Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. They’ll manipulate.

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

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

  1. They won’t own their feelings.

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

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

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

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

     

  2. They never apologise. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

  6. They exaggerate.

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

  7. They are judgemental.

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

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

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

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1,251 Comments

Anon

So this list just described every human on the planet at one time or another…. anyone and everyone, if honest, can check themselves as at least half of this list.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

These behaviours, like all human behaviours exist on a spectrum. We can all do some of them some of the time. The people who cause breakage are the ones who do many of them all of the time, particularly when they have no insight into the damage they’re doing, or when they just don’t care about their impact on others.

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Rae Ellen Davis

Great clarification — the damage happens when there is no consideration of the impact on others. That, is what is so hard to live with.

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Terry Croft

That’s what hurts the most. I just think how can someone be so mean? Especially, when it’s a family member that is doing the damage.

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Stef

All of the above in one way or another fit my wife’s behaviour. We have been married for seven years and together for thirteen. I caught her having an affair this year with an older man, but the mental anguish she put me through when I confronted her was unreal. She denied it to me, my parents, her own parents and tried to make me out as the bad guy. Once caught she became massively aggressive with whoever challenged her until they backed down. It is six months on and I am only now getting back the mental strength to push back at her bulls*t. She openly talks about how to manipulate people and sees nothing wrong in it. Family and friends are desperate for me to leave her. If it wasn’t for my young son that would already be a reality. People like this need to be dealt with strongly and decisively, it’s the only thing they understand. They see compassion or empathy as weakness.

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David

I have a sister who, I think does not realize, but then it drives me crazy wondering if she does. She can be very sweet, doing things which are very generous, then jump all over me. I believe we can not fix people and she has stopped seeing her therapist for quite some time. Since I have experienced there seems no way around the way she can manipulate a situation and become abusive, do I need to simply stay away from heer as much as possible until she is willing to deal with this? I certainly can not attempt to educate her about these situations and how they make me feel, she would possibly simply become offended and insulted and I would be the bad guy again.

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Lisa

Those toxic people have no empathy at all. Just like normal people feel sorry if they bring someone to tears. It is human being’s nature to comfort a crying person.

But toxic people would think you are crying because you are weak, or are just totally indifferent, even they hurt you and let you cry there. Their world has too many nonsense.

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Hannah Squires

I really like what you’ve expressed here. I grew up with a toxic mother, married a toxic man, divorced and in financial crisis, am now back with the toxic mother. She wants to know my every move, who I’m with, why I might be 5 minutes later than she expected. I live on a knife edge and don’t want to. I’m 43 and hope to get my own place soon. Mentally, emotionally and physically I feel crushed and exhausted. It’s hard trying to keep a calm environment, as homelife is totally unpredictable. All my life I’ve been controlled. I thought it was normal, well, that was normal for me! I have met the most supportive and wonderful man, who has had a tough life. We support and care for each other. Now I know what a non toxic person is, it’s even harder. He even respects my wish to not have sex until we’re married. I’ve had many issues, after being raped in 2010. He has helped me through it. He feels the best gift I will ever give him is my body. It is. He has proved himself to be more concerned about me, and earning my trust than rushing me. We plan to marry next year. I cannot wait to give myself to him completely, as I know it will be about love and nothing less. I picked my engagement ring today! Yes, I chose it! The sad bit, my own mother isn’t happy that I have a lovely person, who respects me and treasures me, and yet refuses to even consider coming to the wedding?? I can finally say, her loss.

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Kathy Stevenson

I am so glad to read that life has finally turned around for you. You are in my prayers; I know that God loves you, and He has a plan for your life that will allow you to use all those scars for good purpose.
God bless you, Hannah.

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Daughter Of Toxic Parents

Hannah, it seems your mind is made up and that is awesome. My mother did the same to me with my ex-fiance years ago. She said she wouldn’t come to my wedding and would not acknowledge any child coming from that relationship as her grandchild. She threatened to throw herself out of my moving car among other atrocities. She finally won the battle and I picked her over him. All she would tell me was he was no good. Years later I realize the only thing she had against him was the fact I loved him dearly. After him I met another person whom I was not in love with but seemed to be a good, honest man. She thought it was a good idea. Hey, mom looks out for me, right? She likes him, he must be someone special. Long story short, I got pregnant and short of putting a gun to my head made my life so miserable I wound up having a termination. Despite all that, one day she told me she didn’t resent him because he had never jabbed at her. The first one loved him and hated her (for obvious reasons) so he was bad. This one helped kill her grandchild, but because he never said a word to her face she did not resent him. I am now 41, married to a great man with a beautiful child. Mom says and shows great love for the baby, but hates my husband. The worst part? She lives with us. In our house. And does not speak to him. She cannot afford to live on her own and is now elderly, and I cannot afford to put her up in a nice assisted living so all I can do is wait patiently for the time I no longer need to hear her sigh, have mood changes, among other things. I have grown out of any love towards her, and I am a stronger person today. I have already have huge fights with her, especially regarding my husband. How dare she ignore him in his own home. In the end of the day he doesn’t care and even prefers it that way, no need to engage in any kind of interaction, but it makes it uncomfortable for everyone. She is manipulative, uses tears and threats of suicide to get her way. Now I have learned, and it has taken a long time, to ignore her. I keep a distance, and pretend I did not hear anything as I walk away from her biting remarks. Word to the wise, do not ever take your mother in after you are married. She will not allow you to have a normal life. Best of luck, and if you would like to share more, leave a reply.

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Hannah Squires

I apologise in not replying sooner. There was much to get my head round, regarding your situation. I want you to know, I have the greatest of respect for you. How you manage in such an environment, is truly awesome. You have been through so much, orchestrated by your Mother, and yet you are the bigger, and ultimately stronger person than her, I mean, having her live with you!! Well, you are a far better person than me. Since my initial post, things have deteriorated and my mothers controlling nature is completely out of control. Following me, room to room in the house. Not being allowed to shut the bathroom door whilst both using the lavatory or having a shower. I was, shockingly, allowed to leave the house today. I’ve not been allowed out any other day this week. I had the first text less than 5 minutes after leaving the house. I was then either phoned or messaged at least once, or indeed both, every 15 minutes. Heaven forbid me not responding. If my reply isn’t fast enough, the angry messages begin. It’s so embarrassing, and what should be a pleasant and normal activity for a near 44 year old, turns into the most stressful of days. I’ve had the silent treatment this evening, as on being ordered home, I immediately left my loving and patient boyfriend and got a taxi home, as that’s what I was told to do. The traffic was awful and obviously beyond my control. Because it took longer than she felt was acceptable, on walking through the door you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. She had a tantrum, and I simply let her rant and said nothing (I’ve learnt that’s the safest way to conduct myself) until being told at 3.30 to get changed into my pyjamas and dressing gown. I quietly flew up the stairs just to have a few minutes peace. I changed clothing and then picked my flute up and began to play. My flute is my salvation and having reached grade 7 in 6 months (I used to play the piano and clarinet so can read music) is a brilliant indicator of how stressed out I am 95% of the time. I can lose myself. Not today though. I was unceremoniously cut short and was sent downstairs…… This is my problem. I have BPD, PTSD (following repeated rape) Chronic depression and anxiety, meralgia paraesthetica, amongst other things. I had been in receipt of enhanced ESA and enhanced PIP. Changes within the DWP have led to my losing the PIP and also lost a substantial part of my ESA. I can barely make ends meet. This means I am unable to move out to my own place as after calculating outgoings with a Financial Advisor, I would have £1.20 spare each month to use on clothes and social activities…… I have submitted a mandatory reconsideration, which DWP acknowledged receipt of on the 22 September. My support worker highlighted my mental fragility and vulnerability. I was told my case would be looked at quickly so as to alleviate stress. I’m still waiting, having heard nothing. I feel let down, sad and completely trapped. My mental health is deteriorating with each day that passes, with no news. If reinstated, I will be able to afford to rent, and also have a small but adequate amount left over each month. I am totally exhausted, disillusioned and sad. My flute helps and snatching as much time when I can to message my boyfriend, keeps me going. If it were not for him and his unwavering support, I can, truthfully say, I would have committed suicide and succeeded. When the DWP took my lifeline away and I realised my powerless situation, I was so desperate I slashed my wrists, took all the medication I had, and ended up in hospital for over a week. I needed surgery on my wrists. I’d done an excellent job in harming myself, but, hadn’t quite done enough to put me out of my misery. If only the powers that be, could see what their actions can do to people like me, I wonder if they’d even feel anything…………

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Hannah Squires

Janie, thank you so very much for your kind words. I really appreciate what you’ve said. Much love to you xx

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Rhonda

Nope. Quit projecting! To thine own self be true. Meaning, be honest with yourself first and foremost.

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Annie

This is so helpful to me, if people can recognise themselves in any of these behaviours then it’s time to start changing. A couple of the points in the article were extemely helpful to me regarding a situation that keeps recurring in my life and reading it in black and white has put it all into perspective. Much more helpful than counselling that I have gone to in the past, in fact that was a complete waste of time for me. Thank you.

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Leah

I don’t understand why people are so mean now a days. They wan’t to dump their miserable issues on others. For an example, my mom and sister were mean to me and still are now! They used of complain about their past and issues in life. How my mom used to get so stressed out from work and people and how my sister would complain about being forced to do this and that in her childhood I would get lucky to get away with so many things unlike her. They would yell, get mad, mess around, ugh it’s too complicated to explain. It traumatizing on how people force things down your throat.

Shut up! @*#&%#$@*!!%!@!%$@! Just plain rude.

To my understanding, this isn’t my problem. Its theirs. They want to take their frustration out on people regardless who they are. I hope my niece will never follow in the foot steps of these horrible people. From what I learned, your are an anchor. You drop down below the sea. Don’t let anyone ruin your life because they had their own struggles. They pressure you to where you can’t take it anymore. They’ll keep repeating it till it’s over. I am sick and disgusted of this monstrous human race. This is such a disgrace and makes me lose hope in humanity. If people are going to continue to be like this, then I am done. I am not bothering with such savages. I am going to hide in a little cabin in the woods and never come out.

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lindsay gunn-ouellette

maybe they wanted someone to care about what they were stuggeling with, wanted some empathy.

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Annie

True, but the way they are going about it is obviously not working. I cannot accept that badly behaved people are always insecure – some people are just plain nasty. These types of people are psychic vampires – they make everyone around them feel rotten but aren’t prepared to help themselves a lot of the time. I have tried to help a number of people and given up as some of them just enjoy being victims.

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joehath5@g.mail

I it nice to no what type of person we facing in our daliy life what ever is we have to face it and try to solve daliy and face it so that our life will go tro what ever is life in nothingnto fear always our mind must think only good so everything we dream wil come true we are god children our soul is spirt and mind come to god what is given will be taken back thats way always our mind is control never control by evil false person and get brain wash and ruin it same thing allows in politics we must remember that what ever they do for us and choose the right person to ruler the world people can talk what they do and say if they done any mistake in past it must be forgive and think want is he doing now rather talking the past spoiling they future always keep u mind a control before u choose the right person thats also goes to choose to have life patner

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Guy

I am dealing this right now with a roommate. A lot of people have noticed this behavior from him and they are telling me I should leave. I finally made the decision to start packing my stuff and start a new life without him. When I am around him I start feeling angry and tense, but when I am not I find I am calm, happy and myself. He always has to be right and gets mad at little things. But when I try to correct him on his mistakes he’s mister perfect. He also likes to give lectures to me when I don’t do things his way. He also constantly asks me for money and never pays back unless I start threatening the friendship, then he will try to act all innocent. I had enough.

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B

You’re doing the right thing. Walk away. I experienced this the past 3 months and some of the people on this comment post are like noo, everyone acts like this. But no, we don’t. We are just intelligent enough to be able to spot when something isn’t healthy for us.

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Charlie

I think Im toxic now! Reading this, I find that I have most of these now, I never use to. Can I somehow adopted these traits from my boyfriend? I know he’s toxic, after finding out after 4 years on how I’ve been treated. I thought there was something wrong with me, and couldn’t figure out why he was mad with me all the time, and for no reasons.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Charlie we all do some of these things some of the time. If there are toxic things you do a bit too consistently, these are the ones to target. Anyone can change if they’re ready too.

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aimen

A toxic person never acknowledeges that he is toxic. Your acknowledging this means that you are a good person. And if you think you are behaving like a toxic person , it may be that you havent fully recovered from your past toxic relationship. Just do your best. Keep struggling day by day to undo the toxic marks your relationship has left on you

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dimitris

A toxic person is not an evil person always.
They might have been trained in to this toxic way of thinking when children(when they couldn’t judge for themselves what is right and wrong, what is good and kind or bad and evil) by their parents, their neighbours, their friends or gangs.
But usually the good persons,when they bounce on a “wall” of kindness, when they are told that they are toxic, they immediately open their eyes and see it.
It is then,that their life changes, changing the lives of their close ones, in turn.
So, Charlie above, either is a toxic person who had a revelation of truth at last, or is a person that has some of the elements of a toxic person.
But in the end, don’t we all have some of these elements occasionally at some points in our lives?

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Sidney

Charlie, it’s easy after spending time with a toxic person; to become toxic as well. After all, they talk down about others or they criticize everyone and everything others do. The talking leads to gossip and before you know it you hate the circle of people in your life. It innocently looks like they open up and share and we like that, but then we become like them because we think it’s normal to talk and think that way. The most painful realization is when you want to change because negativity doesn’t produce a happy mindset or a happy life either, and you realize that you want to get away from people who are always judgy and self absorbed. You realize you’ve become toxic and now you have to deal with wanting to get rid of the old and really wanting a new mindset. This is when you realize the cost of toxic people: Because they’ll turn on you and then act like victims and you’re the bad person for not going along with them. They think it’s your job to tolerate whatever mood they want to be in and to put up with the dumb things they say. They get offended if you don’t want to bask in their presence even though you don’t like the time you’re with them and they aren’t pleasant. Getting away from them might feel impossible especially when they have learned to dominate or manipulate holidays or special events. Then when you feel like you really need to get away from them you have to make all kinds of lies. And when lying is not part of your nature, you have to deal with being a liar all because they do not know how to respect others or support them. When people say be careful with toxic people – it means that it’s not so easy to unload them because they’re presumptuous to assume you want to forever be with them until they no longer want you in their lives. Once they are paranoid that they can’t control you and believe they’re better than slice bread, they’ll talk bad about you to others and stab you in the back, in other words kill you off to the circle you’re in. Everyone you know who once treated you kindly will become cold,distant and act hypocritical – fake. You’ll feel like you’re in a nightmare life and everyone is being fake. You’ll wonder why all the love and kindness you felt for these people suddenly feels like it was a waste of time and you got nothing out of investing your time and your love with them. You’ll feel alone, isolated, and cast out. And you’ll feel as if you have no friends in the world. The toxicity is just so bad and you’ll realize that you have to start your life all over again. Learning to love, to trust, to believe in the goodness of people and friendship and love again. Best advice ever is: if you feel a weird feeling about someone – don’t get invested in them or you’ll have a world of trouble getting rid of them and end up with more trouble and brokenness than you thought you’d ever be able to handle.

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Pam

Well said Sydney, I think you nailed it. One part that I didn’t realize was how they can alienate you from people you thought were friends. Reflecting on this I realized maybe t hat is what’s going on with me right now. I was just thinking that no one wanted to deal with how I am right now, they think maybe I whine too much or am negative too much? My best friend all of a sudden got too busy to spend time with me,and when she does manage to come visit, she spends as much or more time with him up at the shop where he is staying right now. Just yesterday this happened and I didn’t “get” it till reading what you said. I”ve noticed that anytime i mention something about him, she jumps right in with, “Don’t think negative thoughts” and “you really need to get over this” I kind of laid it out for her yesterday. i was completely there for her when she was having problems, I listened to her for MONTHs and never once tried to hush her up, but now she won’t even let me talk about it? It’s not like I’m sitting there bashing him, I’m just trying to understand and I have not one person on this earth, to talk to. At first I thought I was going to lose my mind, because I couldn’t vent to anyone, no family left, just no one. So when she came yesterday, and he kept luring her up there, offering her hot chocolate and then her having to pick his brain about something, and 3 times she went there to speak with him, and I went up the first two times but quickly felt uncomfortable and came home, while they finished their conversation. So when I read what you said, it gives me more understanding of just what I’m in for. I can’t force him to leave although I have no idea why he is staying other than he thinks he can outlast me and end up with my property. I owned it when we got married, and it has never been put in his name, but he wants it, that’s all he ever wanted from me. 16 years I believed him, so call me weak, he isn’t the sweet person everyone thinks he is and I am not the bad one here. Thanks for all of you, without this website I would be fighting this completely alone. You are my lifeline.

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dogimo

The advice is all good advice, but it makes me wonder – why are we doing these things anyway? Making yourself responsible for any person’s mood? Doing things for a person that you don’t want to do? Acting like someone else’s mistaken perception of how you feel has weight? Acting as if the person you are isn’t enough – you have to prove yourself, pass tests? Needing someone to apologize, when you already know they’re definitely wrong – like they have to agree to be wrong? Let someone else’s shower of sour rain on your sunny day parade? Feeling like you’re the one responsible to resolve some dumb conflict they brought up – when they’re one who’s cut it off, and left it hanging?

Letting someone else’s opinion judge us, when we already know what that opinion is worth. When we already ought to know what we’re worth.

These things we shouldn’t be doing with anyone. Whether the person is toxic or not doesn’t even bear on it – they’re sick behaviors. A toxic person can maybe use them to hurt us more, but even with the sweetest, nicest person in the world you shouldn’t be acting like that. Being outgoing, compassionate, generous, yes – doing favors when asked, when the relationship is healthy, feels good to do that. But taking responsibility for they won’t let you help with? Or letting yourself be pressured into doing what you don’t want to do? That’s a sick dynamic. Even in a healthy situation, even with a good person, all it’s going to do is weaken, sicken and hurt how you relate.

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lindsay gunn-ouellette

I dislike this as a general label.
I totally get that if a person is in a relationship where they are expereincing alot of these things they would do best to get out for there own wellness. So many of us need to remind ourselves often of our boundaries, and who we let in, and how those people treat us.
It may also serve us to be curious about what those people really need/ want in relationship? Where are they coming from?
Otherwise though, in some- perhaps many cases these are people that are struggling with something or many things.
People who are struggling are likely to be difficult. They may need professional help, likely not so much judgemnetal labels.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Lindsay the reason these people are called toxic is because they’re toxic. Toxic stress (as in the kind of ongoing stress that can be driven by toxic people) changes the brain. To sugggest that people should just ‘get out of there’ is a simplistic view and overlooks that fact that circumstances often prevent this. Toxic people don’t only happen in intimate relationships – they can be parents, siblings, work colleagues, bosses, ex partners who remain co-parents.

We are all struggling with something, but we all have a responsibility to be emotionally responsible with our relationships. One of the things about toxic people that makes them toxic, is that they don’t care about their impact and have no inclination at all to change. People who are in relationships with toxic people are often people with open hearts and very generous spirits (toxic people choose these types for a good reason) and they spend many years and expend much emotional energy trying to understand why these people do what they do. They also bend and flex and compromise to try to make the relationship work – only to end up broken in the end because the toxic person has no interest in changing.

There comes a point where the people who are stuck in these relationships need support to get out, not judgement for being there or for finally seeing the person the are with for the person they are – toxic.

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Sidney

Yes, this is so well said. Thank you! Toxicity causes stress. Stress can cause memory problems, anxiety, stomach problems, breathing problems, back problems, fatigue, loss of appetite or increase of appetite, headaches, immune disorders, getting the flu often, adrenal problems, arthritic attacks, ringing in the ears, depression, heart palpitations, confusion, procrastination and a paralyzing fear of life.
Maybe we just aren’t energetically compatible with these types of people! But for them life is more exciting when there is drama. You realize you just can’t keep up with them. They move at their speed and left you in the dust. And when you’re sick all the time they write you off as antisocial or worse yet: you don’t love them. But they never call or write when you are sick to show caring or support. It’s easier to show being civilized with them but inside, you want to vomit them out as they disgust you completely. They never think that they have the ability to make you sick and to be considerate. You just get in the way of their plans. You’re the problem. The world is their stage and you’re just a fill-in who didn’t show up for the play. Of course they talk about you. Can’t win. Can’t get a day off even when when you’re sick to know that your ears are ringing because they’re talking about how unhealthy you are and how you ruin their perfect life scripts.

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aimen

I agree that these people need help.. But most of the time these people are unwilling to change. Many a time what they are doing they absolutely knowis wrong but they do it anyway. Its as if its a part of their survival skill and they dont want to let it go. And how draining it is to be in a relationship of any kind with them is something no one; who has never been in such a relationship; can understand.

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Becca

After having kids, I found myself befriending toxic people. Of course no one has, hey, I’m a soul sucking toxic person, wrote on their head, so it took awhile for me to realize who they really were. This past year, after exhausting myself trying to please these people, I completely cut them off. For the past month or so, I’ve wondered why I felt the need to please them, or why I didn’t say something or set boundaries sooner. I realize now that myself, and a lot of the people in my generation and generations before me, were taught to pretty much put others feelings above our own. If someone done something that upset you, just let it go, don’t say anything to them, it might upset them, we were to hold back our feelings to appease theirs. On top of that, my father, whom I love and have the upmost respect for, had this, oh just sweep it under the rug, it will be ok, no need to make a fuss, approach to every issue, reguardless of how minor or major, so not only did I put others feeling above mine, I didn’t have a lick of communication skills. After graduating high school, I got hooked on drugs, and 6yrs later went to rehab, which was life changing for me. It was here that I learned that boundaries are more then your property line, that people actually had bounderies, and what assertive communication was. Had I simply has a high school class on these 2 subjects, I would of been a different person graduating high school. I did have self respect, and knew there were things that I would never put up with, and thankfully the majority of the people I was around were good people with the best of intentions. It wasn’t until after having kids, and basically no social life, that I began to befriend toxic people, I think I was so desperate for someone to talk to and hang out with, that the general red flags, I completely turned a blind eye to. When I did realize how toxic they were, that’s really the first time I’ve ever had to say, no I respect myself more then your respecting me, these are my bounderies, but I took a lot before getting to that point. I’m thankful that these people came into my life when they did, if it had been 10yrs ago, I wouldn’t of know how to set bounderies and walk away. Although learning to be assertive is great in everyday life, I don’t think it would of helped me much back then, as these people simply don’t listen, but learning assertiveness taught me that my feelings are important, and if someone isn’t going to listen to how your feeling, then they need not be a part of your life. I still second guess myself though, because I cling onto the very few good times, or basically the first 4 months of knowing them, and needed to read all of this to reassure myself that I did in fact make the right choice.

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Becca

I didn’t mean to post my last comment as a reply to anyone’s comment, I meant to comment in general.

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Sidney

I’ve witnessed that they are basically unhappy with themselves but they have a need to control their environment ( meaning you in it) if you don’t constantly uphold your boundaries. But it’s very tiring to constantly uphold your boundaries. It depends on who they want to target. I’ve seen that they can behave well with people who are well off because by association they feel their status raised and They like to impress but if they sniff you as a little better but not as good as them because they feel envy or jealous they fight to one up you. It’s very sad because at that moment they say things that are hurtful and they never remember it but you will even if you always forgive them. I’ve seen them become upset because you don’t sit when they want you to sit or behave in some way but then the spontaneity is non existent and the whole experience is about them feeling like top dog because it’s just a stage and the show is theirs. It all begins to feel like a lie, very unnatural. It’s a game to these people. What you describe fits nicely with normal people and yes, it’s good to be sympathetic with normal people. Narcisstic people are competitive and you feel resentful towards their manipulations and conniving nature. They don’t care if they ruin the moment for you or that they show their true colors. They take advantage of the fact that you are polite and decent and aren’t going to say anything about their behavior but they do it fully aware that they are provoking you and poking you to get a reaction. I think that if they get the reaction from you, they can label you a crazy person and that’s what they want. Why would someone do this?

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Carrie

My husband of 30 years ranks somewhere on the spectrum of narcissism. I am minimized by being told I have “low self esteem”, “I’m too defensive”, ‘ I’m too sensitive”, or “I can’t take a joke”. He has a sarcastic sense of humor and will attempt to pass off some pretty mean things as jokes that simply aren’t funny. He also reverts to this line of attack in most disputes. Apologies are rare and usually sound like ” I’m sorry if you think I…”.
I’ve learned that rather than defending myself now, I just keep my mouth shut and let it pass. As a result, of several years of this “keeping silent” approach and swallowing my hurt, I’m actually having throat and neck pain. Obviously we need to get into some counseling for communication skills.
Any recommendations on communicating with this man?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

The problem with communicating with toxic people is that they will hear what they want to hear, regardless of how gently or clearly you put your message across. People who are truly toxic care more about control than connection, so it will always be difficult to get what you need out of a conversation. If your husband is willing to go to counselling that would be a great thing. Having a third party can really help to bring clarity to a situation.

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Virginia

Carrie, I’ve read an article about people using if, and but in apologies. The article reads that if and but that is used in an apology is not a serious apology,because it sounds like they are projecting fault on the other person for feeling the way that they do…..for instance saying, I’m sorry that you feel or think that way isn’t a serious apology because it sounds like they are finding fault with your feelings that their words and actions caused you to have…

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freda

what do as a lady who is still in a relationship with a toxic man and preparing to marry him,he is a very good man but everything thing i do he doesnt appreciate it,he makes me feel as if am good for nothing, i always cry everyday ,because he always finds fault, with me,with anything i do,i cant even come out of my own shell,i feel sad always, and i juxt dont know what to do,and he is also my boss at work,and am his secretary.Pls advice me

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

If this is how you are feeling now, DON’T MARRY THIS MAN! Marriage won’t make these behaviours stop. Everyone has something good about them, even toxic people, but what matters is how you feel in the relationship. If you want a life where you cry everyday, are constantly criticised, feel sad all the time, marry him – because you have very clear evidence that this is what your life will be. He may be a good man in many ways, but that ‘goodness’ isn’t enough to stop the negative things that are happening between you. All of the goodness in the world won’t matter if, on balance, you feel awful in the relationship. If you want to stay in the relationship and try to work through it, do that, but don’t commit yourself to this life if you are already unhappy. Talk to him about what’s happening. If he doesn’t commit to doing things differently, or if he isn’t interested in your concerns, or if he mocks them or gets angry, this isn’t a partnership. If it’s love, it feels like love.

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Pam

Hi Freda, I so much agree with Karen, DON”T MARRY HIM! I’m speaking from experience here and I am at the tail end of that marriage. You will NEVER be happy with this person, not ever. You will be given just enough so called love, to keep you hanging there but you will feel always like you are not ever enough. The way you are feeling right now, always crying, always desperate to please them, always thinking that if I do just one more thing, maybe they will finally love me. But when you get to the end and you realize that you are being totally destroyed and you know that you won’t survive it, and you want to quit and get out, it becomes so much more difficult. Mine told me he never loved me and I asked if he ever had, and he said, “I tried.” After sixteen years he said that. I”m begging you, don’t marry this man, not if your life depends on it. You will be more miserable than you are right now and you will end up not even knowing who you are anymore. You will believe that it’s something wrong with you, that somehow you are just not lovable and no one else will ever want you. You will feel like the lowest, ugliest, vilest creature on earth. And when he is done with you, he won’t even look back to see if you are alive. He has no honor, and certainly no love and you are NEVER going to change him, and you cannot make him happy. They never let you get near their heart and if by chance you get close, they will shoot you down even further. You become their number one enemy and you are there to be destroyed. Please, Dear God, I hope you listen to me and get out now, as fast and as far as you can go. Your life depends on it.

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SYdNeY

Pam you are dead on with your comment.

I was married to a man who was a soul destroying narcissist he was controlling and manipulative. I would never have made him happy and the first three days of our marriage were ok, seriously, and then it went downhill.

The mental abuse was unbelievable it wasn’t until many years later that I realized I had been married to a sociopath. We divorced after a year and a half and he went on to destroy many other women and eventually brought children into the mix. I’m so grateful we didn’t have any.

I met my husband of 34 years and he is the polar opposite of the thing I had wed when I was younger.

Freda, get out and don’t look back. If ANYONE makes you feel bad about yourself then they are underserving and you need to cut ties. This has been my mantra and I taught it to my daughter at a young age.

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Pam

And you are right on too Sydney, I only wish someone would have told me this a long time ago. I don’t know if I would have listened at that point, but at least I would have been aware of things and known a bit more about what to watch for. Maybe I wouldn’t have let it get to this point right now. Either way, you end up hurt and confused but if I could have seen through the lies and manipulation, maybe I could have saved myself some of the seemingly wasted years of suffering and pain. They say that what don’t kill us makes us stronger, and that is my only hope right now, it’s what keeps me going. I hope that I will come out of this stronger and smarter and maybe even find someone who deserves what I have to offer and that will offer me some of that true love I hear so much about. The kind with compassion being shared, between you, in other words, some of it will be for me maybe, not just me giving it. And if I never am able to get past the trust issues, maybe at least I can do some good in the world in sharing what I’ve learned through this ordeal.
I keep this hope with me, it gives me a reason to keep on struggling to get this monkey off my back and to finally be able to start to heal. I want some happiness for a change even if it means I spend the rest of my life hiding in my cave alone. Because right now, it’s the only place I feel safe from all the pain. It is my defense against the world, and I cn be okay if I learn to depend on myself and to learn to that I am okay, it’s him that is sick. I know I’ve been injured and I am broken in a lot of places in my head, but the difference is that I know I am, and I can admit that I’m not perfect, because basically, I am a good person who only wants to live as best as I can and not leave a path of destruction behind me. And when I realize I made a mistake, I will do my best to learn from it and accept responsibility for it. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s how we learn, but if you don’t do something about them, or blame it all on someone else, you become stunted and you stop growing, and you will never, ever find any true, down to the gut, happiness. By not owning up to the mistakes, you not only can’t learn, but you also can’t benefit from them. I’ve tried so hard to explain that to my husband, because even after all the hurt he has caused me, I still want him to find peace in this life, I still care about his spirit and his soul and I guess that is never going to change. Somewhere down under all that ugliness he shows only to me, I know that there is something there that is good. I also know that he looks on me more and more as the enemy because I do see it there and I am not going to be the one to save him because of that fact. He knows I see it, and I know too much, and I think that absolutely terrifies him. Anyway, I know I can’t fix him now, and it’s time I jump off a sinking boat while I still can, because maybe I can’t help him but there are plenty of others out there I might help. And if I go down with the ship, who will help the ones I leave behind. Thinking this way gives me a reason to live and to give myself value. It shows me that I really am important to someone somewhere. And I do have a chance of leaving this life with something to be proud of. I want to find where I am needed, and isn’t that ultimately what life should be about? I am worthwhile and I am worth saving and I do have something to offer.

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chris

these toxic traits are a little interesting. They make sense, but I think that people who are labeled as toxic, innocently claim they are not, depending on ANY situation. In other words, I think anyone can demonstrate these insecurities and passive aggressive behavior, more and less, an normal person can turn toxic towards someone who is insubordinate, lazy, ignorant, and passive, so in all respect, why does that person have to be stereotyped as toxic? in a relationship, if one cant take ownership of there mistakes, and the other has to say sorry or apologize for that person, is that being toxic? If one runs away from the truth, and cannot handle confrontation, because the other was honest in every way to defend there honor, is that being toxic?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Chris we can all display some of these behaviours some of the time, but it’s about intent, degree and intensity. Toxic people are called ‘toxic’ because they contaminate the self-esteem and self-concept of those around them. Other key qualities of a toxic person are a lack of insight into their effect on people and no intention at all to change or to be better for the people around them. They also show a lack of remorse or regret for the damage they do to lives and relationships.

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Pam

Chris, I don’t agree that a toxic person is a stereotype at all. It is a fact that this is the way a toxic person acts, and as such, yes, it’s a label. We can all have certain characteristics of toxicity, but what the label is saying is that these toxic people do these toxic things as a way of life. It is WHO they are. And they are poison to anyone who gets the effect of it in their daily lives.
I sometimes think that I am toxic to him as well because I allowed the treatment he dealt to me. I saw it, I felt it but I allowed it. And by doing that and not fighting it, it allowed his behavior to work for him and it continues because of that. And the difference is, I see it, and I admit it and I am doing something about it. He won’t see it, he won’t ever admit it, and he will never do anything about it.

And if you knew how easy it is to fall into the trap, and how hard it is to get out of, you would perhaps not have a problem with just the label. And you would see that there is no other name for it that is as fitting as toxic is. And the word stereotype assumes that you fit in that category, so why should it bother you if it isn’t you? It is only a way to describe what happens when you get involved with someone like that. You slowly get poisoned until you are sicker than hell and can’t see an antidote for your misery. You are in a toxic condition caused by something that is poisonous to you, therefore they are toxic. It’s the best description to define the situation.

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Terry Croft

I am so torn. , I come from a blended family, there were 6 siblings , our mother passed and our dad remarried and had two more children, this is 44 years ago.

I have had to separate myself from ny older siblings who are very toxic. ” I don’t even think Dr. Phil could help my family” What hurts, is that I love them, and miss seeing them. But I could no longer be a part of their negativity and cruelness to my stepmother and our younger sisters (my older siblings never accepted our step-mother and did not have a close relationship with our younger sisters like a did, I question myself all the time/ Is it okay to stay away?

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Kevin

This fits my wife to a T, she does 11 of the 12 constantly. Many of them are not only the source of our arguments, but the topic. Is there a normal clinical diagnosis for people that are toxic, I mean like borderline, or bipolar? My wife has been playing musical chairs with psych meds for years and nothing’s working. Her mother is a very hostile angry woman and I think that her stepfather may have been a little too touchy if you know what I mean. I don’t know what to do, I’m at my wit’s end but I love my wife and love my family. Any suggestions?

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Aubrie

Today, I ended a two year situation in which I was involved with a toxic person… the crazy part about it is the same thing happened twice, around the same time of year, just LIKE last year. It led me to believe that toxic people tend to lead cycles with those that enable their toxic behavior…I was one of those enablers because I always felt as though I needed to prove that it was possible to love again after a bad breakup when actually it wasn’t necessary…

I was stuck in between the relationship of her and her ex gf. They would date from fall to the next summer…break up…my ex would come looking for me…we date…she becomes distant and uninterested, all to find out that she went back to go entertain her previous ex to start the cycle once again…

This person had followed their ex on Instagram for the second time after I told them the first time that I found it disrespectful and it made me uncomfortable… She would like her ex’s pictures but never liked any of mine and I was her girl!

Anyway, I had decided that instead of immediately ignoring her I would provide a consequence for this type of behavior. She of course never apologized, but attempted to convince me that my punishment for her crime was not necessary because this situation is small and ‘petty’. I held my position.

She had texted me ‘Goodmornin’ earlier this morning and I ignored it….later on today, I saw her post a picture of her ex on her own Instagram (mind u she NEVER posted a picture of us while we were dating…she just simply made excuses) and the caption said “I could never lose what you thought. #wce”

My heart was torn apart…even though I expected this was gonna happen. I take full responsibility for letting this toxic person back in my life to do this to me again. Her ex posted a picture of her (my ex) at which she (my now ex) commented “Hey Wifey”….it was hard seeing that because the night before…she was calling me trying to get me to change my mind and continue to date her and entertain her…I don’t know if she did this to get a reaction out of me…but it turned from me giving her an opportunity to actually fix it, to me completely blocking her out my life with absolutely no hope of ever returning back….

I know she will attempt to reach out to me like she did earlier this year (hunted me down for 6 months while she was with her ex) but I guess that’s the real test. I’m really going through it but I hope I have the strength to continue forward and keep her in my past because she will never change…mind you her ex was someone who always treated her like crap…and she sticks around for it. I just have to go through the process of moving on…but that’s my story of dealing with another toxic person…

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Hannah Squires

Stay strong. Easier said than done I understand. Toxic people eventually ‘kill’ us, by draining every last bit of energy and self esteem. That’s certainly been my experience. Once again, stay resolved and strong. Allow genuine friends to help you. Hold your head high, safe in the knowledge you deserve not simply more, but better. I wish you every success and happiness as you move forward. x

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pam

I think I’ve started to move through a different stage of grief now, and mostly now I am just angry and I’m glad because now I realize it wouldn’t matter if he did a complete turnabout, tell me he does love me and all that rot, because I would never believe him or anything he said again, there would be nothing I could do to change the words he said. I don’t love you, and I said did you ever? He replied, “well, I tried to.” 16 years of trying, wonder why he finally figured it out? But my problem now is he won’t leave. He isn’t in the house, he’s in the shop, its good for the pity thing you know. I have already said the decisions I made were kind of crazy at the time. I thought if he stayed here, that meant there was a chance it would all just go away. ANd I was desperate for that to happen. Not now though, at least not today. It’s like by letting them stay, you are putting yourself at his mercy, just like always. The lies and the games continue and the more I realize what I’ve allowed to happen all these years, the more I push back. But still, I catch myself walking on those damn eggshells. I really have made up my mind that he has to go, but now I don’t know how to make his mind up as well. How can he tell me he never loved me and he wants out, how can he even do that? I’m more or less just done with that desperate attempt to find out why? To understand why. I’m just thinking in my head that it’s because he is a lost soul, and is so hateful and mean because he can’t face himself at all. So, he takes it all out on me. And he’s good at it too, so sneaky, you never know when hes going to blindside you again. Can’t let my guard down, can’t relax, can’t sleep, and he has to get out. I told him yesterday, last evening, he had to go. I havn’et heard a word back yet, so I imagine he is starting the famous silent treatment. I don’t think there are laws for mental abuse, I doubt if they would come arrest him, so I’m lost on this one, don’t know where to turn for help. One thing I do know, he is NEVER going to intimidate me enough to make me want to run, it ain’t happening, I”m done running. This is his choice, now let him deal with it. Oh gads, thanks for listening once again, it feels so good to just say all this out loud, He is an ASSHOLE! lol

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Janet

I can’t stress how much I agree with the “projection” point! Toxic people will make it seem as if you are the problem, not themselves. All of the manipulative people around me share that same characteristic! They will deny that there is a problem, ask, with a passive-aggressive and accusatory tone, why I’m angry/upset/mean, while I try my best to defend myself, totally forgetting that the same conversation shouldn’t involve these elements if I were talking with a normal person. Ironically, when these toxic people occasionally show compassion and understanding, and in a way just normal, it feels like a godsend and you forget how stupid they made you feel.

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Tracy

I have had an old friend come back into my life. She was raised in an extremely abusive home and unfortunately it continued in her relationships for many years. Now she has become the aggressor, not physically. She wears her pain and every single thing that happened to her as a shield. I cannot talk to her about letting go or dealing with anything. She is 55 now and her life is so sad and empty because she chooses to sit in the darkness. I think she feels she can control that, she is comfortable in it. I have my own issues to deal with and she can be so toxic sometimes, I just don’t have the strength to bear it and have myself where I need to be. I cannot talk to her about anything anymore. She thinks everything from everyone is a judgement. No matter what you say or how gentle you put it, she will find something in it. She will either go offline, or fly off in rage using very dark, damaging, disgusting language. I’m just not sure if I can continue this, or how to deal with it. I am in many ways the opposite as her, maybe that doesn’t help. I am not belittling her issues and feelings, but as I have gotten older, I just feel life is too damn short and at some point we have to choose to be happy or not. I’m not saying it is that easy, just that simple

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Tracy

Just wanted to add something. She can be extremely manipulative. I think because the lack of control in her early life perhaps? It is becoming overwhelming recently and as bad as I want to be there for her. Can’t keep going through this drama over and over

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Pam

Hi Tracy, Notr sure if I can help or not but I can identify with your friend a lot. All I can say is in dealing with her, let her know that you believe her, and if you truly care about her, don’t try to give her any advice that requires she fix herself. She already knows she is broken. When you are so beaten down, and someone starts right in telling you what to do to fix yourself, it feels like an extension of what you have already dealt with for so long. You feel like even your friends see that something is wrong with you and that even they can’t love you until you somehow “fix” yourself. Don’t look at her with pity, just let her know you are there whenever she needs to talk and without judgement at all. She is fighting for her life, for her spirit and she probably has no trust left in her at this point. Give her time to grieve and dont tell her she needs to do anything but what she is, and let her know you find so much value in just being around her. I”m not asking you to lie, be honest. If it’s hard to be with her, she already knows that and if she is like me, she will do her best not to bring you down, but she needs to talk about what she has been through, more than anything she needs to know you aren’t going to disappear from her life and you’re not going to pull back. And if you seriously just cant handle it, be honest, don’t do it if you don’t want to. It can’t be easy to be around her, I surely know that one. And if she feels at all that you are just hanging in there out of some sense of duty, she will crawl deeper into that dark place. I want to get better, I know I have to fight for every inch of progress, every single day. And when you are at that point, even the thought of talking to a counselor or therapist is completely terrifying. The thought of anyone getting into your mind after being told for so long and in so many words that you are good for nothing, and telling you constantly what you need to do to be better, to me feels like just one more person who can’t deal with who I am.
I live in that cave, I know exactly why I am there, it’s the only place on this earth that no one can get into if I don’t want them. And I don’t know one person right now that I trust enough to let in. I just know I have to voice these things in order to let the pressure off, if even for a little while.
Tell her about this place, let her know she isn’t alone. Again, don’t try to fix her, if she asks for advice, tell her what you would do but until then, just let her vent and be honest with her, do not sugar coat anything, we can feel that. If you are willing to stick it out, then God Bless you, but if not we still love you. It’s as simple as that.

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Honey Ongley

I am experiencing these characteristics with my flatmate during a 6 month study abroad. It is making my time very difficult and I feel like I’m not allowed to enjoy anything. Everything is made about her and it is becoming harder and harder each day to deal with it. However, after discovering this article, you’ve been able to point out the exact traits she is doing, and hopefully now I can recognise I can move past them. Really incredible, thank you!

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Pam

It’s me again still trying to figure this all out. I find myself wondering if maybe I am wrong and he isn’t toxic at all, maybe he just has a hard time showing emotions? Or maybe I am just wanting to understand so badly I find myself agreeing with this toxic thing, when in reality I could be wrong. And then I come back here and read everything again and I realize that these people here, the authors like Karen, could be taking this straight from me, they know my whole story and it is exactly as you said Karen. After trying so hard for so long to understand him so I could maybe one day put a smile on his face, I finally realized that he hasn’t changed in all these years, why would he do it now? And it started getting worse the last year or so. He would start ranting at me about everything I did wrong and would get louder and ounder and more and more hurtful, and then he would pound on the table to emphasize his statements, then he started leaning over the table into my face and doing that and I think that was what finally woke me up, because i realized that when he found the table pounding wasn’t doing it for him anymore, my face would probably be next. That kind of abuse I understand a bit more about. And I know that once it happens, it can only get worse, certainly not better. So much that he rants about how bad I am, it was impossible to even argue because it was so untrue, or only enough true that it made me wonder if he really thinks he remembers it right. And t hen I started wondering if I’m just not remembering and I started wondering if maybe everything he said was true, and I really was this loathsome person he tells me I am. He tells me I never do anything around the house, I just sit there like a lump. And although I wonder how the house ever stayed so clean then, because he sure never did it. And one of his things is that I don’t show him that I love him. Hmm, yet he doesn’t think we have to actually tell each other that we do. We should show it instead. And when I think about some of the things I have done for him to prove it, it borders on crazy for me. We had a little house on the property and he hated it there, the roof had blown off and it was just an eyesore, and I hated it myself but thought maybe he would help me tear it down. One time he left on a job and was giving me the silent treatment, wouldn’t call and check in, didn’t care what was going on here. I decided to show him I loved him, and I started tearing that house down. It was dangerous, and incredibly hard labor, and I was completely out here alone doing it. I came close to seriously hurting myself twice, once when one wall I wasn’t expecting to fall yet, did and just missed me by inches. I hit myelf several times with tools, a crowbar, a hammer, and got cut, splinters in my body, stepped on a nail, beat to hell. But by golly, when he got home four weeks later, it was gone! completely gone. I hadn’t burned all the wood yet but it was stacked by the firepit ready to go. And any piece of wood I could think of ever using was clean of nails and stacked neatly to be used again. And when he got home, he only said, well, what are you going to do with all that mess by the firepit…? And why did you just not burn all of that junk wood, I don’t use anything that second hand.
It goes on and on like that, and it makes me wonder what the heck was wrong with me for me to not see it before now. And I can sort of answer that, it’s because I was raised by a mother that had personality disorders and an older brother who was diagnosed later with shizophrenia. And to me, my husband seemed normal. He wasn’t like them and seemed like a kind, gentle man and had a great smile and he convinced me that I would be loved the way I craved being treated. He was good at it. And to be honest, there were times even before we got married that he would do something out of character and my warning signs would go up, but when I confronted him, he convinced me I was only reading it all wrong. I remember one time in my mind I thought for sure he didn’t love me, but I was willing to allow that, just to be with him. I thought after a time that he would realize he did care. And there were enough times of happiness that I could only think of those times and believe he did care. I made excuses for him, I never told other people what was going on, who would believe me anyway? He was good at what he did, he still is.

After him becoming nearly violent I realized now it was a different game and knew I had to stop that before it got worse. And after he left for another job, I told him not to bother coming home I was done. And when it came close to the job being done, he started working on me, telling me we needed to talk and that he loved me and realized things had to change, yada yada, and at that point, I told him he could come home, but if he did, there would be certain conditions, mainly that he could not ever start on me again, no more put downs, no more judging me or telling me all the negative stuff he thought of me. And he agreed. And he came home and I waited for the other shoe to fall, It was the best time of our 16 year marriage and I started to let my guard down and to start trusting him again with my heart. I felt safe, I felt secure, and then it started again, just like he’d never stopped, and I told him I wanted a divorce. Even then I really thought he would try to fix things, but I guess he realized then that he couldn’t control me like he used to and after he told me he didn’t want to divorce so I dropped it, he told me then, he wanted out and that he didn’t love me, never had although he says he tried. And although he has not once admitted it, he wants my property and fully expected for me to walk away and leave it to him. He told me he would give me enough to find another house to buy, but managed to come up with only enough for some shack somewhere else. And at that point I was going to do it anyway, is that nuts? But you know, while I waited for this money to get to him, I walked around this place and every single thing there was done by my hands, everything except the house, we did that together. But the land is mine and I know he would not take care of it or love it like I do. I have hundreds of cacti that I planted years ago figuring the woul be money in the bank when we retire, he never planted one of them, never watered them and only did things around here that he wanted to do. And I made a promise to myself at that moment, that he was not taking my land too. And I was done running when I was afraid, and I was going to stand my ground right here, no matter what threats came up or how afraid I got. I told him my decision to stay and he started in again on me and in a way I was hoping he might hit me, because then the police would have to take him away. I don’t think there is a thing they can do with this emotional abuse, how could I prove it? So, he is at the shop just up a little rise from the house, and he said he isn’t leaving and here I sit, broke, because he decided to cut me off, trying to make me leave. He tells me I will lose the place anyway, or sell it. And now he is saying he is going to fight me for it. He says the judge would make me sell it to pay him for building my home. So, that’s where I am right now, in limbo, with him sitting up there hating on me everyday and no friends that I can even discuss this with or vent on. And no money to pay for mental health treatments, but I still have me and I will win this round or die trying.
This is the first time I’ve been able to tell the whole story and if just one person believes me, I will be happy.

Reply
pam

Thanks so much for saying that Sydney, it helps so much to be able to say this stuff out loud and to have people who know what I’m talking about and to be believed. I don’t get how my best friends would even begin to think I would, or even could make this sort of thing up. And what would I gain by it anyway? It just takes the trust issue up to an even higher level. I don’t want to lose who I am, but I have to be a lot more choosy about who I allow into my life. I’m such a hermit already, this is making it real bad. Again, thank you!

Reply
Darla

Pam, I as well believe you, full heartedly. As a person of action I think you have options you might not be made aware of. Information is just a click away as was this forum and you found it. Do not give up on yourself or your dreams. Stay strong.

Reply
Sabreen

For Ms. Pam

I believe you

I believe you’ve hid in caves, covered over by darkness,
but still managed to climb
your way through the night.
I believe you rubbed the earth between your hands and gave
her something to nourish

I believe you, like her,
wrap yourself around potential
giving water, words, giving years
And years and more

And watch as she yeilds
to you, fruits and flowers.
You rush to show her yours, but hands are empty and head is tired.

Heart is open…

Eyes are seeing…..

Look just beyond the hill
Just beyond, there is a storm brewing. Thinking you,
It will decimate, No!
It has come to free you

Free you.

I believe you can plant now
and compete with the Cacti
who know the secret of living…
storing water to slake their own thirst, bearing thorns for those who would dishonor

I believe you can root,
I believe you can grow,
I believe you can bloom.

I believe you.

Reply
pam

Wow Sabreen, awesome poem, did you just write that? I’m impressed. And I swear it’s like you know me. It was about a week ago, my husband said something to me about staying in my dark little cave all the time, only he was being derogitory, naturally. Like it was a bad thing to stay in my home with the curtains shut. Its not healthy to do that but sometimes its what I do when I don’t want to be around him or anyone else. If the curtains are shut, he usually won’t come down here and I figure whatever works. And that isn’t all you nailed in your poem. I have been a plant freak all my life, and where I live right now are hundreds of cacti, in different stages of growth. And they as well as other things growing out there are what give me a reason to go outside, and to get a little exercise like I should. I hope you don’t mind but I want to copy the poem, it has very much touched me in my deepest heart and it reminds me that not all in this world is bad right now. The plants are always happy to see me, as well as my pets. As far as venturing off the place, that is still tough and I usually go to the store, post office and such like that only when i have to and then I’m not gone for long. If it wasn’t for needing to eat and feed the animals, I think I would be a complete shut in these days. Good thin for the internet and the great outdoors aye? Thank you for your kindness, it is so nice to know there are still good people on this earth. Pam

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Sabreen

Ms. Pam:

You and your story inspired me. It is your poem.

Please feel free to copy. I am honored that it touched you.

This article did the same for me, nearing a year ago.

I told Ms.Karen then, that it is like a gift that keeps on giving.

We must all strive. Come out of our holes and triumph.
One step, one day at a time.

Reply
pam

Thank you Darla. I so appreciate you saying that. Im trying to keep myself in one piece and so far not doing any worse. It’s just the trust issues now that are stopping me, I used to welcome people into my life so easily and now, well, it’s going to take some work to even want to be around strangers. I have noticed that I pay a lot more attention to people even the ones I”ve known a long time. I wonder what they want from me, and I find that to be a sad thing, I know not everyone is out to get me, but I’m acting that way in my heart. Thank you!

Reply
Karen - Hey Sigmund

Pam your story is important and powerful and it makes so much sense. Absolutely, 100% I believe you and I believe in you. Your strength, your courage, your resilience. You have worked hard on this relationship and you have worked hard to feel safe and secure. I wish so much this wasn’t happening to you. Toxic people have a way of putting on the mask for just long enough to just deep enough into our lives that even getting rid of them is painful and does damage. You will get through this. I love the comments people have left for you. So many beautifully open, wonderful hearts. When it feels like you’re too tired to fight, come back these open hearts and open minds for strength. We’re with you.

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pam

Thank You Karen, and thank you for this article, you may have saved me sanity if I had not found it when I did. IT’s given me a lot to think about and a LOT of comfort. Keep up your awesome work, I think you are doing this world some good and making a dent in some pretty miserable situations. Love Pam

Reply
Anon

Great article and very informative. Hits home on more than one level.

Will try to explain the best I can without anything seeming specific due to the possibility of being found out…yes, it can be that bad!

Anyway, I am disabled and fighting SSDI. Had to move out of our house and into a family members basement. Did all the demo work, and install of the renovation costing out of our own pocket around 1600.00 not including labor which we did. (All before I got as bad as I am now) Few years later, basement floods, molds, grows mushrooms etc but is ignored by the owners.

Everything you’ve mentioned about being toxic, is pretty much dead on. (99.99% sure malignant narcissist or NPD and this is text book symptoms, majority of what’s in the DSM-5) We are stuck here until I’m receiving my benefits as my spouse is unable to make enough from her own business as I need her assistance due to my conditions. (Yet ssa still fighting me saying I’m not bad enough and specialists, surgeons, neurologists, and their own examiners are baffled that I’m not already receiving my benefits I’ve paid into more than half my life)

We have 2 boys, and between the 4 of us, have been through hell and back being controlled, manipulated, extorted, all while we have bent over backwards to please and do. Up until this past year or so when I’ve found out what the issue truly is with this individual. We have now been sticking to ourselves avoiding but being respectful as we always have although still getting g and feeling the mental stress. All on top of the already mind boggled issues with our deep
beauracratic battle we are going through. Extremely tough to deal with but have been fairly managing as a family. Have also educated my kids on how to deal with and work around the malignancy. Just don’t know what else we can do. Any help or advice is welcome and Thanks in advance for opportunity.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you are dealing with this with great integrity, strength and grace. I can only imagine how difficult this must be when you are stuck at the hands of someone with such little compassion. Obviously it isn’t possible to change the people who you are dealing with, but keep the boundaries around your family and yourself strong. You sound like a wonderful team and I wish this wasn’t happening to you. I hope you are able to find a way through soon.

Reply
Pam

Y up, me again, I just have to vent again and I hope I don’t sound like a broken record. I”m still in the same situation with my husband, he is living up in his shop and won’t leave, but we have sort of established some ground rules that are working for now. I”ve managed to get most of his stuff out of this house so he doesn’t have the excuse to come down here for “something”. I still have quite a bit of stuff up there, it’s where I store a lot of my art supplies, but I”m working on transferring most of it down here, and I do it when he is gone somewhere so I don’t have the temptation to try to talk to him. When I have it never ends well and I walk away more miserable than before. It’s very tough living this way and I know it has to end somehow but I just don’t see how as yet, short of having him arrested, and there are no grounds for that. Besides, cdoing something like that would probably create more problems than it solves. A restraining order wouldn’t be enforcable as he could be here and gone before the police could arrive and he knows that.
And to be honest about it, I still don’t want to hurt him, isn’t that nuts? I am beginning to believe I am already somewhat crazy just to have stayed with him as long as i did, but it is what it is and it’s hard to change everything you are made up of. I’m learning that it takes time and and a LOT of determination, just to survive.
My biggest problem now is that I have no one to talk to about this. The people I thought were my friends, well, when things got tough, they got going, if you get my drift. All of a sudden they aren’t getting my texts, or phone calls, and are just so busy, they don’t have time to visit. I’ve sort of come to terms with that, it seems to go with the territory these days. But finding new friends just doesn’t seem to be in my bag of tricks, I can’t make myself get out to meet anyone, and if I did I would not be able to be truthful, that would make them run fast and far I believe, and I can’t really see what good more rejection would do me.
So, for now I live in solitude and have more or less given up hoping for friends to talk to. I spend a lot of time talking to myself, or my dog, or cat and yes, I even answer myself, so doesn’t that more or less confirm that I am getting crazy?
One really good thing is I am getting closer to my maker, and have managed to study and even understand the bible more. It does give me comfort and helps me realize that we are never really alone, and that someone does care. It says though, that you must have faith, and uses that dirty word, “trust” a lot. So I’m working on that and think I am making progress.
I think I can talk here because even though we show our names, and even our hearts, we can still remain anonymous and for some reason it’s easier to share that way, for me anyway.
I wouldn’t mind hearing any advice or stories on learning how to do that again, Trust people I mean. Because frankly, I am at a loss here.
So for the ones that made it through this I thank you for listening and I hope those still suffering so badly, hang in there, I hear it gets better. *hugs* Pam

Reply
Youngest

What I cannot wrap my mind around are family members who do smear campaigns against you and even get law enforcement involved and then when they see you they say, ‘ why – what’s wrong?’
Like I am supposed to ignore every hateful thing they said or done? When dealing with them it’s like they are blaming me for what they have done. Accusing me of lying when they are the ones who made up crazy stuff. Now they are wanting to isolate me from the rest of the family ( and my family is against this totally) Am I right to not want to interact with these people?

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Anonymous

My situation is interesting. I am living in a foreign country as an au pair, and I believe my host parents are toxic. To make a series of long stories short, they are hypocrites,

For example; my au pair mother talked to me like I was a child and tried to humiliate me because my room smelled bad after I forgot my used gym wear inside, instead of throwing it in the laundry room. Usually my room is totally clean. Meanwhile Their room upstairs is a total sh*t sty.

They are insulting and it is ALWAYS their way or no way whatsoever. My host father insulted the way I acted and told me I was a bad influence on the kids (not trying to toot my own horn but I am Canadian born and raised with strong etiquette and moral values so you can get perspective. I also volunteer with young scout children because kids have a natural fondness of me). He then proceeded to imply there was something wrong with the way my MOTHER raised me. I beg your pardon but that is wildly inappropriate to say. The whole argument (not really an argument because I was trying to be diplomatic while he screamed at me) was sparked because I had my sister over for a week and since she is diabetic and was suffering from Jetlag opted to go upstairs and sleep instead of introducing herself after he arrived home from a business trip. We weren’t even aware he arrived back home.

After I confronted them about the whole situation and I was continuously interrupted and told what I had to say was invalid. They later “agreed” to a “compromise” which was essentially only a different list of rules that I had no say in *insert laughing emoji face*. How is it called a compromise when the other party had no say in the deal? Craziness.

They also tried to blame my offence on “the language barrier”, which is also shit. No real apology, only a suggestion that maybe I misunderstood. My host father speaks almost fluent English, hence his business job, and my host mother has English which is more than sufficient for communication purposes.

They are completely controlling. They need to know when, where, what, and with whom I do anything with. Some of it is necessary in a family setting of course but the way the whole situation of control is enforced is totally unnerving. I feel really as though they are the royalty who sit upon a throne and I should beckon and bow to them.

I could really go on and write a ten page essay but I believe the reader gets the gist. You are of course shaking your head and asking “why doesn’t this girl go back to Canada!?” That’s where the story becomes a positive one. I love the country I’m in (Germany) I have more friends than I’ve ever had, and a boyfriend who I love to bits who’s family has taken me in unquestioningly and always makes me utterly welcome. I also am learning the language and want to stay here to study.

Although, I must say it has taken a toll on my mental health, and I feel like I must rely on my boyfriend for a safe place, which is tough because I’m independent in nature.

However, I continue to keep faith because I believe I am meant to stay in Germany in the long run. I kind of look at the situation as the hard work needed for a fruitful future. Because nothing good comes without a little fight right? I also know exactly how I will NOT raise my future kids. Or treat other humans in general. I think what we all can take from our experiences with toxic people, is that they make us really recognize the people who are worth surrounding ourselves with, and most importantly, who we want to be as people.

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