that you get through each other’stendency to be toxic and also be smart enough and loving enough to understand your own tendency to be toxic because if you understand that you are toxic and you love the person enough you will stop but if you just want to switch up on somebody you can find yourself using this that person is toxic theory as an excuse to stomp all over somebody when you are the one stepping out of your obligation that you’ve made,.cuz to me an obligation to an exercise class and an obligation to a person that you’re in a relationship what should come first you tell meif I say the relationship am I toxic?

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Hey Sigmund

You’re absolutely right about everyone doing some of the toxic behaviours some of the time. The difference with toxic people is their tendency to do a lot of them all of the time. At the start of a relationship they might seem charming and caring but then they change to the point of never doing anything for the other person. They’re not loving or generous, they lie, cheat, manipulate, blame and they never apologise. We all do some of these things occasionally but the difference is that the rest of us will recognise when we’ve hurt someone (legitimately, not just the other person saying they’ve been hurt as a way to control the situation or the relationship) and will feel genuinely remorseful. When you’re in any kind a relationship with a toxic person, whether it’s an intimate one, family, friendship or work, you know it because you become less than you were when you went into the relationship. You become contaminated by their cruelty, their lack of empathy and their self-centredness – that’s where the toxicity comes into it. Someone who consistently makes you choose them over your own commitments is displaying toxic behaviour. Someone who does it occasionally because they’re feeling awful and need some loving is pretty normal. It’s a question of degree, effect and consistency. Thank you for taking the time to comment. It’s an important discussion.

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Louise

So, this totally sums up my current friendship. My friend shows all 12 signs! Unfortunately, I’m totally at a loss & deeply regret this friendship which was formed out of our daughters friendship from Kinder. Late last year, my friends daughter started to show signs of being toxic (well, bulling my daughter). Silly old me, reassured her as much as I could (I didn’t want the ramifications from her mother/my friend), gave her ways of dealing with it. This year, well it’s just increased 10 fold for
my daughter. We as mothers (both of us) discussed with our girls their issues & talked it over with both of them (together) as well. Then, an incident happened at school, which I was told by the teacher. My friend came over to discuss what happened & I had to inform her that what her daughter told her was not the truth & I told her what actually happened as I was told by the teacher. Her response blew me a way…”I’ll always believe my daughter, I don’t care what you say, or what the teacher says”. Her daughter has manipulated twice at school, (the whole works involved…tears & everything) to get my daughter in trouble. Basically, when anything happened I was always told, no my daughter didn’t do that, no my daughter didn’t say that, Oh, my daughter is crying now, she’s always being blamed. I couldn’t & still can’t understand why she never wants to discuss anything that has happened. So to protect my daughter, I said I think the girls need to stop playing with each other at school (unfortunately they are in the same class). She didn’t deem it necessary, and worried who her daughter would play with. From that moment, she started giving me the cold shoulder (I’d usually pander after her, asking if everything was okay), of course I didn’t, However, she’s now taking it out on my daughter at school & being rude & mean to her (during reading times). She’s also projecting her feelings on to myself. She actually, pounded on my door & in a toxic tone asked “are you okay” I said “yes”, “I’m actually really busy today, unfortunately I didn’t have time to stop & chat”…….She needled me, again and again, “are you sure, you don’t seem yourself, you can tell me, you can tell me if I’ve done something” I responded I’m extremely busy today, but besides the trouble our girls are having at school, which is in the hands of the school now, I’m okay”. Her response was “I don’t give a crap about the girls stuff, school can handle it”…..”So tell me what’s wrong?” “Nothing” (I said)….”well don’t you dare go blaming me for anything”, “I’ve done nothing wrong” “fine then” and she left. She called our girls teacher straight after asking what is wrong with me? Why am I being this way? Our lovely teacher advised her to call me. I’m now a waiting that call……I’m not sure what to do from here. This friendship is toxic for myself & my daughter & I feel terrible that this has happened to someone I’m meant to look out for, care for, protect!

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Hey Sigmund

This sounds awful, but sadly not uncommon. It’s great that you can be clear about your boundaries and you absolutely did the right thing with your daughter. Especially with kids who are naturally kind and generous, it’s not unusual for them to attract toxic personalities (because they’ll try to think the best of everyone at first), but it’s important that they’re given permission to let go of friendships that are hurting them. It’s an important life lesson and the skills and wisdom your daughter takes from this, with you guiding her, will hold her strongly moving forward. You may have already read this, but just in case, here is some information about helping kids deal with toxic personalities:

. Toxic People Affect Kids Too – Know the Signs and Explore a Little Deeper: http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-affect-kids-too-know-the-signs-then-explore-a-little-deeper/
. Teaching Kids How to Set and Protect Their Boundaries: http://www.heysigmund.com/teaching-kids-how-to-set-boundaries-and-keep-toxic-people-out/
. (And this one is for you – though it sounds like you’re doing pretty great without it) Practical, Powerful Ways to Deal with Toxic People: http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-16-practical-powerful-ways-to-deal-with-them/

You’ve done really well to recognise the behaviour in your friend and your daughter’s friend. It can be difficult to pull out of a toxic friendship because toxic people will naturally blame, manipulate and they’ll never see their part in the downfall of the relationship. If you can remember this, and not expect it to be different, it will hopefully be easier. What you’re doing is really important for you and also for your daughter. She’s lucky to have you in her corner with your wisdom and insight.

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Louise

Thank you so much for your advice, this is the support I needed, to know I’m doing the right thing for not just myself but for my daughter. Love the articles & will be putting these into practise.

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Toni

It’s my youngest sister…
She spews venom to my family and sugar to other siblings who can offer her free stays at their cabins or trips to Hawaii as a nanny for their kids.
She manipulates my parents, using threats of suicide, etc…She is mean to my elderly parents, treating them like bad children even in public. My mom worries about her because she is so “depressed”.
Another sibling who shares my sentiment, said the only reason this sister is kind of nice to her occasionally, is to get pain meds from her. After multiple surgeries, she is in chronic pain…misery sure seems to love company.
Last family get together at my other sister’s cabin, the toxic sister (who doesn’t have kids) came downstairs to yell at the kids for making too much noise, it was the end of the movie–the kids were mostly asleep. My husband told her it was the TV. She said he was just defending his kids, and proceeded to call him several swear word names in front of all 10 kids there. I came out of the bathroom after hearing the conversation, she didn’t know I was there. I tried to De – escalate her and said it has been a long day could she go back upstairs to cool off. She took a step towards me on the stairs, I took off my glasses and stepped closer to her and held the rail on the stairs. She tried to push me down the steps but I held on. And pushed her back up as she continued to threaten my husband. I told her to go up and cool off.
We didn’t sleep well that night. My husband confided that he worried about her retaliating.
She was all sugar and cream with everyone the next morning.
She has been like this for over 17 years, my siblings are split down the middle on her. Because she is so “helpful” & goes out of her way so often…
One mistake she made was acting like this in front of the grandkids. They asked a lot of questions about why their aunt dud these things. Ugh!

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Hey Sigmund

This sounds awful for your family. One of the things toxic people do, particularly in families, is to divide and conquer. Eventually though, they seem to trip up and show their true selves to everyone. It’s great that your wise to what she’s doing and are able to keep your boundaries clear – it’s so important.

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Janes

new years eve was the end of my dealings with a bipolar borderline narc. I believe this is called the vulnerable triad.
My observations support all of the raised here.
The final rage happened in public, it was covert but later descended into a slanderous list of judgements blaming me for the behaviour. Obviously the behaviour resulted from some imagined slight, actually a very reasonable opinion which i stated 2 weeks before. The attack was deliberate & extremely callous. All affection was withdrawn without explanation, poison came from the mouth & no eye contact as usual.

These people are very very dangerous & love to exert power, mine once told me that he didn’t let anybody have power over him by loving them.

The driving forces of a narcissist (toxic) person are power, envy, & exploitation only.

As a red flag check the sense of humour, none is there. Check out the plastic communication with fake friends too, it’s all ” hey you” or “its so nice to hear from you mate”. Don’t be sucked in with hard luck stories they will definitely have these to parade for sympathy.

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Hey Sigmund

Wow you have so much wisdom around this sort of personality – there is nothing like personal experience is there. I’m so pleased things have ended – you deserve so much better than this. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sure your insight will be helpful for a lot of people.

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Kathy

What should you do if that someone is your mother?
and even writing and sending this comment makes you feel guilty and unappreciative:(
But you have been manipulated over and over all these years with most of these described patterns (actually all except 7)
And she is an old (sad) lady you don’t want her to be left alone because she is your mother & ….

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Patricia

Your comments made me cry, for you and for myself. What you do when the narcissist is your parent is that YOU HEAL. Without realizing it, because you’ve now seen the truth, you have already begun the process. The article below is a very good one. I also recommend Toxic Parents by Susan Forward (I must have read that damn book four times!) and Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Karyl McBride. Keep reading this blog; it will validate you every day without saturating you with negativity. Find a good therapist who understands BPD and NPD. It is a process. I have been in recovery from my borderline/narcissistic/histrionic mother and codependent enabling father for four years. She is now 89 and still trying to get to me since I went no contact. I am an only child so I absorbed all the toxic crap, was both the golden child and the scapegoat, but the upside is that I had no siblings to complicate the issue even more.
I know it feels very dark to you right now, and some days you will take two steps forward and three steps back. But keep going! You are already on the road to healing. The good news is once you start, you can in-grow! My best wishes and prayers for you!

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Kathy

Thanks a lot. I loved reading your comment and it somehow made me feel better.
I also agree that reading this blog is very helpful.
Specially the article about how to heal from a toxic parent was (and is) really helpful.
Thank you.

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Sanaa

It was a blessing to have found this site. I am out of a 25 year marriage. I did not know that there was a name for what I have lived through. I only knew no one understood but God. 3 years ago my life broke apart. The result is that he is incarcerated and can no longer hurt and manipulate my self or my children. I thought it was the worst thing that could happen at the time but it has turned out to be one of the best things that could ever have happened. Because I could feel myself drowning and I was a tired that no words exist to describe. I felt as if I were Alice and had fallen into an alternate universe because NO ONE else knew and when Id even hint that he may not be all the wonderfulness that others beleived, I was questioned and doubted. I understand. I donot know who any of you are but I understand. In my heart it is as if I am holding your hand(s) as I say “I understand what you have been made to see and feel. You are courageous and strong and so am I.” Thank you for blessing me this evening. ” Tears” becasue I am not alone.

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Hey Sigmund

Thank you so much for your comment. You sound so wise and insightful with a strong and open heart. I’m so pleased that you have found your way through to a safe and peaceful place in your life. You deserve that. What you are describing is so common with these sort of toxic partners, so know that you aren’t alone. The warmth and wisdom you extend is rich wonderful, and will be a source of hope, support and healing for others in the same situation. Thank you!

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Catherine R

A friend of my daughter’s has a mother who is probably the most toxic person I know. But if pushed to explain why, I’d be hard pressed. She plays the game to perfection. All four children are on the path to self destruct while she is the “perfect” mother. I stay friends with her because I needed to while the kids were small, her daughter needed me. But now the girl’s in therapy. Her therapist has given her all the pointers you have mentioned. I want to shout from the roof tops ” it’s your mum, you’re fine” but am still scared to break the bond with her mother. Once I criss that bridge, there is no going back. What do I do? Maintain the families ties as it helps the girl when I’m around or tell her my true opinion.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though if you speak your mind you will be disconnected from the family. You can be a really strong, important influence in this young girl’s life by building her up. Anything you can say to push against the toxic messages she is getting from other parts of her life will make such a difference. She is very lucky to have someone in her life who can fill her with messages of warmth and love and open her up to her potential.

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Cathleen

I would be very careful about criticizing her mother. Hopefully therapy will help her come to the realization that her mom is toxic.

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amy

Just chiming in to say thank you for this post. It is a source of great calm for me right now as I try to track down someone I barely know, but thought — despite myriad red flags— that I could help. I feel so naive, but I really hate giving up on people, no matter what…But I will have to this time, as he just sent me the most horrible email and told me he was killing himself. Then he picks up his phone (finally) when I call and says, “Too late.” before hanging up. After calling back again several times, I get through to his friend who sounds very nice, but also seems to understand right away my concern. I have a feeling he’s been through this with this person before. I can’t imagine how it must be for this man’s family, it’s so devastating.

In *any* case, your post is so well written and describes every interaction I’ve had with him perfectly. Thank you!

Also, it’s interesting what someone said above about the lack of humor, as I did catch that (or lack thereof) several times.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Amy. It sounds as though you have an open, loving heart and it’s important to protect it. I’m pleased this article found its way to you.

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linda deckert

that guy will not KILL himself , he just a CONTROL freak and has learned it since his youth
Met these kinds before and also CONStantly LATE people are control freaks too

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Steffy

Thank you for your article Karen. I just wanted to share that when I read the 3rd paragraph my heart lept out of my chest!

For as long as I remember I have lived in mistrust of my emotions, believing that I was over-reactive, overemotional and misconstruing.

I cannot describe the weight that has been lifted and the clarity I now have from seeing the exact words, names I thought described me. It was never me at all!

It feels wonderful to hand back the onwership to the toxic people of my past.

Again thank you.

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Katie

Wow. Reading this had made me realise that my sister-in-laws behaviour is indeed that of a narcissist.

She was nice to me a few years ago before my husband (her brother) and I got married and as soon as the wedding was over she reverted back to being a nightmare, causing me to avoid as many family gatherings as I could. I’ve only ever tried to love and care for her but it is never reciprocated.

I’m currently living with her and my in-laws while my husband and I move into our new home. We’ve been there now for 6 months, she’s always been hot and cold with me and I never know where I stand with her. She is always putting others down, with the exception of her mother who just adds fire to the flames by never challenging her appaling behaviour. You have to walk on egg shells around her, is so full of her herself, and will never praise anyone else or can be happy with anyone else’s news. I don’t think she even told me I looked nice on my wedding day. You can’t win.

She was always like this before we moved in temporarily, and thank God we will be leaving soon but I don’t think I can take the strain of having this person remain in our lives once we move. I seized an opportunity to repair our relationship recently, she twisted it round on me and played the victim, making me feel guilty. I agreed to wipe the slate clean but everything was back to ‘normal’ within days.

I know she needs to be cut out for our own sanity once we move out (husband threatened to cut her out 18 months ago due to her behaviour against us) I don’t want to upset mother in law or other family members, but don’t want to be the villain either and cause fractures in relationships with other family members.

So first question is how can we cut her out?

Why is it that her mother cannot see it and doesn’t challenge her?

Will her mother (and other family member that think she’s wonderful) ever get to experience what we see and want out? I.e. Eventually will a narcissist like my sister-in-law ever out herself.

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Hey Sigmund

There’s no easy way to do this. The main thing is to remember why you’re doing it and to keep your boundaries clear and strong. Be clear about what you will tolerate from her and what you won’t. Decide with your husband what the rules of contact with our sister in law are going to be. The more you are able to clearly define the behaviour that you won’t tolerate, the easier it will be to pull away. Narcissists are masters at manipulating the situation, so in order to preserve the relationship with your mother-in-law and others in the family, it will be important to try to keep any contact with her clean, so don’t let her pull you into a conflict. Imagine it more as you pulling away than you pushing her away. The difficulty is that you can’t control how others will respond and this is why toxics are so dangerous – they destroy families. The more you are able to clearly define the set of rules, the easier time you will have should others in the family ask what’s going on. As for her mother, she can’t see through it because she doesn’t want to. She’s her mother, and this isn’t unusual. It’s one thing for you to cut contact because your investment in the relationship will always be much less. It’s a completely different prospect for her mother. Family relationships have so many levels to them and there are so many factors involved. It really depends on the relationship and the personalities of the others in the family as to how they will respond to her. Hopefully when you move out her capacity to hurt you will diminish.

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Katie

Thank you for your reply, it’s a big help and I feel relieved that I have a better plan now to move forward.

Thanks again

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paul

I was married to a psychopath whom I loved very much. But she was destroying me – I was hospitalised several times through stress/anxiety/exhaustion. Never good enough for her. She once told me I annoyed her because I am always so happy. In the end I just walked away. I sometimes wonder if toxic works both ways though .. just 2 people who are simply not suited?

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Hey Sigmund

Sometimes two people can work really well for a while then they grow apart, and sometimes people are like fire and ice and destroy each other from the beginning. Sometimes, when one person is toxic, the impact can be devastating. You deserve to be with someone who loves you for everything you are. The most important thing is that you don’t let the person who didn’t deserve you close you down to loving and being loved by the person who does.

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Gata

Here’s my take on this: seems to me there is an epidemic of these self-absorbed, intimately dysfunctional people, of which I am married to one, also just recently discovered who/what he is. I am middle-aged (if I’m lucky!), disabled, nearly bankrupt, nearly friendless, short of family members, and most assuredly “stuck”. I get the ideas of stash money, build support network, seek counseling. I have been doing all the things that are supposedly my network of help, if I just reach out and ask for it. I even hear this crap from the few people I love and trust. People generally do not seems to understand not only the atomic devastation of self and assets, but the utter lie that is “women’s outreach”. I used to even promote this lie in my place of business, posting flyers and planting cards in the restroom, saying love shouldn’t hurt, call the crisis center, get help. Blah blah. When I first started reaching out, for real, I contacted a former client/acquaintance in law enforcement. She gave me multiple phone nos to call, websites to visit, etc. the numbers of course said if it’s an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, leave a message. I did that. With legal aid, crisis counseling, disability app process, blah blah blah. On legal aid websites, I saw the backlog of cases. One was a woman who was being physically assaulted, and had children. She was on the waiting list. How far down the list am I with “he’s being mean to me”. I met with my family doctor, told him what was going on, worst doctor visit of my life. His response was to give me 800 #s and scripts for mood enhancement, calm me down. I met with a crisis counselor at their secret, high-security, gated compound. Once I told her that he wasn’t hitting me, he has made a mess of our lives, and he is verbally and emotionally and psychologically flailing at me, every hour of every day. I have recently had major surgery that has obliterated my ability to work, care for the house and our animals, forget any fun stuff in life, no hobbies, no eating out, no jaunts with friends. All anxiety and stress and drama and worry about money. While he sleeps like a baby. When counselor heard he’s not hitting me, she actually put her pen down on her little notepad, and her physical demeanor was, oh, oooookay. Not real abuse. She advised me to write in a little journal my little feelings, And call her back to talk it out. Oh, and take some of my emergency money, get one of my friends, and go do something fun for awhile, no serious stuff. Go eat lunch, or catch a movie. Have fun. I have been winding my way thru disability system, dealing with failing parents, ailing animals, as well thru all this. Applied and was approved for a hospital charity program to help me get treatment and meds etc, went thru 1.5 months going back and forth with the hospital and doctor that they referred me to, only to be told yeah, no, we can’t help you out, it’s not valid anymore, we can’t help you get surgery that you’ve already tested for and been found to be necessary. Good luck. Signed up for and approved for psych counseling (both physical and medical ongoing treatment necessary for disability case, as well). Attended group session prescribed by screener. Our activities? Coloring mandalas and going over homework pages to work on our emotional control levels. Oh! And doing all of the above and more, under the worry that he will find my papers about my comings and goings to get help for myself, knowing full well that if he does see something, it will mean I have outed his behavior to someone of authority, especially our doctor and to law enforcement, that it will be considered by him an open declaration of war, and he will work tirelessly, night and damn day to make every moment of my existence,and that of our animals, just as miserable and soul-sucking as possible. As if he hadn’t already done all that, but just when I think he can’t stoop any lower or get any nastier or crazier, he creates a new level of agony. I am most certainly, utterly, in every way, stuck. Those people that say you are never stuck, you can get out if you really want to. Ok, let’s entertain that inane idea: if I just pack what I can fit in my vehicle, leave all my other worldly belongings behind, leave every animal we have rescued and cultivated to health that he is now determined to undermine, and he said he would, all our joint accounts (which by the way, were once mine solely, that I have spent lifetime creating and preserving carefully for retirement, emergencies, etc, he can’t even balance the checkbook), all now at his ignorant disposal, along with my credit name, and hit the street, with nowhere to go, and no way to get there, and not one real lifeboat in sight. Excuse me if I call bs on that, live in one hell, or trade it for another. At least under my roof I have shelter and air conditioning, for the moment. He managed to get fired early this year, and is eating on what’s left of his retirement account, having gone through all of mine, savings, investments, and a small inheritance I received over 10 years ago. Gone gone gone. Suggestions? Donations? And the first platitude I get, I will wad it up into a ball and throw it at you. The real truth is that some of us may be stuck in Pergatory forever. As long as I have living beings that I care for, I will never consider offing myself. After that? I feel quite solid in telling you that it might be game over. But I promise, I vow, I will send out letters he will rue for eternity. I might be gone, but for once, I will have the last word, not him.

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Hey Sigmund

I hear you. It’s never easy to leave a bad relationship and sometimes, despite the pain that comes with staying, there are so many barriers to leaving, to the point where it doesn’t feel possible. There are so many things to be considered when leaving a toxic partner, and I have no doubt that if you thought there was a way out you would have found it. I want you to know that I get it. There would be so many women and men who would understand exactly why you’f stuck. I wish things could be different for you. You clearly have incredible strength, courage and resilience to be able to stay and take care of the animals who need you. You sound like an amazingly strong, wise woman, and I hope you are able to own that for yourself.

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Rae

@Gata…Hey I felt your comment deep within my soul. And sidebar, you sho don’t sound like no middle aged women. Anyway, I’ve been reading up on toxic personalities for a few months now and this heysigmond’s article, as well as your comment have come the closest to articulating the sum of the toxic person in my life, as well as the hell I just traded out of. (Gotta mention this trade must have been brokered by the toxic mug I speak of, because I can relate completely when you said trade one hell for another) You left off commenting on how do you leave? Or saying, that you believed you are indeed stuck in your situation. Well only you know to what degree your bullshytn right, and I mean as far as what has your fear, and bring afraid robbed you of? As well as all the nasty damage done to us on multiple levels while in that relationship. So blah blah blah right. ..im rambling lol, but my point is this. THE energy and read I got from your comment, doesn’t jive right with the “leave the animals, he took all the money, and I forgot how to survive and do what I gotta do to keep my tail from being on the street”. You were clear, organized, insightful, aware, directed, and passionate in you telling your story. Those aren’t just in a great wtiter, they are your own character attributes, and they pretty damn awesome. I don’t even know you and I believe you got what it takes to strike out and hustle up you and them animals a lil piece of peace. Ya dig? I’ve never replied to any of these although I’ve read them all. I hope I haven’t offended anyone, most of all you. I dont know entirely what you deal with, or for that matter…too much about toxic folks. But I feel certainly inside my soul seat, that you my dear are a fighter. Seems like your in a pretty big fight now chic. Get to it. And like my daddy told us coming up…”Let go, or be dragged.” I let go, by far the hardest, most painful, heartbreak I’ve ever had. He is the 25 yr.long love of my life, and although I miss him, hate him, want him, don’t need anything from him….He can’t get better, if I stay and allow his sick ass to keep practicing his evil craft on me. Nor can your quite charming spirit remain in tact, or thrive, and better yet help another person through these dark times if you stick around. Just my opinion , not that you asked and it wasnt my place to say that really but…I DID. And if you stick it out you gotta get at me and share your best practices. I haven’t left my husband completely. Or forever officially, but the next few years are mine and I’M GOING TO GET FREE. MAY THE MOST HIGH CONTINUE TO USE YOU TO REACH OTHERS THROUGH YOUR TESTIMONY. ALLOWING YOU TO SEE YOUR TRUE IDENTITY, BEAUTY, AND STRENGTH DAY BY DAY. PEACE

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Rachel

I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. I really hope you’re okay. Has he always been mean to you or is it just since he lost his job? If it is just since losing his job, he may feel bad about himself and is taking that out on you. If it is just since losing his job that he has been acting this way, try talking to him (keeping your voice calm) and being kind and understanding of his situation. If this was going on prior to losing his job and it is a long-term issue then maybe consider seeking advice from a legal professional or organisation who understands these situations. If you decide to leave, take the animals with you or move them to an animal shelter or to a friend’s house so there is no risk he will harm them. If talking to him doesn’t work or if he is not open to relationship counselling of some sort, then you should maybe consider separating and staying with a friend or family member. Maybe time apart will help. But most importantly, look after yourself and stay safe. Leave when you know he won’t be back for a good few hours so there is no risk of confrontation. Make a plan in advance with a friend/family member to come and collect you and have your mobile phone on you (and make sure your friend has hers on her too) in case you need to call the police. You can start over. I know it may seem hard but you can do it. Maybe leaving for a week or so will make him realise he needs you and will make him realise he can’t treat you the way he has been treating you. If you feel that leaving properly is unsafe or too much, maybe consider visiting some friends a few hours away for a week to get a break. I don’t know your circumstances but just please stay safe and look after yourself. I think the advice to get out of the house with friends is good as it gives you a break from stuff at home. We all need a break from stuff at times. Even going for a coffee with friends can help clear your head. If there is a support group nearby, join it. It seems like both your husband and you have your own stuff going on (him with his job and you with your recent surgery) so maybe some space by going out for a few hours for a coffee or whatever will do you good. It can be difficult when a partner leaves a job as you end up almost spending too much time together. If he is frustrated with his job situation and he takes it out on you when you are in a fragile place due to recent surgery, it can be hard. Try talking about it with him. But obviously if you feel your life is in danger then get out and seek help though. I don’t know you and my advice may not be right but I wish you well and really hope that you will be ok. Look after yourself and please stay safe (and make sure a friend or two are there if you do leave even if just for a holiday) :).

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Lorraine Bergman

I started reading this article because, just like everyone else, there are some toxic people in my circle, but for some unknown reason, my demeanor never allows them to “bug” me, but it does hurt mutual friends/family so I am interested in how to help them. Maybe being the oldest of five kids and coming from a very laid back family has something to do with it, but toxic people just get the raised eyebrow from me and they seem to know not to “poke” me. My own husband of 40 years, started getting, for lack of a better word, miserable and snotty with me and others, including our kids, a while back. (figured it was his Manopause!) I did put up with it for a bit, but then wham! He got a talking to and an admonition that he could just leave if he wanted to stalk about and pout about nothing much at all. That did work in my case, because essentially he is a good man. Gata, I am sorry that with everything else going on in your life, the pets, the disability (and you never said how serious or long term it might be?) the lack of money, that you feel stuck. I can see how bitter you are about how your life is unfolding and the lack of help you are getting. The crisis agency is probably so swamped with women with broken bones and black eyes, that they just don’t have the resources for your particular problem. I guess the only advice I can give you is to not “swallow ” the whole elephant. Take some little bites. As hard as it may be, you first need to adopt out your rescue animals because other than your ailing parents, this is a huge problem that a disabled, abused and “broke” woman does not need. Contact an animal rescue group. (I know they can give you comfort, I have pets, but…. ) If you have siblings, you have to insist that they help your parents until you are back on your feet. If you have a best friend, you need to appeal to her/him for temporary shelter. This is not a platitude, these are practical, real suggestions; instead of depending on social organizations where you do not fit into their little box! My last piece of advice, not to you because it is probably too late, but to others is, sure you love(d) the guy/girl to start with, but you must still keep some autonomy, especially with some money for the unknown. And establish your very own credit while you are working….. Finally, I hope you can take a bit of everyone’s advice from where it comes from, a desire to help you. Good luck.

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louise

Take out life insurance on him and rescue a rabid racoon and lock them both in the bathroom. Lol

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Giselle

I was right where you are AND I was being physically abused as well. I was even homeless for a while with this man!! It was the most insane, depressing and rock bottom situation that I could have ever thought I would be in! I never experienced that kind of lifestyle and I hope to never again!! I turned to friends, family, women’s shelters, law enforcement, etc. and got pretty much little to no help. I stayed stuck and in constant fear and pain mentally, emotionally and physically for eight long years. I saw no way out! What I did have was myself and my goals. Despite all the setbacks, the abuse, the sabotages, the insecurities, the fear, the unknown, etc. that came from both myself, from him and from others I kept plugging away with my own soul searching and goals. I am happy to say that ever so slowly and dealing with even more difficulties along the way I have since found my way out. I am on my own and building two businesses at the moment. If you truly want out you WILL find a way but it damn sure won’t be easy!! You WILL have to sacrifice and face your fears! It is doable though and I did it!!

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Shana

I just want to say I hear you. And it can even be very subtle, more than they say in this article. I have been dealing with a masterfully toxic person for 30 years. I care for a number of animals as well and I don’t see any way I could do that alone. But maybe one day a way will appear. I haven’t given up hope yet and I hope you don’t either. Miracles happen. I believe it will take a network of real friends. Physical abuse is not the worst torture one can endure. The shifting ground of a person who undermines your independence and self worth is the worst. May doors open and ways appear that you haven’t seen before! Life is good. May you find the means the means you need to make changes. Please know that others are out here who understand. Blessings, peace and prayers to you.

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DJ

I did it. You have to just make a plan and leave. What would you expect all those other people to say? You seriously aren’t mad at the are you? If you cant move in with a friend or a relative then save money, get your name on apt. lists or low income housing lists and just make the plan to go. I know it’s hard. I’ve done it twice. Once when I was very young and once older (the hardest). My first husband was toxic and I am a rescuer, nurse, caretaker type, so I offered to help my dad when mom died and found out he was the most needy, self centered, narcissist, controller I have ever met! I lasted 5 years and then I had to make a plan to get the heck out of Dodge! Just do it. Life is too short to live in turmoil…I LOVE my little apartment with just me and my dog!

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linda

I have read your post and although I can understand what you are going through ( will not bore you with my experiences and divorce , so on).
However I do disagree with your view. It sounds like you can be rather quick witted and a doer, so I am puzzled as to why do you chose to be passive in your relationship?
If you wish to see a change , do something differently, or indeed start over. It is never too late .
Sometimes tough love is the better way, because we all have to deal with what life throws at us.
I don`t think you are STUCK, I think you already made a decision and it is extremely difficult to face up to it.
I do hope your circumstances changed in the past few months, do let us know how you got on.
All the best .

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Linda Deckert

I did reply about 10 mins ago please let me know later today if you received it
I did send BD card to sister today as it is her birthday… She ignored mine last week
I did wish her well and asked her to please email me and perhaps we could talk
I will probably not hear from her
This happens about every five years and she drops out of sight until someone is ill I feel this is a control issue and she knows myself and older sibling are upset by these actions
Her initial anger came from me stating that I was not willing to wait for 3-4 hours for her to come for a visit… She lives 1 hour away and is ALWAYS late
Yes, two years later I would still say the same thing as I am sick of waiting for so long and I end up not even wanting to visit with her

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Lex

That toxic significant other may in fact be a person with a personality disorder.

Look up the following personality disorders;

1. Borderline (BPD)
2. Narcissistic (NPD)
3. Historonic (HPD)

Now, I can’t and won’t diagnose him but from what you’ve said, if it is in fact true, sound more like narcissism. By the time someone has a psychiatric disorder, they can’t be helped, only managed by professionals. Be aware of the 3, narcissists and one step beyond, known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be dangerous if you try to leave them or go against their wishes. In some cases, deadly.

My one word of advice is document to high hell what is going on, record audio and video, not just physical written documents give them to your public defender / court appointed lawyer to help you help yourself in this trying time.

It’s all about the external image, showing the he is of good moral character and he will try to paint the picture that you’re the crazy one. Good luck and be really careful!

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Carrie

I hope you leave and move on because I just know how much happier you will be and you will wonder why you didn’t leave sooner. Trust me I have yet to heat anyone tell a story of how glad they are for staying in a toxic relationship and how or why it was worth it. Life is too damn short.

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Drey

I was involved in a toxic relationship for almost 11 years. I loved this man with everything. He manipulated me every chance he got. I joined a car club and that was the ultimate betrayal. I loved those people and my car more than him. He didn’t want to join in, but he would always disapprove of me going to events. Well he allowed his mother and ex wife to do things to me and woukd not stopped them or at least say something to them. His thing was you are doing that club stuff, so my ex can call. He never said that outright but he woukd insinuate it with actions. My final straw, I told him where his mom and his ex could go…. It has been 5 months and he cut all contact and is seeing someone. The person he is seeing has managed to be one mutual friends with my friends on face book and she also has joined my car club supporter page. She puts mems on Facebook about ” What a good woman can do for a man.” And now he is telling mutual friends and family that I was the toxic person in the relationship. Doing the beginning of the break up I admit I became obsessed snd out of control. Constantly calling him, texting him, and going by his house. I just couldn’t conceive how he could just cut me and my children off cold turkey.. Well that’s when I found out about his new woman. I had to go into a mental health facility foe PTSD..this relationship has dropped me so low. I am still recovering and I am still tearful when I think about it. I am hurt as to how he manipulated me and now everyone thinks I am the toxic person in the relationship, how do I move forward with my life? Will this pain sibside will I ever feel better?

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Hey Sigmund

11 years is a long time, so it will take a while for you to find a new normal – but you will. Absolutely you will. Coming out of a relationship is like breaking an addiction – it’s physical, emotional, spiritual, mental. Here is some information that might help you about what happens to your body during a breakup. It might make it easier to understand why it’s so difficult to move on from long term relationships: http://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/ . Understand that sometimes the only way people can move forward is to completely cut contact. I know how much this is hurting you, but in time you will be grateful that he is getting out of your way so you can find the life and love you deserve. Be kind to yourself and know that you will stop hurting in time, but the time takes time. You will get through this. Light and love to you.

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beth

Any replies to my question/situation would be GREATLY appreciated. I have a toxic person in my life, unfortunately and I seem to always react in a way that I always look like the fool while this person walks away every time with all of her needs/wants met and with a smile on her face. I try to put up boundaries but that doesn’t seem to work. Here’s my biggest issue with her. Why does she contact me (text me) when she needs something/asks me for help and then when I do reply, I get ignored?! I sent her multiple texts back to her over a period of a few days and not one single response. What is going on with that?

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Hey Sigmund

The important thing to remember is that people only do what works. Sometimes what they’re doing might not be working well – in fact, sometimes it might be disastrous, but it will feel like it’s working in some way towards getting a need met. It sounds as though your friend can be guaranteed of a response when she contacts you. Each time you respond, you reinforce to her that she can get her need met by sending you a request for help. It’s impossible to know what that need is, but we can speculate. It might be a need for control (to know that she can control you if she wants to), a need for certainty and security (you’re still there for her), or perhaps it’s something entirely different. Once her need is met, even if it is met in the smallest way, there’s no need for her to respond – which is likely to be why you’re getting ignored. The reason she is so sincere and kind is because that’s what gets your attention. If you want her behaviour to stop, the thing to do is to teach her that her behaviour won’t work. Let your friend know that you will no longer be responding to her requests for help, because in the past when you’ve responded, you’ve been ignored. Don’t expect her to be okay with this – even if she appears to be, it’s likely that she actually won’t be – and that’s okay. It’s also likely that initially, when you stop responding to the requests for help, her behaviour will get worse. When something stops working, it’s human nature to do more of whatever it was that once worked. When you ignore the requests from the your friend for help, her requests might get more frequent, stronger, or perhaps even nastier – it’s hard to know. Eventually though, when she realises that it doesn’t change anything, she will likely stop. Hope this helps you to make sense of things.

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beth

I 4got 2 mention that she always acts so sincere and kind but then chooses to ignore me like I don’t even exist.

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Elise

Just wanted to say thank you very much for this article. I have been dealing with a toxic friend for some time, and this article really helped put put her behavior in perspective (numbers 5, 8, 11 and 12 ring especially true for her). I have gone back and referenced this article a few times as as reminder to myself on how to view the situation. She has said some really unkind things to me that I have been trying to work through, but it has been very difficult to not take her words to heart. We also share many mutual friends, so that makes the situation a little more complicated. Do you have any advice on how to handle hurtful comments? I want to be the bigger person and not lash out at her, but it is very difficult to not respond back to her in an equally hurtful way. Thank you again for such a great article!

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Conscientious Observer

Hello! Hurtful comments? Are they jn social situations/ over the phone? Next time she puts her foot in her mouth, kindly let her know, so everyone can hear, to thank her for pointing out your flaw, and that she must really care about how you feel when she points out something personal/ or the obvious about you in front of everyone. Then make a joke ‘hey, Who needs enemies with a friend like that’. Depending on if she is a psycopath or not- yes that- if you ask her nicely to stop she will only go harder and get friends to join in. If she gets friends to join in, diffuse the situation with a funny comment. Say ok who is next to get hurt? Lets go (nasty friend), who is it? And by the way you do know this game you are playing also allows us to embarrass, humiliate and hurt you- and be prepared to follow thru. If u dont you will be her doormat to poo on until you die or never speak to her again. Just do it- at least for your own sanity. If you do and get nasty with her and she whinges about it- before you terminate the ‘alleged friendship’ just nicely let her know she has a talent for bringing out the worst in people and you have better things to do than associate with someone that likes to make others feel awful about themselves and others. All the besr.

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natalie

I met a guy in beyluxe messenger,we became friends on net,he accused me of jealousy when he talks and spends more time with other females.He always accuses of me of liar and many more toxic accusations.i always try and resolve the problem,he brings up old problems and circle never ends.he ignores all my apologizing texts and block my ids.

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Hey Sigmund

This person is showing you really clearly who he is, and it sounds as though he is someone who doesn’t bring out the best version of you. I’m sure he has his good qualities, but you deserve to have people in your life who make you feel wonderful.

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Hettie Trahms

I had a husband like Gata, and now I have a daughter like that. Gata, all I can say to you, is: carry on with your life as best you can. I can remember that I tried to see what I could do to make the situation better. What I found was that I could not. He found fault with everything I did, said and thought. I once asked him whether there was anything he was satisfied with and his answer was no. I found I could not discuss problems with him – it was always me making him unhappy. Carry on with putting money away, make your plans to get away. I remember that I felt disrupted the whole time. Keep telling yourself that you are right. Fortunately the man moved out to live with a mistress. That gave me time to relax and calm down. Even my children calmed down. I did not shout at them anymore. They are grown up now, but still think that I saved their lives by divorcing the man. Fortunately he died before any of them got married. My son did not want him at his wedding and my daughter said he is not giving her away in the church. Can you imagine the trouble that would have caused! I wish you best. Your life will not get better in a hurry, but carry on surviving. Remember, you are right!

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Shirl

I have full and utmost sympathy for you. I have never experienced what you are going through but I know what that type of ‘abuse’ can do to a person. I know you care about your animals and you sound like a wonderful person.
I have an aunt who is a destructive, cruel person who has created unfixable problems in my family. For no reason other than she may have been envious of my loving and ‘normal’ relationships, who knows? I have nothing to do with her and have taught my children that even though she’s a relative they don’t ever ever ever need to spend a second of their precious time with a person like that.

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Brazen Lee

I have an ex, and a friend, who are what most people would consider toxic. I still see them both on occasion, but I’ve made some boundaries for myself, and have accepted that the problems they have – which my ex in particular likes to blame on me – which they both blame on other people, are of their own doing, and from their own behaviour. The people in my life who display toxic tendencies (and I used to be like this myself) are very much lacking in self-awareness.

I used to take it all very seriously and let it stress me out. I’ve since taken some steps back, maintain my boundaries, and have surrounded myself with more supportive, present, and unselfish people. When they come around with their drama and changeability now, it mostly rolls off my back. It’s not easy, but with some practice, self-love, and self-awareness, I’ve learned to manage pretty well!

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Hey Sigmund

You are acting with grace, strength and courage. That’s not easy, but it’s important when you’re dealing with toxic people. Keep going – you sound as though you are doing a wonderful job of managing this.

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Dannie

My first impression reading the list is that hey my husband and I fit into some parts of this list so either everyone has some toxicity in them or we are both toxic people. Either way counseling has done us both a world of good.
His daughter on the other hand, very toxic and drains us both.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes, everybody does some of the things on the list from time to time. None of us are perfect but the people who are good to be with are the people who, like you, are open to their impact on people and are able to take responsibility for that.

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Ms Taken

Any advince on how to deal with these toxic people when they are your only sibling and it is being enabled by your own mother and father? Mother has a tendency to also be toxic when the mood strikes, and father has a heart of gold. It’s hard to avoid conflict in some scenarios, but any advice would be awesome (especially with the holidays coming up).

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Caron

Thank you for this, i will never understand the toxic people in my life who are so close to me, but this helps me realise that its not in my mind, its a thing, an ugly thing that exists.
How will i go forward? who knows, but at least now i can rest assured thats it not me, its them.

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Josie

Thank you so much for this article and bringing awareness to the fact that some people are just, plain, toxic.

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withheld

hello. what to do when a former good friend turns against you, sends you hostile emails, and won’t tell you why she’s upset-despite your multiple attempts to find out? this is very much complicated by the fact that our preteen daughters are good friends and in the same larger friend circle. she’s also a huge gossip, and my biggest fear is that she’s telling awful lies about me and my sweet, sensitive daughter. i worry because she did this (and much worse) to another woman, whose family eventually left our school. she’s extremely competitive, and honestly, i think her actions are based on jealousy over my daughter’s abilities, which is not a problem that can be “solved”. what do i do? i’ve asked her to talk, and i’ve tried ignoring her for several months, but she’s now sending more mean-spirited emails. i’ve reached out to a couple of mom’s in our circle who want to remain neutral. frankly, i think they’re all afraid of her. plus, she’s very good at being charming and helpful when it benefits her or her kids. the other odd think is that she is now angry that i’m not including her in group emails to the moms of other friends in our circle. i’m normally a very strong person, but this is really starting to bother me, causing me to lose sleep and feel nauseous. any help would be appreciated.

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Hey Sigmund

This is why toxic people are so damaging. You deserve better than this and I’m sorry you’re going through it. You can’t change this woman – if only we could change other people. All you can do is protect yourself as much as you can, by building the wall higher between you both. When you withdraw from toxic people, it’s not unusual for them to get worse before they leave you alone. They’ll do more of what used to work with you, or what has worked for them in the past. It sounds as though you still have to co-exist in the same environment and your daughters are friends so you have to tread carefully. Any contact with her will feel bad for you, so avoid her where you can without getting into a confrontation. It might be the case that any attempt you make to talk to her will be heard through her negative filter and twisted in such a way as to make herself the victim. If she has no intention of reconnecting with you in a way that is healthy for you, the only thing you can do is to pull away gently. If she is acting in such a way as to cause harm to you daughter, I would consider speaking to the school and asking them to deal with it discretely. If she’s telling lies about your daughter it’s a form of bullying, and I expect that the school will be quick to respond. There’s no easy answer for this one. I wish you all the best.

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Patricia

This woman sounds like a narcissist who needs her children’s accomplishments and status to reflect on her.
I was a school volunteer with a woman like this when my children were elementary/middle school age. When we moved to the area, her kids were on top of the academic pile. Here I come with my equally intelligent children, one of whom was found to have an IQ of 145. To me that didn’t change who my child was; to this mother, it was a threat. She found out only because she was an aide at the school. From then on, she was out for blood because she thought my kids were about to unseat hers. I still shake my head at this…..
The only way you can “win” is to withdraw from her presence. Serve only on committees she doesn’t. And like I always told my kids: when someone tells lies about you, conduct yourself in such a way that no normal person will believe it. Let her behavior reflect on her. If she involved my children, I’d go straight to the school principal, and higher if necessary.

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Wilma

My eldest sister (I’m the youngest of 5 sisters and 2 brothers), is so toxic towards me and has been ever since we joined the same religion. Long story short, we had been close (albeit dysfunctional) for 18 years, but no more since the last 2 years. The demise stems 10 yrs ago because of an inheritance my parents received. (Background: We grew up poor. She was abused physically/verbally by my father and left the house at 16. However, he had a respect for her once she got older. In fact, he nominated her as a successor executor in his will years ago. Today, she’s married and lives across country and I live very close to my parents. Though my father was verbally abusive to all of us kids and we all have issues as a result, he was least to me and another young sister.) Anyway, trouble started when two of my single elderly uncles (both of whom had sizable savings and lived together) declined in health and one died, leaving my father his savings account. The other, with dementia and anxiety, leaned on my father for help, who in turn, leaned on me for advice and help, which was very new grounds for me and nervewracking. However, that left my eldest sister upset b/c she wanted play by play and an accounting of every penny my father was receiving and spending because she was the “executor”. (Note, my father was and still is managing his own finances and he specifically asked me not to discuss them with my other siblings). When I refused to “comply” with her, she was so irate and yelling and screaming at me on the phone. So I gave in and told her how much he received. She flew out for the uncle’s funeral and was so cold and has been cold to me ever since. She has slandered me to our mutual friends, who give me the cold shoulder, for which I called her out on. We had other yelling incidences too, all revolving around my parents’ money. She was so upset with me one time, screamed abusively because she claimed she had to ask my parents directly whether they had gone to see a lawyer to sign new estate planning documents. (which they did not do and have not to this day). I said “good, you should be communicating with them yourself!” She has always claimed she wanted to manage their finances from afar with me (since she couldn’t be here to help out in other ways) and has told me that specifically. I believe she is angry because she knows my father was turning to me for support/advice and she realizes she cannot control me the way she seemed to think she could. (She also had plans for my parents’ inheritance, which included adding her name on a bank account and wanted me to propose that to my father.) I say we joined the same religion but she is more active than I am, and others see her involvement and seem to think she is so “fabulous”. She loves to awe inspire, in fact, that is how I joined the religion, through her (I was 20, she was 30.) She claims that she is following Jesus’ footsteps, which she does in front of others, but to me it is a whole other person that shows up. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. She did make a very nice gesture at my wedding (to whom she did not approve of the man I married) recently but I wondered if it was more to save face in front of those we both know so she can have one up on me down the road. She’s always acting as if I am untrustworthy, questioning my moves. I feel obligated to reach out to her b/c we are of the same faith and encouraged to forgive/forget/love, but when I reach out to her via email (because I refuse to talk on the phone and have arguments), it is a stone cold response, so I stopped. I feel more at peace that way, but how do I feel good about myself in this situation? My parents though in good health, are in their mid-80’s and need more assistance, to which I am doing more than her and other sibling’s fair share of help. I can’t seem to feel good about my sister even though I feel she’s being abusive to me. She is very demanding behind closed doors. Help!

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you have been having an awful time with this. It’s really important that you listen to your own feelings and intuition around who (and what) is good for you and who isn’t. I understand this can be really difficult when it comes to family because it’s harder to put up boundaries or walk away, but you can do this in love and strength without it being a complete rejection. By this, I mean you can reject your sister’s capacity to hurt you without rejecting her. Similarly, forgiving your sister doesn’t mean accepting her behaviour, nor does it mean that you have to open up yourself to her again. What it means is that you release yourself of anger or any other bad feelings towards her – BUT – that doesn’t mean that you have to feel good feelings and let her in again. Letting go of the bad feelings is something you do for your own sake.

One way to do this is to put up a really clear boundary, but with love and the option to have it come down, but on your terms. Let your sister know that you love her and care about her but that you won’t put yourself through the yelling and nasty conversations that are happening between you at the moment. Acknowledge that you understand that she doesn’t like some of things that you are doing, but that you are doing them because they are right for you. She doesn’t have to agree with what you are doing, but you won’t allow yourself to be shamed and mistreated for these decisions.

Let her know that she is important to you and that she matters, and that when she is ready to respect you and work towards a calmer, healthier relationship, you will be ready to have that relationship with her but until then, you aren’t prepared to engage with her – or something like that. Tell her what she means to you and be generous and loving, and also let her know what feels intolerable. Decide on the terms for your relationship and let her know what they are. Ask her what she needs from you and decide whether or not you are prepared to give her that. It’s completely okay to say that you’re not. That way, you are putting an end to her capacity to hurt you, but being open to being in a relationship with her in a way that is better for both of you.

If she is acting as though you are untrustworthy and questioning you a lot, that is an indication of her own insecurity. She lives away from the family and seems to have (or feel as though she has) little influence over what happens with your parents and the family. On the other hand, she suspects you have a lot. Insecurity has a powerful way of turning people against each other, but if you can see it for what it is, it will be easier for you to take is less personally. Keep her feelings in her front yard, and don’t let them cross into yours. See them for what they are. Of course it’s important to really be honest with yourself about whether there is anything you might be doing to contribute to the issues, but if you can say with an open heart that you are doing the best you can in the relationship, then it gets to the point where putting up a boundary is important and is a great act of self-respect and self-love. Showing her love and respect comes in the way you put up that boundary – don’t do it harshly or as a rejection. You have every right to decide what behaviour you will tolerate and what behaviour you won’t. It’s important because if you don’t do this for yourself, nobody else will. The main thing to remember is that you can love someone and decide not to tolerate them anymore. Loving someone doesn’t mean accepting them or the things they do. I wish you all the very best with this. Families can be a great source of pain. Love yourself enough to have the boundaries you need. They door to them can still be open, but make that entry on terms that are acceptable to you.

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Wilma

You’re so correct on all your suggestions. It’s just so difficult because I find her so harshly accusational, even over minor things. She’s slick only abusing me when we are either alone or on the telephone. I’m always left like a deer in headlights. She catches me off guard. I know it is “control-driven” on her end. When I start defending myself, then she says I’m too sensitive and that’s when the arguments start because I’m defending myself and she doesn’t like it and denies anything she ever said to me. Then she’ll tell our mutual friends that I’m fighting with her and they should avoid me. (when it is she that started the whole thing because she can’t get control of my parent’s money, which they do not know). Unfortunately, they believed her because they’re also her husband’s parents, which are/were close friends of mine too. Now it is just completely awkward.

I just don’t have the tools to deal with a personality like hers. I hear what you are saying but I don’t know how to actually deal with someone like her. I don’t know how to stand up for myself to her and create a boundary – I keep reading about it, but putting it into practice is another thing. She thinks because I’m the youngest, she can push me around behind closed doors. I know I have to be smarter about any interaction with her, but she is always “out to get me” it feels no matter what I do. She looks for the absolute worst and exaggerates everything about me. I have seen her do it to others who she feels have done something to her. I believe she is very narcissistic.

I find it hard to even reach out to her (though sometimes I want to just say hello and hopefully smooth things over) but I can’t even do that for fear of an attack of some sort. So I don’t. It’s too stressful and fearful. I have had nightmares of her.

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Crystal

This is what a narcissistic person is like. But why do they need your approval? Are their self esttems actually that low that they need to lower yours as well?

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Hey Sigmund

Toxic people need control above all else. Sometimes this is driven by low self-esteem, sometimes insecurity, sometimes both or something else altogether. Having power and control over the relationship and the people they are with is everything. They don’t see their behaviour as damaging – they’ll be more likely to see it as your fault that you’re not doing things the ‘right’ way, which will always be their way. They are incapable of recognising the needs of another person above their own. One of the reasons they attack the self-esteem of those they are in a relationship with is because people are much easier to control when they are full of self-doubt. Toxic people choose well – they will often choose people who are generous and who work hard at a relationship. A toxic person knows that for these people, the more they are told they aren’t doing a good job, the harder they will try to make things right.

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Edward

OMG! My wife, as much as I dearly love her, can be the poster child for this article! I aw vague hints of her personality, narcissistic with paranoia and toxicity before I engaged her, then married her. I was so in love with her I overlooked the many little issues thinking all along it must be me and I would make it all better by trying harder. But soon after the wedding it got worse – routinely. About every 2 weeks there was some misunderstanding, or spat that she would never accept blame for & attack me for being loud, or getting mad at her kid, or using a bad word, etc. She refused to ever take my advice on family matters, or even hear me it seemed. I learned to avoid the conflict by backing off to let her have her way, but it caused more and more seething resentment within me, so every now and then, usually at the kids that were pushing buttons I would blow up at them. That would turn her against me even more, but typically we would kiss and make up great and all would seem o.k. for a couple of weeks or months & then wham! she would get riled up again at something I did not even know I had done wrong & I would go overboard apologizing and she would make demands on my time and take a week or two to get back to the kiss and make-up stage. A recent death in her family flipped a switch in her. After a few really great weeks when all seemed great her sibling died. I was there to comfort her as much as I could be, then she flipped a switch and ordered me away, never to come back to see her or talk to her. Week by week I begged and pleaded for her to let me see her and to attend counseling. I apologized over and over for this and that, but she never has once that I can recall apologized for anything and only barely accepted blame for our dying dreams. Finally after 8 weeks of this nightly begging from me and rarely getting a reply at all, she and I blew up via texts (the only form of communication she accepts) & I vented a lot that had been seething within me for our entire relationship. She announced she was filing papers and blocking me. She did not block me however, but I know her and expect to be served divorce papers any day. I have given and given in the marriage & dearly love her, quirks and all & would do nearly anything to save the marriage. But it seems to be a 1-sided marriage as scores of family and friends have told me. Maybe it is for the best to divorce and get on with our lives, but I know she will haunt me forever. I wanted to please her every day and had dreamed of making her happy each day for the rest of her life, but I realized finally – too late I guess that she is unwilling to be happy with me.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you have fought really hard to make this relationship work. I can hear how much you care about your wife. It would be no mistake that she chose you – your generosity, your warmth, your loyalty and commitment. I’m sure she has many good things about her as well, but that doesn’t make the relationship a good one for you. It sounds as though it has brought you a lot of pain. Listen to your friends and family and listen to what you now know. Toxic people find it difficult to be happy with anyone. It’s so important that you see it for what it is and don’t take it personally.

I really understand why it is so hard to let go and why it’s difficult to imagine moving on from her. Loving someone is like an addiction and moving on from someone you love is like a physical and emotional withdrawal – but the pain does end. Here is some information that might help you http://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. You deserve a relationship that nurtures you and a love that feels nourishing and mutual. You deserve to be happy. You will find that, but first you have to let go of that which is getting in the way of it finding its way to you. I wish you strength and courage and the love you deserve.

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Edward

Thank you for the advice and reply. As I guessed I got the decree to sign today. Begged her to reconsider but her terse response was simply “I’m not coming back.”

I tried everything I could but the worse part is that she literally did not shed a tear over it I can tell.

Well, I hope she finds who she’s looking for and I will always love her but will never see her again.

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Theonlyone

She is probably doing you a favor. When one door closes another one opens. You will probably meet some new women and realize you have been missing out on some great times. It is a new beginning.

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Isabelle

Question if anyone has an answer. I recently had another incident with a friend. He is a wonderful person until he isn’t. Gets in moods and in a subtle ways digs, insults my intelligence. Keep in mind it is all so subtle, as described in many above posts, that you get off the phone furious and scratching your head having had let it happen again.

This time I email him, probably the best letter I’ve ever written. It was to the point finally addressing exactly what he does and that I have his number and will not continue tolerating this behavior.

The same day I heard back from him telling me to “have a nice week”. Now a week or so later I get another email where he speaks briefly about what he is up to in general and also lets me know about a T.V. series I might like. That is it.

So what do you do when you’ve really addressed a situation and the person pretends the incident never happened and that you never addressed it?

Would appreciate any input on this. Thanks, Isabelle

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Brand

I am having difficulties dealing with a chain of unfortunate events in my relationship. My boyfriend is a survivor of abuse from his father – and has had a difficult time dealing with it. This past summer he cheated on me. I have taken him back under the conclusion that it was a horrible mistake and he was in a really bad place at the time. Although now I am feeling very insecure and insignificant. Before when he didn’t want to be intimate I would understand – now i take it personally and have a hard time being sympathetic to him. I have been in bad relationships and cheated on many times in my past as well and feel like i am spiraling. He turns to porn often and it never bothered me before but now it does – as i feel neglected and unwanted. I don’t know how to balance anymore and i find myself trying to control his every move. Help?

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Hey Sigmund

It is really understandable that you would feel insecure and insignificant if you have been cheated on. It’s an awful thing to have happen. What’s important is that this doesn’t change who you are. Difficult relationships can send anyone crazy. Relationships can heal through cheating but it’s also going to take full commitment from your boyfriend, and deliberate action on his part to support you in feeling secure again. That will take a while, and it will take effort and commitment. If it gets to the point where you are feeling bad more than you feel good, it might be time to really think about what you are getting out of the relationship. You deserve to feel loved.

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Latoya

I just met a female who acts JUST like this. I thought it was me and I tried to readjust and also tried to be understanding, but this article describes her. She moved on to try to run with my business too and call her it her own. I’m certain that she does this often and calls it something different each time.

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Haydee Cueto

I am on a toxic relationship right now,all what I read is really happening right now,all false accusation..I find it so stressful…and I want to say thank you for the indicate advice.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re very welcome Haydee. I hope it is able to give you the strength you need to do what is best for you and open your path to the love you deserve.

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Tushar

This is really true in my case everything has happened to me I had almost around 8 very close friends but I am left with only 2 of them .I don’t understand what I have done to them ,I feel like dying, I didn’t had any friends in my high school as they were very fake and I thought making some friends in college but now I realize being without friends is far better then getting cheated like this.
I thank this website as it made me realize how to make good friends and how to know who is a good or a bad friend.

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Hey Sigmund

Tushar, I’m sorry this has happened with you and your friends. Not everyone who comes into your life will deserves to stay. There are people who will be very grateful to have you in their lives. Please don’t give up on finding them. I’m pleased the information you have found here has been helpful for you.

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Andy Robbins

I’m a guy in the UK living with someone like this. Men suffer at the hands of toxic people also. Thanks for the article – it really helps

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Hey Sigmund

Yes, absolutely! Men suffer every bit as much as women when it comes to toxic people. I’m really pleased the article has been helpful for you.

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James

I just left a toxic relationship with a crazy woman. She demonstrated all of the traits above. She manipulated me to do everything for her and often she would use lies that I knew were lies but still accepted them to do some task for her. She was always hostile though and we could never finish a conversation or topic. She often called me derogatory names and often refered to me as them even when I requested for her to stop. She was not saying them as a term of endearment either. When I demonstrated resistance towards her such as refusing to do certain things due to past behavior she adapted and started coercing me by calling the police saying I was beating her. A few times they came and they did suggest I get of her and these were female officers. They saw I never hit her and they saw that she was a bit crazy and warned her each time about calling 911. The other tactic she would use is to conviently get a panic attack to the point that she goes to the hospital. When she gets there she began to act a little bit normal until I leave her side. A few times I would come back with them saying she went in a psychosis and they baker acted her. I felt sorry for her a lot of pity because she was seemingly helpless without me but she would still treat me terribly. It escalated to the point she started to attack me. First just some closed fist punching to my face on occasion (probably hurt her more than it hurt me to be honest but completely disrespectful) to her attacking with knives and throwing scalding water and some chemicals at me (Which really hurt and caused an eye injury and loss of sight) . Each of these incidents she either down played or made up a really bad excuse that’s laugable. But she just drew me in still I didn’t know how or why I just wanted to make her happy so she could be nice to me. But after self reflection and just thinking what I wanted for myself in life and how I wanted my life to be I decided that to achieve that I would have to cut loose this woman. It was hard as she really had no where to go and probably became homeless or is couch surfing other victims…. I felt that if I were to put her in that situation it was because I was not patient enough but in the end I had to tell myself that she is not my responsibility and if I stay with her it will not end well for either of us. Either she will: hurt/kill herself and have me go to jail, kill me and herself, have us both arrrsted, or at the very least make me lose my sanity. I gave her 90 days to find a place and leave and I cut my lease short. I drove off and left. She refused to leave eventually the police had to escort her out. I stopped talking to her after I left. It was a great decision as I got my life back on track to be where I want to be without her as a drain or distraction.

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Hey Sigmund

James, it sounds as though you have been through a really tough time. Without a doubt you have done the right thing by walking away from this person. I know that leaving a relationship isn’t easy, even if that relationship is a destructive one. Your warmth, openness and commitment to the relationship would be such strong qualities in a relationship with someone who deserved you, but it sounds as though they have been used against you in this one. There is no amount of patience, kindness or love that can change these type of people. They can change, but it’s unlikely that they will. I’m so pleased you have your life back now. You deserve to feel loved and cherished, and now that this toxic relationship is out of the way, the love you deserve can find you. I wish you all the very best as you move forward.

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Andrew

What can I say that is not already said I’ve been married to someone like this for 18 years, I love her endlessly but feel so… untouched

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Hey Sigmund

You deserve to feel so loved. If you don’t feel nourished by your relationship, and if you feel bad more than you feel good, it might be time to really explore what you are getting out of staying. I know how difficult this is when you feel love towards someone, but relationship when a relationship stop being two way, it can start to do damage. I wish you all the very pest.

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JohnQ Public

Stay. Even if you’re miserable. Why? Because if you DIVORCE… you invite a ton of lawyer sociopaths to first ask, “Where’s all the equity?”, then drain EVERY PENNY… regardless of facts, evidence, sanity, morality, honesty, law, ethics, and integrity. IT IS TRULY “CHEAPER TO KEEP HER AND GET WHAT YOU NEED ON THE SIDE.”

Trust me. Our “judicial system” is a con game, populated with predators who demand you call them “Your honor” as they LITERALLY wipe you clean, then have a steak dinner and brag about how important they have become.

ABOLISH “JUDICIAL IMMUNITY” by national referendum on the 2016 Presidential ballot would be THE ONLY lawful method for dealing with these swine.

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Sarah

Wow. All I can say is this: if this is your partner…they only need read this article. I have been hurt severely by my partner by other things (infidelity/lying) but the one described in this article is and has been me. It’s a very hard realization and I only hope there is some way to fix this negative Core problem 🙁

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Sarah

I will say this…for those of y’all who feel your partner is manipulative like the one pictured in this article- try printing this article off- share it- if I had found it sooner I might have been a better person to my spouse and possibly not driven him away in the first place by my own selfishness. My lack of showing him my best self instead giving what I thought was the real me (the real me was not what I offered family friends etc) the real me was a selfish tired crabby bitch. That’s not fair. But you can try till you are blue in the face- we have to come to realization for ourselves- but having help doing so might be what saves a person

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Hey Sigmund

Your insight is amazing. Thank you for sharing your story – you’ll never know how many people it might help. We are all a work in progress, but the real growth happens for all of us when we have some awareness around what we are doing. That’s not easy. It takes guts and a willingness to take a look at what we’re doing. But you’ve done it. The insight you have changes people and lives. You deserve happiness and love and I hope it finds it way right to you.

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Anonymous

My partner wouldn’t even take the time to read it. If he did, he would be so stubborn, like usual, he would turn it around and say I am this type of person……gosh, 8 years together and 3 children later, I never thought I would feel so alone.

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tara

My husband has all that…. I have been married for 9 years now.
Sometimes I just want to leave but our children love him, so I feel stuck with him.

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lipase

This all happens because of human nature plus the way parents raise (or don’t raise) their children. There should be more focus on encouraging people to either not have kids at all if they’re not the right sort of person or at least parents should be more encouraged to listen to information about raising a well rounded human being. I’m not saying this article is bad just there would be no need for it if the problem was tackled at it’s cause

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Patti

I only partly agree. We don’t know what causes some people to be toxic. My mother is a flaming narcissist who became worse with age. None of her 4 siblings are or were narcissists. Her mother was most definitely not toxic and I don’t believe her father was either. So who knows?
Toxic people have been around since the beginning of of time, and some of their children turn out to be well-adjusted people for some reason. Again, who knows how that happens.
I’d like to agree that those people shouldn’t procreate, but then I wouldn’t be here, and because my mother was toxic, I turned out to be a pretty good parent.

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Tracey Y.

My favorite one is the friend who hooks me with an invite and some general times or even a client and then when I respond with enthusiasm and some times either they shoot them down and then even worse.. go “off-line” and I’m left hanging… TODAY it just happened.. and I sent a message back: I’ll get back to you soon Lael, thanks so much for thinking of me ! after I had gone to my calendar and picked out a time to go for a walk that SHE approached me about and some times… that woke her up and she IM me back right away with “on the calendar”.. I will NOT have people put me on hold.. how rude.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes – so rude. It sounds as though you have a lot of clarity around what’s happening in this friendship. Sometimes people thing they are getting away with something, but when that process is named – ‘You invite me to these things and when I get back to you with times you leave me hanging and I’m not sure what’s happening. Of course I want to spend time with you but it makes it really hard for me to plan my day/week when there’s no word on what’s happening.’ – it makes it harder for them to get away with it. Perhaps you have tried this already, but if you haven’t it might be worth a shot. People do all sorts of things in relationships and friendships thinking that other people won’t notice or name it, but when you switch on the light, things sometimes change. You are completely right to want more from this than you are getting.

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Alexander

You will try to point out some behavior of theirs which hurts you or express how they made you feel, and they will point a finger at you; never willing to admit their faults.

E.g.
– Why are you talking to me in such an aggressive way?

– And how do you talk? Don’t you realise what you do? After every thing I have done for you… (The shit did nothing for anyone)

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Diane

totally agree…pretty soon you don’t say anything at all. Relationship is irreparably damaged

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Susanne

I have been married for 2 1/2 years to a man whom I love very much (ten years younger). His Brother who is much younger is like a son rather than brother to my husband. Their parents are both passed away. His brother is the same age as my oldest son. Anyways…the day we were engaged his brother started spreading rumors about me. we live in a small town where they grew up and I’ve been there for 5 years, which makes me an outsider with 10 strikes against me to begin with. He slandered me maliciously in front of their family and in front of my husband and me. I have had strangers in town tell me of things he was saying. I have had my husbands employees tell me what he was saying about me. We 3 always got along and i made sure his brother was never left out. I cleaned his house all the time to help out, feed the farm animals, everything for his brother. however it was like I was dating two men really. But when we were engaged everything changed! I was repeatedly told in front of others and my husband when i would call our home ours that “its not your home” to the day it hasn’t been my or our home. His hurtful words are imbedded. It gets worse….rumors of ” she is a bitch”, “a gold digging Bitch”, “I hate her she is nothing but stupid”. Even though before we got married our Pastor even had heard these rumors!! He counselled us about what to do and my husband believes his brother that nothing was said bad about me. he was lied to by his manipulative brother. So three years later my Husband and I have been seeing a marriage psychologist to help get out toxic marriage on track due to this one spoiled 25 year old brother. It hasn’t helped. Its made things worse for me. my BIL had already went to all their family and hard core made his point of hate to isolate me from any town functions and family functions. You may ask what does my husband do to help me through this? He blames me for not getting along with his family, he tells me his brother didn’t mean anything, he gets physically mad at me because I get angry when he makes excuses for his brothers toxic and harmful slandering. I have avoided his family functions, i have read ignorant texts between my husband and his brother about me. I’ve had enough trying to make a marriage work when obviously its my fault for everything.
I pay my own way, I have a great career. My family is very loving and close but I don’t live near them. His family just this weekend at a X-mas town dinner treated me like I was non existent. when my husband wasn’t around they said rude remarks and all chuckled. I moved to a table where my friend was sitting because I refuse to sit with them any longer. He was divided to sit with me or them. literally!! I told him I was ok being with my friends and him with his family. He decided to move the tables together so we all could visit. as soon as my husband went to the bathroom, they all glared at me and moved the table back and turned away and snickered about me cleaning the clogged men’s toilet as they all laughed. If it wasn’t for my friends hearing them he would of never believed me that happened and I would of been in trouble for not getting alone with them. His family also that night were slandering people they didn’t even know, calling unknown girls sluts and whores ect….it was embarrassing and disgusting to be associated with these people. But that is how this town treats outsiders…literally! My career is dealing with hard to handle people and I’ve used every skill to resolve and/or ignore this behavior for the sake of my new marriage. I need opinions on what to do. My husband wont move away from his family to be with me, but will not set boundaries either which keeps his family abusive towards me.

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Hey Sigmund

This sounds like an incredibly toxic situation to be in. A marriage is a partnership, and for a marriage to work, it takes both people to protect each other from outside forces that might undermine the relationship or the people in it. This isn’t happening, and it sounds like a lonely place to be sometimes. If he won’t set the boundaries with his family and insist that they treat you with respect and kindness, then it is for you to decide where those boundaries will be. When you say he gets ‘physically mad at you’, do you mean physically abusive? If so, you need to see that for what it is and do what you need to protect yourself. Your husband is failing to protect you and is exposing you to harm from his brother-in-law, his family, and if he is abusive, from himself. Is he prepared to change this, or is this what he expects for you? If this is the best he expects for you, it is up to you to decide to expect more for yourself. You sound warm, generous, loving and compassionate. you sound wonderful. You deserve someone who will act to protect that from those who would tear it down.

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Susanne

Thank you so much for your honest opinion and quick response!! I agree with you 100%. Even with all the counselling we did go through you have replied with actual thoughtful to the point statements! The Dr. we’ve seen doesn’t say anything beside the 5 horsemen when communicating. I appreciate constructive criticism. This past April 2015 my husband and I went for a drive to have a serious talk. I had read text messages between his brother and him putting me down and laughing at me. I was needless to say raged, hurt, disgusted, hurt again…done. (this was three days after seeing the Dr.) In the truck, I was driving, I sprung this on him. I questioned how he can do this to me with him. He was mad I caught him I guess. I was being disrespectful towards him and his brother defending myself and he had enough so he punched me in the mouth as I was driving to shut me up. I don’t believe in violence but it really is too bad he cant do that to his brother. Since that moment; I decided to never trust him again. As soon as he makes excuses for his brothers behavior and/or family I am defending myself. lonely? hell yes! . So now he insists we go back to the Dr for more therapy. He even said his brother was willing to go too. However I declined; and said the both of them to go because they are both effed up. Now guess whose blamed for not trying…ME…wow I just can never get a break. Its not one time being slandered and its been 3 years of trying to fix the unfixable.
I don’t believe my husband will ever choose me or change. He lies to me when he goes to family functions I don’t even know about. I don’t think he thinks sometimes but I am not his therapist or Mom to tell him when he is bad, lying, or hurtful. Im too old for that shit. lol I tossed around the idea of relocating to get away from this and my husband flat ass said he wont move away from his family because he needs them…knife in the heart and a reality check!! Not even an hour or 3 hours away!
I am well trained in human relations, behavioral studies and talk to him with the same approach I would give to anyone else… but my God that isn’t my purpose to being married. I have never actually been apart of such a hurtful, spiteful, jealous family before.
I’m also his second wife and he did tell me his first wife hated his family…. I hate to laugh at that but he tells me I hate his family too….I don’t blame her either for leaving (that marriage lasted 4 years) Actually I never hated his family….I was never given the chance to even get to know them…I just don’t like their behaviors and you are quite right…I DO DESERVE BETTER!
After I wrote to you, I did tell my family what was going on, not to take sides but because I never involved them, they never knew. I am not doing this alone anymore.
He doesn’t deserve me.
Thank you so very much! God bless You.
Susanne

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melissa

Susanne! All your training and experience in helping people, behavioral studies and human relations is useless if you cannot follow the sound advice anyone would give in this situation. If this was happening to a family member what would you tell them? First, it isn’t your fault because an abuser makes sure the victim slowly becomes used to the situation. Second leave then tell the police! Once you are out of this, it will shock you at how terribly you have been treated. Punching you in the mouth while you were driving? Are you kidding me? Are you just making this up? Leave him forever, there is NO hope and tell the police! There are NO excuses for that sort of treatment. There is no hope here. Leave in time for a kind Christmas with a family that loves you. You are in danger and too depressed to think clearly. Leave!!! NOW – tonight!

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susanne

Well it’s been hard and easier every day but I spent christmas seperated. I kicked him out of our house and he lives with his brother! I have realized and really thought this article I AM NOT THE CRAZY ONE. Twice he tried to come back home but when I asked if he understood why he wasn’t home? And his reply seemed more like his excuses…plus the damage is done and he had…..HAD a damn good wife…I will never trust him again. Nor his family.
I love my career…I go to work, and come home and can breathe! I see a psycologist who is helping me move on.
Life is too beautiful and too short to live this way.
Happy New Year! Thank you again.
Susanne

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JT

I love someone who is bipolar, these toxic traits seem to be synonymous with bipolar disorder. Am I correct to understand that people with this disorder, don’t have a choice? Even so, the toxic behavior still hurts and I’d like to find an appropriate outlet for my frustrations. Any suggestions? Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

Bipolar is a chemical imbalance that can often be controlled through medication. Sometimes it might take some experimentation to find which medication works the best, because not all work as effectively for all people. Toxic behaviours certainly aren’t synonymous with bipolar disorder and the chances of someone with bipolar disorder being toxic are the same as the chances of someone without bipolar being toxic. Toxic behaviours are personality traits and learned behaviours. I can hear how much the behaviour is hurting you. You can’t change a toxic person – that is completely their call, but someone who has bipolar disorder to the extent that the symptoms are interfering with life and relationships may find some relief in medication, but of course, this will also be his or her call. Living with toxic behaviour is hurtful whatever the cause. I hope that you are able to find strength and comfort moving forward.

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realist

Toxic behaviour can also be found in people who feel they are picture perfect.

Toxic behaviour can be found in lack of understanding regarding the lived experiences of others.

Toxic behaviour can be found in those who are only there for the buzz in life, but never seem to be there for all of it.

Change your understanding. Until then you will only be there for the party and wonder why ‘the toxic’ are angry with you.

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Dreamer

That is so true!
I really dislike it when people think that I’ll always be there for them, like I have nothing else to do. You know I am a very enthusiastic type of person and I really value my friendships but the people around me use that and when I show them that I don’t like that they get mad. And when I hang out with other people they get angry! But I don’t get angry when they hang out with other people! That’s insane. Also there was that guy who I used to like and I was helping him all the time. He never knew (at least from me) that I liked him. Now I don’t like him in that way at all – but we are good friends, but still, I feel like he kind of uses me. I don’t want others to use me. I am a strong independent woman, with many dreams and those vampire-ish people suck literally the blood out of me. I don’t want to lose them or get in fight, but I want to prove ’em that I am a human being and like everyone else I deserve to be respected. That is what I want – respect!

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Hey Sigmund

And you deserve it! Don’t stop expecting respect from the people around you. They’re lucky to have you and if they can’t figure that out, well …

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Billie

I feel like calling any fellow human being “toxic” should be on that list in how problematic it is in itself.

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Hey Sigmund

So what would you call someone who consistently manipulates, lies, cheats, controls, berates, abuses and contaminates someone’s self-esteem and self-concept? I’d say ‘toxic’ is putting it mildly. Suggesting that the targets of this behaviour are toxic for naming it as such is taking a swipe at the victims.

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Patti

Have to strongly disagree with Billie on this one.
Billie, you try dealing with my mother for a week and see who is toxic.
Please don’t act like you’ve walked in my shoes when they don’t even fit you.

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Vicky

I came very close to marrying a toxic person. We broke up 2 months before our wedding date. I loved him very much but when we broke up it felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I suddenly felt lighter. After years of his mind games, stonewalling me for days at a time following an argument, starting fights about nothing, denigrating the success of everyone around him, complaining about absolutely everything and overall refusal to seek any kind of joy in his life- it was an incredible shift to all of a sudden be free of that drama. I’ve been attempting to learn as much as I can about toxic people so that I never make the same mistake again. Thanks for writing this!

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Vicky! You are clearly strong and brave and it sounds as though you have too much insight now for it to happen again. Nothing teaches like experience!

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Anthony

This is an absolute incredible article! I am an addict in recovery and when I use I’m just about all these things. When Im not using drugs I am compassionate, caring, spiritual, and motivated. It is only until I surround myself with someone who is toxic that I start to absorb some of these defects. We all have them at times, lets be real. Not just people that are using drugs, It’s the people who AREN’T on drugs that act this way are the ones you need to be careful of!

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Hey Sigmund

Thanks Anthony! You’re absolutely right – we all can display some of these qualities some of the time. The key to living well and being emotionally responsible is being aware of your impact and trying to put things right when they stray a bit off track, which we all will from time to time. I hope you are able to stay strong and keep moving forward with your recovery. The world needs more people like you.

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Jenny

Thank god i looked at this website it’s made things a lot clearer as to what’s happening with my daughter. She never owns her bad behavior and twists things around denies she has said things. I always end up giving in to the situation because you cant reason with her. It’s exhausting and i feel like I’m treading on egg shells sometimes. She can be the best person ever and then just change like the wind. Thanks for the tips. Love her dearly but wil try not to fall into these traps. Have to be on guard at all times

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Jenny. It’s so difficult when these patterns come from your kids. It always good to know what to watch out for so you can step around them without being drawn into them. I’m so pleased this has cleared some things up for you.

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rob098

The manipulators are all around you-everywhere! They’ll act so sweet like they’re missing or thinking about you-when the only thing they’re really thinking about is there own desire to get something from you. Something tangible or a get away at your place, or information, or your friends/lovers, etc. – the list can go on and on. Bottom line is that they’re really only users. Once you open your eyes you can see their plan of action/manipulation clearly. They want what they want. If you don’t give in-they disappear-no embarrassment. They act like they were trying to do you a favor. (LOL) Any fool can see them for what they really are!

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Melz

Hey, I have been meaning to leave this particular person for good but everytime he seemed to agree for breakup, he ended up threatening me. What should i do?

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Hey Sigmund

Melz, this is a form of abuse and it’s really important that you get support, information and the resources to help you leave safely. I’m not sure what country you’re in, but find a domestic violence organisation near you, or in the country you are living in and they will be able to help you. If you are in Australia try http://www.domesticviolence.com.au/index.php, in the UK try http://domesticviolenceuk.org, and in the US try http://www.thehotline.org/help/. Hopefully one of these will be able to help you.

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sarah

I don’t agree with #7. I rather not reply to texts or fb messages because the relationship with my toxic person is they will always wait till they are gone to work and will start fights through text. It’s bad enough that my phone will blow up all night because their continuing to fight me through text,I don’t want to add kindling to the fire. I know avoidance isn’t what I should do but if it affords me a little peace,being that I know I sure won’t get any sleep over the attacks and my constant state of evaluating who I am and mind talk of not being good enough.

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Hey Sigmund

You are doing the right thing by avoiding the thing that the toxic person uses to draw you into the argument. It’s important to do what is right for you and your circumstances and if texts or Facebook messages are the hook that are being used to gain leverage over you or to manipulate you in any way, then you are absolutely right in avoiding them.

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Jessica

Everything in this article explains my ex perfectly. We have a child together which makes it even harder. I’ve always been convinced he has some sort of personality disorder along with being toxic and verbally and emotionally abusive. Trying to deal with someone like this is beyond difficult. He even blamed a marriage counselor for being on my side when we tried counseling. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that trying to be “friendly” with him for our son’s sake just doesn’t work. Unfortunately, I have had to make it almost like a business relationship. I sincerely hope these traits are not passed on to my son, he is only 3 and I already see some of the effects of his father’s behavior. This was nice to read and have some re-assurance that I’m not the crazy one!! Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Jessica. When the toxic person is an ex and the parent of your child, it makes things beyond difficult. You are certainly NOT the crazy one! The most important thing with your son is to let him see the better way to do things by watching you. All kids go through stages where they’re really difficult and testing the limits, but if you’re clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay, nurture the connection with your son, and model compassion, empathy and emotional responsibility, you will be able to push against the things your son might be seeing in his father. Keep doing what you’re doing – it sounds as though you’re dealing with the relationship really well.

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Lessons Learned

It’s taken 36 years to take me from the determined, self assured person who never wavered on values, morals or principles, confident in recalling conversations almost to a tee; to a person who was unsure on when my own birthday really was, even if I had the certificate in front of me; to suffering cronic pain for about 2-3 years and finally being at the end of my rope one day and typing this question into the Google search engin “Is Everythng My Fault” and within the first few hits was the answer “No, It Is Not All Your Fault” you are living with someone who has a personality disorder!
That was 3-4 years ago and I am still trying to plan my way out and every day reminding myself where I’ve come from, been and am headed.
I started sleeping in my little ones room last October and have now moved her and I to a upstaires bedroom. I have had a difficult time trying to unprogram the toxic reasoning in her mind only using examples of how others act and treat us as well as theire families at theire home or out in public to show that everyone should be treated with respect, fairness and kindness.
I take every opportunity to tell her if ever she is unsure that I am telling her the right things then she should go to one of the adults she trust at school and ask them what the right thing would be to do in that particular situation. Example (is watching tv, eating junk and ignoring your mother something they would do or encourage theire kids to do.
I’ve also had to bring it to her attention that if everyone in the house says God Bless You when you sneeze then they should also say God Bless You if Mommy sneezes.
The best advice I can give anyone dealing with this type of situation is under no circumstance do you ever Engage no matter what kind of bait they use, walk away don’t respond or reply.
If your responsible for anyone else make sure it’s clear you are not ignoring or being rude to the other person you are only exercising your right to be treated with dignity, respect and kindness and you will not allow someone to treat you in any other manner.
Do onto others as you would have them do unto you!

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Hey Sigmund

Yes this is great advice – ‘Don’t engage’. Toxic people will deliberately misquote you, take your words out of context, lie and twist your words to prove their point. You will never be able to bring compassion and understanding to someone who is only interested in being right. I’m so pleased you have the insight you have on this and hope you are able to keep moving forward. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Linda

I just recently began dating this guy who seem to be really nice. We were a month and a half into a relationship when he contacted me via e-mail about a special gala event. He said he had purchased tickets for the event that was scheduled for both Friday and Saturday and invited me to attend both days. I was not feeling well because of an acute eye irritation, so I could not read the attached information about the dates, times, and other event information. Therefore, I replied to his e-mail informing him that I was not well, but would take the next day off in order to rest up and read the attached information and get back with him on that same day. I followed through with my promise, letting him know that I would not attend Friday but Saturday’s event only. However, he immediately sent me an e-mail saying HE would attend the gala event on Friday, but WE would not attend the Saturday event together because he had given away the tickets. He said when I stated I was not feeling well, he thought I was not interested thus gave the tickets away. Then he said, “I feel you are being gracious, but, I am impeding upon your time. If that be the case, I am a big boy and will back off.” I was confused with his actions and texted him. He said he was with family and would get back with me, but never did. Then I attempted to contact him via phone call, but he would not answer. I just keep wondering over and over what did I do wrong? Why did he assume that I wasn’t planning to attend the event? Why did he go offline?

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Hey Sigmund

He has told you why he has pulled away from you, ‘I feel you are being gracious … I am impeding on your time … I… will back off.’ He has taken your response to him as a gentle brush off. He bought tickets and was probably excited, thinking he was doing something special for you. Rightly or wrongly, he was probably expecting you to feel the same. Your response may have sounded to him like a brush off. It’s impossible to say exactly how he felt about your initial email, but he may have been confused about why you weren’t excited or appreciative (and I’m not suggesting you should have necessarily done anything differently – I don’t know enough of the details to comment). I don’t know, but the message that is coming through very clearly in his response to you is that he felt as though you weren’t that into him. It was only a month and a half and it sounds as though he may have misread you, but was reluctant to put himself out there for clarification at the risk of being hurt.

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Linda

Thank you for your reply and your insight. Yes, he definitely misread me and I actually sent an e-mail to him apologizing for any confusion and explaining to him that he was not imposing upon my time and that I enjoyed being with him. However, he never replied. I felt as if he should have contacted me before giving the tickets away instead of assuming that I was not interested. He describes himself as one who “wears his feelings on his sleeves”, but I am not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing. So for future reference, is it good to date a guy who wears his feelings on his sleeve, or can that be a sign for toxic behavior? Also, when someone does not return phone calls or texts, although they say they will, is that a sign of toxic behavior as well? I actually prepared for the gala so, I do not want to go through something like this again if it is toxic behavior. Thanks for your advice.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes, I agree – he should have contacted you before he gave away the tickets. You did deserve a response.

About your question, it depends what he means by being someone who ‘wears his feelings on his sleeves’. For me, it means someone who is open and generous and responsive. I love people like that. You never have to guess what they are feeling, they are often communicative and responsive and emotionally giving. That’s how I interpret that phrase, so it’s definitely not a sign of toxic behaviour. In this instance, wearing his heart on his sleeves isn’t the problem and if he had done that, you would know what he was feeling because he would have told you. The problem is not that he felt what he felt, but that he ignored you and wasn’t prepared to have the conversation. He may be someone who runs from conflict or difficult feelings, or who is scared of being hurt and so finds it easier to walk away – I don’t know, it’s impossible to say what was motivating his behaviour. None of this is necessarily toxic, but he has shown you that he is not prepared to engage on difficult issues which can be problematic for a future relationship. Of course, you can work on this but it has to be something you work on together.

Similarly, with not returning phone calls, texts etc. This isn’t necessarily toxic but if it’s used consistently to control you, the relationship, avoid accountability or keep you guessing it can be a problem. The other clue is the way people when you let them know they are doing something that is hurting you. If they are prepared to listen to you and work on the issue that’s a great thing, but if they know how much it hurts you and they keep doing it anyway, you would have to wonder what they are getting out of that. It also depends on when you’re sending texts and how many. Sometimes it’s just not possible to return phone calls and texts. It really depends on context and intention.

Toxic behaviour is anything done by someone that has the potential to contaminate the way you feel about yourself or the way you see yourself. It is behaviour that is controlling, manipulative, judgemental. We have a responsibility to make sure that we protect ourselves from that sort of behaviour by walking away when we can, but it’s not always possible to walk away from relationships.

I wouldn’t call this man toxic just from what you have said, but it would be very difficult to have a relationship with someone who won’t talk to when he is hurt and deals with disappointment through avoidance. I hope this clears things up a little. If he isn’t prepared to engage with you on difficult issues, he may have done you a favour by walking away.

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JS

What do you do if you love a toxic person? I’m a (former) people pleasure and the second I got a life of my own, starting living my dream my toxic friend went off on me and brought up yeaaaars of complaints about me. I did everything for her, was always there for her minus the past 6 months where I was there for her still, I just had healthier boundaries. Your article makes me feel more sane I’m clear the relationship is/was unhealthy. When I think of her I feel sick to my stomach but I still miss her and love her dearly. What to do? Also. I am so afraid of running into her and her husband and them inviting me to dinner like nothing happened. Now that I’m on the other side of the abuse I don’t want to get involved. How can be decline without causing a scene but not lying. And saying ” sure!” And never making a date. I desperately need insight the ants I feel around this is affecting every aspect of my life.

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Hey Sigmund

You might love a toxic person, but that doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Also, if the relationship has been this hurtful for you, are you in love with the person, or the idea of loving her? Remind yourself of the things in the relationship that were bad for you and let go. If she is married to someone else and she has had the effect on you that she has had, there is nothing good for you there. If you don’t want to get involved, then don’t. Calmly and politely decline. You don’t have to step up to everything you’re called to. ‘Thanks, that’s really nice of of you but I think it’s best if we leave things as they are.’ If your ‘no’ is met with a scene, walk away or hang up the phone. It is part of the manipulation and the attempt to control you. Just walk away. There is nothing for you there. I understand that you love her, but you have to love yourself more and that means deciding not to expose yourself something you know will hurt you. Be strong and be kind to yourself.

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Bonnie

Thank you so much for this article! It has been so enlightening. I’ve realized things about myself and others and can’t thank you enough for it!

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Tracy M.

I have a very toxic mother that I believe has a personality or mental disorder of some kind. She’s very tiring and hard to be around, my anxiety soars when I am and for days after I have to try and calm down. Then when not hearing from me for a couple days because of it, I get the “Are you ok? Did I make you mad? What did I do?” email. I believe she knows what she’s done and loves doing it but of course, if confronted, will play the victim. I’ve dealt with her all my life. I don’t think I can anymore, she has worn me out mentally. She has made me into a person that has low self esteem and confidence and I hate her for it. But of course she does no wrong. It would be all my fault. She’s perfect.

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Hey Sigmund

Tracy, this is really typical toxic behaviour. It’s so difficult when it is from a mother who is meant to love you. It’s also difficult because when it is from someone you should be able to trust, it’s easy to be drawn into believing the behaviour, and that you deserve to feel the way you do. You don’t deserve this. You deserve so much more than this and I completely understand why you are exhausted. See her behaviour for what it is – a sign of her dysfunction, NOT yours. I hope you are able to open up to this and find a way to reclaim your self esteem and confidence and see yourself for the woman you are, deserving of love and respect. You deserve that, you really do.

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LW

Thank you for this – just this morning I had an encounter with my mother, who is a toxic person. We live 15 miles apart, which I know isn’t much, but she expects me to constantly drop my life and drive back and forth to her to sort out things for her I don’t need to be involved in. When I tell her no (which happened this morning) she guilts me and makes me feel like a bad person.

It’s just tough because I love her very, very much and I hate when this happens. I very much just want to make her happy and be a good daughter. And she knows how to make me feel bad or what to say to get me to do what she wants. I wish we had a better relationship. I hate feeling like i’m the bad person even though I know i’m not.

I could definitely identify with this article and will remember it for the next time this happens with her. I’ll try to be stronger. So, thank you for this.

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Hey Sigmund

It’s so difficult when the person who is hurting you is a parent. Know that you are NOT a bad person. You sound like someone who is loving and kind and with a generous heart. I wish she could see how fortunate she was to have you as her daughter. The way your mother treats you is about who she is, not about who you are. Keep the article close to you as a reminder. Who you are is more than enough – so much more than enough – and you don’t have to be anything else.

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Alice

Hi
I am not sure if this thread is still live, but if so I would welcome your advice.
I have been married for 2.5 years. Everyone told me not to marry him, but I absolutely feel head over heels in love and think I became obsessed with him. I had been married before, for 12 years, and it was a completely loveless marriage. I had a terrible mental breakdown as a result of my first marriage and during my legal separation from my first husband, this new man came into my life and wooed me and we were married 9 months later. When I met my current husband, who was charming and fun to be with, I fell hook line and sinker. The excitement of being in love and of feeling loved made my panic attacks and depression subside. In the early days while we were dating, he was amazing to me. He told me how much he loved me all the time, bought me flowers and made me feel like a princess. I paid off some of his debts and gave him a nice lifestyle – he came from nothing. This was not a problem to me as I am a giving person and loved seeing him so happy. However, we then started a business which sent pop and since then our marriage has been extremely stressful – we’ve had financial problems and ongoing problems with my family’s rejection of him. However I have kept going – despite him often being angry and secretive. Then, four weeks ago, he sent me a text blaming me for things I hadn’t done and said he was leaving. He gave me no opportunity for 4 days to speak to him and I nearly went out of my mind. He then answered the phone and told me he had needed space to clear his head. He has left me with all the bills and whilst I know which county he’s in, I’m not allowed to know his exact address. He met up with me two weeks ago, after I begged. It was a lovely weekend. But he made it clear he still needed time on his own. He called me Friday saying he wanted to take me away soon and had a surprise planned and that he wanted to see me this weekend. Then, yesterday, a few hours before we were to meet, he sent a horrid text blaming me again for things I haven’t done which he has misunderstood. I called and texted frantically, begging him to speak to me so I could explain myself. He just texted back saying he wouldn’t meet me. I’ve been in bits all weekend. Crying, unable to eat and having horrendous panic attacks. He is completely ignoring me now. I am in bits and don’t know what to do. I am living hour by hour. I would love your advice.

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Hey Sigmund

Alice, this is an awful thing for you to be going through. In any relationship, both people need to be accountable to each other with their whereabouts and what they are doing (unless there is domestic violence involved of course). For one person to trust another, each needs to act in a trustworthy way. This isn’t happening for you, which is a betrayal of you and your relationship. ‘Needing space’ is absolutely no reason to disappear and go offline. It’s excruciating for the one left behind and anyone who has been in your situation would know how frightening and confusing it is not to know where the person you love is, whether they are safe and what it all means for your relationship. It’s a cruel thing to do. It’s okay to take space the relationship, but this needs to be done on terms that are acceptable to both. Your husband is controlling the relationship and showing no thought or concern for you. There are so many things that could be going on for him, so it’s impossible to say what is motivating his behaviour. It may be that he is at his wit’s end and desperate to figure things out, but there are other ways to do that than disappearing for days on end. As well as that, he has blamed you for what he is doing without giving you a right of response.

First of all, you need to deal with the practical things. If he has left you with bills, and if there is a chance he will be ending the relationship and not coming back, you need to secure your finances. Make sure that the money in any joint accounts or lines of credit are secure so he isn’t able to drain them and leave you with nothing. This is important.

Next, stop trying to contact him. He knows where you are and how to contact you and every time you try, it is hurting you more. Take back your ground and your strength and decide that he is not going to determine how this relationship plays out. Leave a message that you love him and that at the moment you are prepared to listen, but that you are going to start protecting yourself. Let him know that he is damaging the fibre of your relationship and hurting you and that you aren’t going to keep leaving yourself open to this. When he is ready to sit down with you and talk, let him know you are open to this, but in the meantime, make the decision that you want more from him than he is giving you.

He also needs to provide you an explanation of what he has been doing and where he has been staying. He needs to understand that this isn’t a free pass to do whatever he wants. If he isn’t prepared to do this, and if he is prepared to keep hurting you like this, what is in this relationship for you? One of the most hurtful things you can do is to keep hanging on to something that is trying to let go of you. You deserve better than this. I know at the moment you are heartbroken, of course you are, but you are strong and brave and wonderful and you deserve to feel loved. Whatever is going on for your husband, nothing can excuse or explain the hurt he is inflicting on you. Be open to him coming and talking to you and wanting to resurrect things if you want to, but let that be on your terms, starting with a time limit and an explanation of what is happening and that he stops playing this game – and it is a game – of hide and seek. It’s cruel and disrespectful and you deserve so much more than that. I wish you all the very best. Love and strength to you. You will get through this.

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Heather

Great article! I wonder if the people who have suffered the most from such unkind people would be polled, how many of them were youngest in the family and or abused in some way growing up. I think that people who are cruel seem to for some reason be attracted to tender, gentle and emotionally wounded people. It seems like the old adage “opposites attract” is true, but the toxic person has the ultimate goal of dominating the gentle/sensitive & kind hearted person. I know for years I have seemed in the past to attract such cruel people who go out of their way to devastate your life. I always wondered how they can wake up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror when they have so cruelly treated another person.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes Heather – you’re spot on. Toxic people are often drawn to open, warm, giving people. By doing this, toxic people get what they need and leave too many beautiful people broken. Their behaviour is so baffling and impossible to understand to non-toxic people, because they do with such ease the things we would never dream of. This is why it’s so important to be aware of them and what they do because they will often not show themselves until it’s too late. If only they came with a warning!

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Jenni

Thank you for this. I have always thought there was something wrong with ME that (as my father said) “I always seemed to want to bring home the waifs and strays”… To realise that perhaps they were choosing ME as the easy target because I actually had some desirable character traits rather than because I’m a total loser, makes me feel just a little better about some of my past mistakes. 😀

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Hey Sigmund

Jenni – You are NOT a loser! Toxic people will always be drawn to people who have open, warm hearts and generous spirits – wonderful people who shine light on the world. You don’t want to be different to that. If toxic people are being drawn to you and hurting you, you don’t need to change who you are but you might want to tighten your boundary, but that will always be your decision to make. Having a firm boundary isn’t about being any less open or kind or loving to others, but about being more of those things to yourself. A boundary is about being clear about what you will tolerate and what you won’t, and withdrawing yourself from a relationship with love and strength when the other person shows a willingness to hurt you. Feel better about your past mistakes – they would have taught a lot. There is wisdom that comes from experience that can not be found anywhere else.

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Gayle

Wow this has helped me tremendously thank you I have been experiencing this my whole life and have always felt like I wasn’t good enough or could never be good enough.

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M. Diaz

I’m thinking my daughter is the toxic one, many of your 12 items describe her to a T, she can never seem to develop and keep a friendship… I have several friends and even if we don’t see or speak to each other for months, when we do finally get together we pick right where we left off. My daughter has cut off her entire family, mother, father, sister is dead to her… We use to be such great friends to each other. I see one denominator here her….How do I fix this?!

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Hey Sigmund

One of the hardest things about loving a toxic person is that there is nothing you can do to change them. They can change, but it has to come from them – when they are ready, and when they are committed to doing something differently. People generally change when they feel enough pain, or when the benefits of being the way they are cost too much to them. Let her know that you love her, that you miss her, and that when she is ready to reconnect with you, you will be there. Make it easy for her to come back to you. Still have your boundaries around what you will accept and what you won’t, but let her know that you will be there when she is ready. In the meantime, be patient. This is her growth to do and her lessons to learn. I know that can be painful to watch when it’s your daughter, but hopefully in time she will remember what you had and will seek that out again.

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Skye

Thank you for all the advice, but there is still one thing – that “toxic” person I’m facing is my father. Always telling me what should I do and whatnot even though I know deep inside me that he wants what’s best. Unfortunately, he fits into most of the criteria above and I don’t want to shut him out. Please, what should I do? Almost everytime I want to do the things I love he stops me, saying that I should do it another way or ripping any confidence I have in shreds. And now, all I can do is sob like a pathetic little girl with no clue what to do to go on. Can you help?

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Hey Sigmund

Skye I really understand how hard it is when the toxic person is a parent or someone who feels difficult to walk away from. See if there is something in this article that will be helpful for you http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-parent/ . There is NOTHING pathetic about you! This is something that happens to so many people who have toxic parents. You are not alone. There are so many people who would understand exactly what you are going through because they are going through it too. The strength it takes to be able to live with this toxic behaviour is immense. I want you to know how much you matter – your thoughts, your opinions, your choices and the way you want to live your life. They all matter. When you grow up with a toxic person, it becomes so easy to doubt yourself, but I hope the information here is able to give you another way of thinking about things – that what your father does is his dysfunction, not yours. I hope you are able to get some comfort and strength from the article. Be courageous and kind to yourself. You’re so important.

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Sido

Thanks dear reading I feel good there are r many wicked people on this earth show off they’ are best great ect as they r sick in there minds. Few people who have hurt me. Now that I am old I hve one in my family who does it I leave to my GOD . Thanks

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John

Recently, I made a mistake and my friend was deeply affected. It’s been two weeks since then. I’ve kept explaining myself and saying how I was wrong and how I am sorry for that mistake that I have done. I don’t know how she’s taking this but for me, everyday is painful knowing that I did something wrong to lose her. I don’t know what to do to get her back. I know my statements might sound biased to me since I really don’t know how she’s taking this and how she’s feeling since we haven’t really talked about it seriously but should I just move on with my life without her even though I want to get her back? Is she someone toxic and not worthy to look back upon?

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Hey Sigmund

John I can hear how sincere and confused you are about this. We all make mistakes and you sound deeply sorry for yours. I can hear how much feeling disconnected from your friend is hurting her. None of this means that she is toxic. She sounds as though she is feeling really hurt and confused, and is taking some time to figure things out and understand what has happened in a way that makes sense for her. Give her some time and keep reinforcing how sorry you are and how much you care about her. Depending on the circumstances around the mistake, she may need reassurance that it won’t happen again. Are you able to give her that? What will be different in future to make sure it doesn’t happen again? If she has been as hurt as she has been, she is likely to have a protective wall up. It will take time to work through this and lots of comfort and reassurance of how things will be different in the future. She may need time to trust you again, which is really normal and doesn’t mean the end of a relationship. It’s a bump in the road and hopefully give your generous intent and the regret you have around it, in time you will be able to give her the comfort she needs to see that you care deeply about her and would not risk losing her again.

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Hey Sigmund

Maryellen there is print function that will let you print out a copy of the article without the comments. On a laptop you’ll see the share buttons at the right hand side – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc. The green one at the bottom is to print the article. On an iPad or a phone, down the bottom you’ll see ‘Share This’ on a grey bar. If you press that the share functions will come up and the green one at the bottom is the printer one. Hope that helps.

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Sheila

I have recently been through the death of my mother and since then our family has seen great strife. I know I have alienated myself since her death and I am only talking to one sibling out of the three I have. My mother showed great favoritism to my youngest sister and my brother. She always tried to turn us against one another. I have a daughter that has become close to one of my siblings and she did not attend my mother’s funeral, yet that sibling is in charge of family pictures that I would like to have copies of. My daughter that is close with her refuses to speak with me because I said ugly things to her and exposed her hateful email about my sister in law to said sister in law. I am so tired of this family strife. It has went on forever. I want to apologize for any transgressions that I might have made. Do I do this to the whole family or separately to the siblings and my daughter that has estranged herself from me?

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though your family has been through a tough time, with relationships splintering all over the place. If you are looking to apologise for your part in that, it will be felt as being more sincere and genuine if it is to individuals separately, one at a time. I expect that every relationship will have different dynamics and issues that have stood in the way and the best way to apologise is always to acknowledge those issues. Whether or not your apology is received with grace and generosity will depend on a number of things, including the people you are apologising to, the history and the depth of the division. Remember that you can only to what you can do, and then it will be up to the other person. Apologising for your part is a strong, brave place to start and I hope your siblings and your daughter are able to see your generosity of spirit and your deep wish to heal the broken relationships.

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lily

excellent article. I searched for it to confirm my thoughts, and indeed, my sister fits in all the criteria. I am sad and quite devastated as I confirm it. I would have walked away from her completely but that would have meant not seeing my nephews ever grow up while denying them the only aunt they have. So there is no way out I guess. Toxic people in the family is a different issue than toxic people elsewhere in life. She won’t listen to any attempt of any kind to defend myself from her aggressivity, let alone to make her change her ways. It is devastating and our parents and her children suffer as well. She has become a tyrant, a dragon. If any of you have any advice I’ll be thankful.

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Hey Sigmund

Lily you are so right. Toxic family relationships are so different to any other because they are so difficult to walk away from. In your case, it’s completely understandable why you can’t walk away if it means losing your nephews as well. The main thing is to remember why you are continuing in the relationship with her – for your nephews. You can’t change her, but you can reduce your expectations of the relationship to being one that sustains your relationship with your nephews. It is also important to let go of the hope that it might be different. To hang on to the fantasy that she will change will set you up for more hurt every time, but it sounds as though you already know that. Healthy relationships always have to move in both directions – them to you and you to them. When one person isn’t capable of kindness, love or grace in the relationship there will always be a fracturing. Here are some articles that might help you
>> Relationships: When Family (or Any Relationship) Hurts http://www.heysigmund.com/relationships-when-family-hurts/
>> Toxic People – 16 Practical, Powerful Ways to Deal With Them http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-16-practical-powerful-ways-to-deal-with-them/
I hope this helps. Your nephews are lucky to have you.

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Bobs your uncle

Actually these kind of people are diagnosised as “anti-social personality” or the less politically correct term is “Psychopath.” It is a much more common state than most people think. There really isn’t much you can do with them as they have no empathy for the world around them. Best is to keep you distance.

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CatHedder

great article. My daughter-in-law has all these characteristics. She twists everything I do with my grandson into something negative and takes away enjoyment when I spend time with him. This affects my relationship with my son as well, as he is forced into “keeping peace”. Compounding this is that her mother acts the same way she does towards me.

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Hey Sigmund

This is such a tough situation. Your son is in a really difficult position because as you say, he does have to ‘keep the peace’. However much he loves you and wants to support you, it’s likely that home could get miserable very fast if he doesn’t support his wife. It must be really difficult for him. Try to keep in mind why he’s doing what he does – it likely has nothing to do how much he loves you as his mother and everything to do with preserving the peace at home and his relationship with his wife. I’m sure he wishes it could be different. You sound like a wonderful grandmother and a wonderful mother – that’s the truth of it. Stay strong to that and try not to let your daughter-in-law contaminate the important relationships you have with your son and your grandson. She will try – it sounds as though she has learned well. Every time you compromise or stay silent in relation to your daughter-in-law, feel empowered, strong in the knowledge that you are not doing it for her, but for your son and your grandson.

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Jaya

I loved this article. I had no idea everyone had one such toxic character…it has been so downright humiliating and painful to deal with this person and until I read this article it really seemed like my fault and that I was not good enough. I have no idea why I even crave for approval from this one person when hundred others who give it to me without asking…There is something we do to help this toxic people grow at our cost.

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Hey Sigmund

Toxic people often work by making you chase their approval. They have an awful way of turning things around to make it seem as though you are the one compromising the relationship, so you keep bending and flexing to try to put things right. If nothing you do works with them, and if your other relationships are healthy, then the problem lies with them, not you. You will likely never get this person’s approval because it’s by withholding approval that he or she gets to control the relationship. Toxic people can only grow when they decide they are ready. In the meantime, they will keep you thinking that there is something you can do to help them, but the truth is, there’s isn’t.

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Mary

Sounds like everyone in the world has some “toxic” traits. If we would teach the “golden rule” instead of always “looking out for # one”, the world would be a much more peaceful, safer one.

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Kiersten Castellano

I am thankful to read this and know that what I was experiencing was very real and that I wasn’t going “outta my mind”crazy thinking it was me. I truly loved and trusted again…and married the very man who is now the one I am running from…the subtly of the behavior is clearly outlined in this article and my eyes are wide open now.

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Hey Sigmund

You sound really clear and certainly not crazy! I’m pleased your eyes are open and I hope you are able to keep moving forward with the courage and strength that is so obviously in you.

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Kiersten Castellano

You are a true blessing and touch many peoples lives with your wisdom and discernment… God Bless you….

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J. Smith

I really needed this article to erasure that I am not insane or crazy. So thank you. But now how to approach the boyfriend (my toxic person) when we are 8 months pregnant (my first his 3rd) I have learned to just keep my mouth shut due to every thing is turned back on me for my past wrongs when we meet. This stress is causing pre labor. Not to mention his controlling ness. My heart is broken and I am so lost. This article was awesome but I still am so lost on how to approach him. It’s better to keep quit and let him be how he is. I can’t take it any more.

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Hey Sigmund

This is such a difficult situation. He has shown you clearly how he will respond to you. This isn’t likely to change if you try to approach him one more time. It is all about control and if he has a handle on any mistakes you have made (and we all make them – even him!) he will use them to control you. He has shown you that his love is stingy and self-serving. You are NOT insane! This is such typical behaviour of toxic people, so you are truly not alone, even though it might feel that way. There are so many people who would understand what you are going through and how stuck you feel. If he isn’t prepared to change, be wary of the damage that staying with him will do to you as a mother and to the little person who is about to come into this relationship. And know that if you have fought for the relationship all you can, and tried everything to make it better, it is always okay to leave. Love that little person when he or she arrives. You will be their everything, as I’m sure they will be yours.

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Jack

I’m going through a divorce. I’ve struggled to explain why I had to leave, I couldn’t put it into words, I just knew I had to get out.

With this article, it explains exactly why I was miserable and had to leave.

I was being manipulated for years and had no idea. I was (am?) in love with a toxic person. I would sacrifice everything; family, friends, my career, my happiness in order to please her, and it was never, ever enough.

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Hey Sigmund

With toxic people, you can give everything you have and it will never be enough. Their toxicity can be so subtly destructive that it can be difficult to put into words. It is a great measure of your strength and courage that you were able to recognise what was right for you, and act on it.

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PJ

Please I need help with figuring out how to fix a problem that I have caused with my mom. For a long time I have talked bad about my mom and I don’t know how to fix it. She wants me to stay away from her until I have a plan to make up for the gift I have caused her. Please help me!

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you are really trying to take responsibility for whatever you have done that has hurt your mom. That takes guts. Do you know what she needs from you? Perhaps a better way to think about this is what you done and how have you cost her? Then, you need to think about how you can restore that. If it is trust, let her know how you will be trustworthy. If you have hurt her, how will you start to put things right? If you have spoken badly about her, do you need to set the record straight with certain people? Acknowledge the things you have done that have hurt her and whatever you do, stay away from explaining why you have done them – it will likely just sound like an excuse. It is also important that you let her know what you appreciate about her.

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Lisa Philip

It is a terrible thing, but there seems to be many people like that today. How very, very sad. My lovely daughter is getting treated like this, and it breaks my heart, to think these are supposed to be her friends. Why do some people go out of their way to be like this, when it takes less effort to be kind and considerate???

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Hey Sigmund

It’s heartbreaking to see someone you love being hurt by people around them. Toxic people have an unfathomable need for control and a complete lack of empathy. It is not at all unusual for toxic people to choose people with big, open, generous hearts because they are ones who will work hardest for the relationship. It is your beautiful daughter’s growth to realise, as hard as it is, that some people are just cruel and no amount of flexing and effort will make them deserving of her. In the meantime, keep lifting her up to help replenish in her what their toxicity takes out. She will eventually realise that she deserves so much more than what they are capable of giving.

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Jessica

Ok, I love this article for one. It has really helped me asses what is going on in my current relationship. We will be talking about something and it could be happy and then he will say something like “you don’t want to fall in love with a guy like me, I’m bad, I’m a slut”. So my response is what do you mean you are bad? Have you cheated on me? Have you thought about it. Then he will say no and say that he knows I have. What! makes no sense as to how this conversation just happened when we were just expressing how into each other we both are. Talk about whip lash. Then making fun of me for having children or my area of residence yet it is a nice place (those are his words). And when I ask if he would like to go out or come over or even end the conversation with a good night I get back “maybe”….. Maybe…… What the heck is this maybe about? Leaves me very confused and yes I know I am an easy target and I am working on that, I know I need to stick up for myself and stop tolerating these types of behavior but it does take time. I see the signs but I don’t know how to get out. I want to know, why do these “toxic” people do these things? What are they looking to get out of it? If I am not enough then why do you try? If I have kids and you don’t want someone with kids then why didn’t you say so from the start? If you don’t like where I live because you are a spoiled brat who thinks everyone should and is expected to live the high life and I am not at that point in my life yet (but have been working on it, but these things take time) then why are you with me? If I do not meet a person’s standard(s), then what is it that this person wants from me? Why act like you care and then 2 seconds later turn around and not care? Or talking to other women out of the blue? What is the point of keeping someone insecure and then telling them you don’t like that they are insecure? Ummmm…. you make me that way! This is where it is so frustrating. I don’t understand why? And then there is the almighty question to follow…… I am aware of this but yet why is it so hard to walk away? I know the bad parts and I hate the way I feel yet I chose to stay. Why? I know I have a hard time losing people I care about, but when he makes me feel this way why do I even care? Thank you for reading, I look forward to your reply. I am not the greatest at writing or explaining things.

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Hey Sigmund

Jessica, your words make perfect sense. You have explained this person’s toxic behaviour really clearly. I know how confusing it is to be with someone like this if you are someone who has a kind, open, warm heart. The reason toxic people do this is to keep other people small and manageable. It all comes down to control. Toxic people know that when they chip away enough, they can reduce people to the point where they are a shadow of their previous selves. Their strength is less, their independence is less and they try even harder to make the relationship work. Be so careful with this relationship. The longer you stay with a toxic person, the more they will reduce you, the greater control they will have and the harder it is to stay. If it doesn’t feel like love, it’s not. If it feels bad more than it feels good, then it’s bad. You deserve someone who will love the beautiful, warm, open person you are, not someone who keeps making small-hearted remarks that confuse or hurt you.

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Katey

I think I might be toxic. Is it possible to have isolated toxicity? I have great relationships with friends and family, but I have been struggling with my spouse for years. My husband gives me everything I could want and I am not satisfied/content/happy. On paper, I should be. Does this mean I am toxic? I don’t want to be this way. What is it about my husband (and what is it about me) that brings out this dynamic?

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Hey Sigmund

Katey this sounds like more of a problem in your relationship, but as for what, this is something that only you can answer. You say he gives you everything, and he might do exactly this, but there is something in the relationship that you need that you’re not getting. There are plenty of people who, on paper look wonderful and are wonderful, but that doesn’t mean they are wonderful for us. It is about the combination of the both of you. If you could change anything about the relationship what would it be? What are you missing? This will be the key. Don’t get caught up with what you ‘should’ be feeling. If being a good person was enough for a relationship, we would be falling in love all over the place. It is about shared history, a shared view of the world, the connection, needs and wants that are compatible – these things aren’t necessarily automatic in a relationship, even if the person is an amazing one.

The other thing to try that can be really helpful is to each night write 3 things that you are grateful about in relation to your husband. Keep doing this and see what happens. Research has found that this can bring relationships closer together.

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Deepa

Even a person with whom I m in relationship is same like this.. Fits all these points but I love him so much b not able to leave n avoid. I feel he is avoiding.. I m confused don’t know what to do.. Help me

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Hey Sigmund

If the relationship feels bad, then it’s bad for you. There is no way to ‘fix’ someone or to make a toxic relationship a healthy one. It’s not that you can’t leave, it’s that you won’t. Relationships can be like an addiction – they activate the same brain networks so the thought of leaving someone, even if they are bad for you, can feel like withdrawal from an addiction. This can make it feel like love, but the truth is that love is nurturing and nourishing, not painful or diminishing. Leaving any relationship is difficult and painful, but so is staying in a bad one. The difference is that the pain of letting go of a bad one will eventually end.

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Andrea

I was friendly with a neighbor who is a toxic person. All throughout the friendship, I felt there was something not quite right about this person and as time went on, there were many instances where I would “cringe” at her behavior. One thing about toxic people is that they tell you everything that you want to hear. A pure hearted person will tell you the truth no matter what. This friendship ended in a drama filled disaster and it was a really insignificant thing that triggered it. The underlying cause was the fact that I didn’t give her the reaction that she expected to gain from her little tantrum so she really stepped it up by making up lies about me and involving the local police to where she eventually was able to file a harassment order against me. She had an elderly neighbor back up her lies because this elderly neighbor is quite aware of how unstable this person is and didn’t want any trouble with her. Toxic people also hold people “hostage” at times because their “hostages” fear them in some way. It all ended when I hired a lawyer. I got three neighbors to vouch for my character. The day of the court date, I showed up with my three neighbors and my lawyer, don’t you know that she was too much of a coward to show up. My lawyer would have burned right through her lies and she knew it. I’ve seen the police over her house a couple of times and one thing you have to know about toxic people is they must have constant drama in their life. She has since fought with other neighbors where clearly she was wrong. She takes to Facebook to spew her rants like she did with me. She has her “hostages” cheering her on. Toxic people need their victims and when they know that you won’t be their victim anymore, watch out because if they are unstable enough, what happened to me, might happen to you. Toxic people know how to play the system because it’s a way of life for them.

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Nellie Oglesbee

I’m married to a man who thinks it is ok for him to flirt with every women he feels he wants to. Flirts as with his eyes and always has a sexual comment or comments and while talking on the phone calls me his worst half to impress the women he talks to on the phone. He wants to stay in contact with a women 33 years younger than him. And you can tell he is in love with her by the way he looks at her picture forever. They and worked together before we met. He wants to be friends with her on f/b and email her, and call her. He took her to his retirement dinner for Thanksgiving and Christmas. He left 2 1/2 hrs. before each dinner. I saw where she messaged him on f/b to tell him she had the day clear for the entire day. he changed his password on his email so I could not get into it. He thinks I am over reacting when I say something to him about anything I have told you. I was a centerfold for PlayBoy in the late 60’s and still get a lot of men all ages look at me. I see where I have aged but apparently they don’t.

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Nellie Oglesbee

I also forgot to tell you about he is on all the dating sites and talks to a lot of them and emails them !!! Then denies he has done anything wrong. That is how we met, was on a dating site. I have found him going on the dating sites and looking at what they have to say about their self and likes and dislikes. He has a profile on all of thwem. He also contacted two women from my home city on f/b and POF. But he denied that he did but I had worked with them I am a nurse.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you are with a man who doesn’t deserve you. He will keep denying, manipulating the truth and making your response to his nonsense about your weaknesses. It’s not. His behaviour is not okay – it’s deeply painful, self-centred, manipulative and falls way short of where any loving, committed relationship should be. What are you getting from the relationship?

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Sereins

Great article! It would be nice to have a follow-up article… How to “break-off” a relationship with a toxic person. I have been trying for literally, a couple years! She says the ugliest things, contacts, people at my work, family and/or friends and promises to expose my “secrets” from our “friendship” (which are her “truth”/skewed perceptions of my words or actions) when I try to distance myself from her! I’m so sick of the anxiety that I feel when I see an email, call or message but know if I don’t answer, she will find away to get to me through others in my life… or show up at my door! This has literally kept me from creating new relationships/friendships! I’m afraid to get sucked in again!

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Jay

I tally feel your pain, except mine is the father of your children. I’m terrified of the idea of him having our kids, even on weekends. It’s an awful place to be stuck. I hope you can find a way out!

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Hey Sigmund

I completely understand how difficult it is to let go of a relationship with a toxic person, but it is possible and it’s always worth it. Here is a new post about how to do that:
>> When Someone You Love is Toxic: How to Let Go of Toxic People, Without Guilt http://wp.me/p5hkQx-sq.
I hope this is able to give you what you need to move forward.

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Anon"

You all make letting go sound duable. How should I approach this situation if this person is my mother? I love her and all but her divorce with my father (which occurred 15 yrs ago) has made her spew spiteful and mean-hearted words/texts to me whenever I want to interact or spend time with that side of my family. As if i’m the one who hurt her. Even babysitting my half-sister is a problem because the way she sees it, I’m helping the enemy -i’m trying to kill her (her literal words)… I’m so tired of this cycle. Of crying and feeling at a lost or confined in order to please other people and their perferred terms. I cannot easily walk away because I’m still a dependent, still at the age of a fruitful 20 I live at home with her, she is the co-owner on most of the things i own and she is a regular contact in my call log. I wish things were not as hard. I truely wish she understood that they were just as much a part of my life. This is taking a toll on my self esteem, judgement, other relationships, mood, and overall happiness.

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Larry

I am truly amazed at how well you nailed this type of person!

So much so in fact, that I was wondering if you were using the toxic person in my life for case research…= )

Every single point listed above has been demonstrated by this person in exactly the manner in which you describe.

I have spent 5 years defending, avoiding missteps, offering anything I could possibly conjure to rectify imaginary failings to the point that I felt completely emasculated.

With exceptional shrewdness and subtlety this individual manipulated everything I did and even how I was supposed to think and react. Amazing, for I am not what you would consider a weak minded person.

I am happy to say that I was finally able to extricate myself from this poisonous relationship!

I find my confidence in myself growing and feel more human every day now.

Thank you again!

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Larry. It’s amazing how many people there are like this. I’m so pleased that you were been able to find the clarity and the strength to get yourself out of there!

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Pixie

First Great article!
Second this is for Sereins who doesn’t know how to break off a toxic relationship. its kind of long and jumbled but you will get it i hope.
I was actually in one with someone I considered a close friend. (coming to a foreign country for studies I befriended another foreign student who seemed normal, but turned out not to be). A year into the relationship I started to feel drained, confused, depressed at times and anxious. She would, like one of the points states, just abruptly not reply to emails while we are having a conversation, when her one of her friends would visit her, she would ignore me, she started to take little jabs at me and everything that was wrong in her life was as a result of someone else (to her everyone including all her family members where out to get her). She was my next door neighbor and unfortunately still is. I would hear her come in and when I went to knock on her door (for say needing help with something school related) she would ignore me and the following day tell me she wasn’t home (this happened more than like 5times). Without realizing it she had, or rather I had let her isolate me from every other potential friend.
You see the friendship started off with her letting me feel good about myself and praising me on how smart I am and what great advice I gave her (on personal or academic work). Perhaps the signs had been there to avoid her but i must have overlooked them. I made mistakes myself along the way and pride that built up within me must have blinded me.

Anyway the turning point came during spring vacation. I had gone to visit my sisters and when I came back, I realized that she was still complaining over the same things/people. Being in a new country I wanted to explore it (with her unfortunately and she would always blow me off last minute/ignore my opinions). The jabs became more frequent, but what disturbed me the most is when she started succeeding at making me doubt my self confidence, ambitions and choices. I had to run for dear life.

I didnt know what to do rather than ignore her and hide. she must have sensed it cause she started banging on my door looking for me, and also would seek me out for lunches at school cafeteria. I honestly didn’t have the guts to tale her to get the hell out of me. But i started to ignore her when she talked by playing with my phone, never keeping eye contacting and hiding like stated. that must have pissed her off cause she became worse. I found that email was the best way to communicate with her so i simply said I dont want our conversation to center around other people. (she completely ignored that). my last email to her was I don’t want to have anything or anyone in my life that disturbs my peace of mind or disrespects me in anyway.

as for being afraid of black mail or that she will expose your secrets…there is nothing you can do about that am sorry (especially if you wrote it in email). for me i did say some awful things about other people due to pride and stupidity while i was friends with the girl and i stupidly put it in email as well. but thats a lesson learned. never put in email what you cant say to someones face. However, my peace, health and mental state were and are more important than the fear of someone exposing me. I knew that i would have to deal with the consequences of my actions and words if she chose to expose me. However, she hasnt. I dont know why, or maybe she has but no one has said anything to me. But you just have to cut her off and deal with the consequences knowing that in time you will heal and learn from this–never be friends with the toxic and never email/text/say things you might regret later in life.

Just tell her point blank i need my space from you and if you decided to expose my secrets I cant stop you but I do wish you a good and happy life and I want that for me too and cant experience it with you in my life.

After this if you are like me you are gonna cry and be depressed for a while and healing from the damage she has inflicted will take time (i was shocked that it did for me 4months to be exact). When i run into her now i feel nothing, no fear, no anxiety and no care. I am moving from the apart building when my lease is up in 2months. I have made new friends. And am comfortable in this friendship, happy, laughing and i dont replay conversations in my head..people show up when the say the will (not 100% of the time but the do), i feel respected and can respect them also. Thats one important thing i learned: respect, boundaries. I genuinely laugh. my confidence is back, i feel am walking on firm ground. I push my new friends and the push me (to succeed) and we dont isolate the other.

she will seek you out, email you, but resist the temptation to reply, when she says hi say hi and just go dont stop. let your mind lead you on this not your heart. its tougher than it sounds but you have to be strong…YOU HAVE A WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF YOU.

I believe in you!

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Aussiegirl

Wow this sounds exactly like my recent situation. The article and these comments were great to read. My situation was very similar to Serein’s and Pixie’s. However not only was she my close friend but also my roommate. Therefore distancing myself was very obvious and absolute. There was a big blowout after I had reached the final straw of her disrespecting me. A big fight occurred in which she lied like crazy, lies that didn’t even add up but she had convinced herself they were true. She made me feel as though I was the crazy one. I started sleeping in my friend’s dorm room and that just made her mad. When I told her I moved out she barely looked at me and just said “ok”. She then proceeded to record me packing with a nasty caption calling me a bitch. Unbelievable. We shared the same friend group which also made it extremely messy. My friends all had my back. I never asked them not to be her friend but they knew who she was and didn’t want to be friends with her anymore either. No one has room for a toxic person like that in their life. She is even more pissed that I “took her friends away from her”. She tells my friends that she has texts to prove all of the bad things I’ve ever said about them. Just like your situation. I started to feel awful and very scared. The truth is I had said a few things about them, nothing too terrible but things I wish I hadn’t. Even if I felt them in the moment I shouldn’t have said them let alone typed them. But she brought out the worst in me. She was always always talking about other people and I found myself just going along with it and agreeing with her. Which normally I am a very nice person. She tells our friends that I’ve said the worst things about them (which isn’t true) but like I said I have said some bad things after being egged on by this toxic person. I went through a period where I felt so scared and guilty. Scared of loosing my friends and scared of what she is telling people. And guilty for ever saying a bad word. But I tell myself that I can’t live in regret. I have great friends who have stood by me (which makes me feel even worse for my past mistakes) but that doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t know what she has said to them but I can’t spend my time worrying about that. It is hard for me to move on however, knowing that she’s still existing here with threats. I just never know if she’s going to blow or “expose me”. She’s very unstable I’ve learned. I still see her on campus all the time which is very awkward. She has A LOT of hate towards me but I don’t regret moving out in the least. I am so much happier now. I didn’t realize how bad things were until I got a breath of fresh air. She was constantly making me feel bad about myself and trying to separate me from my support system (my family and other close friends). I do however very much look forward to the day when my stomach doest get all twisty when I see her around campus. Thats the part I’m having trouble with. I’ll be having a great day and then I see her and I just feel her negativity and its so uncomfortable. She tries very hard to make it look like she has friends and is doing great but I know thats not the case. I almost wish it was though because then maybe she could move on and be more mature about the situation. Its awkward for my friends too and I wish it didn’t phase any of us. I’m a person who likes to move on from things, especially negative experiences, very quickly. I don’t want to waste any more time talking about it, thinking about it or worrying about it but I still see her everywhere. Its like I can’t get away from it and move on. I know I need to be patient but Im just not sure how to deal with it. There is no hope at this point for talking and being civil and honestly she doesn’t deserve that. I’ll probably never speak to her again and I am completely okay with that. I just really wish I didn’t have to see her. Any advice on how to deal with that? I just hate having beef with people. I wish it could just be as if we were never friends or roommates in the first place and thus not uncomfortable. The fact that she even still attends this school after the things she’s done is appalling enough and now that I can see her for who she really is and from an outside perspective I realize how awful she really is. I don’t hate people but I can say that I hate her. She is a terrible human being and has some serious problems. A toxic person to say the least. But whatever she’s out of my life now (or so I’d hope). I really just want to move on but it is hard when she’s everywhere still. Ugh I wish she could just go away, my life is so much better without her in it! I try to be strong and act like it doesn’t affect me when i see her (because I feel like if I do that then maybe it’ll actually be the truth soon) but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t put a damper on my day. How do I handle this?

Nice to know I’m not alone when dealing with toxic people!

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Freedom & joy

Omg this sounds like a female friend I had when back in uni days. It got so bad – her family were friends with my family- that I had to report her to the police though we had stopped speaking a couple yrs beforehand- I just upped and left but there was this kinda residual effect where her mum started bullying my mum…. ugh it was really a dreadful time- the fear, the wish they would just disappear but the more you ignore ppl like this the harder they come at you. So perplexing, the anxiety. Anyway she got in touch with me about 2 yrs later with a lighthearted let’s catch up and I was like this girl is just too crazy. So I told her I’ve gone to the police and her and her family need to stay away. She knew I had started a business so feared I would have to deal with her envy all over again but we never heard from them again. Praise be to God!

One thing is true. Ppl like this are NEVER happy.

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logic

You have to just slowly distance yourself….I did….no matter when you break it off the healing time has to happen…it may be long; but the longer you wait the longer you future happiness is put on hold. As far as exposing your secrets, once they do they have nothing else they could hold over you. Now, there are always pros and cons to exposing the deepest truths of what you trusted someone with because of how others will react, but the pros are that you will know who your real friends are; and you will learn confidence all over again.

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Mack

This the definition of a classic Narcissistic personality disorder….these people, thrive on co-dependent types, I know I was married to one.

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S Glendenning

What a fantastically insightful article this is. I only wish I had seen something like this during my marriage.

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Hey Sigmund

Thank you! Yes, we’re starting to have more and more awareness around the mess that toxic people leave behind. It’s real and it’s ugly. I hope you are in a better place now with people around you who deserve you.

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Kc

Great article, exactly the characteristics of the woman i was with for 6 yrs. Two of her family members hinted there was a medical problem, that she suppose to take somekind of medication, but never went in to full detail. One of her adult children, is diagnosed ADHD & her sybling is diagnosed, a schizophrenic, could she have a mental condition, perhaps, By polar Syndrom & has no reason or clue to her actions.

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Monique

This was really helpful. I have been a victim of so many of these tactics and I have unfortunately resorted to a couple of them myself, in response. I feared that I was the toxic person, but then I realized that I had never felt the need to use them outside of this particular relationship. That was when it hit me that I am probably not the toxic one. I’ve been rejected by my toxic partner and yes because I verbalized that I was hurt when he was inconsiderate. Apparently I was supposed to accept it because he “had a bad day” and I didn’t provide the appropriate emotional support. I see now that he takes and takes but only gives when it is convenient/easy for him to do so. Meanwhile I am expected to give all the time and at all costs. I actually searched out “toxic relationships” because he called me toxic and I was afraid I was. But that was just projection. Thanks so much for this article.

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Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased you have read this article. We all do toxic things from time to time, but it sounds like you are certainly NOT the toxic one. You are spot on when you name it as his projection – that’s exactly what it seems to be. An important part of any loving relationship is being able to talk safely about the things in the relationship that might be hurting either person. If this isn’t happening, it’s very hard to feel loved, nurtured and safe in the relationship and for that relationship to flourish and grow. I love the clarity you have found and hope it continues to strengthen you.

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Mack

That’s called redirecting…where they accuse you of being the source of the frustrations. It’s just another form of manipulation they use to justify they’re actions.

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Stephany M

Oh God !! After reading this article, I realize that I am the toxic person . Oh God help me to change !!!

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Hey Sigmund

Stephany, we all do toxic things some of the time but if toxic behaviour is something you do consistently, the important thing is that you have noticed and are working towards being the best you can be. The best advice I can give you is to be alive to the intention behind what you do. If it is to control someone or something, try something else. Control is such a big part of toxic behaviour. If you’re used to using toxic behaviour to control things, when you stop or pull back it will feel uncomfortable. The discomfort is okay and is a sign that you’re doing something different. When things get uncomfortable, the temptation will be to run back to old familiar behaviour, but be aware of this, slow things down, sit with the discomfort and resist the old behaviour. Be patient and kind to yourself. Change takes time, but even being aware that you need to change is change in itself. Also try to notice your impact on others. Do people pull away from you, diminish themselves when they are near you, or do they warm to you? Awareness is such a powerful thing and as you notice what you do, you will see where there needs to be change. When you notice, you can’t ‘un-notice’ and this your attention to what you do, the intentions behind what you do, and the impact on others will be key. Change can be scary, but always worth it. It takes a huge amount of courage to acknowledge when something you are doing needs to change. You’re doing something wonderful for you and for the people who are close to you.

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Gerry

Having read through this, I’m also very often the toxic person in my relationship and I recognise so many of the behaviours you’ve mentioned.

Thank you for writing an article I can relate to – I could see myself in your descriptions rather than argue against them!

Your words to Stephany, “If you’re used to using toxic behaviour to control things, when you stop or pull back it will feel uncomfortable” resonated powerfully with me and I’ll be looking through your website to find out more.

Many thanks!

Gerry

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Hey Sigmund

You are so welcome Gerry. I love your openness to growth – that takes guts. Take your discomfort as a sign of growth and keep moving forward. We are all a work in progress. Only the bravest realise it.

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Mary Pat Higley

Mary Pat Higley says ‘detach with love’. Toxic people dont usually know they are toxic. Spend your time with those who nurture and support you. Life is too short. But beware toxic people can be very controlling and when you start putting in distance between you and them it might get ugly. These people are unhappy with themselves. You are a convenient excuse to get their anger out. Pray for them, but dont engage. Acknowledge that they are angry and upset and you are sorry for that. But dont own it. It is their choice and manipulative. They are sick.

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Elsie Camplblin

I’m so shocked and amazed I came across this article , because I read it to see if my boyfriend was the toxic person in my life , and reading it , oh my God I just read a biography of my self. I am the toxic partner , I do everything in the article it is so sad , but I’m glad I came across it , because I don’t want to be in a relationship with him any way at all, we are not good for each other.

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Sandy

Fascinating article, which helps a lot about why people behave in certain ways. I’m struggling with a couple of nasty comments made by my sister in law. She has told me some “home truths” about how I wasn’t a very nice person when I was younger and then told me that my Dad had killed my kitten (40 years ago). My Dad has been dead for 20 years, so I can’t ask him, and now I’m just feeling upset and have doubts about my relationship with my Dad – which I’ve always believed was ok. He had a bit of a temper, but he was generally a decent man. Totally confused and so upset now!

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Hey Sigmund

You would have to question your sister-in-law’s motivation for telling you awful things that can’t be checked out. Don’t let the things she has said change how you feel about your dad. What does it matter what you were like when you were younger? It doesn’t. It matters what you are like now, and right now, you are not the one saying hurtful things to someone you are meant to care about. If you believe your relationship with your dad was okay, then that’s what it was. Stay strong in what you believe and don’t let her shake you. Don’t be drawn in to the mess.

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Al Morrison

Brilliant article. My Brother and his wife are exactly like this and that’s the reason why I’ve cut all contact with them. They’re just poisonous, self-centered, misanthropic, petulant energy vampires who constantly lie, refuse to take responsibility for their actions, and can never, ever apologise for anything.

My Brother’s wife caused a feud which led to my Brother being permanently estranged from my Mom and Dad but of course, it was everybody else’s fault and not hers or my Brother’s. They’re the victims in all of this.

She then exacerbated this by causing a ridiculous feud over Facebook/email with me. Her emails in total were 6,000 words of rambling, aggressive incoherence where she proceed to distort the context of the situation, bend the truth repeatedly, and lie about events that took place.

My emails which were always polite but brutally honest and factual were supposedly aggressive when it was in fact hers which were personally insulting. If I showed an objective person her emails, they’d think she was absolutely f**king crazy.

I just couldn’t be bothered with the situation or them anymore. At least 7 of the 12 bullet points are applicable to them.

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Hey Sigmund

You have done the right thing. With some people, it doesn’t matter how polite you are or how much you point out the facts, they twist things through a messed up filter and use your own words against you. It’s so exhausting, and it’s just not worth it. I’m so pleased you have decided not to bother with them or the situation any more. They don’t deserve you.

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Al

Many thanks for the feedback. 🙂

The situation was completely ridiculous. When the situation blew up between my Dad and my Bro + his wife, they hacked my Dad’s emails without his permission (they obviously knew his password) and viewed emails between my Dad and myself. They admitted this recently and saw nothing wrong with their behavior/massive invasion of privacy! Unfortunately, this is the tip of the iceberg.

When I said how their behavior made me feel, I was aggressive but when I pointed out the facts, I was over-analysing things.

Your blog post was a big help so thank you. 🙂

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Rik S.

I was in a relationship with a toxic person for over a year, and the points in this article are all too real. She was manipulative, judgmental of everyone around her, and prone to sudden and unexpected bursts of rage at the slightest provocation. Most of the time, I never even knew why she was angry, she just claimed if I really loved her, I would know why she was mad. Whenever I hung out with friends, she would make me feel guilty for not spending every free moment with her, and she constantly insulted and belittled my closest friends.
I kept trying to convince myself that she could change, and that ultimately became the only reason why I stuck with the relationship for as long as I did. It never happened.
If any of the warning signs in this article sound like your significant other, my advice to you is to get out sooner, rather than later. It’s not worth the emotional damage. Instead, find someone that supports you instead of tearing you down. Trust me, it’s well worth the wait. Two years later, and I’m engaged to the love of my life.

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Totes

what if your 13 year old son is acting like this and is harming the new relationship in ones life?

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Hey Sigmund

It’s not uncommon for 13 year olds to go through a selfish period like this. It doesn’t mean he is toxic though. His brain has just started to go through massive changes as part of his adolescence. As part of this, his relationships might look different for a while as he tries to figure out where he fits into things. Don’t be alarmed by this, but keep being a steady, guiding influence on him. At this age, he will also be very driven by the impulsive, instinctive part of his brain. The problem is that the rational, logical part of his brain that is able to help him to see the consequences of the way he is treating people is still waiting to come ‘online’ and won’t be fully developed until he is in his mid-20s. This is why adolescence can be a bit of a stormy sea for everyone. Here is an article that might help to encourage him towards his kinder side http://www.heysigmund.com/kind-kids-are-cool-kids-making-sure-your-child-isnt-the-bully/. The most important thing is to keep modelling kind, non-controlling behaviour towards him and others, but especially towards him. You will also find some articles here to help you understand what he is going through and will go through because of the massive changes that are happening during adolescence http://www.heysigmund.com/category/with-kids/adolescents/. Keep talking to him about his impact on people, but do it gently without shame. Ask him what he thinks the other kids would be feeling when he acts the way he does and also what he would feel if someone were to treat him the way he is treating others. It might be worth talking to the school to make sure there is nothing happening there in terms of him being targeted by another child, just to make sure that he isn’t doing to the other kids what someone else is doing to him.

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Kavan

Reading this article made me feel better about a situation I am dealing with. Thanks for the great insight!

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Tegan

I recently split up with my boyfriend.. Everything you said in this article is spot on about him and how he was. I even started looking into psychopaths, I need to know why he was like this, I was and still am madly in love with him, When I have spoke to friends about him they would always say why am i with someone like that? Do you really want to be with someone one like that.. Well no i wouldn’t but I was and I loved him, Sometimes he was the most loving man ever but I only seen them once in a blue moon. I feel like the relationship ended for no real reason, he would never let me speak, I wasn’t perfect, but i would always own up and say sorry when i did mess up he never did, he would always bring things up that was months ago and i would of forgot about it because ever time i tried to get my side across he would jut brush it under the rug.. everything in my head is still all messed up i sit and question myself most of the time to the point i thought i was going crazy. I would really like it if you could give me some tips on forgetting this and him.

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suhaana

Hi….I am having trouble dealing with a toxic person at my work…she was a friend some time ago, when she kept on questioning me on my personal life in between usual conversations…….she extracted a lot of info about my past which i dont normally share with anybody….then she found a new friend so started ignoring me….later i learnt she had divulged a lot of info about me to others and spread some rumors about me as well….then she broke off with the new friend due to some reason and now she wants to be friendly all over again with me….she keeps on saying hi, visiting my rum, i cant fight and create unnecessary scene at office so i choose to speak nothing…after moments she usually leaves, but then tries to talk again….really difficult person to deal with…it gives me a lot of mental stress whenever i see her, i get upset just by thinking about what she had done to me….and this affects my mind, my relation with others…and above all my work efficiency….she is unhappy about her life in some way and wants to spread some negativity everywhere i guess…

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Hey Sigmund

The best you can do for yourself with a toxic person is to keep ignoring her until she loses interest. Her behaviour might get worse for a little while but eventually, when she realises you are not going to give her what she wants she will move on. Stay strong.

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Ravi Menon

That’s right. If he or she is indeed looking for love, they would be giving it in the first place (and receiving love back from you), not acting like weirdos. The weirdos are the “toxicados” who don’t give you the time of the day, pretend to listen (the types who will pretent to listen for hours, and still not know which college you attended), and believe that they are entitled to your time, attention and mollycoddling; they are the easiest ones to spot among the toxic tribe — and the easiest to weed out early.

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Michael

What do you do when this person can’t show their true feelings even though it’s the obvious?

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Hey Sigmund

Unfortunately you can’t change other people. There are many people who, for whatever reason, hold their feelings back. This is not necessarily toxic though. It might be to stay safe, because it’s too early in the relationship, because more certainty is needed, because of the way the person is. It is for you to decide now whether or this is okay for you or not and whether it is likely to be something that will grow and change with time.

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Shelly

Thank you for this article. Over the years I have dealt a few toxic people, one being my sibling. It has now moved onto some of my cousins and I started to worry that I was the toxic one because this toxicness kept affecting me. Although they were different situations, they have always ended the same way. Someone is either jealous, mean, vindictive, or assumes something without knowing the facts, then takes it out on me by either harsh words, excluding me from an occasion or by ignoring me when they see me in person (real mature). I’m the type of person who does not like conflict so when I try to fix the situation and talk, I always get blamed for holding a grudge and not letting it go. EVERYONE in my family expects me to allow individuals to be hurtful and then act like it did not happen. When I am still upset about it, they tell me it’s my problem. I don’t understand this logic but this article helped me to see how that is toxic behavior.

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joe

well where do I start I’ve been involved with a 34 year old girl all these five signs are listed. I won’t get into detail but I know that she would twist me the wrong way and I was always the nice guy doing things this and that she claims she’s done this and done that did a few things not much but acted like she’s the victim. I’ve been in jail twice because of her well once was my fault for suspended license but the other was over a cell phone that I broke of hers.for the past week it’s just been really nasty and you know whatI can definitely say that I was pretty bad in a relationship too but I was never like that and I am NOT like that.everything I couldn’t work I couldn’t focus my life is twisted upside down financially emotionally and it’s always about her. Like I said I’m not going to get into detail but you can understand what’s up tonight was the last straw making up stories that her friends know me and that I was cheating in this and that and the other thing I don’t even want to think about it to be honest with you now I have to be strong

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Ravi Menon

Toxic people often believe that they are more charismatic and people-savvy than most others. Expose them by being more popular and nicer than they are to others and ensure that others like you right IN FRONT OF THEM.
If they still don’t mend their ways, ask them to go and congratulate somebody or make someone feel good and watch how they suffer!!

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Lanie

Oh yeah. I think the light just went on for a group I used to get together with every year, when suddenly one dropped out, somebody with pretty much all 12. I was the favorite target and the first year this happened, I suddenly found that I could talk to people and people could talk to me without interference or negativity.

As others have said, I seem to attract toxic people and I well remember when one of them got out of my life, it took between 5 and 10 years to get over the leftover anger. But when I did, wow! Suddenly I had all this energy and I have never looked back.

It’s really like Sigmund said in the other article, getting out is like climbing through barbed wire but when the scratches heal, you will love your life.

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LH

My husband has some toxic characteristics. When he’s stressed or unhappy, he defaults to the following behaviors — the blame game because he’s never wrong, tries to tell me how I feel, demeaning comments, hypercritical of things I do (or don’t do), micromanages me and the kids.

He goes through periods of being very unhappy with his life, i.e. having a family isn’t the life he wants anymore. A few times he told me he wanted to leave. Respectful of that feeling (though deeply hurt), I would indulge him in a conversation about what that would look like if he left — would he move or me, financials, etc. — and he would immediately chicken out and say that’s not what he wanted. We’d make up and then things would go back to “normal”for a while.

So we go through cycles of this crisis mode once or twice a year, and it wears on me. I don’t expect to change his feelings. And I do value my own self-care, which helps me have a calmer attitude and be less reactionary. But when we are going through a tough, toxic period, it wears me down. It’s hard to feel like a worthy being with someone hammering you with criticism on a daily basis.

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Jyl

Excellent article! The toxic people in my life turned out to be my parents, mostly my mother. My father is emotionally difficult to reach, but my mother more than makes up for it. I cut them off 3 years ago after my step-children, whom I raised with my husband from an early age, were not invited on a family trip to commemorate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I have since lost contact with my brother and sister as well. Fortunately, my husband is a wonderful man who provides the emotional support I need when I have trouble standing up for myself. I also have a very good, long-term friend who knew my parents years ago, and she’s able to tell me it’s not me, it’s them acting crazy. It helps.

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Hey Sigmund

It makes such a difference having healthy people in your life who are able to bring things into focus doesn’t it. There are too many good people in the world who deserve you to waste time and energy on the people with don’t.

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LAM

This article explains the way my older sister had been treating me. I have suffered from her nastt, hurtful comments and emails and after getting severe panic attacks and anxiety, I had to see a therapist. She has told me I need to divorce my sister and move on otherwise I will always want to knw what it is I did that she could be so nasty towards me. And I will never knw the answers. I’m learning to let go slowly and work on me but it still hurts to realize she’s not the person I thought she was.

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Hey Sigmund

Even when you know letting go is the strong, healthy thing to do, it can still hurt deeply. There is a loss of the person you thought you knew, but even if that person has never existed, the surrendering of hope that they could be one day is still painful. You will get through the hurt in time. Know that what you are doing in letting go is coming from a place of great courage, strength, self-love and self-respect.

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Kelly M.

I had a horrible falling out with a long time friend, and to my horror, I’ve realized that she can be toxic and will in turn bring out the worst in me.

After months of facing reality and soul searching, I have come to terms with who I am and am accepting that no one can make me feel inferior without my consent. Nonetheless it has been painful and I am unsure how to proceed.

Over the past decade, my friend exhibited many of these behaviors from your list, and then some, regularly. It culminated recently in the most dysfunctional conversation I’ve ever had in which tons of these behaviors rang true.

Things she has done over the years and in that conversation (and unfortunately since it; my talking with her didn’t help for more than a few weeks) include: not knowing which version I’m going to get, snide comments and sarcasm, telling me how I should feel, shaming me or trying to, excessive negativity, making assumptions and attributing lesser motives to behaviors, criticizing things that are important to me, generalizing, judging, highlighting my flaws, projecting, not accepting nuance, bringing up things from years ago, patronizing me, and leaving conversations unfinished. I think that about sums it up.

It is really sad because I am unsure where and how this will resolve. The good news is that through this I’ve learned and confronted a lot about myself and more broadly I have seen what NOT to do and how NOT to communicate with others. I had to hit a sort of rock bottom, but I ironically feel empowered after my soul searching. I hope that this will carry me through to a new phase in our relationship that is healthier rather than allow the cycle of invalidation to continue or rather than cut this person out of my life completely, which I don’t want either. I am okay with redefining our friendship, but I want to find closure and not have this friendship end in either a bang or whimper. Any advice?

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Hey Sigmund

Kelly I love that you are feeling empowered. It sounds as though in hitting rock bottom you have somehow found insight and wisdom that you might not have found otherwise. I can hear how important this relationship is to you. You don’t have to end it, but be clear about what is okay and what is not okay for you. This article might help you make some decisions around how it plays out http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/. It will explain how to set and protect your boundaries. I really hope this can be a new phase for your relationship that will be enriching for both of you.

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Mitch

I love this people at my school treat me like S*** but after reading this it made me cope with it and really see how easy it is to get over it

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Hey Sigmund

Mitch these people really don’t matter. Don’t give them your wonderful energy – keep it for the people who deserve you. There will be plenty of those. Keep flying well above the ones who would otherwise drag you down.

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Micha

“They make you prove yourself to them”

So true and painfully sad. This was a good read! I’m getting more into relationship topics on my blog and this opened up a box of worms for me!

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Debs

This is my ex daughter in law to a t. She drove my son to a near breakdown until they finally split and is now using her toxicity to prevent him seeing the children. We would love to pretend she doesn’t exist but how can we when there are children involved? So so stressfull.

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Hey Sigmund

It is so difficult when there are children involved. In my experience, I have seen that when children are old enough, they will come to see the toxic behaviour for themselves and will be grateful for the love and support of the non-toxic parent and the non-toxic people in their lives. For the moment though, they will be very loyal to their mother and anything negative that is said about her will be likely to push them closer towards her. As long as your son maintains some sort of relationship with the children and spends his time with them loving them like mad and not saying anything bad about their mother, he will be giving them something so important. If your daughter in law is truly toxic, it is likely that this will play out in some way with the children, particularly when they are older. There will come a time that the children will very likely feel as though they need someone they can talk to and be supported by, who won’t run their own agenda. Your children only have one mother and will likely be fiercely loyal to her until she proves that she doesn’t deserve it. I know how stressful this is and how unfair it feels. There are few things more short-sighted or self-centred than a parent who actively get in the way of the relationship between the parent and the other child. I’m so sorry this is happening to your son. Whatever he can do to not involve the children in the mess by not speaking badly about her in front of them will be so important to them and to his relationship with them. I know this may be of little comfort to you at the moment, but these things really do have a way of working out eventually. Thankfully, the children have good people in their lives in to show them how healthy relationships work.

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Sam

My mother is attacked by my father to this day. They split up in the 1980s when we were babies, small children. Problem is my brothers have now become very like my father. I dreamt as s child we’d all grow away from the ugliness mentioned in this article. But instead they grew into it. My half sister grew up with my Dad and she’s just like him too. I moved to the other side of the country to get away from them. But my father is s public figure and it’s not easy to start your life again, especially with Facebook and co. I’ve tried smiling and being nice, but they are far more cunning than that. Because I don’t join in with their nastiness (they turn on each other all the time and gossip and backstab- and openly won’t do it or even say that’s not nice) they all really really love trying to bring me down and have collaborated to come up with the idea I’m mentally ill. So if I talk or disagree they are either condescending and tut at me or discredit me because they say I have mental health issues. My sister tells everyone she’s studying “medicine” but it’s actually health science. She creates an image of herself as a Dr and philanthropist. If she was indeed any of these, would bullying someone for mental ill health be the opposite of what you’d do? My father is a journalist and has called me a their, when I made over my mums bathroom before it fell in the ground. I had to point out to him (after a lifetime of false accusations) that he should check his facts.
I had counselling g and the upshot of that was that I could go on as I was a Sou b things I thought I had to do or be free of them and live my own life.
So here’s to living my own life! I absolutely refuse to let my children see how they behave, I couldn’t stand it if they copied their behaviour. My husbands sister is divorced, but all her kids are imitating their father and it’s awful to watch. I wish my mother had the guts to get us out of that toxic environment as kids.
I have to disagree with the above comment. Some see it, but for others, they become it. I had to call police at age 15 as my own brother was kicking down my door and trying to physically assault me… And tonnes more lovely tales.

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M

As a man, few realize that we can be abused as well…really fell onto this article by accident..woke up feeling depressed worthless damn near suicidal ..I have two Sons and I love their mother but know we have issues..life shouldn’t be this hard and I am torn between what I know I should do and the first steps.. I do not want my son’s to think the relationship I have with their mother is the norm. We have good times but ironically only when things are good financially on my end. The article speaks volumes to me but I still can’t bring myself to leave …going slowly insane

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Jamie

This helped me so much, i was in a friendship like this where she ignored me, and only wanted to talk to me when it was about her, and she always pointed me out as the person who started it or i was acting like a victim but she was the victim. But i’m in the same situation too she has told one of my friends bad things that i said (But really didn’t) and i’ve lost him as a friend, but now i feel like i can focus on myself instead of her, and i feel like if i do something good i will feel good about it, instead of getting shut down
Thank you so much for helping me relies

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jay

Toxic people do apologise,that doesn’t mean they are not toxic.I also think you are missing some other points.What i feel is toxic people require counselling ASAP.

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Hey Sigmund

If toxic people apologise, it is generally a manipulative tack to further their own position and their own control over the person or the relationship. It is rarely for the good of the other or the good of the relationship. Of course toxic people require counselling, but counsellors are not magicians. Nobody can change anyone who is unwilling to change and who does not see a problem with their own behaviour. The whole point is that toxic people do not see their own behaviour as a problem and because of this, are not open to changing or doing something differently. Toxic people will sit in counselling and will not take anything in. They will argue, justify and defend their behaviour, regardless of the damage that behaviour is causing to the people around them.

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anonymous

I had a school friend who was so hot and cold. Even though people say she is destructive she still gets all the attention. She always has a strong point of you but nobody ever confronts her. I decided one day that I would not chase her after one of her blow outs. She has since unfriended me on Facebook and spends a lot of time ticking mutual friends post, even though a couple she clearly did not like. I have moved on but sometimes get a little angry that some mutual friends still rally round her, like they are afraid.

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MHMC

My h would apologize but it wwas alwaysafter quite ssome time, and just “I’m sorry”. Hewwould NEVER say, “I’m sorry for____ and I was wrong”. Tgetr were times when what hr did reallywas aawful and tthat’swhen u would hear “iI’m sirrt”, but hr never took ownership if his hurtfulactions, and left me feeling guilty iif he had to apologize. I wasbsi desperate that often I would be the one to apologize to hum even though he was the one doing the offending.

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Lisa

My husband finally agreed to go to counseling. When I brought up an issue since our last session, he completely blew up, said I was attacking him, and threatened to leave the session. I was merely intending to be specific to an issue and try to resolve it with the counselor. I was shocked about how he almost lost it, I felt so helpless and a loss of hope. Needless to say, he blew off counseling as though he didn’t need it.

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Wendy

Wow! This sums my ex husband up perfectly. We were married 17 years and after his father past away he just didn’t want to be married anymore. We have two children 15 and 12 and for the most part is a good father…but I often ask myself, “how good of a father can he really be to just walk out and not even try to make the relationship work.” I ask him that once and his response was, “Why should I try to work it out for the children when I have no feelings for you at all”? (Definitely something you want to hear from your husband of 17 years). I’ve become very involved in the church, volunteering anyway I can and just trying to do for others as much as possible as that is where I find my joy. So many things you have said has happened since we separated and now divorced. He says such hurtful things and will not even let me get a word in when we have a discussion…he talks over me. He is so lost and as you said I don’t even think he realizes he has done anything wrong. One of the absolute hardest things I’ve had to do is refrain from talking negatively about him….bc of knowing how crappy he has done his family…he has an affair while we were married, he has seen girls since we separated/divorced and even snuck one in while my children were at his house..not to mention she put a picture of them up together where everytime the children go to his house they see it…how can anyone be so insensitive?? But I have noticed since I’ve quit talking negatively the last few months my kids have grown so much closer to me and I see now how important it is just to bite my tongue bc eventually they will know the truth and who the toxic parent is. I am as nice to him as I am to everyone else and get he continues to be angry with me. How can he be angry at me when he is the one who walked out and he is the one who has done such hurtful things…I don’t think I’ll ever understand that. Thank you so much for helping me see the actions of a toxic person and that I’m not the evil person he portrays be out to be…I truly believe he just enjoys hurting me and maybe bc my life is so much better than when we were together and his is still not good…thank you so much!

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Hey Sigmund

You are being exactly the mother your children need you to be. I know how hard it must be not to speak badly of your husband in front of your children but it will be making all the difference to them. The truth is whatever type of man he is, he is the only father your children have and for all of his faults they will love him. They will make up their own minds in time. Your kids have grown closer to you because you are safe for them – they don’t have to feel guilty about loving their dad, they don’t have to defend him and most of all it is clear to them that you love them more than you want to hate him. I know how much strength and courage that takes. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re amazing and your kids will be so much happier and healthier for it.

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kavitha prashanth

I had a boss she was so toxic and negative about whatever we do! We were never right. I was working for her for 8 long years. It use to make me feel, whatever I am it’s because of her finally I AM OUT not working with her anymore.

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M

Hi there I have been reading this as I had to Google some type of a resolution or reassurance that this is happening to me . I have been in a relationship for 6 years now 2 kids and I seriously don’t know how I do it . We have so many lovely memories , holidays and lots more , but there is a serious issue that he just doesn’t seem to see that a lot of the time turns into him telling me I will pay for it . He loves to organise things and live or pretend to live a very expensive life that we cannot afford although we do so much I always feel bad because if I was on my own I wouldn’t be able to do this . This is where everything start he always names the things he does ( he says “I run out of fingers when I count how much things I do for you”) everything he doesn’t is for me not for our family he always want to be thanked even says I should be on my knees it upsets me because when he names everything he does I just feel like a fool because it looks like I’ve just been sitting at home all day . There’s times where it gets physical and a lot of the time I can’t handle it anymore then I think about tomorrow that’s there’s another day and kids need to prepared for school and that the house is a mess and that everybody needs to eat so I just brush it of and there goes another day . Everything is always my fault and I never do anything or do anything right he tells the kids “mummy has started it and now I have to teach her a lesson ” . The argument never start aggressive as long as I agree to everything and I don’t disobey whenever I say no to something or I don’t agree that’s when its gets rough. He is a loving man but I don’t know how long I can carry on with this other person pops up . I can see all the things above is exactly like him although I think he turns this to be more abusive then just toxic . I’m only 21 and I am an educated beautiful woman he will never take that from me , I wish I could just walk away but I just think about the kids and future way to much then I think about my self.

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Hey Sigmund

The key is how you feel in the relationship and if there is physical abuse, things have gone too far. Don’t underestimate the stress that will be falling upon your children if they know you are being physically and emotionally hurt. The greater problem, it sounds like, is that your husband doesn’t see anything wrong with what he is doing. There is so much wrong with what he is doing. You may be able to hide this from your children for a while if they are little, but kids are smart and they pick up on everything and I would have to wonder, aside from so many other things, what lessons are they learning about relationships? Can I ask you to think about one question: If either of your children were in this relationship, would you want them to stay or to go?

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Jason S.

M-

If a man lays his hands on you in anyway violent, he is not a man. He is a coward little boy in a man’s body. It may be all that you know, or he knows, it may be easy for you to justify the behavior for him, or for him to justify it, but that does not make it right in anyway. Speaking from the perspective of a 31 year old man who has been in relationships where I have been the receiver of abuse by a few different women, from severe physical to verbal abuse that made me feel less than human, and not once did I ever strike back. Men are raised not to harm women.

To me, your relationship sounds more than toxic, it honestly sounds abusive. It shouldn’t matter if he runs out of both his hands and his toes, “counting the things” he does for you. If he cared for you and truly loves you, what he “does for you” should never ever ever ever be an issue. Him berating you in that way is a manipulation technique to break you down, causing you to feel hopeless, incapable of being loved and loving yourself, makes you feel like you are less than him, so that you feel unworthy of better things, even of happiness, and it appears to be working because you “feel like a fool.”

Well, You are not a fool. You are a SMART, YOUNG, BEAUTIFUL, EDUCATED Woman who is WORTHWHILE and your life has VALUE.

When he tells the kids that, “mom needs to be taught a lesson.” All I can think is he needs a few lessons taught to him. How to treat a lady, or how to be a father and not manipulate children so he can feel like he has a supporting peanut gallery behind him.
He shouldn’t be belittling you in front of your children. People tend to argue in relationships, sometimes voices even get raised, problems come up. How you deal with said problems is one of the defining factors of a healthy relationship. He shouldn’t be berating or belittling you in general, at all, period.
Remember, there is verbal and physical abuse.

A house can get messy fast, especially with kids. It’s a constant tornado; Newton’s Third Law, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Cleaning happens, kids play, messes get made, hours of the day get lost, and at the end of the day you’re still a good person, even with dishes in the sink.
Does he help you clean up toys, do laundry, dishes, get the kids ready for school, make the doctor appointments, grocery shop, etc…? Or does he still think it is the 1930’s?
Going to work and paying bills doesn’t make you a good man, or good father if you are doing and teaching misogynistic, abusive, manipulative behaviors.
Children are these magical spongy mirrors. They absorb everything they see and hear and reflect it back out. Kids learn how to treat their companions and being in relationships a lot from observing their parental units. If you have a son and he grows up watching his mother be verbally and physically abused, not treated with respect, then he will be wired to think that is acceptable behavior in a relationship. If you have a daughter she will think its acceptable behavior to be abused, or be the abuser.

If he gets rough with you now, what’s going to happen when your children are older; or even now for say. What if he gets angry at them with the “All the things he does for them.” attitude he has and gets rough with them. You may say that he will never get physical with them, but I’m assuming there was a time when you thought that about yourself.

Money runs out but family lasts forever.
You shouldn’t be forced outside of your budget because he insists on having an egotistical material life instead of one full of sentiment, compassion, a vast appreciation for you and the children, gratitude, and UNCONDITIONAL love. It is not your fault that he loses his cool when you bring up financial things. In fact it’s NEVER your fault EVER when he loses his cool, people are in charge of their own emotions.

Everything in my gut screams Sociopath or Narcissist. Both very toxic, both seemingly with no “fixing” no matter how hard you try; or how bad you want to make the change happen, or no matter how long you try for. Even if you think you are just one step away from that “Eureka!” moment; that “change” will never happen until he is ready to make that change, until he hits a bottom and does it for himself. No more walking on eggshells. No more listening to him say I’m sorry I will change. No more of you apologizing to him because he makes you feel like its your fault even though you were trying to bring up how he hurt your feelings, or just bringing things up that don’t bode with your moral compass.

When being abused or around someone toxic, depression can be right around the corner. Being tired all the time, a feeling of low self worth, social isolation from your friends and family are just a few of the side factors of depression.
The walking on egg shells feeling of, “I have to go with what he says or get yelled at.”, being manipulated to feel like a bad mother when you know you’re not, being made to feel like you couldn’t make it without him, getting belittled all the time, is all part of the manipulation control system he uses against you.

You said you feel bad because if you were on your own you wouldn’t be able to do some of the things you do with help from him. I understand how having a partner can make things easier on you financially and even help with the kids.
Ask yourself, is it doing the children more damage seeing you two fight like that. You’re 21, been in a relationship with him for 6 years, so pretty much since you were 15. That’s a pretty good commitment, and that time was not wasted, your experiences were real. I can understand why its so hard for you to walk away, but I promise you, it will get easier. Its hard to step out of comfort zones even if they are not that comfortable. We get used to routines, break the routine and those things that you imagine unimaginable will quickly become imaginable. I promise you there is someone out there that will not abuse you. You should never put up with that, it can get really scary, and can even get fatal, you have your life and your children’s lives at stake.

I will leave you with a metaphor I wrote when trying to help a buddy through a hard time…

In the Book Of Life, there many smaller books that make up your story. The relationship section is full of joy and sorrow, and ends in bittersweet melancholy. Every time you start a new relationship, you begin a new chapter, whenever there is a breakup, the chapter ends. Like all books you can go back to an old chapter, but eventually it will always end the same way. When you do find that special someone and begin writing that final chapter, it will be filled with stories of love, happiness, joy, and even a little sorrow. It will go on until you are both old, grey, and dead.

I told you it was bitter sweet.

EMPOWER Yourself.
Life is AMAZING and so are YOU,
You are STRONG,
You Deserve RESPECT,
You are COURAGEOUS,
You are LOVEABLE,
You are WORTHWHILE,
You are BRAVE,
LOVE and TRUST Yourself.
BELIEVE

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freedom & joy

He is abusive and if not addressed will only get worse. Easier for me to sit here and say leave him but if he doesn’t aid your growth and happiness he is not the one for you. Your kids are picking up more than you realize too.

Pls do something as you are still in a frame of mind to see your own worth, before this goes too.

Intervention by another family member who can talk to him about how you feel, at best, counselling at worst, of which he has to obviously agree to.

If he is as loving he will want to do what’s best for you and his kids.

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Anonymous

The most accurate article on toxic people I have ever read! I was lucky enough to get rid of my toxic ‘friend’ 15 days ago (not that im counting lol). Its been a blessing but has left me needing counseling to try to move on from what happened (was a VERY nasty ending to the ‘friendship’). I was completely broken from what this person did to me but every day it gets better. Its hard when you still have to see the person regularly though!
I hope the toxic person who was in my life gets the help they need and lives a happy life. There is something wrong with someone who feels the need to tear others down to feel better about themselves.

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freedom & joy

Yes toxic people do need help and is a form of bullying projecting what they intrinsically hate about themselves, on to others.

You have the right approach to wish them well, bless them as you move on in life and form better happier friendships. Toxic people repeat their toxic friendships. I should know, I had a friend who I walked away from 15 years ago and still I hear stories of how she is treating others. It is a kind of mental illness.

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Js

This is my husbands personality – he has called me so many filthy names through the years and has physically assaulted me several times – I was pregnant one of the times when he put his hands around my neck and threatened to kill me when I said I was taking the children and was going to leave him. Back when I use to try to talk to him he would mock me – roll his eyes – look at his imaginary watch – yawn etc. When I confront/try to talk to him about things he has done and said – he calls me a liar and argues instead of talking or trying to resolve anything. He makes wild statements that he never did or said any of the things he did – or he twists everything into a different version and tells me I am crazy – his latest is I am too sensitive. He never ever apologizes for anything he does because he always defends all of his actions – he actually has a name for himself – he calls himself “Mr. Perfect”- he always says this about himself -“cause I am perfect”. I am not kidding – I couldn’t make this stuff up – it’s like watching and listening to a horror story! But…he holds me responsible for everything. Nothing and I mean nothing is his fault. He loves to embarrass me I front of other people – he undermines me constantly especially in public – it makes him feel like “a man”. He is very lazy if I ask him for help he becomes very angry and accuses me of ordering him around and trying to control him – when all I wanted after working a full time job was help with the kids. He talks in a continual condescending tone which he denies doing even while he is doing it – he says it’s all in my mind. He is overly close to his mother and his birth family – they treat me like dirt and he does not care. They had a professional “family” photo taken with his parents and his brothers and sisters only. Our children and I were not allowed in their “family photo”. His mother would call me all the time telling me how her son belongs to her and her family and I am nothing and not a part of it. Sometimes I would not even tell my husband because all he would do is get mad at me and side with his mommy so why bother. He never protects me or stands up for me. One of his sisters came to our home one night to cause real trouble – I went to get my husband for help – he was laying in bed in the fetal position pretending to be asleep – I knew if I insisted he get up he would have knocked me through a wall so I had to call the police to get his sister off our property. The next morning he refused to talk to me – all he said was he was the reason he did not go outside the night before to protect his sister as he felt she could handle herself – he makes zero sense – protect her – his sister – not me – his sister. He left me alone out there waiting for the police to come while his crazy sister is yelling screaming making a total scene on our street on a summer night – all the neighbors were out and all the while my “manly husband” is in bed pretending to be asleep. He is a coward and a bully. When he is out in public he is so over polite to other people it is embarrassing. When I am sick he refuses to help me – I had a very sick pregnancy he stood right in front of me and said “Listen you – I am not doing anything for you” and walked away. He told me I am not allowed to talk to him about any thing – my feelings nothing. He came up to me one day and told me in a very proud tone that when ever I ask him to do anything around the house that he purposely lies to me and says he will do it just so I will “go away” – he was proud of this! He was actual proud of himself that I now know that I cannot believe anything he says! He is angry at me because I stopped making his happiness my responsibility like I use to. I no longer have anything to do with him. We live in the same house but that is where it starts and stops. All he does after work is stare at the tv and eat. I am “polite” to him – that is it – that is all. I have moved on with my life without him – I had to in order to survive. He is perfectly content in his own little world that he has created that never included me.

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freedom & joy

well done for having the strength to recognise he doesn’t aid your growth and happiness and moving on. More a message for others reading as it sounds you have recovered well, but I would say forgiveness also helps to move on positively.

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Annonymous

A few weeks ago, I met this person and we now spend a few hours together everyday. His family is currently not with him. Mine is. He has shared a lot of stuff about his life. I find it hard to talk about mine. It is usual for people to tell me stuff rather than me tell them stuff.

So for the first time I started to share stuff, he was on his phone messaging the entire time. I asked him how would he feel if I did the same thing if he was telling me about his family and he said he wouldn’t feel anything because “it’s not as if we are dating”. I felt guilty and wrote it off.

The next time we had to go to the Mall to get some stuff done for him, and that time too – he spent the entire time which was in an excess of two hours texting. I said it was rude. He again said “if we were on a date” it would be rude otherwise he wouldn’t care about it.

This time even though I felt guilty, I persisted and said that I thought it was rude regardless. He then said that it was his childhood friend and they had just connected on fb. To which I said ok no problem, check with her and ask her if you did this whilst out with her what would she think. He said no it’s ok I understand that it’s wrong and I’m sorry.

And then I said, how come he didn’t think it was rude when he invited me to his room every single time. He didn’t have any answer for that one. He just said you are the neighbour and no one will “gossip”.

The next day I really didn’t want to talk anymore because I was fed up with this constant push and pull and being told that I was “taking things literally” and that I was being “petty” and so on.

When he talks or texts he always says “if you want to talk” or “if you want to meet” – it’s never I want to talk or I want to do this or that.

I’m not the one to give up on being friends and have really tried hard.

He has opened up to me and given the rough time he has had, I always feel that whatever is done is not intentional at all.

But then it falls into a cycle, and I feel he is just meeting for the sake of it.

I’m not sure what to believe anymore and what to do either.

Take for instance this morning, he said if I felt like talking and I said I would come but that I had a migraine. Then after agreeing that we were going to talk, the slant of the conversation just changed to – are you feeling better? Just like that – as if we were never going to talk.

Am I over reacting here and getting all out of hand?

I feel confused and messed up.

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Hey Sigmund

There are so many confusing mixed messages here so I’m not surprised you feel the way you do. It is always rude to be messaging someone while your in a conversation with someone else, unless of course there is something completely urgent that needs immediate attention. Otherwise, the people you are with deserve your full attention. You didn’t get this. It’s very early in the relationship so it might be that the trust hasn’t developed enough or the boundaries around what is acceptable and unacceptable have yet to be negotiated. At any rate, the clearest indicator is how you feel in the relationship. It doesn’t mean this person is toxic, it might just mean that the combination of the both of you isn’t great for you. The clue is what happens when you talk about what you need – are you acknowledged or ignored? Is this relationship able to give you what you need or do you always leave feeling a little sadder? These are the things to think about, and it might be something that becomes clearer with time.

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Anonymous

Hey Sigmund: your writing back is appreciated.

Just to explain that the texting took place the entire 2-3 hours till he realized I wasn’t saying anything. He came up and asked why I looked “grumpy”. As much as I believe he knew what the matter was, it was explained to him nonetheless. Then the “dating” comment was made. I found that to be an ugly comment and said that too.

Another time when I was overwhelmed with things we kept texting via text text finally I said why couldn’t he just come and talk to which he said he didn’t think I wanted to see him in person and then he carried on texting.

Then I asked once again and again and then we met and asked what the problem was with me wanting to talk. He said he thought I wanted a shoulder to cry on and that he believed that I wanted to physically put my head on his shoulder.

Again “if you were my gf” I’d come and get you. Most people don’t want to be seen when they are crying.

So I explained that i like to get things out as opposed to being miserable in the dark so to speak.

He keeps saying I should call, text, see him anytime. Yet I feel I’m the one doing all the talking or texting.

And when I say you too can do the same then it is always followed by “sure IF you want me too”

It’s always projecting his wanting to do something on to me. Then why tell me things about your family? Why spend time? Why say we should spend more time?

Then when we do spend time, the texting. He did apologize many times but deep down I still feel that he doesn’t see it as being not ok. And that is why I feel things are resolved and yet not resolved.

I’m not trying to make him look bad. I care lots and it isn’t my intention to make him sound horrid.

Then I wrote to you online the same day we were meant to meet and where it felt that he changed the slant of the conversation.

As petty as it sounds – I waited to talk all morning. Finally in the evening he called and asked if I was ok and I told him that I had waited all morning. He just said he was busy and I should drop him a text. I did not. I felt crappy.

The next day he texted saying he was back and that we should talk. I couldn’t get around to it because the comments of “dating”, the texting, the feeling of being empty even after spending time made me upset. I was even more upset for not talking to him. He kept at it for almost 2 hours and finally wrote back and said he would never text or call again.

I froze. I am frozen.

Two days later he texts again asking if I want to go with him because he had to collect something. As if the morning and his saying he won’t text or call again never happened.

It’s been a week and I can’t text him back or call him. I’d like to. But I am in a state of flux.

He has been through a lot and so have I. Basically I feel he is a decent person but his actions and his words are conflicting.

He is not seen on his whatsapp for days. As much as I want to talk, I can’t understand why he is always waiting for me to resolve things.

I am willing to and would like him to make an effort instead of changing in a split second. Makes me feel the time spent sharing stuff was worthless.

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freedom & joy

If you are feeling this way, the amswer is simple to walk away. Create distace at the very least sometimes we understand the power of distance.
If after some distance and he is still making you feel like this then find a new friend.

Also to note you are putting his concerns and needs above your own. Remember people will just take what you give them. There are only a few that have the power to ‘reel themselves in’. If he isn’t one of them, find a new friend.

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Anonymous

Freedom & Joy: your comments are appreciated.

Yes I did create distance not because I wanted him to come running but because I was hurt. I remember him waiting for me to get out and talk to him. And then he just flipped and made the “I will never text or call you again” comment. So I ended up feeling worse because I felt guilty that I didn’t just get out and that as he said, I didn’t give him a chance to explain.

The following days when I would arrive home in the car, he made sure he would come out – see that I saw him and then – just turn his back and walk away.

Or if he saw me from the window, he’d just look at me and then look away.

The “dating” comments made me annoyed and it was expressed immediately.

He is the only person I talk to as it is difficult to talk with my husband.

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Whitney

I discovered that I myself am a toxic person. After growing up with an alcoholic mother, a perfectionist family and being in an abusive marriage I am struggling to raise my two kids differently.

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ROBERT LEE

When it comes to toxic people, they are everywhere. The first question that needs to be asked of ourselves is this, “Are we being a toxic person to someone else?”

I think it is important to have a good balance in the sense that we do not see other people for who they are without looking at ourselves for who we are, too.

Moving on, I think to a certain degree, we have a responsibility to influence the so-called toxic people to become better people. Unfortunately, not all toxic people can be avoided – such as family members.

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Barb

I think this ia a good and helpful article. I do not, however, understand what seems like a mixed message. Thee article says we can determine the tone used as a sign of toxic behavior in the other on one hand. Yet, we are also told it as a sign of toxic behavior in them when they mention the tone we use. I think before we examine their motives, we should exam our communication to see if we inadvertently did send a mixed message through our tone or posturing.

Another thing that came to mind is that if at all possible, the “toxic” person who is a “different person” from time to time, may have some degree of undiagnosed bipolar disorder (through no fault of their own) for which tjey can seek treatment.

Again, this is, in my oppinion an excellent article. I just think it is important to mention that we must be aware little in life is black & white. And, there are multiple conditions with shared “symptom sets” – So, don’t be too quick to “diagnose” based on any information without seeking more, personalized, information.

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Hey Sigmund

I understand the confusion here. The thing to remember is that we can all do some of these things some of the time, but toxic people do most of them most (if not all) of the time. It’s more about the combination of several things. You’ll know a true toxic person from the way you regularly feel diminished when you have been with them. Also, toxic people might act differently to others, but they act in the same way. People with bipolar are no more likely to be toxic than anyone else. Similarly, toxic people are no more likely to be bipolar than anyone else. True toxic people have no intention of changing or of seeking treatment because they don’t believe that anything they are doing is wrong or hurtful. This is in contrast to most people with a mental illness who don’t want to feel the way they do. Hopefully that will make things a little clearer.

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edward

I truly need help with my situation. I have been with my girlfriend for 10 years now, and the other day saw her for who she truly is. She has been accusing me of doing things that I know that i am not doing. It started off as her getting mad that i would play games on my phone, but over the past few days she erupted into a psychotic, hurtful, uncaring person. She has started making things up in her head about me. She is accusing me of sneaking women into our bedroom as we are laying together in bed. I try telling her that she’s not making sense or try proving to her that it isn’t possible with us both laying in bed, and that she would have seen or heard something. She will explode in anger or tell me that im lying. She switches things around to make me feel that Im actually doing these things and that it its hurting her deeply. I finally had enough the other day when out of nowhere she started flipping out on me for more nonsense, this time she went to far and was trying to convince me that the night before i had finally confessed too her that Im in love with my cousin and that her and i have been sleeping together for awhile now, and that Im making her feel horrible everyday. Im not doing any of these things and go on to argue tooth and nail to defend myself against her accusations, which somehow she turns around on me and starts saying that she has seen this happen with her own eyes but didn’t say anything because she is afraid that Im going to get angry or start telling her that she is crazy and sick for believing all this nonsensical garbage that she is doing. I went as far as secretly recording her going of on an incredible rant and argument that she started with me about something else that she is making up. I love this women with every ounce of my being and we have to amazing daughters together, but after showing her the video that i recorded, she continues to do the same things. She said that she knows that the things she is saying really dont make sense to her either, but yet she continues to accuse me of doing things to upset her. I hold my ground and let her know that i honestly think that she knows exactly what she’s doing and that my thought on it is that she doesn’t want to be a mother or girlfriend and that she is doing these things to give her a way to turn her back on her daughters and I without having to feel guilty or taking the slightest responsibility for creating this insanity throughout all of our lives. In turn she became heartless and began degrading me to make me feel that i really an the cause of this all.

I honestly feel that over the past few years that i have been torn apart from myself. I no longer feel like the person that i used to be. Im allowing her negativity to overwhelm my entire being. I once a long time ago, knew who i was and what i wanted. Now its like im consistently giving up on myself. I feel hopeless, and Im afraid that this is soon going to start taking effect on my daughters. At the very least im scared that they are going to blame me for everything because since its my responsibility to protect them and im not. I don’t know what to do if there is anything that i can. Even worse is the fact that they see their mother harassing and belittling me. Im honestly afraid.

Please help me to understand how i can try to help my family. They are everything that i want in life and even though i know that none of this is by my doing, i feel so much guilt about not being able to help my girlfriend, or make my children understand what is really going on. Im stuck…. Im losing myself rapidly and barely have the mental strength to continue with the craziness. Im sry, but appreciate the ability to get this out of my mind and a chance to step back and look at what Im actually feeling, which i have locked away for a very long time now….

All my thanks….
E.S.

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Hey Sigmund

Edward I’m sorry that your family is going through this. The sad truth is that if someone is committed to arguing with you or not believing you or seeing you as someone you’re not, there is a limit to what you can do about that. If you’re daughters are witnessing the conflict and the belittling, it will be having an effect on them. It sounds as though you have worked hard to put things right. I can hear how much you want to protect your girls from any harm that can come from the conflict. There is only so much you can do on your own. It sounds as though it is at a point where your relationship needs professional support. It is great that you are able to talk about what’s happening. You sound clear and committed to working through the issues. Would your girlfriend commit to relationship therapy with you? If so, it will be an opportunity to safely explore the issues that are coming between you both and the things that you both need to change. She will also have the opportunity to be heard about what she needs. If she is not prepared to seek counselling to save the relationship, you would have to ask yourself what you are getting from staying.

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Penny

All I can say is WOW! Spot On! Exactly what I needed to read. Thank you so much for the insight.

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Pam Attig

I have a toxic Co -worker. She used to be sickly sweet then nasty for no reason at all, from day to day she switches personalities to suit her. I used to interact when she was being nice.
Not anymore, I come back at her in front of everyone in the office. I stare her right in the eye. She told another co-worker I’m mean, I scare her but I’ve never been happier. She doesn’t even try to manipulate me anymore.

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Sally

Wow! Spot on I need it……my mother in law tortured me coz of that i got autoimmune disease andnow suffering from alopecia arreta my halfhalf eyelahai had gone bald….llost myeyelash hair and one eyes eyelash ha

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Pam

My mom attempted suicide a week and a half after I had brain surgery for a subdural hematoma. She became horribly depressed about four years after my dad died. She would vacillate between extreme generosity and kindness and extreme criticism and judgment. It was so hard to be her only nearby support. She was very reclusive. I think she had Borderline Personality Disorder. If I had understood her anxiety issues better, I might have had more coping skills. Now she has passed on (she chose to die through Hospice when she had pneumonia). I still feel guilt on a daily basis for having failed her. I wish that I could train my brain to move on and to avoid thinking about these past issues that I can’t change.

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Hey Sigmund

Pam even the most compassionate person has a limit to the emotional support they can provide when they are being torn down in circumstances where there is no clear reason. You can’t know what you don’t know. It sounds as though you did the very best with what you had and you can’t do any more than that. You are right, you can’t change the things that have happened but you can grow through them. Let that be what comes from this. Your only other choice is to stay stuck, and I expect your mother would not want to be the reason for your unhappiness. You can absolutely train your brain to move on from these issues, and it starts by be really deliberate about what you focus on. Find two or three memories in which you showed kindness or compassion to your mother. A few times a day, spend time focussing on these. At least two minutes. As you think about them, let yourself experience the compassionate, kind, generous person you are, and use these memories as proof. After two minutes these memories will start to cause small changes in your brain. You might not feel different at first, or the difference might not last long, but after a while you will notice a change. It doesn’t just have to be memories of your kindness and generosity with your mother. Any time that you are happy, kind, compassionate, empathic (anything that pushes against your feelings of guilt, stay with the experience for long enough (at least two minutes) for it to stick. This article will explain things for you. It is all based on highly regarded research in neuroscience http://www.heysigmund.com/why-what-you-focus-on-is-what-becomes-powerful-why-your-thoughts-and-feelings-matter/. On the flip side, whenever you focus on the things that cause you to feel guilt, you will be strengthening these connections in your brain. This is what you need to push past and again, it will take a deliberate effort. One way to do this is to wear a band on your wrist. Whenever you feel yourself being pulled into guilt again, flick it and move your focus to something else. You might need to have an anchor phrase or an anchor memory – something that will be easy for you to call up and shift your focus to. It sounds like it’s time to draw a bold heavy underline and move forward. It will take strength and courage – there is comfort in the familiar – but you can do this.

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Alexandria L. Lee

I was just googling and came across this site and everything was written hit the nail on the head for me I was just in a relationship like this it’s like he tried to find everything wrong and I started loosing me trying to make him happy and I was being hurt constantly disrespectful the last straw him calling me stupid it hurt and he was right for wasting time with him he’s calling and leaving messages that doesn’t mean anything I will forgive in time but I can’t talk or see him right now cause I’m not ready and I dobby think I ever will be

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Danette

This article is 100 correct!!! There is a coworker/ friend who was upset because I didn’t answer her phone calls While in the hospital. I had just given birth to my daughter. She then sent me a series of texts implying that I was ignoring her. That was the final straw for me. After reading this article, I realized that I put up with her nonsense for far too long

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George

I am a male and I am toxic. I have had many a counselor’s session … I have tried really hard to “not be toxic.” I believe it is in my blood. I believe my spouse is toxic making our situation very difficult. We are committed to one another but our life is very difficult. Love does that. I will make an effort based on your article though .. I will admit to her that I am toxic! Let’s see what happens!

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Janet

I think there is a really big problem with terms like ‘toxic person.’ It smacks of blaming people for things which are quite likely due to poor mental health and wellbeing. On the basis of this list, I could basically dismiss my mother as a ‘toxic person’ – the reality is that she has a severe anxiety disorder. Similarly, my first boyfriend and I were both guilty of many things on this list; sadly, our relationship was toxic as despite pure intentions, we were unable to express our love for each other and had no insight into the the things that were making it impossible. Once again, high levels of anxiety, some depression, poor self-esteem and in my case, bad parenting and domestic circumstances were the real issue. I find myself thinking: ‘Actually, how dare you just dismiss people as ‘toxic’?!’ If someone is showing a lack of compassion towards you and doesn’t seem to have the resources to spare for you, there is a good chance they are actually unwell and in a lot of pain.

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Hey Sigmund

Janet there is more to toxic people than a lack of compassion. They deliberately undermine the self-esteem of others around them as a way to control and diminish those people. They lie, they cheat, they manipulate, they abuse – all the while with devastating consequences to the people around them. You will see from the comments the damage they do. We can all do some of these things some of the time. It is a question of degree. With toxic people, their harmful behaviour is intense and consistent. They do damage – serious damage – and they don’t care. They have a total lack of remorse and lack of insight into their destructive ways and the impact they have on people. If people don’t have resources to spare for you, that’s one thing, but actively using the resources they have to deliberately undermine and diminish another person is altogether different. The behaviour is toxic, quite literally, in the way it contaminates the self-esteem and self-concept of an otherwise healthy person. Toxic people create toxic environments which have measurable neurological and physiological consequences to the people they target. Their impact is very real and very damaging and their lack of insight or concern is one of the worst things about it. Here is an article that explains that in more depth http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-stress/.

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Dawn

WOW this is my mother to the letter! Growing up i was in counseling so much. It was identified what the problem was, who it was. It took me years to admit they were right! To this day she is still abusing me, manipulating me, telling lies to people about me. The worst part, i have to take care of her. I’m doing it out of obligation. Nothing more

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June

I had a supervisor tell me that my behavior was toxic I didn’t understand what that meant. I was hurt by her comment. After reading your post I find that it wasn’t me who was toxic it was her. Get this I have a new supervisor who is sweet as pie but she is just as toxic as my last supervisor but in a different kind of way, and they both are born on the same day, same month ??

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Florence

This is completely someone I work with. One day you are best mates and then you come back after a weekend and you get no hello’s not nothing. I try and maintain professionalism by constantly saying good morning and good night, but all I get is grunted at. I have thought about asking her what I have done wrong but I know that I haven’t done anything. She is also the type of person who always has drama in her life. She is never happy unless there is turmoil. A conversation is always around her and if you talk about yourself for 5 seconds she tunes out until it’s her turn to talk about herself again. After reading your article it only just confirms for me that it isn’t me that has the issue that it is in fact her. Unfortunately I know who she really is.

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M & M

This is a co-worker. I have a great team and one toxic person. Makes it so difficult to face going to work when you are a manager and have the follow the appropriate disciplinary steps. This toxic person makes the team not so grand and no matter what we do, we aren’t doing it right. Requires my supervisor and myself to turn things positive so she can see it in another light.

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Brighter days coming

That is great that you realize this. I work in an environment where my immediate supervisor is toxic. She caused the lady who had the job before her to lose it. I was next in line for the position but realized that my fate would then be the same as my friends and moved to the side for her to take the position. Thinking this would appease her. It has not, she continually denigrates me to anyone who will listen. And upper management has yet to figure her out. I am preparing my exit strategy. Again, It is great that you have pinpointed the issue. So many do not. And that is why so much havoc insues.

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Nancy

Coin has two sides. No one is always wrong and no one is always correct. Might be she has bad experience with your team. May be they are doing somthing in your absens, which made her like that. We should not be bias coz sometime people project something differnt for their own benifits. you never know!

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RudeMood

jeez. we’re you watching my life for the last god only knows how many years???

each point is so incredibly accurate and pin point precise to what is happening in my life with my family right now.

I have felt like I have Been the problem with no solution but this explains everything.

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Olgirlinthemix

Ty for toxic people’s assessment. It put some sanity back in my life….

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Turenne

My mother is most toxic person I’ve ever been around. She has all 12 characteristics you listed. Maybe, that’s why I will be done real fast with anyone that smell toxic somehow…

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JMP

I read this and I see the same symptoms of Verbal and Emotional Abuse. I noticed one point that I have sums up to the 12 things to look for in Toxic People. Anytime someone can change the way a person acts or feels for the worst is classic Verbal and Emotional abuse. The type that is not seen but felt for the rest of their lives. Classic Abuse!

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Kim

I can relate to you saying this about your Mother.My daughter is the Toxic one for me.I want to give you a pat on the back for being able to state that about you Mother.Because many people have a hard time calling close family members out on their behavior.

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Turenne

You are right, this is not easy to accept. I have wished otherwise for so long.

Once I realized the negative impact on my whole life, my serenity, self love and self respect, it was clear that I had choose Me, to Be Me and the best version of myself above all. I really don’t expect anything anymore. By separating myself from her and let her be, I am able to distance myself emotionally. It makes all the difference because it is the hope for a change, the expectation and that emotional bond which are so damaging.

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Sad momma

Kim I can relate with you. My daughter has used and abused me since she was 16. Started with drugs,dropping from school, stealing from us. She stole all my jewelry that was given to me by my parents and brothers and took it to pown shop to get drugs.she would call me or come by only when she is in trouble or need me to pay her bills. 18 years she has been doing that,never said I am,I will pay you back or I feel bad that I have done that. As soon as I tell her what she has done to me she would get angry and hang up on me. Next day she would talk to me like nothing happened. She would call me to go store with her only to turn around and have me pay for her things. But I did it because of my little grandson. She was coming around with him and that’s all I cared, see him was true pleasure. She stoped using drugs,got job and everything was good for her.Couple years ago she meet new guy and had baby with him and everything has changed. He made her quit her job,he is not employeed ether.living of food stamps and child SSI.I started paying for her bills,food and gas for car, because I wanted children to have wster and electricity,then i said no more she turned around and told me that I am toxic and she don’t want me around. It is very hard when your own child use you all your life and then turn around and tells you that you’re bad person. She won’t even have me see my grandchildren. .sad

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Car in the Star

Hi Sad Momma,
I would be spending all my money on retaining a lawyer to fight to see my grand babies now. You sound like a kind and warm soul who would do anything for anyone. You have been affected by these toxic fumes. I hope you get to see your grandbabies soon!!!

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Sad momma

Thank you Car in the Star. I love my children,I love people in general. It make me happy when I can help others.
I was thinking same,to get lawyer and sue her for grandparents rights. I miss my grandsons and I know they miss me.

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Dawn

Turenne I’m so sorry about your mother, but you are not alone. I completely understand here. My mom told me Jesus was ashamed of me. If that’s not toxic I don’t know what is. It’s taken me a long time to realize that HE loves me even if my mom is messed up. Blessings to those of you who have toxic people in your lives.

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Chris

My fiance is like this I felt it was all my fault till I read this. I know when I male a mistake and I apologize but she says don’t apologize I’d won’t to hear sorry I hay that word but now it males sense thank you this helped me so much.

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JMP

I read this and I see the same symptoms of Verbal and Emotional Abuse. I noticed one point that I have sums up to the 12 things to look for in Toxic People. Anytime someone can change the way a person acts or feels for the worst is classic Verbal and Emotional abuse. The type that is not seen but felt for the rest of their lives. Classic Abuse!

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JMP

I am glad a subject of this intensity is addressed. The Toxic People are the same people guilty of Verbal and Emotional Abuse. The Words given, feelings that are felt for the worse to that person is classic V/E Abuse. One point I know that does make the 12 ideas more understandable is “Anytime a person can change the way a person feels or acts for the worse is guilty of the Verbal/Emotional Abuse. You might not see it on the outside but you will feel it. UGH!

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Michele

Your article makes so much sense. I know toxic people. I’m dealing with this right now.

Some people have nothing quality to offer you, they just feel like they’re poisoning your blood.

One of the key things that I’ve noticed is that they don’t seem to know that they’re toxic.

They seem to be completely unaware of their negative impact on others, and therefore they will never step forward first admitting they’re wrong or that they have a problem. 

They tend to have traits like narcissism,  selfishness,  denial and have this ‘woe is me’ attitude. They can see the bad in everyone else, but can’t seem to see themselves.

As touched on in the article,  they have split personalities.  One minute they appear to be kind hearted, the next they’re vile. It’s like night and day.

I know all about projection. Been there. They make it look as though you’re to blame. It’s like when you go through security at the airport and they ask you ‘did you pack this bag yourself?’. You know you did, but because of the other person’s words, you start to second guess yourself. That’s kinda how I see toxic people. You have to stick to what you know and don’t let them manipulate you.

I’ve also noticed that they’re repeat offenders. They’ll keep on being highly offensive and you’ll feel as those you’re being repeatedly disrespected. They’ll inconvenience you and they have ‘user’ plastered on their forehead.

It really is extremely tiring to deal with them and I now have a strategy of dealing with toxic people.

Just don’t buy into their mess and don’t react to their foolishness.  You have to try and rise above it. Easier said than done,  I know,  but it can be accomplished.

They seem to thrive when they get a response.  When they want me to engage,  I just divert my attention elsewhere, change the subject or give very short answers. They soon get tired and quit.

It’s so true that they don’t like to apologise.  If you’re waiting for an apology before moving on with your life,  you’ll be waiting forever. It’s hard, but you do have to come to a point where you say ‘ this person is never ever gonna say sorry’.

I try to keep those kinda people out of my circle of friends. People treat you the way you allow.  If you keep looking like a doormat, they’ll keep using you like one. Don’t just expect them to stop, you have to make them stop. You have to get to a place where you call the shots.

Toxic people will drain the life outta you if they can. Don’t let it happen!

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Light Bulb Goes Off

It’s funny. With working a relationship and it’s now concluded, I sit back and because I ingested the toxicity, I feel less than.

On my healing journey, I strive so very hard to unlock their perception of me. I’m left believing I was the toxic person and not them due to allowing them to define me.

All my life I’ve been a bundle of giggles and love. Because of my open heart and never wanting to hurt anyone, I allowed myself to be redefined. I keep hearing in my head the other persons view on how toxic I was, it was me that sabotaged the relationship.

A challenge to rewrite my head messages and go to the FACTS …. all my life folks never found me as I allowed was painted.

My tolerance ran out, I terminated the relationship.

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Alice

And this is kind of shocking, kind of what we’re going through me and my daughter have been abused well I have been abused for 44 years and I will not allow it to control me no more. nNegative people suck, going around trying to see how many you can cosine your bullshit.Put your attention into doing something good for someone ,do one good thing for someone everyday it might help you frog being negative to positive I don’t know

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Disturbed

How does this affect te children. My son’s girlfreind is so toxic she destroyed our relationship. He isnt allowed to talk to me so its ben almost 2 years. He has talked to me twice but they dont count he was so disrespectful andlued about everything. The problem is she moniters his phone calls so when he has talked to me she listens. My Granddaoghter will be 2 inAugust the. Girlfrreind calls me terrible names infront of her. She even locks my son inthe, basement if sheis mad at him I dont kbow what to do. Myson and I were really close he used to tell me everything. He didnt have a grwat relatuonship with his. Father but now that she nade myson sever our relationship his father is. His new best freind. Which isnt good because he is toxicas well. Please give me some advice 2 years withouut my son in my lufe has been hell I cry everyday.

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Hey Sigmund

This is such a distressing thing for you to go through. Unfortunately, until your son is ready to change the relationship with his girlfriend there isn’t much you can do. As long as your son knows how much you love him, the rest is up to him. It might be worth letting him know that you are prepared to support his relationship, even if it is the last thing you feel like doing. The relationship with your son and your grandchildren is the most important thing and if it means supporting the relationship and not saying or doing anything negative in relation to your son’s girlfriend, it may be worth doing that. I wish this could be different for you and for your family. Keep the door open to your son. When he has felt enough pain, he will be able to let go of his relationship and move back towards the people who love and care for him.

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Toxicity

My mother is the most toxic person in my life.. she ruined my chances of getting through university with quitting her job for the time I was there, lent money out of my loan, woke me up at stupid times until it was too much for me.. when I finally dropped out she got her job back and never even talked to me about it. Every time I go to do anything with my life she funnily needs money from me, stops buying food, starts waking me up at every opportunity she finds and suddenly gets ill from ridiculous things that aren’t provable.

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Joey

my immediate superior is a toxic person. he will do anything to save his ass. and at the end im the one who GM put blame on instead of him who have been working in the same company for almost 10 years but know nothing about manufacturing rules. feel awkward when deal with him.

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Sabrina

My son is toxic to me . he is 28 years old and has moved back in with me so to attend school. The problem is he doesn’t attend regularly and that was one of the agreement to reside here (rent free). Also when i try to reinforce the other rules of living here such as coming in on time, (not all hours of the night) he doesn’t comply. This has been going on for 18 months and i am at wits end. It lead to asking him to leave and figure it out that i do not need to conform to his behaviour. He hasn’t communicated with me since leaving, nor has he picked up his mail which looks to have pretty serious contents attached to it . (such as unpaid traffic tickets, and a large probability of not having auto insurance.) He refuses to talk to me and address these issues. He is also using my present address. I fear some day the law will come knocking looking for him and i have no idea where he is. Any suggestions on this matter would be of great help. I love your site, its opened my eyes forever.

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Hey Sigmund

Sabrina I’m pleased this has given you some clarity. This sounds like a really difficult situation to be in. Being 28, there is a limit to what you can do in relation to your son. He is well and truly an adult now, and it is his growth. He is very unlikely to change anything until he is ready, regardless of how much the people who love him want him to make different choices. People generally don’t change until they feel enough pain. If he isn’t changing, it’s because he hasn’t felt enough pain to force the change. I understand how scary it must feel at times for you, but you can only do what you can do. Let him know that you love him (loving someone doesn’t mean that you have to accept their behaviour), if you can reach him, and wait for him to do the rest.

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Sabrina Labelle

Hi Sigmund. Thank you for listening to my story. I am learning to let go of him and wait for the changes so desperately needed to be accomplished by him. (Tough Love) towards a child is also tough on a parent displaying it as you may know. Thank you for the advice, i have shared with him that he is deeply loved and that is the biggest reason for all of this happening in his life, the frustration i am feeling at the moment is that he has not communicated back with me to let me know he is doing ok.

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J Ulibarr

The owner of the company I worked for lied, would throw fits and throw things like a two year old. He always needed someone to blame, wouldn’t listen, would blame whoever wasn’t in the room at the time, would talk about patient’s in front of other patient’s, calling them stupid or idiots. Call the office mgr, who lived in a different state, every time some little thing happened. I finally walked out, I couldn’t handle it anymore. And he was a friend. I was so disappointed when I saw this side of him.

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Lanie

yeah a relative offered me a job once but I know he’s toxic so I turned him down. If I sent this link to him he’d have a hysterical fit — I mean that literally, I’ve seen him do it — so obviously he’s in too deep to even see up. And since I know his background, I know that what a lot of people are saying in their comments is true: these are people who grew up in abusive relationships and still haven’t realized the damage it did, let alone that there are things to do to repair the damage.

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Michelle

These describe some members of my family and the co-workers I have to interact with daily. I knew I wasn’t the smartest person at work but I felt I had something to contribute. However no matter how hard I tried the response was more like … ‘Let the ones with the experience handle that’ ‘I am/We are more qualified than you in this field’ ‘It does sound like a good idea but that naivete is what got us into trouble in the first place’. So after a while I just shut up and lately I’ve been feeling really really really dumb. Thanks, your article shed some light on the matter.

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Liz

I had to tell a co-worker to “”Just Stop that””!!
She badgered me for years every morning
Setting the tone for the day. One day, I just screamed
It out and she finally stopped”
The other one just tells me how fat my ass looks
At work’ ‘ now is that really necessary?

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Ed

This is my Wife to a tee. I love her very much. She is a joy to be with when she is happy, however when she is not she is the most Toxic of people.

I can recognise about 10 out of the 12 points above in my Wife’s personality. She is not nice to be around when she is like this. She started a row on Sunday just gone over the smallest of things and now it Thursday and the silent treatment still continues. She only speaks to me in an aggressive tone.

I have though about leaving her in the past however I have 2 sons (8&7) that I love very much and I couldn’t bear to leave them in this situation.

To be honest – Most of my Wife’s Family are like this, Here Sister & brother are exactly the same.

Could you suggest any books I could read or techniques that I could use to try help with managing this behaviour

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Hey Sigmund

Ed I completely understand how difficult this is. Managing this issue is more about managing the impact it has on you. If you can, try to have your own interests so that you are getting the social connection and mood lift we all need – spend time with friends, join a group or a sporting team – anything that lets you have healthy connections. It will also be helpful for your boys to see that you have other healthy relationships and interests outside of the family. There isn’t much you can do to change toxic people unless they themselves are ready to change. It will be important for your boys that they see that there are other ways to respond to people, so they will learn a lot from watching you and the way you are in your relationships.

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Lizzie

These girl I know they like to watch me suffer! They make me feel fat of ugly I try to stay away from them but they always find away to make sure I’m with them?

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Hey Sigmund

Lizzie you are doing the right thing by staying away from them. These people are trying to convince you of something that just isn’t true. You are so much more than they could ever know.

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thembi

You helped me realize that my boyfriend is toxic person some of the thing you mention he do and I end up been the bad guy with guilt and stress

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Greg H.

Enlightening. This is my wife…to the tee. After ten years of marriage, the intensity of her behavior continues to rise. I think you’ve helped me make that important decision. I’d rather be alone than manipulated.

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Katherine

This is interesting stuff. I have been toxic, I have had toxic people in my life, I have seen changes in people I knew who have learnt more about psychology etc, I guess the key point is how you feel at the end of the day. Life truly is too short to spend time on energetically draining people, if only I had realised that sooner. My mother is a toxic person but she has good qualities too. What you focus on grows, I learnt that I love some people too much to cut them out of my life, but its important to limit your time with them. One hour, all good try to bring out the best.

However some people are truly toxic and need an impetus to change, for me I had a wake up call when a friend cut me out of her life ten years ago now. It was painful but I did understand, deep down I was in so much pain and loneliness.

However I have found that some people just lack awareness of their toxicity because no one has bought it up. Be brave and tell the other person your side of things. It takes two to work on a relationship.

However that being said, most toxic people need to have professional therapy and very few can afford it.

Love is a powerful force, offer compassion but honor yourself, also bear in mind people do change and mature. Perhaps if you let go of your own resentments toward the person you will notice that.

Set boundaries and stick by them. Make NO your favourite word.

And seriously, do what makes you happy. If someone is not happy that you are happy, they will fade out of your life.

My ex best mate was horribly toxic, her and my mum, jealous of my life. I tried hard to achieve my dreams and had so much fun, living and loving my life. I had people around me begin to demand my time but try to steal my friends or boyfriends.

I never really understood why, I am special but I believe everyone is special and unique.

Anyway, they would use my house as a place to get drunk and just ohhh I was treated so badly by these people. Doormat.

Anyway, when I got engaged and had my lovely baby, where were all my friends?

Choking on their own toxicity elsewhere because I focused on my happiness first, because their is nothing wrong with that.

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Joe

I really wonder, what makes them this way? how do they become toxic? and can it be cured?

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Heather

I started reading this article with the hope that it would provide me with insight on how to deal with my mother. In reading it I realized I have become toxic also to my own children. The first few signs were classic mom, then as the article progressed I realized that I had done the same things to my own older children. I am on a path to correct my life and I am glad that this article has put a little more focus, for me, on what I am doing wrong.

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Tyrone

That’s my wife! I would have never married her if she had shown me this side, but for years she put on a mask. Now we unfortunately have a child together and aside from murdering her and keeping my daughter, I don’t have an out. I think if i divorce her it will affect my daughter and she won’t let me see her.

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chery

My B/F. .It went on for years..
It was the most crazy making thing I have ever been through. Some of the things he did were so outlandish and shocking.. That I was reeling with confusion from them.From almost day one…
Accusing me of things I never thought , much less said or did..
Always finding fault, always picking me apart.. Telling me I projected a nasty attitude and no one liked me..
Just constantly tearing me down. Shredding me and leaving more and more of me piled up in a heap..A life time of feeling good about myself, my accomplishments.. Which were plenty…..
He slowly turned me into a unsure, insecure person that felt unloved, unliked, and incapable of functioning around other people.
And when he had me to the point I didn’t even know how to defend myself.After years of being screamed over, shouted down.. Unable to be heard..I gave up trying…
THEN he started badgering me for being a woos!! Who didn’t even try to defend herself..
Something inside me though , said I had , had enough.
I knew better than to bother speaking to him. Trying to speak only got me screamed at.. He refused to ever hear me out..
I suddenly rose back up and saw the me I used to be.. And knew the only difference between then and now.. Was him..
And though dumping him totally has seemed impossible..
I now ignore him.. I rarely look at him.
HE takes the silence and enjoys it.. But I’m only protecting myself .. I am moving on.. And one day he will show up and I will be gone.
He is totally unaware that he means nothing to me anymore..
One day when I am totally gone.. He won’t understand. To that I am sure… He will complain he was wronged. To that I am sure.

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Leanne

I hear you. I have been down that road and still cause I love him.everything my fault am basically not allowed feeling of how I feel and if I don’t have them he ssid he will love me more. It upsets me he thinks he can talk on the phone for 40 mins to this female and no the whole time how I feel about it as its happened before. It makes me anoxious and frustrated epically to no I’m suppose to be ok with it when he could of cut it short knowing it hurts me but with rather not upset her instead. Any help on this please

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Brenda

It’s possible that he actually enjoys upsetting you! My ex-husband did the same thing. He also put pictures on the wall of another woman. He treated me like an object without feelings, opinions, desires, and incapable of a thought separate from his. I was so hurt when he talked on the phone for hours to other women, but would not talk to me. He’s go to work never call. Spend time on the phone after work. When he saw how upset I was I noticed a slight grin on his face! WHAT! Yes, he was actually enjoying seeing me in pain. When I asked if he was enjoying himself, his grin grew wider. Something broke in me and that day I began planning to leave. Once I left, he was shocked and begged me to come back. That was 4 years ago. I still love him but life is too short and I am so happy to be away from him. I’ve broken all communication with him.

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Sabreen

It was this article that startred it all. The answer that broke the comfusion wide open. A bittetsweet blessing for me and for many. It was this same article I read 5 months ago. I checked in today and see it is the gift that keeps on giving. A portal that PTSD survivors step through to find their twilight zone fog lifted and understanding granted. It is amazing that it is still doing this for so many who like me were lost and searching for an answer. I imagine this articles thread to continue for months, if not years. And I wanted to thank you sincerely for writing it, It has been a guiding light in a cavern of darkness. This was the article that named what happened to me and set me on the path to exploration and recovery. May God continue to bless you for writing and sharing it.

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Hey Sigmund

Thank you Sabreen. It sounds as though you have had a difficult time, though one of great strength and courage. I’m pleased this article helped you find the clarity and strength you needed – it really means a lot to me that you have let me know. Keep moving forward. Love and strength to you.

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Deb

Thank you for this article. It helped me to see that the relationship I’ve been in for the last 2 months has been toxic. The most difficult thing about this is the disappointment and hurt it has caused.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Deb. It doesn’t matter how much pain the relationship causes, realising that it’s not working, or never going to work can still be so heartbreaking. There will be things you will have learned about yourself and people from being in this relationship. No experience is ever wasted. What is a waste is hanging on to something long after the realisation that it is no longer good for you.

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Tyler

This is me right now. I live with my parents still and even typing this is making me shake already. I’m 21 now and still trying to move out. And it doesn’t help that they’re in their 50’s of age.

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Anonymous

Finally hit me this morning. It has been weeks of drained energy, depression, etc. I am surrounded by these people right now. I left my job of 30 yrs. And left the door wide open for them. I realized just now, because I grew up with no boundaries in a toxic household. I had been using my unhappy career to keep them at a safe distance. I have already cut off one family member and now unfortunately their will be more. I have alot of work to do on myself, and simply can’t allow them this control anymore. This may not seem like the healthiest approach however, I am too old to backtrack now. It is save myself time. I searched for this information, and know I’m in for a long road but that’s o.k. I am simply relieved because I actually felt like I may be heading for a nervous breakdown. I attracted much of these people due to my sensitive, tolerant nature but without a job as a safety net, I am as vulnerable as a baby. New Direction! It’s painful but I am willing to sacrifice them for me! It sounds harsh but this was extremely insightful and it scared the be Jesus outta me!

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Elle

Tyler, get out as soon as you can. My advice is get as far away geographically as you can. Do not let them hoover you back – they will try guilt trips, illness, threats and maybe empty promises of gifts. I wish I had gotten away for good when I was 21. Instead I used to drop everything and run back every time one of them got sick and ended up in hospital. It happened a LOT. Almost 25 years later I am nothing but a life support system for two vampires. Despite them both being hospitalised several times for fatal illnesses they have always pulled through. Their illnesses and hospitalisations have cost me relationships, friendships and prevented me moving forward in my career. The older they get the worse it is. I am now in my 40s and never get to see friends because of their needs. I have stress-related autoimmune conditions and am trying to recover from burnout but I have to put my recovery on the back burner because the vampires always need something from me. There are days I am so tired I don’t care if I live or die. I wish I had cut ties completely with them and not tried to be the good child.

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Cheryl

Chery, I am right there with you. Your words are beautifully said and were perfect for me to hear right now. I wish you luck as you rid yourself of the hurt that you don’t deserve. I am beginning my journey today…

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Jaime

This description fits my father so exact that it sends chills down my spine. I’m so shocked at how this article is so right on with everything.

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Mamie

I have read that not only do they look for ways to abuse you, but in the quiet honeymoon faze they are planning how to hurt, torment and tear you down next time. Two, they don’t love you at all. They are incapable of love and empathy. Run tun run heal your mind and body.

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Mickey

I feel the same way 22 years have gone by and two kids later, nothing has changed. I just realized it. I have to now prepare myself and my kids financially and emotionally for the separation that is to come. Because I can not allow my daughters to grow up thinking it’s ok to be verbally abused by a man because they see their father doing it to their mother.

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AnonymousK

I can relate to this article very well, and it is a bit disheartening. My S.O exhibits nearly all of these behaviors. Of course it hasnt always been this way, or I would have not gotten involved in the first place. I feel that every comment I make, opinion I state that differs from his own, I’m met with rude comments, name calling, and outright condescension. Admittedly, I have allowed this behavior in the past, thinking he doesn’t really mean it, but I’m realizing more and more that he does or doesn’t care. I try communicating this with him(I’m more or less isolated from friends and family, and don’t have anyone else to speak with anyway.) when I tell him my feelings are hurt, he instantly is mad, yelling, calling names, and telling me that I’m all the things he’s behaving as. It’s gotten to the point where I do not want to sleep with him, which of course is another problem in itself. We typically have sex at least once a day, which I feel is pretty darn healthy. Even when we do, it’s not enough times a day, or the wrong time of day, or isn’t the sex HE wanted.( though he makes no effort himself to change anything) and if I’m not feeling well or not in the mood, it’s all hell to pay. He will ignore me, give me the cold shoulder, respond like he isn’t even a friend to me. This turns me off even more, and I desire him less and less. I love him dearly, and have done really amazing memories with him for the past 10years, but I don’t know how much more I can take. I refuse to be bullied! It hurts, and I feels alone. I also must mention that I pay all of the bills for the house, (I work full time, he works part time) I do all of the cleaning, yard work(he refuses to mow the lawn b/c he’s allegedly allergic…he’s not) I also have been remodeling the home on the solo, because he has no interest in helping and will throw a fit if I ask for help. I also need to mention, as embarrassing as it is, that he does drive me to and from work b/c I don’t have a liscense. (That’s another story in itself) I’m also embarrassed to admit that as i write this,I’m ducking and dodging this post individuals from his eyes, as he slunks about the homestead, because that would be a fight as well. Part of me wants to make it work b/c it has we have worked well together in the past, but part of me is ready for a new chapter. This is selfish on my behalf, but I’m worried that all this care and money I’ve personally invested in this home will be for naught, and I worry that I will not have a means to get to work. Any insight, advice, stories,that anyone would like to share with me, would be greatly appreciated.

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trish

To Chery,
I was going tthrough the post as well as ur comments and realised the similarities we have in our own personal toxic realtionships ,and i cant get over the fact how easy it is to loose ones self with these over manupaltive people who take our rooms , our space ,our time in the name of a relationship and turn it to their convience long as our time is dedicated to serve them and their clothes laundry food time to come home and when we know we have the right to question tem then these losers make it all about our nature atitude and temprament .
i had a bad day again cause of him and when i said i pointed out that it was his things that are lying in my place cause of which both my health and cleanliness of the room have gone for a toss he was like ,r u mad ,ur family thinks that to, thats what u gving ur family a reason it point fingers at u , i said thts about it . he has to move out of my place for good , but before i closed this chapter in my life i wanted to give my self the benefit of the doubt that i was doing the right thing , cause this man had played with my strength so badly that i started doubting myself.
Anyways i wish u a good and a happy and peacefull life to.

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Heidi Tuynman

Ok. I wish I could go. I can’t find anyone to watch Ruger of course. 🙁 I might try and see how he does but usually I have to leave because he will not sit

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Heidi Tuynman

I wrote a lot and somehow the wrong comment posted so I will try to rewrite….This article is spot on. I think sometimes I am crazy, that i am worth nothing, that there is nothing left of myself. I don’t want to do anything for myself, I have a hard time getting through the day sometimes, I only want to be around my kids. I was in a toxic relationship for 6 years with a man who in the end, after he brought my self esteem so low and gaslighted me to the max, gave me smaller and smaller amounts of what I wanted (or wanted to hear) just to keep me on the line, said I was not worth it and he didn’t care about me…among other things. Everything I needed was ridiculous, everything I wanted I got the opposite, talking to him was like to a brick wall, I was always wrong, he was always angry and cold, unless he wanted something. I had to make him leave a couple months ago, but I still love him. I decided I am done with men. I can’t do this again. So many bad relationships and each one is worse. So i am working on a celibacy plan. Right now life is about survival and my kids. What I need does not matter anymore. But although I quit talking to him and I don’t even look at his face when he comes to see the kids, he still cuts me down to them and acts like it’s nothing. And of course my feelings are not heard. Why do I still love him? You guys make it sound so easy, just cut them out of your life, move on, you can only control your own actions i KNOW these things, but I literally feel like I am dying and each day is worse. None of my friends understand. I have my mom but she is far away. And anyway, I don’t know what to do. I have tried everything I know how, but he ruined my life. I gave him everything I had left and now I have 3 kids, by 2 diff dads. One of my kids is 5 months old. I won’t put them through anything like this again. And my heart hurts. It gets worse every day. I wish something helped.

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Confusedandbroken

It’s the worst pain loving a man that takes you for granted. I just went through it myself for a year thinking that everything I gave him, love, attention, time and energy, I thought I was showing him how loyal and thoughtful and loving I am towards him. He told me that’s the type of girl he wanted and that is the type that I am and I tried so hard to love him only to finally accept that he never loved me. He took me for everything I had, took advantage of me, called me names, manipulated me and made me feel worthless and blamed me for everything. I kept thinking he was going to change but he continued to blame me saying that I made him this way. He doesn’t know that the friends I’ve spoken to that know him well told me he does this with every girl and it’s not worth it. He sweet talked me and he was my first, and I just so much wanted him to be my only. But he blocked me, gave me the silent treatment called me crazy and phycho and left. Then told me he will talk to me when he’s ready and that I better not be sleeping with other people. It was the worst kind of pain and torture I have ever been through and u don’t wish this pain on anybody. I don’t understand how people can do this and be so cruel without even knowing it. I loved this man so much and he made me feel like it was never enough. It’s the worst kind of pain, but I am trying everyday to stay strong and move on because I know he’s sleeping around and thinks it’s okay. It’s so wrong. He has a daughter too and still messes with girls. I just don’t understand.

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Brokeninrecovery

I went through the same thing, taken for granted, being manipulated to believe your the cause of his anger, not good enough, a burden. Truth be told its not you, he is insecure and miserable with himself and his short comings. Misery loves company. Stay strong time will make it easier eventually, it just takes time.

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Sabreen

To Heidi: I have only been married once. It lasted for 20 years. He was my first and only. I am older, wiser. No money, nor security but, I was gifted with my beautiful children. You WILL get better. You will heal. But you must enforce no contact. I have learned that I must become my own best friend and look out for my wellbeing as I would my child or a dear friend. And your heart? It is resilient, It can withstand great storms. Strive to think and reason well. There is someone trustworthy enough that you know who can help you format a plan to move you forward. I have done it. We survived eviction, came within a hairs width of homelessness twice, but WE ARE HERE. Everyday choosing our humanity over becoming monsters. You need yourself. Your children are watching. Show them how it is done. Fight for your life, for beauty, for worthiness.
One day at a time, Keep going. Keep going….

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Chloe

Wow, seriously, i think i myself and my ex is toxic, he never say sorry, but im the one who always did…..although we separated, but i still quite obsessed with him, and im so confused why i will act in this way….any idea or suggestion you can help me? I dont know what’s going on with me. Thanks

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Chloe

Thanks for the articles….i just got too tired of living my life…although now im in new relationship with a very very caring and good guy, i cant feel anything….its just like all the love and emotions are all locked up…..i dont know what to do with it….

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Chloe

Wow, i think me and my ex is a toxic people, i always said sorry and he never would have respond anything and he dont even said sorry….although we are separated now, but im kind of obsessed with him still…im so confused and do not know what is happening with me…. can you help me? maybe give me some suggestion and solutions….Thanks

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Teach me

My neighbor is so TOXIC!! As soon as she moved into my neighborhood..she immediately took me by surprise and became my best friend!! Sooner than later, she began telling me bits and pieces about her life..family has deserted her..husband left her..lost her job, surgery after surgery.. Finally a year later..after another surgery..I waited on her hand and foot..bring her dinnner every night, cleaning her house..taking care of this and that..but did she ever call or text me?? No!! So I thought to myself..what the hell am I doing?? I held off and she never called me or texted me for 2 weeks..she had me on an emotional roller coaster ride from hell. One day happy/one day bitchy and accusing me of things that had nothing to do with my life..Basically she unloaded he crap on me blaming me for her life!! Finally I told her she was a trainwreck and I haven’t talked to her since..I finally realized how toxic she is and I just want to get rid of the toxicity! I have booked two appointments for a salt/foot bath with Ions..I hope it helps!! I feel so much better now that I’ve figured out what was causing my saddness, depression, etc..I was being controlled by a TOXIC BITCH!!

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K

I work with someone like this. She is a substandard teacher; I was asked to help her. I was working harder at helping her than she was. Turned on me after I bought her lunches, listened to her discredit friends, etc. Then, when I wouldn’t fabricate documents for her, she turned on me and went to our superiors stating that I made her feel threatened and attacked. She moved onto another person/ victim manipulating this person into remodeling her entire workspace. I am at a loss.

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Whitney

I’m so glad I read this. I was involved with a VERY TOXIC guy for almost 5 years. At first it was great…then he slowly started showing me the real him. Throughout those years I dealt with heartache, embarassement, ALOT of mental emotional and verbal abuse(It was REALLY bad). There were so many other women I knew nothing about.. He even had another child with someone else. You could say I was dumb..REALLY dumb. But it was love (at least I thought it was) Its like I was believing/forcing someone to change who refused to. The abuse got so bad to the point I would have nervous breakdowns and even thought about suicide MANY times. I would always say to him “you treat me so much worst than the others”…when really I shouldn’t have put up with it period. He is bipolar/schizophrenic so I dealt with a couple bipolar episodes…but it doesn’t matter and it’s no excuse. Honestly I’m in the process of ending things with him and trying to heal. It hurts so bad, it really does. But I honestly believe if I keep fooling with him I’m going to drive myself to suicide. But, I’m starting to accept things for how they are and that I don’t deserve this. This situation is so bad to the point I would NEVER wish it on anybody!!!! I felt like he drained my soul out of me and did these bad things because he knew he had me and that id come back everytime. If you’re reading this just asking that you keep me in your thoughts. Any women out there dealing with this type of guy YOU DONT HAVE TO PUT UP WITH IT!!!! Youre worth so much more ladies!!! I’m so glad im finally realizing my worth as a woman..I will continue learning to love myself more so that I will never experience this again ever in my life.

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Melissa

Usually these “toxic” people were victims of abuse, neglect, or worse. I did every one of these to my husband, but he stuck it out, I got therapy, and things are much better. People behave this way because they don’t know what else to do. Also, as for the “it’s clear that something is bothering them, but they’ll say ‘nothing'” it could be that they don’t know and so they’ll say “nothing” Because they recognize they’re upset but have no idea why. This was one of my biggest challenges. Turns out, when you neglect an infant, the emotional processing part of the brain shuts down so they don’t feel as much pain and suffering. Just numbness. Thus, an inability to recognize and deal with emotions as adults.

Next time maybe try some compassion. Most of us already hate that we are the way we are and there’s a lot of shame and guilt associated with it.

Google “complex PTSD,” “developmental trauma disorder,” and “attachment disorders in adults.” Just see if you feel any differently. These people need support systems. Not to be tossed out like toxic trash.

I will say this – if someone isn’t willing to do the work to change, that’s different. But sometimes they don’t even realize until several failed relationships with the same patterns later, that something was hardwired improperly at some point.

Sincerely,
A girl who was neglected, sexually abused, emotionally manipulated, and physically abused by her birth mom. I’m on the road to recovery & have had to apologize to many along the way.

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Kate

I would like to thankyou for this wonderful and insightful article.
It has helped me make the changes I needed to move on with my life.

I have been in a friendship with a toxic person for nearly 25yrs. I’ve felt small, critized, misinterpreted and just plain bewildered at times, stuck in a cycle so this person could keep control to bolster their own low self esteem. I know my own childhood experiences and battles with low self esteem are how I got in this situation in the first place.

I’ve known for a long time what I’ve needed to do but always ended up back where I was, feeling weak for not being able to walk away.

Well after reading some of your articles I decided I deserved better.
I kept this article pinned to my phone home screen and everytime I doubted myself or felt guilt over walking away from this person I read it and felt resolve and strength in my decision.
I admit I do feel a bit lonely now as this was a ‘ best friend’, someone I shared a large part of my life with. There were good times as well but life with a toxic friend is lonely anyway. At least Im looking after myself now. There is room in my life for more positive friendships that I hope will come in time.

I’m 40yrs old this year. Instead of looking back over the last 25yrs with regret I feel strong, empowered and have learnt valuable lessons. I can now move forward to the next chapter in a positive way and it feels amazing!

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Renee

For me it my Aunt who helped raise me, when I was little she would always ask me “When you get older your going to take care of me, right?” I thought at that time she was just asking to teach me about being there for family…that was until I realized that she never really wanted me to get married or have children. Or have a social life, for years my friends would come and say lets go skating or let’s go on a trip and I would have to ask permission (at 18) because she had me convinced that no one would ever really accept me or like me. As I got older I found myself being bullied into handing over not only the inheritance my Father (her brother) left me but also my paychecks from work while she did not work at all. This stopped when I moved out and started a family of my own but the manipulation has not stopped I’m married and have three children – she has successfully gotten my children kicked out of daycare; because she shows up trying to control when they would be picked up while I’m at work, gotten me fired from jobs because she called every hour on the hour. Luckily my oldest is 16 now and my middle child is 15 so I don’t have to worry about a babysitter – but wait she now comes to my home when my husband and I are at work and forces the children to come to her house because its safer. I could go on but my hands are getting tired and thinking about this is making me angry! Any advice you all have would be awesome and greatly appreciated!!

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Lilly

move far away from her and dont tell her where your going dont tell her where the kids are going to school cut off all contact with this lady and just go

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Shanae

I have a sister who I wasn’t raised with due to my mother being locked up in jail. I was 2 in a half at the time my brother 18 months ahead of me . Our sister is 10 years older .

I have always had issues with her as I started getting older . I always assumed that it was because I didn’t share the same father as her and my brother . But current to date I moved an hour aya from where I was living to start a new life .

For once in my life I am around my family again my brothers like 15 mins away my sister and mother [they live together] 5 mins away . I finally get my life together I was always a bum party animal drunk . Now I have a 2 year old I work I make good money my daughters dad works and makes good money we have a home ,nice things inside it feels like it’s all coming together .

I was wrong , once again my sister and I are not getting along . It will start with nothing , nothing as in nothing out of the ordinary that I did to her like an argument . I end up feeling shunned because my mom lives with her and it always seem like when my sister and I are fighting no other family member talks to me as well .

Well the last time we talked it was catty . She was giving me a table and I do need a table but it was already 2 weeks in my new place and I needed a table . When I seen her i didn’t mention the table she told ME that she will bring the table later … I assume like anyone else later in the day . So I asked her when ? She replies in the most petty passive aggressive way possible ” well I DONT want to do it today and I CANT do it tomorrow !”

At that point I don’t even want the dam table anymore . So I tell her it’s okay I’ll buy one , lol she says “why do you want another bill ?!” I told her my bills aren’t her business she said she was throwing it in the trash and that was the last we talked .

Mean while a holiday has passed and neither my sister or my mom make an attempted to be a aunt and grama . It’s very sad I’ve come to the point that these little immature fights that happen between my sister and are a pattern .

Hurts my heart that I still want a family . I am now in defensive mode for my daughter . I am lost at where do I go from here with them ? I love my life and want them apart of that but my sister whose 10 years older then me proceeds to let stupid stuff make us not speak to eachother .

I honestly feel she already wasn’t really wanting to talk to be before she got snotty . The table is now an official reason to not talk to me . A reason to give people . I’m lost for words because this has been going on for years . She is insanely jealous person that you can’t even have a relationship with her . I feel with her don’t come around if your hair is nicer or she feels your clothes are nice and won’t compliment rather just not say anything . I could have went to dinner and she got jealous .

I have been doing my own thing now for a few weeks but have a check going to my sisters house . I am afraid she will not tell me it’s there. Close friends and family ” are you sure she would do that ” my reply . I have NO idea .

I almost feel she wouldn’t tell me or throw it away . I try not to think like that because I need the money . On top of that I have belongings there too . Ayas stuff my husbands stuff … So I feel like I have to kiss their ass and not really tell them I’m upset until I get my stuff .

Hate feeling this stress . I just got a beautiful home and have a great job . I don’t want to have problems I feel great happier then I have ever been . Can’t help but feel anger when I feel my mom shouldn’t take a side and still be apart of my life reguardless .

I pray for guidance .

Sincerely ,
Lost .

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Shanae

Should I get the check and move on ? Should I tell my mom before I get my stuff or After .

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Anna

My parents have treated me like this all my life. I thought it was normal. I’ve only just realized that, no, it’s not, and that no one should have to deal with this kind of treatment.

Unfortunately, I’m still stuck living with them, despite being 21, as I’m financially dependant on them.

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Elle

Anna, do what you can to get out of there. Otherwise you’ll end up like me. See my reply to Tyler above for more detail. You deserve a life – take it before they take yours.

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Elle

I think I’m in a toxic relationship. He can be so sweet one day and so bitter the other. It makes me feel like I’m loosing my mind! In the begining of the relationship he tried very hard – we spent lots of time together, he was gentle, loving, sweet… But now it seems like he doesn’t care about me. He’ll always pick booze and drugs over me. Good example for this is that he didn’t get me anything for Valentine’s day – we should have gone to the movies, but he got high with his friends and later “he didn’t have the money” for a gift yet he spends every day in a bar. Also, when we’re out together he ALWAYS judges me and insults me. Everything I say and do is simply wrong and he’s happiest when he can point it out. Once I asked him if he’s had enough of putting me down and he got all cocky, telling me that I can’t take a joke and stormed out of the bar. Guess who appologized for that one? Yup, here I am.
After all this, it sounds silly but when I get just a bit of his attention I get my hopes up.
I got so insecure since I started this replationship, I can barely recognize myself, and I got the same comment from some people who are close to me.

I know what I have to do, but for some reason – I don’t have the guts! What’s wrong with me?

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Hey Sigmund

Elle, the small bits you get from this man will never make everything else worthwhile. You know this. When did you start believing that you didn’t deserve more than this? This relationship sounds worse than no relationship because of the damage it is doing. He treats you the way he does because it works to keep you small and diminished. There is no reason for him to change, and the truth is it is unlikely that he would change anyway. You will leave when you feel enough pain. What is ‘enough pain’ for you? What do you imagine you will be like at that point? At any time you want to, you can draw a bold heavy underline and decide to want more for yourself. Inside you is a woman who needs you to fight for her – to be loved more, respected more and cared for more. You deserve that – you really do – but only you can make that decision.

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Georgie

Oh my god. This is just like my ex best friend! I had a boyfriend and she’d manipulate both us to break up and control everything we did. She had a thing for me and used to make me have to choose between her and my ex boyfriend. I am not friends with her because of this, now she is stalking and manipulating other friends I have made to hate me. It is still going on unfortunately. She recently vandalised a park I find refuge. It sucks and I hope it stops soon.

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kate wong

Thanks for uploading this message. It is very true. I got out of a 10 years toxic relationship without even realising how much damages it has done to my well-being. It is not easy to leave a 10 years relationship whether toxic or not and it needs so much courage to stop any sort of communication.

Your article do me good and appreciate for publishing it. Hope more peoples learn what toxic relationship is before falling into a ten year trap. Thanks.

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Dona

Maybe one could argue that some of this points not necessarily mean intentional manipulation but but also can be a sign of neediness loneliness and insecurity.

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Hey Sigmund

Whatever the drive, it’s still manipulation if it is intended to control another person in a way that is harmful for that other person. The point of toxic behaviour is that it’s toxic – it contaminates the self-esteem and happiness of another person. The need for love and security are very valid needs, but if the behaviour that is being used to meet those needs is harmful to others, it’s still toxic, regardless of the need it is trying to meet. Nobody should be held to emotional ransom for anyone’s needs.

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Dona

Maybe also inability to deal with problems in a health way inability to take responsibility for your own mistakes.some of them are clear sign of manipulation like the example with the silent person who makes u guess but most of them can be caused by other problems in people. ..and usually what cause them to behave this way is hardship they had in life probably also some resentment still present in their heart’s

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Meg

This is on point.

Toxic people are addicted to their racket of critcism and negativity. It is an illness, It is a spirit. It is a demon.

Steer clear. Recognize it, disengage, and break free as soon as you can. Never, ever allow a toxic and negativer person to affect you again. If you must answer them, you can say “My point of view is much different, I see it in a positive manner and I will always choose the positive appoach.” Shut them down with your positive truth and run.

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Peter

Ok, this is good advice for sure.

I am that toxic person, maybe not as bad as it sounds like some are from the stories, but I so so want to change. If people keep running away from me (as they do) I can’t see a way of doing that. I feel that part of my rehabilitaion will be hanging out with positive people, but I can’t if they keep running away. I can’t blame them of course…..

I feel very conflicted because when I take a step back I can see that your advice is right.

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Meep

I have this friend who was toxic she never told the whole truth and when we hung out yesterday she told me I was disrespectful I got on the verge of tears because it was probably true so I left the room and went upstairs to cry i though ahe wouldnt follow because another friend was with her but after about a minute my friend came up after me and kept telling me how disrespectful I was and I really got upset by now so I said I should probably go it’s getting late and then I thanked her for letting me come and said it was fun but then later on in the night my friend told me that my friend has said I had gotten mad at her and left wich is not exactly the truth I already knew she did all of these things but I didn’t know how to defend myself. So thanks! Also I don’t want to not be friends with her anymore but sometimes she makes me feel terrible so what should I do?

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Hey Sigmund

Meep if you don’t feel good around someone, don’t keep going back. Take a look at your own behaviour though and make sure that there is nothing that needs tweaking there, but if this relationship keeps hurting you, walk away.

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jp

I had 5 years to return to the company. It’s been 3 years. I had been employed for 8 years. I was asked to resign. I would have been employed for 16 years. I have always worked. My sister’s narcissistic sociopath relatives damaged my livelihood, benefits, retirement, and social security. I’m left with my family inheritance for me and my children. I’m certain that you will comment. Thanks.

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Penelope

Man…..you really nailed it Sigmund. I came here looking for a description of a woman I know, and what her issues might be? You have just described her to a T. Now I’m really scared, as my daughter might marry into this family. Unfortunately could I give a a recent example of every characteristic of a toxic person that you mentioned. Not sure how to proceed with this new information at this point, but at least we know what we are dealing with. Thanks for helping us clarify the question “Is it me? “

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Alice

I have a co worker like this, and I feel like I must constantly walk on eggshells around them. Everyone in the office has seen examples of his shenanigans: throwing boxes, screaming, hitting his table, flat-out-lying, throwing people under the bus…But he will never admit to any of these things.

Once, I brought up something he had told me a few weeks prior. “Oh, but I was just lying to you then.” What? I was legitimately upset. He turned it around on me saying “Oh, but it wasn’t lying really. Stop making me feel bad about it.”

Finally this week, he raised his voice and shouted at me, over something completely innocent. I apologized over and over, but it wasn’t enough, he just kept yelling, making me feel like I was a horrible person. No defense I offered calmed him. Nothing I could do would make amends. Suddenly, stuff I did months ago was brought up. Eventually, I started crying and stopped talking, thinking if I didn’t say anything he’d eventually run out of ammo. Nope. He then proceeded to tell me how rude I was for not speaking to him in his own home. He did apologize later, saying he didn’t know why it bothered him so much.

I keep trying to be his friend since he legitimately does have a sad story, and no other friends. But the more I learn, the more I understand he’s the one pushing people away. It’s like he demands people cater to his feelings, but his are the only legitimate ones. Nobody else’s feelings matter, and he doesn’t care about them. Merely offending him is a crime he compared to murder or theft or rape, and he has the right to make you feel as bad as he thinks you deserve for it.

He’s got so many problems in his life, but it’s always someone or something else. The problems he does admit to having, he doesn’t really care to fix. I am beginning to wonder if he has mental issues.

I wish I could say something to him to make him understand how I and others feel, but I guess that would resolve nothing, especially in the workplace. I guess the only resolution is to stop caring about him so he can’t hurt me.

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Margó Fehérvári

Thank you for this article, it is a life-saver (together with the ‘Mindfully self-ish’ one). It was a literally shocking revelation how 100% my partner fits in all detail.
I have some questions:
Are these people aware of what they are doing? I have gone through a lot of pain and damage in the past 3 years but somehow I don’t see he is doing it on purpose. I have the impression he is unaware of what he is doing.
Why are they doing it?
Why do we – how can we – love these people?
Thanks a lot again. Margó

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Hey Sigmund

Margo this article will answer your questions http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/. The problem with toxic people is that they even if aren’t aware of what they are doing, there is something in that that shows a lack of empathy. In a healthy relationship, people can see their impact on the person they love. They can see what happens when they say or do something that hurts the other person. Even if they don’t fully understand why it hurts, they try to stop doing it. When people are able to see the hurt they are causing, or when you ask them to stop doing something specific and they keep doing it, this shows a lack of love and commitment to the relationship. If a person is truly toxic, and not willing to change, it is important to accept that this is the way it will be, and then to decide whether that is the way you want to feel, and the relationship you want. Loving a toxic person is hard because of the continual hurt that comes with that. The sad thing is that you can’t love a person out of their toxic habits. That is for them to do.

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Letty

I’m literally in tears as I type in this message, I’m not sure whether I’ve been in a toxic friendship or not but the truth is, I’m heartbroken. I had a best friend of 4 years, I trusted her,loved her so much, and she did the same in return. It’s been 3 days we haven’t talked, we work together, stay in 1 apartment mind you. she wronged me and she won’t apologise. It’s really hard for me to cope. I even considered taking a leave from work but I see it won’t help me a bit. I don’t even sleep at night thinking about the next day. I invested a lot in that friendship it’s even hard for me to move on. please help me I want to be happy and live my life again .????

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Hey Sigmund

Letty it’s not unusual for even the strongest relationships and friendships to have a make it or break it point at some point, where things seem stretched to the limit. This doesn’t mean it has to end. It sounds as though there is a lot of hurt and high emotion. If she has clearly wronged you, it’s likely that she is feeling a lot of shame and isn’t sure how to deal with this or how to approach you. It’s impossible for me to say, but could it also be possible that your friend has a different perception of what has happened. I can hear the pain you are in and I wish this could be different for you, but the safer you can make it for her to discuss with you what has happened, the more likely it is that things can be sorted out. I know how difficult this is, but it may be worth it if your friendship is still worth saving.

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jennifer a

My mom rejected all my gifts and refused to use them, even an air conditioner she asked for. She fought with me when I graduated from Bachelors Nursing Program and I had to beg her to attend. She went and loaned my boyfriend a few dollars for flowers then hit me until he paid up. She at times did not have enough food, so she fed the rest while I had to back out. When I cried over boyfriend issues and asked for a hug she socked me in the stomach. She bad-mouthed me to my boyfriends and bad-mouthed them to me. I was pushed down the stairs when I grocery shopped for her and she accused me of forcing her to cook the food I purchased for her. She took me off the will and I was the only daughter that took care of her when she let me. Cousins interferred and would call her up and shout at her to push me down the stairs and she did. She then made false reports with my sister to the Police after she socked me in the stomach. I loved my Mom the most but have no understanding why she treated me so different than my sisters when for years I tried to help her.

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Marie

I know is really hard for you not talking to her but believe me iahm sure she feels the same way but she might be pretending she is ok and that she doesn’t need you and that she didn’t do anything wrong and she shouldn’t apologize believe me i know she is hurting too but has too much pride to addmit she was wrong don’t give in let her come to you and addmit she was wrong and offer an apology believe me if you cannot sleep neither does her just calm down and if is meant to be things will work out and if it doesn’t she will never forget all the great memories you and her had and all the beautiful things you did for her she has to addmit it that you are a great person good luck and chin up? believe me right now she is most likely dying to talk to you but is her pride but iam sure she will look for an excuse to get back to you!!!

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silentwatch

literally i too felt that way.. though i am not quite agreeing with every point.. i can really relate to many
i am always trying to cope with it.. even today..
and today i was a bit ‘brave’ or ‘hard’ to have continued to keep silence.. usually i am the one who breaks and makes her comfortable.. never let her feel the pain and it was always for me to suffer

so.. just chill. be brave and daring.. when life mocks at you.. dont cry and self pitty.. just smile and take it as just a bend on the way.. not the end..
goodluck

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Max

What do you do when you’re the toxic person? I read this expecting to see my partner all over it, but it turns out he’s only two of these, while I’m the other ten. Through a psychology that I’m not taking, I’ve also realized how these factors have contributed to me sabotaging my own relationship, because in my head, I was 100% right for what I did, but now I’m seeing I was constantly wrong. I want to change, but I don’t know how.

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Hey Sigmund

Max if you realise that you are the toxic person, it’s about changing a little bit at a time. It sounds as though you have great clarity around this now, and around the things you might be doing to sabotage your relationship. All change starts with awareness – and you have that. Make small changes, one at a time. If you try to make sweeping changes the temptation will be to run back to what’s familiar. I love that you are so open to your impact. Once you are aware of what you are doing, you can’t be ‘unaware’.

Start by asking the people you are close to and who you trust what they would like you to do differently. Make sure they are people who have your interests at heart though. You don’t want people changing the strong, beautiful things about you that don’t need to be changed – and you have will plenty of those things.

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RandomPersonOnTheInternet

I would say, be honest with your partner and if you realise that you just did one of these things, apologise! i.e. “I just realised I’m blaming my own mood on you, sorry” (or whatever it was).

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eve

Omg this is the first article I read that explains what I have been through accurately! 4 months since the last argument happened between me and my ex. I have obsessed ever since if it was me, and when I remember how he treated me I feel rage..at first he was a charmer, too good to be true not for too long he started to change.. he succeeded convincing me that I am responsible for his change. . and by time I got weaker and he succeeded breaking my self esteem.. if u wanna know what happened this article explains it all.. it took me way too long to make a choice to leave, the choice was hard at that time as I felt I needed his approval for some reason! but I left anyway.. broken ! I keep thinking it over and over.. since then I got a better job, worked out, did all the positive things and still can’t get over it!!!!!and can’t forgive myself to let him break me that way! I wanna stop thinking and get his poison out of my mind! I don’t know what to do!

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Tami

All the trauma he put you through could have binded you more to him. This happens through ‘trauma bonding’. What happens is that when we react emotionally to the toxic confusing way they talk & behave, our bodies make chemicals & we get a kind of high…albeit a negative & toxic high. Our bodies do not care if it is good or bad chemicals… It just becomes addicted to them @ craves more, so makes us want the person or thing that gets the chemical we are used to. I am not sure how we get over the addiction even when our brain lodgic realizes we should stay away from the toxic fix, our bodies crave it so strongly that it takes over our lodgic & even our emotional intelligence. I have many regrets over my addiction (my toxic boyfriend) who I have made so many exceptions for. I feel untrue to myself. I go to CODA meetings, but still have not had the strength to end this relationship that is very unhealthy for me. It seems my boyfriend may have no capacity for empathy & so thus may be a psyco or socio-path or just have brain that is like a toddler’s in emotional reasoning. I have gotten a little bit of information in my research from Melanie Tonia Evans & Lisa A Romano from youtube.

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Anaah

Everything you wrote makes total sense. I’ve been thinking this whole time no one understands my pain or what I’m going through on a daily or even weekly basis and after I read what you wrote it gives me strength even though you or I haven’t left them YET we are not alone.

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Stace

Wow this makes complete sense!! This explains why I can’t leave my current relationship. No matter how much he hurts me I can’t seem to get away from him and when I try, it just makes me miserable 🙁

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Richard

Every single point describes my ex-wife to the absolute dot on the i. Mind blowing. Thank you so much for this article! This woman is soon to make me completely crazy as she manipulates, controls, interrupts a conversation because I don’t have the right tone, or because my arms are crossed (this is seen as threatening to her), or because I don’t sit close enough to her (“proving” I don’t want to communicate). You’re helping me greatly cutting her completely off of my life.

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Anita

Been there!! This is spot on for my ex. Every single one of these. 7 years!!!! I went from being sure of myself and knowing who I was to not knowing whether to scratch my watch or wind my bottom. He almost destroyed me. I really thought I was doing everything wrong. It took years for me to be able to return to myself. This article would have saved me a lot of grief. I hope it helps those who are in these relationships now.

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Rob

This is what I was looking for trying to understand my “friends” let me explain the pickle I am in basically were talking about something and my friends tell me things that are simply not true due to my interests into the subject matter is a favorited pastime of a hobby but then because my “friend” found out I am correct blurted out I know everything in a sarcastic tone and now any answer I give to any subject matter I am followed by the same response reading from what this article said has given me some insight to there bitterness.

Everything I seem to do I feel there messing with my words apparently projecting a twisting everything that is said but I did once respond in kind not a good choice but apparently what I did being the same as my “friend” is uncalled for but apparently its fine that they do it in some sort of double standard…

I am starting to think I might need to cut off from my so call friends..

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Lanie

Yep, know how you feel. Met many of them. It’s something that happens in high school and some friends of mine have a name for it, but besides what you’re saying, that name only applies if your friends dropped out in the first year of college. That’s because the behavior they got away with in high school doesn’t work in college, and rather than learn to behave differently, they drop out. But if that doesn’t describe these people, then that’s not them. Save yourself!

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Lisa

All I can say is, “WOW”…this article really resonated with me, especially the part about “bending around ourselves like barbed wire”. That is so me. All through the article I am saying, “yeah, that’s him…” (my husband) or “yep, that’s Shaun…” He is all of these things in the article. All of them. Eight years now I have been bending over backwards trying to please him and keep him from getting angry and it has never worked. I do believe I’m crazier being caught up in his viscous cycle of him being him. Regardless, it hurts a lot….never being able to share happiness without a consequence or let down my guard without it being held against me a month from now. The only way I know of handling it is giving him the silent treatment with “I hate you” stares. We’re doomed.

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Anaah

Silent treatment wish that worked for me. That would only make things worse.

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jennifer a

Book called “We need to talk” is really good. Holding it in gets you sick.

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Nitnoraz

It does make you sick. For a year I have been dealing with a male best friend who suddenly will not talk — won’t text back, call… If he does it’s very random. He had some things that happened with his health and he has just been different. Well I took this on and each time he wouldn’t text back, I was very upset. I refused to admit this to him until I saw him in person. I ended up in the emergency room after a horrible night … He still doesn’t know that part of the reason I was there was because of him hurting me mentally. He came back around after but then had more medical issues and now he is so toxic. I’ve asked for his help with some things and he won’t call back or reply to my texts. But, he will suddenly text about random stuff a week later. It’s so sad and frustrating . I don’t know what to do with him..:(

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Anne

Hi,
I just left a workplace which was totally toxic along with a lot of the people in it.
I worked for 11 months for some one who I genuinely thought of as a friend. We seemed to have same sense of humour and a lot of the the same view points on thing happening. I noticed occasionally how I often found myself watching this person I thought of as a friend and found myself thinking, I bet they talk like that about me when I’m not around too. I mentioned this and was assured they didn’t say anything against me, but I was never 100% convinced.
When the d