Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

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. 

  1. They won’t own their feelings.

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

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

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

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

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  2. They never apologise. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  6. They exaggerate.

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

  7. They are judgemental.

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

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

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

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Ron Adkins

I truly don’t feel alone in this. However I’m saddened that so many suffer from these psychological dramas, both the victims and the sufferers.


Agreed. Especially hard if you are in love with someone who has these characteristics. I don’t have much tolerance for psychological drama.


As myself. …my bf always says that he doesn’t understand me is that what I just read here?


you can aask yourself “whats to love or be in love with in someone with this toxic behavior. What value do they bring to my life?” you will see you are not so in love anymore and the answer most of the time is “nothing” to both questions.


Agreed. Especially hard if you are in love with someone who has these characteristics. I don’t have much tolerance for psychological as drama as I used to.


I’m worried about my son his girl friend is so controlling he’s not allowed to go see his sister,friends they just moved out three weeks ago and I don’t see him much and I know it’s cause of her.what can I do me and my son have always been close I’ve not just been his mom I’ve been his dad too cause his dad is a piece of crap and has never been in his life it’s always been me

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Shelley the most important thing for you is to let your son know that you are always there and available for him. This is your son’s growth and his lesson to learn. It’s also important that you hold back from criticising his girlfriend in front of him. To do so will run the risk of him feeling a greater need to defend her, and this may come between his relationship with you.


Give him space. Let him have a relationship with her. It’s important that you are not judging him, you are not judging her, and you were not judging their relationship. If you do you could cause a bad relationship between you and your son, give him the space he needs. If she is “really” the issue he will figure that out. But you need to give him the space he needs to figure that out. He’s an adult now. Let him be independent.
You may be so used to having most of your sons attention and now that he has a girlfriend he’s putting his attention on her rather than you( I see this issue all the time.) He may be choosing to spend more time with his girlfriend because they go out and do fun things, they are in love. Which will limit his time with his sister or his friends. When a person gets into a committed relationship they are now using their spare time for their new partner, it’s not because they don’t want to see their siblings or their friends, but a person only has so much spare time, there’s only 24 hours in a day.
So just give him his space, he needs to grow, grow as a person, be independent. He can’t do that if you’re criticizing/judging him or his decisions. He can’t do that if you’re clinging onto him too tight. If he needs you he will call you, he will come see you. If he doesn’t that’s because he’s growing, making his own decisions, and you should be proud of that!
If he is making a mistake, that something he will figure out, and he will learn from it. Or this is a security issue of some sort that you’re having with yourself, and hopefully you will be able to learn from it.

Hassan Haq

I’m so glad I found this article. Number 5 is so true and I fucking hate those kind of people, 2 of which are close friends of mine. Thanks again for sharing the truth


Toxic people make you feel bad about yourself because there unhappy with them selves. Instead of talking they yell. We can always choose better people to be around why bother with anyone like that if they make us miserable. Even family; when my parents are gone I will stay away from my rotten sisters who judge and talk about whats wrong with everyone else. So you actually can choose your family or not.

Ron Adkins

Yes, they make you feel bad, make you feel like you’re the narcissist, the crazy person. They can get caught out and when confronted turn that around on you making you doubt yourself, your senses, your perception and your memory. My partner does all that and more to me. Now I can see it I know not to challenge it or defend myself. I just chuckle and say ok dear. She hates that then storms out. I don’t chase after her. I just continue with what I was doing. Sooner or later she emerges and asks, “do you still love me?” I say, “of course I do sweetheart”. She then tries to pick a fight, I smile, nod and agree then go back to what I was doing. I’m thankful I finally figured it out. If I don’t argue back, challenge her, defeat her, it douses the behaviour some and I remain in my peace.


I’m so thankful to have found this article. Today, my bf came in ( and its Valentines Day) and seemed to be ok, but then picked a fight with me in which he fabricated something i did to emotionally injure him, when what really happened was…those of you who can complete that scenario, know what i mean. Im wondering if infidelity is common in this type of person, as I won’t tolerate this at all. I’m skeptical that there is hope, but I’m going to practice what Ron does with his other half, since I truly love and want to help my bf.

Bright Eyes

Ron, I must say I think you have written many words of wisdom here. I think you are right don’t fight them. ThankYou for sharing your thoughts on this issue.

Christine Bianco

It’s obvious that this person is not right for you get away from them people like that are just mental they’re not good for youand it will never work between the two of you leaving you unhappy and feeling like you wasted so many years On someone to which you were unhappy with rather than being with someone you could’ve been happy withand resenting them for allowing you to spend that many years and trying so hard to please and make them happy and wanting so badly for the relationship to work out the way you thought it should. I need to find out many years down the line that it was bound not to ever work and all the while been wasting your time. It took for me to get cancer and realize I’m going to die to see the light


I’m glad I’m not alone in this. It sucks for me because it’s in my family. I can’t escape from it unless I completely cut them off. Well mainly my sisters. I’m the youngest so they’ve manipulated me my whole life. I have one sister that has a daughter and her baby daddy does nothing to help. So she uses the fact that my mom was never there and she had “give up” her life to take care of me, to be an excuse for me doing things for my niece. Like there was a day where we was just chilling and my sister says “Bri needs a new coat.” Expecting me to buy the new coat. Not “hey, do you think you can buy her a new coat?” Or like today I came over to get out the house and chill with my sister but she was being lazy and manipulated me into picking my niece up from school. Once I came back she asked me to cooked dinner because she walked to the store, like if I never came over who would’ve picked up Bri or made dinner? But apparently my niece informed her mom she was hungry before I could start cooking and of course being the toxic person she is, she got an attitude and made it herself. And my other sister is just as bad, actually worse. Ughh sisters are supposed to cool but honestly I wish I could just never talk to them again or replace them with non-toxic damaged people.


I worked with someone who had these tendencies for 7 years. In the end I had to leave my job as did the person before me and after. We were all effected, I beleave it was jealousy as I was in a grade above her. She had gone for my job and not got it so took it out on me. Yes all these feeling are what I went threw. It’s awful how people can treat others.


Thank you so much for this.
I’m a teenager, and i’m starting high school about half a year. Either ways, in my childhood, I had a best friend who I adored. Nope, not anymore.
She can be super judgemental against me, I love K-pop, but she always, and i mean always, find a way to judge it. Whenever I’m happy, singing/dancing to it. It’s either a “disgusting” look she gives me or she says, “It’s/You’re so cringe”.
She can be kind to me otherwise, but i’m simply trying to avoid her, Which is hard.
(Not only she is super judgemental against K-pop. Other classmates too).
Either ways, I find this super useful.
Thank you! : )


Sorry for incorrect grammar/spelling. My hands are super cold right now and I just wanted to write down my thoughts. : )

Karen - Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. I’m pleased it was helpful. I love that you know your own mind and resist being dragged along by the peole who don’t feel good to be around. Well done you. It’s a true strength.


I am 60 years old and I had a very close friend in high school and then years later in my early adult life. Both gave me the heave ho. These are not friends. They are passing acquaintances. I found on my journey in life that those who have high self esteem – and I count myself in this group – can weather these people who from my point of view have low self esteem. Count it as a learning experience. They say that in your whole life if you can have one true life long friend, you are blessed. In my case it’s my husband. I’m also blessed to have sisters. Don’t be discouraged. You will meet like minded people as you go along. I tried to find my two ‘close friends’ later in life thanks to social media. One is a radical political viewpoint not my own who married young and never had a career and that’s okay! But also found out she had a felony record. The second ‘friend’ has been married three times; she shrugged me off when she met her ‘wonderful’ hubby # two. So I say to you- be your own person and don’t worry about superficial people with low self esteem.


That’s such a beautiful thing to say. In the last 5 years I lost my mum and my lover and it’s been so hard & then I met a man who seemed like he could be a true friend (maybe more but friendship was okay) but he started playing these manipulative games. I was really taken aback but if I said anything I was the one who was being “oversensitive” and when he stood me up he said anyone could be “careless” – like, duh?? It’s very painful to feel made such a fool but at least I saw it in time.


This is my boyfriend to the T all 12 traits this guy has. He perjects everything on to me i am so mad for that, then he blames me for my attitude like im not allowed to have one.its f_ing exosting. Around in a circle i go with him all day. How do i brake this bad habbit and bond with him so that i can move on with my life?

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Angela there’s no easy way to let go. Be clear about the reasons you want to, and keep reminding yourself. Know that when we do something unfamiliar (like let go of a familiar relationship), there will be an overwhelming temptation to go back to what’s familiar. This is when you will need to stay strong and clear about the reasons you left, and know that that temptation will also pass.

Sarah L

Great, eye opening article! This is how my mother and i’ s relationship is, always in a cycle of drama and all I try to do is try to cooperate with her and get along and it never works. I feel like it’s always me me me, my fault. For example, as of Feb 1st she has already started her cycle of the “silent treatment” which is a regular thing. My question is what do you do if this toxic relationship is between you and a parent? Let them go?

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Yes I hear you! Relationships with toxic parents can be difficult to manage and guard against because of the sense of obligation and the potential for manipulation that comes from that. As an adult though, you deserve to have your boundaries respected by everyone in your life. Parents are no less obligated to respect our boundaries than anyone else in our lives. Here are a couple of articles that might be helpful for you.

>> Stronger for the Breaks: How to Heal from a Toxic Parent: https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-parent/
>> When Someone You Love is Toxic – How to Let Go, Without Guilt https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/

I hope they help to make sense of things and give you some clarity around your relationship.


Since the age of 8 my sister has been one of these toxic people. I’m Now 63 and can’t deal with her any longer. I have told her that we both deserve to be happy and that I can’t continue having a loving yet demanding sister one minute and then without warning an agressive, abusive and vicious sister the next minute. I’m hoping it’s over between us. This really hurts as I still love her.


Wow! Was just thinking the same thing about my sister! Good to know its not just me.I could go on and on and on with stories about her unfeeling cruelty. The harder I try to be nice, the meaner and more manipulative she gets. So I finally gave up, its just not worth the pain, is it? Hmmmn, what would a psychiatrist diagnose this as? Peace Out, J.YO’


Unfortunately I also have a sister who is like this. We are one year apart in age and have never been close. I learnt along time ago that it was best to stay clear of her as she hates me with an intensity that is just not normal. I am 53 and she is 52. I have another sister who is younger and my parents are still alive in their 80’s. Her behaviour affects us all. Family gatherings are few and far between to avoid arguments etc. Last year I learnt that she got married, an event I wasn’t invited to and neither were my parents. After years of not having any meaningful relationship with her I sent her a gift to congratulate her and suggested meeting up in the hope that things might have changed. BIG MISTAKE. I received a series of letters from her pointing out all my faults and statements that no-one in the family liked me. Really nasty vicious stuff. It was capped of with a telephone conversation the like of which I’ve never encountered before and hope I never encounter again. She took pleasure in shaming me to the core over things that in reality are all part of being human. I honestly think she is on a mission to destroy me and exclude me from the family so that she can feel better. I know that she is working behind the scenes to convince family members that despite her best efforts to build a relationship with me it’s all my fault that things haven’t worked out. She could honestly deliver a masterclass in manipulation. She has succeeded in part for now as I am going to opt out of any family gatherings to avoid her toxicity, I just don’t need it. She has successfully split the family as my parents are still unaware she got married as I concluded it would hurt them too much. Any normal person just couldn’t write hate filled letters and think it was their duty to do so. It’s like she thinks she’s entitled to pass judgement and point out all my flaws. She has zero ability for any self reflection or any acknowledgement that she is also human and makes mistakes. My parents have 3 daughters and we all can’t be in the same room together. It’s a tragedy of epic proportions and my sister is unable to understand how her behaviour is driving it all. I’m just going to play the long game and hope that in the end she is caught out by her own lies and manipulation games.


I don’t know if I should feel worse for you as you’ve dealt with her all of your life, or the man who married her as he has to live with her every day. I don’t understand how people like that get married.


I sure wish I knew what to do about this too as @ work it doesn’t matter what I do it’s not the right thing.
e.g. If I put a call thru to Sales & it gets answered this particular co worker comes up & tells me, you cut him off.
I accidently put a call thru to the paging system or cut him off or put a call thru to him, & did he ask for me. He spends all his time minding other peoples business as when I on the phones he wants to know who it was & why they called etc.
I bring something back from a customer & why you bring that back did they tell you to, oh that’s right I know what that is now, no sorry or anything, no one else sticks up for me either they all think I’m too sensitive & they think it is highly funny I DON’T.
As his father is the boss I can’t go to him & I not leaving either, why should I leave.
The rest of my jobs are fine.
Any ideas would be appreciated also.
Apart from avoidance I can’t any other option as if I say anything it doesn’t work as he doesn’t remember of I get upset & cry or the others laugh which makes it worse


All I have to say is Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for this. I’ve never read something that so clearly resonates with my situation that sadly involves my family.

I used to rise to the occasion to defend myself every time something was projected on to me, every time I was accused of something, or everytime I was put in a position to defend myself. Not anymore.

Recently, I realized that no matter what my true intentions are, or what my actions clearly show, sone people want to use you as a scapegoat for all of their problens, and you care enough to take them on. It’s a vicious cycle until you realize it and can put their actions in perspective.

You’ll find that once you start to creare boundaries, though, they will fight back, hard. Suddenly you are the bad guy because you’re Not feeding into their drama… or you’re acting “superior” because you realize these people are not healthy for you.

They want to drag you down, they do not lift you up. You were already up, which is why you are their target.

The past few months have been pure hell for me, realizing how no matter the anount if love and selflessness i pour into my family that they want to make me out to be the bad guy. They dont share in my joys, they convince themselves I am to blame for what is (sometimes quite obviously), their own problems, and everything i say and do gets twisted and i find myself constantly emotionally manipulated. I’ve spent years taking everything out on myself (its family, they must be right, it must be my difficult personality that needs to change, etc) pushing me into deep depressions and even suicidal thoughts.

It’s crazy now that ive seen the light how much everything makes so much sense, i really get a sense of peace reading others stories and knowing im not alone.

I feel freed, in a way, although it will continue to be a struggle to rise above the manipulation and create the boundaries i desperately need to in order to thrive and live the life i was meant to. I’m working on surrounding myself with people who Love and Support each other.


Sorry for the typographical errors! Its late and I can’t sleep ?but I do feel so much better after reading this.


Where’s the “like” button as in ‘I totally agree, thanks for sharing’ when you need it?


I make him miserable? He makes me miserable? Our we done? Get thrown in my face what I did wrong? What we did wrong?


Thanks for this post. As I read each point, I could totally picture my mom in front of my eyes. She has been this person whom I struggle to deal with every day and she can never be pleased. I am trying to deal with this by not talking to her any more these days. However, she doesn’t realize that I’m doing this because of her behavior and again puts the blame on me that I’m not being grateful enough to her.

Hannah Squires

I totally empathise with you here. It’s a vicious circle I’m afraid. From personal experience, it continues to keep going round and round. I don’t think there’s a ‘fix it’ solution. For myself, I am working on getting stronger within myself, so that my Mother has progressively less negative impact on me. That way I don’t feed her need to be control of my life. I’m still very much a work in progress, but even in the smallest of ways when I don’t allow her to get all her own way, I feel a little stronger! As a good friend said to me recently, it’s your life, not hers so try to live. You only get one chance at it….


This is an exact replica of my past 14 years! He’s suicidal one minute and I’m totally there for him. The next minute he hates me and wants nothing to do with me. I’m starting to think he has serious mental health issues. It’s bloody awful, but I just can’t stop thinking about him.


I had a friend who had a relationship for 5 years with a man who, everytime she threatened to leave, threatened to kill himself. In the end she left him. He took pills; he screamed to the emergency services but guess what? He did not die. You are thinking about him because he is playing this game – It’s like when someone is really friendly, says they’ll get back to you in a certain time then they don’t. You don’t think of them in that time but after, you wonder ‘why haven’t they got back to me?’ You need to find the strength to leave him – or, if not at least to say an Inner No to all his negative, manipulative behaviours. Sounds terrifying.


I have finally realised after 3 years that my boyfriend is a very unhappy person and this article describes his behaviours so accurately. I am not turning myself inside out anymore to try to please him or prove myself to be worthy. I know I am a good person and if he cant appreciate that then its his loss!!


I struggle daily with a few, very close, people in my life. I have arrived at the point in my life where I am now going to seek professional help as to how to handle them…and how they make me feel like I am the human garbage in their life. I will no longer allow myself to let people use me and treat me this way.

Susan E.

Several months ago a neighbor called me to call 911 as her husband “was going crazy and she didn’t know what to do”. I did and then went up there to see what happened. The police were there and asked her if she wanted to stay there – she said no and didn’t know where she could go. I then stepped in and said she could stay with her daughter and dog, with me. FIRST MISTAKE.
She’s from another country and I felt bad for her because she knew no one nor had family or friends etc. They stayed for 4 1/2 months and I never charged a penny. I wouldn’t let her do things around the house either because I knew I could become dependent on her and this was temporary. I found a domestic violence group to help her, I helped her daughter with her homework, I bought clothes for her daughter when the need arose, got some Medicaid for her daughter (no insurance), I found her a lawyer for her divorce, I found her a job, and I can go on and on.
To make a long story short when she was able to return to her house (he was removed by the court), she RAN home with all of her things she had here in my house and garage – she dragged it all out so fast it was like the world was going to end…..I kept telling her there was no hurry and to relax. It she actually had a breakdown and said she had to go right away. After that little by little she withdrew from me, wouldn’t answer the phone or called back hours later. In other words I disappeared from her radar. I kept trying to figure out what I did to change her attitude and although it’s been a month, still can’t figure it out. I asked her several times and the answer was “I don’t want to bother you any more” or “I don’t want to talk about the situation anymore”. How did I evolve from “Mom, thank you so much – you saved my life” (yes, she was calling me, Mom) to nothing? I wish these people could realize how much they can hurt someone.
Ask me – would I ever do something like that for anyone again? My answer – no never, I will never put myself in that position to be hurt by someone I are trying to help. I’ll give you referrals, phone numbers and directions but NOT personally involve myself EVER again.


The person I am closest to in my life right now is exactly like this. I love him so much and I honestly don’t even know why. We work together and almost every day he is unhappy. He complains constantly about the people in his department and how they stare at him while they eat, or don’t work enough, or he doesn’t like their skinny jeans, or one of a million other things, and it’s emotionally draining. I walked away from him once before because I knew he was dragging me down. He was turning me into a complainer and my personality was changing for the worse. We didn’t talk for months and every day it killed me inside. Every day all I wanted was for him to be the one to come to me first, for him to be the one to apologize, and I waited months. He finally came to me, but he always subtly holds it over my head that I “gave up on him” and that I “didn’t love him enough”. We still spend every work day together now, but I know I have tailored my behavior and habits to not anger him. I have so many friends I don’t talk to anymore because he doesn’t like them for one reason or another. When something happens, it’s always “my fault”, and I’m always the one in tears and apologizing, when either because he flew off the handle at something most other people would have handled differently, or took something I said and totally twisted it around and misinterpreted it (and then refused to talk to me so I had no hope of ever even explaining it wasn’t correct or true). He’s so angry all the time, and sometimes he realizes it, but anytime you try to help him you get accused of trying to “diagnose” him. I don’t know why I’m typing this other than that it’s therapeutic for me and I’m trying to convince myself that it’s not me, it really is him. The hardest part is I don’t know why I love him so much, or how to stop.


I have read the article and have just read June’s comments 13.2.17. I too….. have tried for 3 years to understand my partner . He has gone off…… cut me off ….. totally 5 times. Then come back again each time leaving it between 6 weeks and 7 month before re entering my life always promising he has changed . On the 14th Feb after 7 weeks back together he did the same again….. after I dared to disagree with something he said. He put the phone down.. refused to answer texts or my calls and texted he’d be back in touch in a week or so. In the 7 weeks we have been back together I have not been my normal happy go lucky self. Today. .. I felt relieve and alive and happy he had gone away and never want to feel like I have for the last week’s. I am questioning why I kept going back… I did love him … but questioned why the relieve of him going away this time was so evident to me.

I won’t be going back again… I know he will text when he has punished me enough . I was going to email him to tell him that this time I never want to see him again. I am not sure if this is the right thing to do or do I just never communicate again. I will seek advise on this I think.

He is an unhappy man who thinks only of himself .

I could tell the full story from beginning to end if it would help anyone recognise the traits.

I actually hop jumped and skipped on my walk with the dog today . I’m grateful I could finally escape and accept I could never change him .
Deborah .


until you put yourself out there, prove to me that you love me…

husband loves saying that to me…cant deal with it any more. Im in school fulltime, work, and he is unemployed. I have no patience for his toxic manipulative behavior anymore but divorce is so hard. Hell be homeless

Ron Adkins

What on EARTH is this HOLD that TOXIC people have on us who are their victims? Why is it sometimes so hard to walk away from them? In essence, jump out of the raging fire they are rather than stand there time and time again, getting grotesquely burned?


To put it simply, they have something we want – namely, approval. I shared an office with a toxic co-worker for a few years and realized after some time that I felt like I had to compete with him and win in order to earn his esteem. I didn’t have “feelings” for him, but I considered him to be smarter than I (like a lot of cholerics); so if I had his approval that meant I was smart too. Not until I moved out of that office and joined a book study on “Search for Significance” by Robert McGee did I begin to climb out of that hole. Being an “Approval Addict” was one of several possible traps outlined, and which I’d fallen into – as have many here it seems. For some reason we think we need the approval of another (or people in general) to have worth; and this is what these toxic people hold over our heads, alternately granting it as a reward or withholding it to manipulate us. My situation was different from many here, but for those of us who crave approval recognizing the lie is key to confronting and dismantling it.

Ron Adkins

I believe in my case, it’s the thought of failure that’s what keeps me in. I simply do not wish to fail unless failure is the only outcome possible. However, I’m seeing now, more than ever, failure is not the option, I was never going to succeed. My option is now to succeed by walking away from the illusion of success. These souls hold carrots out of reach to watch us walk over the cliff trying to win, earn or pursue it endlessly. It’s a game they control and one you can’t win because they control the carrots.


What is the best way to deal with such a terrible toxic relationship that has become dangerous and getting out of the relationship safely without a trace so they cannot find you to do these things to you any longer please help me anyone!?!

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Leann please find a domestic violence support organisation in your area. They have resources and support and processes in place to help with this. Google ‘domestic violence support [type your area]’ If you use your own computer to find this, make sure you delete your browsing history. There will be somewhere close to you that will have the resources to help you. Otherwise there will be a national organisation that will guide you towards the resources in your area. I can’t tell where you are, so I’m not able to guide you – but there will be somewhere. If your safety is at risk, ask the police in your area to guide you towards the right support. There are people who can help you.


After reading this I realise I am the Toxic Person & I want to learn how to stop my behaviour. My BF husband of 23 years finally plucked up the courage to leave me helped by having an affair with someone he told me had a good heart. It hurts very much still. I really want to stop my behaviour before it ruins the future.


I can’t take anymore. I’m so worn I feel invisible. This person I love works hard at wrecking my nerves. She’ll wait until my guard is down then pounces on me like a cat on a canary. If my guard is up she’ll pound and pound on it until it starts to crumble and weakens. Last night she comes home after being gone 3 days (my God! What a peaceful 3 days it was for me). Immediately she changed her persona from being sweet and lovely to her friends who were in the car with her, to being nasty and condescending, demeaning and grumpy to me. She opened up and started complaining about this one person who didn’t like the festival they all went to and manipulated her to take her back to the hotel early claiming to be ill only to find she wanted to do something else. I said I would’ve taken her to the hotel and given her the number to the taxi service so she could do something else or at least talked to her about the lying. My partner immediately says, “I DIDNT ASK YOUR OPINION!!” I said, ” I’m sorry, I thought we were having a conversation “. She immediately gets up and marched out of the room. I know what this means for me, days of relentless torture and I fall for the trap of trying to fix whatever I’ve done. Of course I’m a man and obviously oblivious to my asinine behavior! So, I get told off more, which only makes me work more towards a solution. I end up apologizing and going to bed shaking from the ordeal. Of course I can’t sleep because of the tension in my body, the fight or flight mode engaged vigorously. So, for hours I listen to my subliminal meditation, ” Get Out of Toxic Relationships “. This always puts me to sleep but last night I listened consciously and it was wonderful. While I was working through my anger of what happened I realized the only way I can correct this relationship is by leaving it. While I’m in it I’m only going to continue to suffer and worse cause suffering by my presence in her life. I’ve said something like this before in here, but leaving isn’t always easy. As a man and one who’s always heard horror stories about men, how they’ve manipulated and abused women throughout history, I feel responsible. It’s hard to accept I’m truly not doing anything wrong except trying to repair the relationship, which always ends with hurt words and feelings and days of relenting, while being reminded about my behavior daily or worse, being asked when am I leaving, enduring withheld affection and dealing with indifference. Then there’s the fact my daughter will be home this weekend and then we both become targets.
I understand she was tired and not happy that her friends kept her up every night only to wake her early the following day. I understand she was disappointed about the behavior of one, who only seemed to drag my partner down. I understand I wasn’t all over her when she arrived home but in my defense, I sensed her bottled anger and only wanted to avoid it. You don’t live with someone for 4 years and not see what’s going on inside them when you see them. Anyway, I’m at my wits end. Just when I feel my strength I lose it. I’m too old for this crap! All I wanted was a decent relationship with someone, not a tortuous one which leaves me devastated regularly.


The weird thing is I was searching for something very different from this and I found this accidentally. But heck it’s all true.
My bf whom I would call “N”, I’ve been in a relationship with him for over 4 years now (we haven’t met still) (online). Since I was 18 and a couple of months. I’ve never had any relationship before that. I find it hard to connect with people and don’t just fall in love that easily or just enter a relationship for the heck of it. So far he is my only one. The one that got me to say I love you.
And I hate to admit it, But this article describes him. He took advantage of the fact that I truly love him and that I needed him in life. For some reason it’s hard for him to say I love you. I’m an emotional person not in a bad way, don’t get me wrong I don’t like to express my feelings at all but I like to express my feelings to him and for all this time I haven’t had any chance where he listened to everything I had to say. And I can’t even count the times I stayed up till 7 am to be there for him or making something so he could find in the morning when he wakes up. I’ve had both my best and worst days with him. He only realized how much I mean to him when I became unresponsive to his strategies and turned “cold” because I couldn’t express my self and almost had it. And believe it or not he found a way to make that about him. And he also added that he had a suicide attempt. Now it’s all about him and back to square one I can’t express anything. Cause I don’t take it lightly when someone says they’re trying to commit suicide specially when it’s someone I love. I’m not sure but I guess he knew that.
I’m the one always trying. I’ve had anxiety disorder since I was little, when I grew up before I met him it was sorta controllable. Now it’s not anymore and now depression is added to the mix and I hate to say it but now I take pills and it’s cause of him. But he doesn’t even know any of that. Trust me I wanna write a whole book here cause it’s eating me inside but I can’t.
I wanna ask your advice. I might have some specific questions that i might add later.
And sorry this is it organized at all but this Is due to all the unfinished shi* piled up all those years I can’t even think of one thing without jumping to another.
Sorry about this and thank you in advance.


Tom, your situation sounds completely similar to mine (except we spent pretty much everyday together for the two years of our relationship) and I wanted to pass on some advice to you since my break-up. one thing you have to realize about these kinds of relationships is that the toxic person is never going to consider your needs or feelings. They like to play the victim and everything in the relationship and every problem they have in life is somehow going to be your fault. It’s a terrible feeling when you give someone your all and then some, and they tell you you’re not enough or that they think they’re not enough when you’ve have tried to show them they are everyday all the time. You’ll constantly think of reasons why THEY are the problem and they just dont realize how much they hurt you. But the truth is, if you are really feeling this way, you should ask yourself if they are the problem or if you are. Not saying that it is your fault they’re acting this way, but why you continue to put up with it if youre so unhappy. One thing I realized at the end of my relationship was that I knew I was not going to spend the rest of my life with him. I didnt want to, I had achieved so much and he was constantly trying to put me down and tell me I wasnt doing anything right, or I wasnt focusing on him and he started a fight over it. He didnt try to build me up like i did to him, he didnt want to change his behaviour because it hurt me and our relationship. He just wanted attention and love but didnt want to give it in return. Its a long road to realization but once youre there, you have to think long and hard about the next step. Ask yourself what you want in life in 5 years and if this person really fits into the mix, and if they do will it be a positive scenario. I hope this helped!


It seems fitting to say that I am a toxic person. I dont know if victims are the only ones to respond here or if anyone would actually admit to being a toxic person. I read the whole thing and I think it fits me well the way I have treated my now ex wife. I have spent last 6 months trying to figure out whats wrong with me. I couldnt find answers anywhere but psychologist. His conclusion was that I have Bipolar Disorder. I have made a decision that it is best if you love her to let her go. I still care about her and think the way I still feel that I wont contribute to her joy and happiness its sometimes best to just dont drag her down while you some rational thinking left.

Cha Cha

I have been in a relationship with a friend for over fifteen years. I am so thankful to know I am not the only one that has allowed someone like this in my life. Thanks


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