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.

    [irp posts=”1195″ name=”Toxic People: 16 Practical, Powerful Ways to Deal With Them”]

  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 your belly moves when you breathe – it doesn’t even need to make sense. Meanwhile, your initial need is well gone on the pile of unfinished conversations that seems to grow bigger by the day.

    [irp posts=”1762″ name=”When Someone You Love is Toxic: How to Let Go of Toxic People, Without Guilt”]

  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 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.

2,229 Comments

paul

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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David B

Okay this is a condition, like I am an addict (in recovery) and it’s manageable. And when I was in it – the irrational seemed completely rational.

Can I help my girlfriend if 2 years who dies do great things, but I feel like a legit tower she builds and kicks over and over and over. I just changed my career and builty woodshop in her garage now she had been fighting with me, except I am not fighting and my life is crumbling. And I suck at texting so my texts are constantly turned around changed used against me when she knows that that’s not what I meant but she continues to do everything by text anyways.

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Ruth

Hi , my mother has always blocked things that are too difficult and pretends they’re not happening. She gets angry when things happen as a result of the unacknowlwdged problem . I sometimes want to break away but it’s too difficult to not need something positive from her, is there any way forward?

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Jackie

My mom is the same way did you ever have any siblings that were a favorite? I was the black sheep never was it good enough with anything that I did for her she never really looked at me as proud. It’s always something I’m doing wrong

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stevem

My partner lways finds fault or expects more from me.
I do everything for everyone and put myself last. I never moan, point out what I do for others because its not the way I am. First time I do because I’m struggling and all the friends, family and partner I’ve helped unconditionally run for the hills. My partner has turned this around to say its my lack of interest or care, don’t listen which is why all these people have issues with me.
Love them all dearly but my cup is empty and none of them can see that even though it’s become quite evident.
I’ve become angry, short tempered and fed up being told everything is my fault and that it’s due to my frustration.
How can I sort this out. Do I walk Wayne think about myself ? Do I accept responsibility for things even if I shouldn’t just to keep the piece.

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Anonymous Husband

Iam married to my toxic lover she is a manipulator user and biggest drama queen in the world she also is cheating nephio who loves to sit there and switch it around to make it look like your the one who got caught cheating she is also into witchcraft and magic drug addict as well i really do love her and do anything in the world to save our marriage when i first meet her she was the most sweetest most soft spoken woman with such a beautiful personality as well as her heart which made me fall for her and those eyes and smile man I d give anything for that woman who wasnt on drugs who followed me were ever i went who always wanted to be by my side always wanted to be on phone with me no matter what the time was lol what should i do ?????

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Christi

Talk to her,write her a letter make a videotape for her about your relationship journey and ask her what you’re saying here ask her if she wants your help (I imagine you both are in need of support. and be sure to look at how you are both now treating one another…

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Sarah J P

I am just now learning who is toxic in my life. My friends list is dwindling down but I’d rather have 1 or 2 trust worthy friends than 10 dishonest friends!!

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Camille

Current situation-
I’ve been married over 22 years and have two grown children with this man. I have known or believed that I needed to create a safe space for him over the last few years because he seemed like he was going through possibly a midlife crisis or depression or emptiness something or other – learning about gaslighting a few months ago and putting together some difficult”evidence”, I discovered he not only was having an affair of about 6 years but that he also introduced me to her about 6 years ago and she was a big part of my social life – her and her husband. We’ve been well I have been going through harsh infidelity recovery the last few months so of course I’m all over the internet looking for anything I can find that is helpful – he does every single thing in that list. Particularly I think it’s the first one he is loving and warm then defensive and deflective. I reckon none of this is fixable? Apparently that safe space should have been for me. So 20/20 for me started with an Achilles rupture, being laid off because of a restructuring due to the pandemic, the discovery of the deceit and infidelity etc… Please gaud let 2021 be a year of healing for all of us.

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Marianna W

I have a friend and it’s just I do love her and we have been through so much together. I was new to the school and at the moment she was having trouble with her best friend so she went to me. But then one random day she said her friend has changed and we have gotten no where ever since then. I feel like a second option compared to her other friend. I have tried to tell her how I feel but it ends up just starting an argument. I have tried to let her go but then I just start crying and it gets even worse. What should I do?

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Adela S

I agree with all the information I was provided with , thank you
My supposed friend never has really been a friend but entertains her rival with glee , she hates to see me go because I am an achiever and will need my help sometime , treats me horribly but around others I’m acceptable , yes I’m fully aware and left the shame there i wish her well .. thank you for your time I greatly appreciate

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stanley m

the scary thing is i’ve noticed the toxicity is everywhere. people that helped me turned out to be jerks, i’ve seen all the signs of toxic in my experience. i’ve been hospitalized as well from being exasperated by toxic people. i’ve had to learn to say no to crazyness. for me personally i find that the more simple my life is the easier it is to avoid toxic people.

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Me

I feel ya there. It’s like a diamond ring. One dynamic gem is enough compared to having all seven fingers and two thumbs draped with various diamonds, sizes and colors; and yet still having more that one can hardly decide which to wear.

All it’s takes is One; and that one True friend is y/our relationship with ourselves and with that God within our own existence.

He’s (not in a person but as in a Spirit), shaking/shaken all the leaves/toxic people out of y/our lives. The really sad, mad, bad and glad thing about it is; there’s only a few good substance left on the tree/associates…”Me, Myself and I.” Can we really live with ourselves and be our happiest self of all? I’m willing to give it a try. I find myself more at peace and purging all the toxic residue from myself. I really like my Inner light shining as brightly as it can. As for me, I be remiss if I failed to say Who and a What that light is for and to me. It’s the GOD of my God in me; the GOD of Israel!

This GOD works through bodies; as too toxic peoples/devils. They just want what they want. I just want to be me; and be protected from anything and anyone who wishes to do me harm; in the seen and in the UNseen dangers. Whilest I believe there are truly good peoples out here; I have learned that there are evil hearted and or good people doing wrong things for right reasons (no intentions to hurt); but someone gets hurt anyways; I want to be protected from that hurt.

I’m sorta a way out odd kinda of a person. It what’s makes me stand out with My GOD/God.

I could be like a beacon, or a target; and really the two are the same. “Everyone’s trying to get at it.” But the tree is always being shaken of its leaves until the fullness of the Gentiles/UNbeliever(s) be come in.

And, I’m still speaking about now as I stand in UNbelief sometimes within my our self while on this journey with My GODS God. Idk if ya can fully grasp what I’m trying to convey…and I’m wordy for sure, but I hope all’s who reading this can be healed and devoid of the toxicity we sometimes have within ourselves that unwittingly attracts other toxic peoples into our own existence; and lots of them are family, so called friends, associates, coworkers, children, society, worship (disappointments), etc.

Whatever the situation. Whatever the person. Whatever the grievance; beginning with me first; “MAY WE ALL BE HEALED IN OUR OVERCOMING OF SELF THAT WE MIGHT BE HONEST AND TRUTHFUL AND ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT WE OURSELVES ALLOW TO ENTERTAIN US IN OUR THOUGHTS, in OUR MINDS, and IN OUR PERCEPTIONS OF WHO AND OR A WHAT WHOM WE THINK WE ARE TO OURSELVES FIRST AND TO ONE ANOTHER.”

We can’t cleanse anyone but ourselves; and STARING THAT TRUTH IN ITS FACE; is the HARDEST thing to SEE; and to CHANGE. Give all our worries and care to That Greater IN us. It would never steer us wrong; and IF ONE FINDS THEMSELVES BEING TRIED, tested, TEMPTED; and if we’ve all been TAUGHT right from a wrong AND OR HAVE NOT; just CONSIDER IN TOTALITY “Would I WANT that DONE/INflicted upon ME”; if the ANSWER IS NO, or EVEN a perversed YES; do it unTO yourSELF and NOT UNto others; and THEN you’ll KNOW that YOU ALONE HAVE OVERCOME SOME REALLY GREAT TOXIC THINGS within the ONLY PLACE/kingdom/home/HEAD/world that truly THAT MATTERS👉🏾“YOU!” “ME!” “US!” “THEY!” “THEM!” “HIM!” “HER!” “WE!!!” Individually and YET Collectively one person at a time.

We’re basically overcoming OURselves/ourSELVES.

Works for me.
(c) 7/13/2021. Just cause Cuz.🙌🏾

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Katie

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

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

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

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

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

So first question is how can we cut her out?

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

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Katie

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

Thanks again

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Isabel

My daughter is 31 and constantly tries to criticize me no matter what I try to do. After I gave her and fiancé $150,000. Towards a home she informed me that she has set up boundaries and I could only stay overnight if I was invited. I live in NC , she lives In .Pittsburgh. Everything I say and do is wrong and she turns things around to make me look like I’m the mother with the problem. She is very disrespectful and uses foul language to be abusive. She learned this behavior from her father who is a alcoholic and drug user.. I divorced him after 13 years of a very abusive marriage. I just give up on thinking that we will ever be close. Of course that is my fault to. She had never admitted she was wrong or apologized to me. I have Parkinson’s and asthma and 12 back surgeries and in a lot of pain and she could care less. She is very heavy and her boyfriend won’t ask her to marry her and she is not happy with herself. She projects all her anger on me and she bullies me with filthy language. What can I possibly do with this situation?

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Jane

What an intolerable situation and one that you could seriously come to harm in. Being bullied when you are frail and in pain is life threatening. It could cut your life short and reduce your capacity and fitness. I think you need to ask for help and support from a tangible source – not on line. You need a physical presence of help. I am not sure if going to the GP or contacting a bullying help service especially to protect you from elder abuse. I hope you can make a change for yourself by asking for help.

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Rev R

Oh my, just the fact that you gave her $150,000 towards buying a home shows how ungrateful she is. My home is only worth $200,000 & is very small at 625 square feet & I’m a Senior Citizen myself & I probably won’t even be able to pay it off as I wasn’t able to put more down on it so payments are higher. Can’t believe that people can’t be thankful for such a generous gesture. Most do not have Family that would do that even if they did have the money.

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Rev R

And I almost forgot to say my 44 year old Daughter does not allow me to use her car & I drove a car for a living as a Police Officer. I’m retired now & it’s been 3 years since I’ve had a vehicle. This has greatly interferes with my independence & being able to complete errands & has depresses me. Mine got totaled accidentally by her Daughter, my Grand-daughter. I think she is very selfish for that. They don’t have money to help me get another car although they have given me some money towards fixing an old junk car I have in the driveway. But the bottom line is & my advice to anyone would be, never over compensate like I did thinking you are helping your kids as it will never be enough. I didn’t get the help I gave my kids so I thought I’d do it different & it didn’t work out the way I thought it would. Let them work for every penny & just earn it themselves.

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Sarah J P

Reading your comment completely applied to my whole family-in-law except My father-in-law. Word for word is how they are!! I am not really sure My husband sees them as toxic as I do though. I mean maybe I am over reacting and over thinking? I dont know.

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Garth L

If she is that manipulative, selfish and nasty, why have you stayed there for 6 months?. Surely a wise course of action would be to avoid this psycho altogether. You can always live in rental accommodation until you move home.

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Andrea J

Hi I have been with my partner 22 years we have two daughters 22 and 16 and I have no affection from him. To top this off he don’t hug me kiss me or make love to me, he said he can’t get an erection because he had an hydro seal operation 7 years ago.. to change subject he has been invited to his nephews wedding in London without me and his nephew invited my daughter and him but not me, I don’t know how to react, i feel sad lonely and depressed, and angry but I have never done anything to his nephew, or has my partner told his nephew not to invite me.

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Melissa M

It almost seems that your sis-in-laws Mother knows what she’s like but try’s to ignore it. Unfortunately she probably can do no wrong in her Mother’s eyes. As others have said, putting boundaries in place and never being alone with her if possible might shame her into not being rude etc if others are noticing her bad behaviour. Don’t get into controversial conversations or go beyond hello how are you. Another tip is to pass her accusations or complaints onto your husband or someone elsewhere can handle her or someone who she wouldn’t upset. You can just say to her ‘oh, you have a problem with that, you’re best to talk to my husband/Fred etc’. This deflects the attention away from you onto someone who is better able to handle it. Limit the amount of time you spend around her, excuse yourself to leave or pretend you have an appointment to go to. It’s not easy…good luck!

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Steffy

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

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

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

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

Again thank you.

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amy

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

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

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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linda deckert

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

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Cathleen

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

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Catherine R

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Sanaa

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Kathy

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

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Patricia

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

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Kathy

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

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Janes

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

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

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

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Toni

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Louise

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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

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

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Louise

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

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jeremy

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Delaney

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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In the thick

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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elaine

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Linda Elaine Deckert

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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

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

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

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

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Patricia

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

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Delaney

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Uncertain

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

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

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

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

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Patricia

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Cassandra

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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sade

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Andrea

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Castaly Lombe

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

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heysigmund

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

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May

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

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heysigmund

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

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Annette

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

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

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

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

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

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Diane

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

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heysigmund

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

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52 and just seeing the light

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Iva Ursano

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

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Hey Sigmund

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

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Michelle

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

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

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

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Carol

Sadly this so called existence that you have described has also became my fate. There is no good time to get out of this toxic hell.

I have been stuck for 38 years. 4 years ago I realised that I had become the living dead. I finally left him when my parents died. I am nearly out but the hard bit comes when you expect to take anything with you.

I am still fighting but he has turned our children against me. They know that he is a control freak, an alcoholic and difficult but no one can deal with him. He drip feeds them money without my knowledge and love bombs them with gifts from our joint estate.

I have found that staying with my abusive husband was soul destroying but now his tactics have changed. He is trying to control me outside the relationship through family and his friends.

He has left me that I don’t know who to trust.

His friends sneer at me in the street. The speak to me on an information gathering mission. If I ignore them it fuels their antics.

I realise now that I have to leave the area I have lived in and move away from my children. In my 60’s this is daunting but if I stay he will use family occasions and our children to control me.

It’s sad the lengths that toxic people will take to maintain control.

The vultures are circling him and he is focussed on destroying me.

I have found the only way to deal with a control freak is through the JADE system.
No justifying
No arguing with them
No denying
No explaining

Keep your thoughts to yourself and try to muddle through the best you can. Gather evidence as you can praying for early release and be ready to go when you can with what you can take.

Your not alone. There is a silent secret organisation of lost souls praying for early parole.

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Andrea

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

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Iva Ursano

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

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

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McG

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

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Andrea

McG,

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

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McG

Responding to Andrea’s response.

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

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

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

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Colleen

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

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Cassandra

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

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Patricia Chubb

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

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Elaine

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

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andy

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

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Kris

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

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A

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

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Grsce M

Get out your kids are not happy your stronger he’s a nut that will never change I have two in my family mom and a sister
I don’t like conflict but when I have to I can hold my own and fight back

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Susan A

Diane,
You are strong remember that. I to was in the exact spot as u. I met my husband when I was 16 . Even got warned by his sisters that he was just like his dad and that their mom had to move clear cross the us to get away from him. We have some good years but I didn’t realize the emotional control and mental abuse he was doing since we met. That toke me 17 years to finally seem we were together 26 years and had three beautiful children the first two he kind ccepted but the baby was the one he accused me of manipulating him in to making. He accused me of hiding the fact that I was ovulating .even though I told him everyday of those three days, and he made sure we did it repedly just those days. When we might have been together once a month then. He liked to hold it against me if. If I wanted it ,he didn’t . If he wanted it ,I had to type of relationship. I think the last 7 to 10 years I must of tried to leave him 2/3 times every year. Only to be stoked , blamed , manipulated until I was completely exhausted and just went back. Groveling t his feel and taking the blame for everything that ever happened between us. Even thing he would make up or embellish and if I ueationed it ,I was wrong and what he said happened. He would always use the kids sting he will take them and I’d never see them to make me feel defeated and accept whatever he said I did or was. Then he’s at how he never wanted them or me for that matter like I was his charity case.finally I was able to stay gone , my children and I ended up at a domestic violence shelter after he put his hands on me and tried to tell the police he never touched me it was all made up and I did it all to him. When he had no marks why so ever. We were there 6 mths. And learned lot with group sessions nd individual counseling. Things I though I hid from my children were never hidden
.they saw nd experienced it all . So don’t believe that this is what will stay ur life forever. Ur not stuck. Neither are the children . They can eventually make their own decisions and if the see how strong their mom is they will make the right one. I will keep u in my thoughts and prayers uve got this. God only makes us ender why we can handle and some old us are bada$$ people.

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Lee

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

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One of our rituals was in the week before Christmas, we’d go shopping and each kiddo would choose a keepsake decoration for the tree. This would forever be their decoration. To make sure we’d remember who owned what (a year is a long time!) I wrote their name and year on the box. The idea is that when they leave home, they’ll have a collection of special decorations for their own tree, plump with throwbacks (‘Oh I remember when we bought this!).

Then of course there was Christmas morning. Santa would leave a note on the table and bootprints on the front path, which smelled remarkably like talcum powder. So magical the way the snow was under the boot and never melted, even in an Australian summer! But that’s the magic of Christmas, right?!

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make Christmas magical. Rituals can make this easier. They get the special memories, you get to make the ‘magic’ without having to come up with something new and different each year.

It’s very likely that there will already be Christmas rituals happening in your family, even if you don’t realise it. Ask them what they remember most, or what they loved most about last Christmas, aside from the presents.

They might surprise you with things you’d completely forgotten about, or which at the time didn’t seem to be a biggie. It can be the simplest things. Maybe they loved the way they were allowed to have ice-cream with pancakes at breakfast last Christmas. (Ice-cream at breakfast?! Told you Christmas was magical!!). 

If it’s what they remember, and if it lights them up, let it become a ‘thing’. Maybe they loved the magic ‘neverending carrot’ sprinkles you put on the scrawny carrot you found in the vege drawer (remembering reindeer groceries can be so hard sometimes!)

You’d be surprised what they find special. It doesn’t have to be big to feel magical.

What are your Christmas rituals? Let’s share ideas in the comments.♥️
We're having a sale! For a limited time, books and plushies are 25% off. 

Because sales are the best, and Christmas is the best, and helping kiddos find their brave is the very best of all! So, to celebrate the end of the year (because truly, it's been a year hasn't it), and to help you settle brave hearts for next year, or night times, or separations, or, you know, all the things, we're taking 25% off books and plushies in the Hey Sigmund shop.

There's no need to enter a code. The books and bundles are already marked with their special sale prices. You'll find them all there - plushies, books, bundles - doing shopping cartwheels, beside themselves excited about helping your young ones feel bigger than anxiety, and shimmy on to brave. 
* Link in bio.🎄
It can feel as though the only way to strengthen them against their anxiety is to make sure they have nothing to worry about, but when their worries are real this might not happen quickly. 

Instead, we need to focus on helping them know that even though those worries are there, they will be okay. ‘Not worrying’ isn’t the antidote to anxiety, trust is. This will start with trust in you and your belief that they will be okay, and trust in your reaction if things don’t go to plan. Eventually, as they grow this will expand into trust in themselves and their own capacity to find their way through challenges to a place of hope and strength. 
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#parenting #parentinglife #parenting #parent #parents #mindfulparent
Strong steady breathing will reverse the fight or flight physiology that causes nausea, butterflies, or sick or sore tummies during anxiety. BUT telling an anxious brain to take a strong steady breath will potentially make anxiety worse unless strong steady breathing feels familiar. Practising during calm times will make it familiar. 

During anxiety we’re dealing with their amygdala, and it wants short shallow breathing to conserve oxygen. It doesn’t want strong steady breathing and will work hard to resist this. 

An anxious brain is a busy brain and it will be less able to do anything unfamiliar. A few minutes of strong steady breathing each day will set up a strong neural pathway to make strong breathing more automatic and accessible during anxiety. 

In the meantime though, you can do it for them. This is the magic of co-regulation. When you do strong steady breathing during their anxiety, it will calm your nervous system which will eventually calm theirs. You will catch their anxiety, and this will feed into their anxiety. Your strong steady breathing is the circuit breaker. They will catch your anxiety, but they will also catch your calm. Don’t worry if this takes a few minutes (and maybe a few more after that). Anxious brains are strong, powerful, beautiful brains working hard to protect. Breathe and be with. This will open the way for that distressed young nervous system to find its way home. And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️
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#heywarrior #parenting #bravekids #anxietyinkids #kidsanxiety #parent #parenthood
Needs and behaviour can get tangled up and treated as one. When you can, separate the need from the behaviour. Give voice to the need - let it find a way to breathe - and redirect the behaviour. 

The need might always be clear, especially if it’s being smothered by angry shouting words. If we stifle the behaviour without acknowledging the need, the need stays hungry. Help usher it into the light by making it clear that you’re ready to receive it. Then wait. Wait for the big behaviour to ease, for bodies to calm, and angry voices to soften - but keep the way to you open. ‘You’re a great kid and I know you know that behaviour wasn’t okay. Talk to me about what’s happening for you.’

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