Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

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

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

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

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

Why do toxic people do toxic things?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toxic Families – A Special Kind of Toxic

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

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

Love and loyalty don’t always exist together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are toxic relationships so destructive?

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

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

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

Why a Toxic Relationship Will never change.

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

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

Why are toxic people so hard to leave?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The one truth that matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The growth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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819 Comments

Leanne Mercieca

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Bon Fid

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

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Anonymous

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

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

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Don

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

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Anonymous

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

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Lori

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Jane

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

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Ann

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Elisabeth

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

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John

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Don

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

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Little Sis

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Renee

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Charmi

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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David

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Renee

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

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

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David

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

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Don

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

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Renee

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

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

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Lisa

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

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David W. Stephenson

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

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Renee

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

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David

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

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Don

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

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Natalie

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Renee

Natalie,

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

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Elisabeth

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

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Tommy

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

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Joe

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

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shirly

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

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Renee

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

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Renee

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

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Denika

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Joe

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

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Rebecca

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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David

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

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Blake

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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