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

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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 your 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 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.



We have a toxic family member. Can anything be done to help them, or do they just need to suffer the consequences of alienating the entire family, and seek help on their own?

Tena C

I could really relate to this article. It was like a validation to my thoughts about this one individual that was a tornado and hurricane in my relationship with my daughter. It was devastating and the reason why it was devastating is because I could see what this person was doing; but my daughter was stuck in the whirlwind of the persons crap. It was horrible. So so sad.


WOW. Just, ‘wow’. I’ve been living in my own part of the world and didn’t realize others had similar situations as my own. Everything that’s listed and talked about, yep, I’ve been going through it for the past 14 years. However, maybe I have a slight different twist. The other day when my wife and I were in bed after having sex, and my wife looked at me and said, “Maybe you should just go to a prostitute once a week for your needs. Sex really isn’t that important. Also, it’ll be one less thing that I have to do”. Of course this festered with me for nearly a week, and yes, there was a whole lot of silent treatment on my part. Oh, I would occasionally talk, all superficial, i.e. did you see it’s raining, the weather is cooler today, do you want a cup of coffee, are we doing anything this weekend. I just don’t have anything to say. Like I said, the issue just festered with me. Who tells a spouse “Maybe you should just go to a prostitute once a week?” After nearly a week of silent treatment and really stewing about this, I calmly asked her, “If I told you, ‘Go have sex with a man once a week. Just make sure you come home to me,’ what would you think?” Her response was, “You know I was just joking? Really, you can’t tell that was a joke? You know I don’t always mean the things I say. What’s the big deal?”

After 30 minutes of attempting to speak calmly, and being exceptionally frustrated at the “gaslighting” responses, I added my thoughts to my own question and proceeded to tell her what I think. First off, those that normally grant their spouse permission to have sex outside the marriage, are generally the spouse that’s already cheating outside the marriage. That’s my first thought, but my second thought is, you can’t possibly love me, nor care about me, if you’re ok with me sleeping with another woman.

Here’s some more detail, my wife is 17 years older than me and I’m 55, I’m 6ft 1inch, 189lbs, 32inch waist, best shape of my adult life. I’m not overweight, I have no health problems at all, I make well over 6 figures. So the question is, why would a spouse (wife), say it’s OK to go to a prostitute once a week? What am I missing, a spouse that cares so much about me that she’s willing to grant me permission to see a prostitute 4 times a month?

This is a typical situation for my wife. She can say WHATEVER she wants at any time, no matter how hurtful it is, and only when I confront her, she MIGHT say, “Oh, I’m sorry”. It’s a very superficial “I’m sorry”, then quickly followed by, “Can we just move on? I told you I’m sorry.” That’s where my voice raised, and I said, “You always say you’re sorry, but only when I tell you there’s an issue, then you say, “Sorry,” or, “I’m Sorry”, but you know what, you NEVER acknowledge what the issue is. You don’t own your behavior, you don’t understand my pain and you think one word and everything goes back to normal.”

Even if we go to the store shopping, it doesn’t matter what she’s buying. If she asks me to pick the item, she will ALWAYS select the opposite item I recommended. I’ve been testing my theory for YEARS. When we go to COSTCO, she says, pick out the apples. So when I do, I purposely pick a really good bag and one I can see has rotten spots. I hold up the two bags and tell her, “I think this bag looks good”, but I keep the other bag in my hand. She ALWAYS picks the opposite bag I pick. Sometimes now, when I do this, I purposely pick the bad bag of apples because I really want her to pick the good bag. It works the same for rotisserie chicken, celery, cauliflower, oranges, avocados, steaks, you name it. I can even go to Best Buy, pick two monitors and ask her to help me decide. When I tell her I like one monitor, she picks the other. So what do I do? Always, always, always, pick the one I don’t want, so that she picks the one I really want.

When we go shopping, I can’t even begin to tell you how many checkout lines I’ve left because my wife told me another line 75 feet away looks like it might be shorter. I’m so tired of chasing lines at the store that have one less shopper in the line> I’m just not in that big of hurry.


Exhausting. One common thread is that toxic people are exhausting. They will nit-pick, criticize, and put down others, but they will become like a bomb set off if anyone points out they make mistakes too. Toxic people will try to play other people against each other (especially if the toxic person is a boss or parent). A toxic person will seldom hear someone else out and will become furious if someone else tries to have an opinion.

Toxic people have no regard for others true wellbeing. Instead, others are just there to be used by toxic people, so it is a one-way relationship. It is almost impossible to have honest communication with a toxic person. A toxic person just wants to tell you everything others do wrong and has no interest in mutual growth. Yes, all the things the article points out summarize behaviors toxic people exhibit. I agree that if one doesn’t need to be connected to these types of people, don’t be!

Rasse H

The reason I came to this page is It just struck me, AGAIN-AGAIN, that my girlfriend of 7 years never says, ‘thank you’, ‘I am sorry’, ‘I love you’, ‘now let me help you’, ‘please help me’, ‘I need you’, ‘can I help you’. She very rarely confides in me and never shares her friends with me. It is as if she is living in her own bubble, and for quite a while now I have felt uncomfortable in her company. She is never totally honest about her opinion of me. I think I am falling out of love, but I also feel that I am afraid of her and definitely react with stress when we arrange to meet.

Recently her 18 yr old cat suddenly got sick and we had to let her go. She didn’t express any grief, apart from agreeing with me.

Before her I was stalked by an ex for several years, and this affected my belief in myself in regards to other people. With my present girlfriend, I am beginning to think that maybe *I* am a narcissist. It could however be that I just cannot deal with people anymore, following several years of post-cancer fears and isolation, but I am losing my ability to feel anything for anybody.

How can I get in the clear about what is going on here? There is up to 1 year of waiting for a psychotherapist here!


Seems like you are in a toxic relationship and need to slowly cut it out of your life. Right now whatever you are thinking is a projection of all that you have been made to believe. It will take iron grit strength but once you do cut her off completely, and start the process of healing you will eventually realise how none of what you are feeling and thinking is true.


I went out of town, away from my boyfriend, for work during the height of pandemic for almost 2 months. He had a work from home job, I had a field job. He’ll fight with me on the phone every night leaving me with almost no rest from my tiring work. He won in a film competition one day and was telling me how he misses me and hoping I am there to celebrate with him. But apparently while he was saying that he was celebrating with another naked woman on his bed.

I found out 2 years later while I was watching their online celebration, on the video he accidentally switched to hisfront phone camera. He never apologized. We’re still together now. And every now and then i still feel very stupid.


I don’t know if I am being too cautious or not, but my mother has always seemed off.
One moment she is having fun, being kind and overall normal but at random times, things that wouldn’t usually bother her do and it’s really confusing and frustrating. She never really admits she is wrong but when she does she says it as if she is irritated like “Okay! I was wrong, alright!”. It’s really difficult because I fight to prove my point and she just acts like it’s a bother to her. I have told her that the tone she uses a lot feels like she can’t be bothered to deal with me, or she just wants to get the conversation over with and every time she says “well, I don’t *mean* to sound like that”. At first I thought this was fair. Nobody can fully control their tone but no matter how much I ask her to maybe be more aware of it, she never does. I also get irritated easily and cannot control my emotions very well, so me and her are not the best match when we’re angry. Sometimes I feel like the toxic one but it all goes away until she has another random mood swing. I feel as if I don’t know her. Or maybe it’s just me.


Slightly different perspective: I realize many of you have gone through things that only those that have been there understand.
To preface, I am not perfect. I am extremely flawed. I have a history of binge drinking but not consistently. I managed to get a life together. Went to college, got my own place, and really thrived in the monotony of society. I may have some slight mood disturbances but it is unclear if it’s because I have not the appropriate time to heal or it is who I am.

I was with my partner for 4 years. In the beginning I was going through my own turmoil and exposed that I drank. His mother used to do illegal activities to procure items and he had a shed full of alcohol. At first he was sweet and told me he was going to make sure that I made it out. He was attentive, conscious of others, had me feed his siblings which at first made me believe he deeply cared about them. They no longer speak to him because he got physically abusive towards his brother.

A month into it, his mother got deported and we were both forced into my parents’ house. He made a great impression and they accepted him, but soon after he began placing immense pressure on me to move out and he wanted to move out far away. He quickly started bashing my entire family, my friends, to the point where I lost everyone I was close to. It was my behavior but they couldn’t have known what fueled it. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone about our relationship because apparently that was “toxic” to the relationship and disrespectful.

So we spent 3 years in California. There I would work 9-5 and he would stay home, smoke weed and play video games. He had several violent outbursts and at one point gave me a concussion but encouraged me not to go to the hospital. (I know why didn’t I leave then) but those of us in the trap know why.

We broke up after the 3 years and I came to find out that he was cheating a couple times a week with different people in my apartment while I worked. He blamed me because, admittedly , I slipped and I was unfaithful in the first week of the relationship. When I attempted to explain the difference – I made a mistake and his was a constant pattern of cheating – he would get angry and we all know where that goes.

Now I have moved back in with my parents once again because I need the support. We have an on again off again thing where I get fed up with the behavior and try to establish boundaries and then leave. He then promises the world. He promises to stop the cheating but I have found that he spends all day talking to people. He constantly puts down my appearance and my financial situation. Saying anyone would be willing to support him because I no longer am. It’s even difficult to explain, because the behavior is so unpredictable but he goes from that to promising he’ll get me a home. (Through means that, let’s just say, don’t involve purchasing a mortgage.)

I am still very much in it but on the verge of gathering the strength and self love to leave, but I did ashamedly give him another chance. This morning he accidentally sent me a text that was meant for another individual which implied they spent the night together. We were supposed to be fixing us. He has been acting 10x worse and I am suspecting drug abuse. Whenever I bring it up he gaslights me of course, but his behavior is too erratic and strange to be normal. He tells me he and I are both just crazy.

For the sake of making this too long, it was nice to just write everything out and read it to myself. I feel broken. I have moments of strength and motivation but the second he’s back it crumbles. I was not going to post this but for the sake of others going through what I’m going through, I want to share my story.

Tena C

Thanks for sharing your struggles. I bet it was very freeing for you or at least hope so. The person is not going to change, you need to get out and stay out. You should build yourself a network of people that support you and value you. Because you are very valuable, important, deserving of reciprocal love, special, beautiful and created for receiving back what you so freely give. Don’t let this person grind you down in the dirt so far you can’t get out. There is someone special out there for you, but you’ll never find them until you find yourself. And we all were created to have love for ourselves and who we are. Love yourself!!!


I totally understand. I can relate to this all too well. Don’t allow anyone – and I mean anyone – to dismiss your feelings, and invalidate you, or to make you feel less than. You have feelings for a reason. You matter and you are important. I hope someone who can really see that will enter your life and treat you the way you deserve to be treated. 🙂


Yes I totally agree but I’m very stuck because she is my mother after all. I am young and what she says is always going to be right. I wish I could sit her down and have her listen to what I have to say. I feel she is not validating my feelings but I know that I can’t get her to change. I feel trapped. I wish she did not act like this. 🙁


I have a son who does this and is empowered by a toxic girlfriend. It’s a losing battle. It does not matter how hard I try to be patient, kind, or listen, I always get the toxic, angry him telling me that he is so happy. He looks terribly unhappy. He is different to how I have ever seen him in past 25 years. (This has happened in just this past year.) It’s very sad. He is so stuck on trying to prove me wrong and do what the girlfriend wants, he is forsaking his own happiness and mental health. Sadly we are the company we keep, and he and her are very immature and won’t take any accountability for their actions. It’s so hard watching someone you love so much suffer and you cannot help them.


I know my flaws and faults and I struggle with them. I own them. I allow certain people in my life to dictate my actions and I seek validation from them constantly.

I got divorced in 2014 and made terrible choices for myself and my boys and then got remarried to an alcoholic. (I didn’t know he had a huge problem then and was naive, and I guess selfish?) He ended up committing suicide in 2020 by hanging himself from my car side mirror and I had to cut him down.

I have always tried to put everything into my friendships, so much so that I started worrying about my actions and if I was hurting them in anyway. Now I can’t seem to deal with their drama, especially if I am expected to, let alone my own. I am trying to rebuild my life. I am trying to do the good and right things.

I have always known that my “best friend” had emotional issues, but she interjected into my life willingly like a counselor type and was absolutely there for me during the suicide and other high stress moments of my life, but there have been many many times over the years when I don’t know what person I will get, and I have to walk on eggshells. I don’t always know what to say or do. She goes back and forth on what she needs from me and it’s hard to keep up with.

Now, after the suicide, I have to really focus on myself and my family. She says I have not been there for her and I am selfish. She’s gone to great lengths to tell me how selfish I am, and that all our friends have told her this would happen, that her family hates me and how I have hurt them all deeply (by doing what I am not sure?) and that I am bad mother, saying I spend money on myself and not them, when she has no idea how I spend my money. I explain that I can’t up and come be with her and sit with her in her outrageous (in my eyes) drama. I have obligations as a single mother and someone who needs to focus on my mental health now. She has always overreacted to things, and everything is a crisis or a trauma.

Maybe we are just two different people who see things differently, but she never has a problem telling me my faults. She tells me she needs me to do that with her but when I do, she freaks out. I have to now prioritize my life for my mental well-being, my kids’ mental well-being and the new relationship I am trying to build (which also has its problems).

She says I don’t love her if I am not there in the way she needs me. She seems to make up things I’ve done to her in the past that didn’t happen. She says she begs me to be there for her, when she does no such thing. She tells me how she is feeling, but doesn’t express that she needs me to come over. I am not a mind reader and I also can’t be there like she needs me, especially right now. It’s like since she was there for me in times of need, I am expected, no matter what I am going through, to do the same.

She gives me anxiety and sats I don’t ever do or say the right things. I don’t know how to deal with this woman and after she last laid into me, I blocked her and her husband in fear of them continuously telling me what a bad person I am. They want to still have a relationship with my son, but I don’t feel comfortable with that. That will cause an even bigger issue. She tells me I only defend myself and I only listen to reply. I am not sure what she wants from me? To sit back and take her cruelty? She can dish it, but she can’t take it and it’s got me spinning. The only thing she has ever apologized to me for is not telling me she had issues with me when she had them. I say sorry to her constantly (because I truly don’t ever want to hurt anyone) and it goes in one ear and out the other and she’ll continue to bash me. This is a cycle that has happened at least 5 times over the course of 15 years.

I think for my own mental health I have to finally let go of this friendship. I just can’t get out of my head all the bad things she’s said I am and do. It’s messing with me big time.


This describes my adult daughter to a T. The trouble is that if I walk away to spare myself all of the sadness, grief, questioning my self, feeling less than, and always doing and saying the wrong things, I will not see my teenage grandchildren again. I love them so much. I’m not sure I can handle that. I don’t know what to do.

Mr Tree

I have a regular experience with my girlfriend that happens every few days,

She repeatedly kicks me out of the property in huge anger outburst where she pushes me about and screams in my face. If I say anything she will tell me to get out the property. If I don’t leave she will damage my things.

The abuse she screams is horrible, telling me I’m a disgusting bisexual, that I caused her miscarriage, that I’m cheating on her, that my father is a pervert and that I’m constantly abusing her

I genuinely don’t understand this because I don’t do anything like that, but all I ask is why she has kicked me out, screaming abuse that is quite depraved.

Anytime I raise the issue, she denies what she said, or says it’s because of me, forcing her to be so angry and react. I’m extremely confused as this abuse has got worse.

Tonight I got accused of having secret sex meets with my own father, while she then accused him of groping her. I was shocked beyond all measure. I’ve questioned her via a phone conversation and she denied it.

Tena C

Walk away. Do yourself a favor. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment. It’s so hard when dealing with these kind of people. Hope you find some peace. 🙂

Diane S

This describes all 3 of my adult daughters. They have ghosted me blocked me sense August 25th, all because I said I wasn’t going to Cincinnati to watch 5 grandchildren while the middle had baby number 6. I was sick and going through some testing to find out why I was throwing up and losing weight. I was being checked for stomach cancer and oesophagus cancer. They didn’t care and shut me out.


Reading this is clear to me now. This is a co worker of mine. Wow. Thanks for this article.

Robin H

Hello. Thank you for the very helpful information. I have been in a relationship with my bf for 5 years. Everything mentioned in the article is exactly the way he is plus a million things more. I cannot believe I have put so much into our relationship and never feel like it’s appreciated. Most of the time I don’t even believe he listens to what I’m saying at all.

This 4th of July he was upset with me about something he accused me of 4 years ago and once again I told him it’s not true. He called me late night in the 4th/ early am on the 5th asking for me to come take him home because he’d had too much to drink. I felt I had to. I lost my Dad when I was 12 to drinking and driving. Anyway, all seemed ok until we made it maybe 5 miles down the road. He was trying once again to get me to admit to doing something I never did from 4 years ago. When I refused to say he was right, he reached and grabbed 2 handfuls of my hair and shook me back and forth while I was driving. I managed to stop my car safely and I told him to get out. He refused, so I agreed to drive him to the front of his neighborhood and once there I agreed to drop him at his driveway. I didn’t even park. I stopped in front and waited for him to exit, only he chose to climb over the console to the driver side and drag me out by the hair to the ground prying my iPhone from my hands. I was screaming and crying begging him to let my hair go and to give me my phone and he refused.

It’s now the 12th and I still have no iPhone. He refuses to return it and I don’t know what to do. I have asked him to return it. I’ve said I’m going to police. You name it. He still refuses. I’m sure that’s because I’ve never followed through with what I’ve said the other 100 plus times he’s done this sort of thing. He’s smashed 2 other iPhones and taken 2 others including my purse once. He never returned anything.

I have blocked him and decided to never go near him again, but what should I do about my phone? I paid more than $800 for it and everything is on it including my bank accounts. I am lost at this point. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much. R-


You lost a phone, but not your life. A phone is replaceable, no matter the cost. Your life is worth much more.

Go to the bank, close your account, and open a new one or change your pin number – whatever the bank recommends to keep anyone from abusing you anymore. Cancel your credit cards (replace them), change the locks on your doors, and beware of the company you keep. This means stay away from events or gatherings where people drink, smoke, abuse their health and wellness. Do whatever you need to do to protect yourself. A person’s health and wellness are a gift that shouldn’t be abused. Keep your time filled with positive people and statements.

A person cannot change another unless they take the first step. Right now work on yourself. You can volunteer your time or get a job at a hospital, senior citizens housing, gym. You can make a difference for yourself and your own mental health/wellness.
BTW – whatever he alleged that you did 4 years ago is between you and your conscience. Everyone has a skeleton in their closet. Additionally, you saw firsthand the effects of drinking from your dad when you were young. Why would anyone choose someone like that to have to deal with?? – pulling your hair, dragging you, smashing your phone, etc. These are unacceptable behaviors.


Go to the police and file a formal complaint and get an order of protection. $800 is a small price to pay for your physical and emotional protection even if you don’t get your phone back. This man is dangerous. Next time he might kill you. Stay safe and get some counseling so you never find yourself with a man like this again. Namaste.


Please go to the police and report him – domestic violence, theft, abuse – and stop feeling that you have to “protect” the abusive bully you keep putting up with. He’s a loser.


He is not a real man, stay away from the immature little boys. Stop returning to him. It sounds like it’s been several times with a purse and 2 other iPhones. The fact you dropped him off at his “parents” tells me all I need to know about him. He is irresponsible and not man enough to face the world alone without the protection of his parents. Go for an older guy, 8-10 years maybe. Someone that is focused on the future, with a savings account.

Little Miss Toxic

Whoever wrote this article must know me personally. My son brought it to my attention today that I’m very toxic. He may not have used those exact words but the message was loud and very clear. Now how do I stop being toxic? Well the truth of the matter is that I’m going to be 70 years old in September and really don’t have much time left to repair the damage I have caused.

My two biggest regrets are the pain I agave caused my family (husband and son) and last but not least, my grandson who really has no idea that I exist because of his age and the fact his other grandmother is very much in his life. She visits and FaceTime calls at least 3 to 5 times a day. If it sounds like I’m being toxic, really I’m trying very hard not to be, but anyone has to admit that’s a tough one to compete with while living out of state. Truthfully there isn’t much time in a day that both of us could fit in. I totally get that my daughter in law’s Mom comes first and I’m second.

So now still remains my toxic behavior. I haven’t a clue how to fix this or is it just me and be done with it all??


Acknowledging that they feel hurt by our behavior and/or choices is a great place to start. While we might not be able to fix all of it, we can start with whatever we can see and are motivated to change. It takes courage and perseverance. Professional help can provide you with the necessary support and cut down the amount of guesswork (speed up the process) if you have access to resources like that. It’s never too late to start. And don’t worry if loved ones can’t see your efforts at first. This is your private work, and they are often the last ones to come around. The proof is in our changed behavior, which is like the flower from the seeds we plant when we begin. The fragrance of that changed behavior sometimes comes in beautiful and unexpected ways as we begin to connect more effectively and deeply with others. Just my 2 cents. Best wishes.


I doubt that you are so “toxic” at all. If you’ve monitored and noted your own supposed toxicity, it’s very unlikely that you ARE.


I see that you haven’t received a response. Your post fits me to a T. I am going to be 70 in a couple of months. My grandson has nothing to do with me. I stay to myself. I am married but I seem to piss my husband off. He stays at one end of the house, me the other. I am usually out in the garden. I try to stay away from him. He and I do NOTHING together. I have no money to separate, and I do not have family. I was an orphan – foster home to foster home.

For better or worse, I have started therapy. As for my husband, he says it a crock of … He says therapists and counselors have problems at home THEY can’t fix, yet we PAY them to listen to us. I absolutely can see his point there.

I look back over my life. This is my second marriage. I irritated my first husband. My daughter, I want to add, the minute they meet me, I can see they want nothing to do with me. I am 40 lbs overweight, 70. I guess that is part of the reason? I don’t think I am horrible looking, if that has anything to do with it. NO BAD BREATH.

I don’t think I am a victim. I am in a LOT of pain with osteoarthritis now. I have many health issues, but this problem has been going on for years with me. I cannot figure out what I am doing wrong. When someone needs help, I am the first one there. I NEVER, EVER ask them to pay me or to help me. I don’t go to their house or bother them. Again, I stay to myself. I share and I give things away if someone needs something. I am lost on what to do. No personality magnet here. I wish I knew what to do.


I think it’s amazing that you see there might be problems with your behaviour and are willing to adjust. Massive kudos for that 👏 👏👏👏. Find a good therapist and present the issue as it is. You have loads of time!
I think behaviour comes from an inability to express feelings or ask for what you need, among other things. This can be worked on 100%. Best of luck to you ❣️

Debbie A

Almost all these points are describing a man I know, and unfortunately have to deal with. I have never met another person like him. Everything he says is negative. Even if it’s a somewhat good statement he manages to say it in a way that it is negative. I have found this to be very frustrating because I am constantly defending myself. He also talks to me, and other people, like we are not too bright. He actually finds fault with all humans in his orbit, from his family members, neighbours and even friends.

He has no memory of anything I ever did that was good, but remembers everything he thinks I did wrong. He mentions the same thing he thinks I did wrong over and over again. He implies that he probably woke me up every time he calls me, no matter what time of the day it is. I actually have my own business and also work for clients from home and he knows this. And yes, if something good happens to me he doesn’t acknowledge it with a positive comment, but with a negative outlook on this good thing going wrong. It’s never ending. He loves to rattle off bad news every day. He also resents people he doesn’t even know who have good luck, like lottery winners.

I do everything I can to spend as little time as possible with this person. Looking back I am really sensitive to negativity because my mother dished it out non stop throughout my childhood and until she died. I stopped seeing her or talking to her the last seven years of her life. After her death I spoke to a friend of hers who heard terrible things about me that were not true. My mother made me out to be a monster. This woman knew these were lies because she also got large doses of negativity and insults her way. My mother also didn’t acknowledge any successes I had, putting down everything I did and never telling me that she was proud of me. People like this really exist.

Luckily I ended up with a boss who was into being positive and gave me a different outlook. It’s amazing to me that I am in this horrible person’s orbit now, after spending most of my life being carful to be around positive people. Negative people are to be avoided at all costs. I never regretted that I stopped talking to my mother. It was always upsetting. Constant negativity will eventually make you sick. I actually started to believe that I was a horrible, stupid person and probably should do away with myself because of the constant negativity I received from my mother and then from the man she married. These people thrive on making the rest of us feel bad, starting arguments and treating us like crap while they feel nothing, because they think we are the problem.


Great article! But unfortunately, toxic people who read this, are of course going to feel like all the people in their lives are doing one or more of these same things to them, because they live to turn that stuff around on the non toxic! It’s such an ugly cycle.

I’ve never been perfect but I’m very happy and respectful of others people who are nice and caring. I definitely get taken advantage of more often than not. Luckily I’ve been able to catch it before it goes too deep/far and get screwed in the end. It’s sad because it’s hardened the way I am and how I live. I learned more than anything else, to just not trust anyone. Period! You know how much that sucks!?

I’ve learned people don’t like it when you’re honest. In fact they really don’t enjoy it but they spin the tale that they’ll be honest, but they are NOT! It’s very hard right now because I don’t have any real friends who share the same respect as myself, so I hang out with toxic people simply because I’m so lonely. I am responsible for myself so I blame no one but me. It’s almost easier to be around scum so it’d be easier to walk away from them rather someone I care too much for. It’s a hard mean world every single day. I believe that people are just not interested or not honest or even nice or willing to try! I’m hanging in there tho because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to meet a really good person who cares and is honest and awesome! I’m looking forward to that day!!


Whenever I bring up something that bothers me or talk about how I feel, I’m met with hostility and anger. It usually ends in me being called insecure, controlling, negative, unhappy and being told that I ruined things for everyone and that I make everyone miserable. It seems that the only way I can make him happy is by not saying anything. Our relationship is very one-sided. I plan everything, I ask to do things, I check in to see if he needs anything, I cook and clean. What should I do?


Sound like it’s time to move on. Toxic people find it very hard to change. I rather think they enjoy dishing out the pain. I live with a wife that is much younger than me. Most of the time we get along great but then there are those moments where, for no reason at all, she’s of the tracks and she’s mad at everything in her life but doesn’t seem to see the anguish she is causing. I love her very much and I’ve found I have to separate myself from her temporarily. Then, she will be like, ‘Why don’t you want to spend time with me???’ It’s so obvious and she just doesn’t get it. I can’t really say anything because she refuses to take responsibility for her misdirections and she turns it into being my fault. Oh well –

Michael C

Well, I see my family is not the only one that is toxic. Maybe a support group for people who have toxic families should be founded. Mine is one that I had to move on from. I am not a very religious person but I do believe in God. I try not to judge but I am pretty sure if there is a hell both of my sisters will end up there when they pass away. Lies, lies and more lies – manipulating my mother and getting money from her estate before she passed away, then lying about it to me. Those are very serious issues. I always thought my mother was smarter than that. When your own offspring does that to you, that is pretty bad. Rest in peace ma. Sorry, but you were played, and you were played really bad.


Reading this really lifted a burden off my shoulders. It took me more than 10 years to realize that I am not crazy or a bad person. For the longest time, I questioned my sanity and why I was always wrong. My ex of more than 15 years was the king of toxicity. At first I thought he loved me but later I realized that he just used me to boost his ego and finances. He’d hit me, gaslight, take my money, was careless with my stuff, and whenever I complained, he said he didn’t like the tone I used and would call me disrespectful. This write up explains my experience perfectly, I went through a lot but I’m grateful I left when I did. It’s been 8 months (yesterday) and he’s still having a hard time accepting that he doesn’t have control over me anymore – but I’m never looking back.


I just realised after reading this that I might be the toxic person without realising.

I do these small things sometimes and so does my partner but after reading them, I really connect because I don’t take time to think about it from his perspective. After reading this, I have realised I do all these things – not to the extreme described but to an extent.

I bring things up from the past to compare his actions to mine. I’ll bring things up to hurt him and then I will shut the conversation down. I bring things up from the past that we have already talked about and sometimes if I want to be angry at him and in a bad mood, I will start an argument so I put him in a bad mood too – not a really bad argument, just small things to make him annoyed. I know I am doing this and I have already told him but I don’t know why I need to bring others down when I am down. It really frustrates me because normally I am a lovely, kind person.

The truth is, I was never this person before I met him. I’m not blaming my boyfriend but we have done things and talked about things that couples shouldn’t. Talked in depth with ex’s, shown photos/videos of ex’s. I’ve seen naked pictures and videos on his hard drive of his ex’s and I think to myself, ‘Why can’t he do that for me? Why doesn’t he have the desire to take those kind of videos/photos for me?’. I am constantly comparing myself to his ex and for what? Each couple is different but I feel like I am not the person he wants. I feel like he wants someone like his ex and I am an easy, safe option who he says he loves but there is no passion there.

There is no passion in our sex unless we are high, no passion in our conversation unless we are high, no passion in our evening. He falls asleep at 10pm every night. I wake him up, we stumble to bed and then we wake up and go to work. The sex and intimacy is only there with the drink and drugs.

Suffering Steve

Hi. Thanks for publishing this article. Unfortunately, I have three kids with a woman who has all these characteristics. The worse thing is the only people who know she is like this is me and my kids and her mother and sister. As her mother and sisters (father now passed) have allowed her to get away with this behavior all her life she thinks it’s perfectly fine.

She has done such bad things and I have let her get away with it due to wanting the kids not to end up in a broken family. I have physically and verbally take her abuse even when I am right and have done nothing wrong. I am living in a horror movie. She slanders me to all her friends and work colleagues. The craziest thing is she has a big online following who thinks the sun shines out of her backside. Once I questioned her about someone she was speaking to and she called the police on me, telling them I was attacking her. She will abuse me for months if any of the kids and I stay quiet.

If one day I react because I can’t take it anymore she will be recording me and send it to her friends and family. I have been told to record her but the things she says are so hurtful that as a man I feel like I’m weak for recording the abuse and I don’t want to even listen back to them. They are so hurtful.

She has never apologised when she has been wrong but I will apologise to keep the peace. We are finally going through a divorce and she has convinced everyone I am the worse person on the planet but the only people who know her real character and what she has done to me are my kids. When she was shooting a live on social media one of my kids said no one online knows what she is really like.

Another time she used to have secret conversations with someone and I asked her who she was speaking to and she called the police to say I was attacking her. I didn’t attack her and when the police came they believed her and took me in even though they were no injuries. They thought I was on edge, but I was in shock. She once threw a mobile phone at my head over an argument. I was in pain and went to bed. She then woke me up at 2am swearing at me and when I tried to leave the bedroom she blocked the door and kept pushing me and hitting me. I then lost it as she wouldn’t let me pass through and a grabbed her an threw her aside while I said a few nasty words to her. Somehow the following day she had an audio of the recording. Not of her but my bit. I couldn’t work out how she did it. But I now know she has been trying to get rid of me for ages.

I honestly don’t deserve it and neither do my kids. I can’t believe I have got myself in this situation and I wish I was careful. She was divorced before and was also telling me how bad her ex husband was to her and I believed her. I honestly don’t believe he was a bad person because now she is doing the same to me.

For those with faith please pray for me and my kids to get out of this situation. She is going to drag the divorce through the courts as she says I should not get any of the share of property. I run my own business and she has at times really effected my ability to work. I was a confident, charming and good looking man but this experience has made a shell of the man I used to be. She is so manipulative and everyone believes her because she comes across like such a good actress. I just don’t have the energy to try to tell people she has literally worn me down. I haven’t badmouthed her at all and have suffered in silence because I feel ashamed of what I am going through as a man. This is the first time I have opened up about my situation. Please pray for me. I can’t take it anymore but will do everything to get out of this amicably and be there for my kids.


I’m praying for you. I totally understand what you’re going through. As long as you have your kids and God on your side, that’s all that matters.

Jim V C

Greetings, all. I am a retired school teacher and I began teaching online with a company. Admittedly, I knew very little about online instruction. As I began to teach, I soon learned the nuances of the position and its requirements. Soon, a supervisor appeared, a woman in her mid 70’s, known as Joette, who immediately began to bark out orders to me, like to make sure each student is to answer questions in full sentences, that I speak with each student beginning with their first name, etc.

Each of these requests seemed reasonable and I followed them, knowing that I am on a yearly contract which afforded little to no protection for the next school year’s contract. As time went on, our bi-monthly Zoom meetings were reduced to one a month then suddenly, to none. I followed the company’s curriculum which included pre determined lesson plans like slides, videos, etc. Going back to my thesis sentence, I knew little about online instruction and many teachers were experienced at such, adding in various topics and additional work. When I did not do so because of my lack of knowledge, I was met by Joette with a barrage of negative reviews and outright harassment. She even once took a screen shot of of one of my classes that she was observing and pointed out to me that all I do is show slides (remember, that was the curriculum that was established for me to use!).

As the end of the school year approached, even though the last Zoom conference I had with her seemed positive, I was not recommended for a contract for next year. Stunned, confused, and even heartbroken, I looked into why such a decision would have been made. I looked back into Joette’s actions towards me throughout the year and it was easy to determine just how toxic of a woman she was. What’s even more confusing is the company’s acceptance of her glib responses to my interest in how well I was progressing in my class. Wow, what a life learning lesson this was for me. I really pray that Joette finds the help that she needs to in order to break away from her toxic personality. Thank you.


My Mother is very toxic and we feel is getting worse. She craves apologies, has done for years. We give in and apologise when we have no reason to, but she then complains they are not sincere enough. We feel it’s a form of control. We had it for 20 years about our grandmother. Since she passed away the attention has moved to my brother. She is brainwashing our father into hating him because his apology is not good enough. We are at our wit’s end.

Moaning Mini

My husband is the sweetest, kindest person you could ever wish to meet, and will do anything for anyone – at the detriment of his own family at times. My problem is that he gets really nasty if I do my daughter any favours. She is to my first marriage and my husband and I share a daughter together. I am in a position now where anything that I like doing, or want to do is met with a bad atmosphere and a feeling of guilt that I have done something wrong. I can only guess that he doesn’t want anyone liking me more than they like him. I’ve been with him 21 years and he has always been the same but it feels that the bad is outweighing the good recently.

Mele L

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on toxic people! It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we’re in the orbit of such negative energy but, as you said, it is possible to protect ourselves by setting boundaries and distance. It’s important to remember that our emotional well-being is a priority, and that’s something we need to protect.

Katherine P

I have a fiance of 4 years and I’ve decided I’m done with the addiction issues. It’s only been 6 days and he is making every step to come back into my life. Do I tell him flat out that I’m done? He is emotionally mentally unstable and I’m worried he will do something drastic if I kick him to the curb harshly. I have not been happy for months. Intimacy is ruined and my life revolves around anxiety and stress.

A Knight

These behaviors are very present in those with a mental health disorder, usually never formally diagnosed. It’s common with personality disorder, histrionic, narcissist, etc. I was raised by this person, all 12 in one! I learned to duck and hide as much as I could. It damages you in so many ways. Reading it I was scared I may do these so I’m glad to find this. I never want to be this person. But my mom already taught these to my kids. They disrespect me and all I’ve ever done has been for them. It’s all coming to a head now. I just hope other people read this and stop their own behaviors, get rid of the toxic people in their lives, or help them if you can’t. At church we were told a story about a dog getting hit, trying to bite the owner as they helped it. Difficult people are like that dog, in pain inside, lashing out at everyone. But there’s a difference when they become toxic. Say goodbye before it’s too late.


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Thanks so much @maggiedentauthor♥️…
“Karen Young - Hey Sigmund has such a wonderful way with words especially around anxiety. This is her latest beautiful picture book that explains anxiety through the lens of the Polyvagal theory using the metaphor of a house. This shows how sometimes anxiety can be hard to notice. I think this book can help kids and teens better understand stress and anxiety. I loved it! This would be great for homes, schools and in libraries.
Congratulations Karen.💛”
Of course we love them, no matter what - but they need to feel us loving them, no matter what. Especially when they are acting in unlovable ways, or saying unlovable things. Especially then.

This is not ‘rewarding bad behaviour’. To think this assumes that they want to behave badly. They don’t. What they want is to feel calm and safe again, but in that moment they don’t have the skills to do that themselves, so they need us to help them. 

It’s leading with love. It’s showing up, even when it’s hard. The more connected they feel to us, the more capacity we will have to lead them - back to calm, into better choices, towards claiming their space in the world kindly, respectfully, and with strength. 

This is not about dropping the boundary, but about holding it lovingly, ‘I can see you’re doing it tough right now. I’m right here. No, I won’t let you [name the boundary]. I’m right here. You’re not in trouble. We’ll get through this together.’

If you’re not sure what they need, ask them (when they are calm), ‘When you get upset/ angry/ anxious, what could I do that would help you feel loved and cared for in that moment? And this doesn’t mean saying ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ situation. What can I do to make the no easier to handle? What do I do that makes it harder?’♥️
Believe them AND believe in them. 

‘Yes this is hard. I know how much you don’t want to do this. It feels big doesn’t it. And I know you can do big things, even when it feels like you can’t. How can I help?’

They won’t believe in themselves until we show them what they are capable of. For this, we’ll have to believe in their ‘can’ more than they believe in their ‘can’t’.♥️
Sometimes it feels as though how we feel directs what we do, but it also works the other way: What we do will direct how we feel. 

When we avoid, we feel more anxious, and a bigger need to avoid. But when we do brave - and it only needs to be a teeny brave step - we feel brave. The braver we do, the braver we feel, and the braver we do… This is how we build brave - with tiny, tiny uncertain steps. 

So, tell me how you feel. All feelings are okay to be there. Now tell me what you like to do if your brave felt a little bigger. What tiny step can we take towards that. Because that brave is always in you. Always. And when you take the first step, your brave will rise bigger to meet you.♥️
#anxietyinkids #consciousparenting #parentingtips #gentleparent #parentinglife #mindfulparenting #childanxiety #heywarrior
If anxiety has had extra big teeth lately, I know how brutal this feels. I really do. Think of it as the invitation to strengthen your young ones against anxiety. It’s not the disappearance of brave, or the retreat of brave. It’s the invitation to build their brave.

This is because the strengthening against anxiety happens only with experience. When the experience is in front of you, it can feel like bloodshed. I know that. I really do. But this is when we fight for them and with them - to show them they can do this.

The need to support their avoidance can feel relentless. But as long as they are safe, we don’t need to hold them back. We’ll want to, and they’ll want us to, but we don’t need to. 

Handling the distress of anxiety IS the work. Anxiety isn’t the disruption to building brave, it’s the invitation to build brave. As their important adult who knows they are capable, strong, and brave, you are the one to help them do that.

The amygdala only learns from experience - for better or worse. So the more they avoid, the more the amygdala learns that the thing they are avoiding is ‘unsafe’, and it will continue to drive a big fight (anger, distress) or flight (avoidance) response. 

On the other hand, when they stay with the discomfort of anxiety - and they only need to stay with it for a little longer each time (tiny steps count as big steps with anxiety) - the amygdala learns that it’s okay to move forward. It’s safe enough.

This learning won’t happen quickly or easily though. In fact, it will probably get worse before it gets better. This is part of the process of strengthening them against anxiety, not a disruption to it. 

As long as they are safe, their anxiety and the discomfort of that anxiety won’t hurt them. 
What’s important making sure they don’t feel alone in their distress. We can do this with validation, which shows our emotional availability. 

They also need to feel us holding the boundary, by not supporting their avoidance. This sends the message that we trust their capacity to handle this.

‘I know this feels big, and I know you can do this. What would feel brave right now?’♥️

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