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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. They’ll manipulate.

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

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

  2. They won’t own their feelings.

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

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

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

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

  4. They never apologise. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. They exaggerate.

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

  11. They are judgemental.

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

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

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

2,524 Comments

Caron

Thank you for this, i will never understand the toxic people in my life who are so close to me, but this helps me realise that its not in my mind, its a thing, an ugly thing that exists.
How will i go forward? who knows, but at least now i can rest assured thats it not me, its them.

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Ms Taken

Any advince on how to deal with these toxic people when they are your only sibling and it is being enabled by your own mother and father? Mother has a tendency to also be toxic when the mood strikes, and father has a heart of gold. It’s hard to avoid conflict in some scenarios, but any advice would be awesome (especially with the holidays coming up).

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Dannie

My first impression reading the list is that hey my husband and I fit into some parts of this list so either everyone has some toxicity in them or we are both toxic people. Either way counseling has done us both a world of good.
His daughter on the other hand, very toxic and drains us both.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes, everybody does some of the things on the list from time to time. None of us are perfect but the people who are good to be with are the people who, like you, are open to their impact on people and are able to take responsibility for that.

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Brazen Lee

I have an ex, and a friend, who are what most people would consider toxic. I still see them both on occasion, but I’ve made some boundaries for myself, and have accepted that the problems they have – which my ex in particular likes to blame on me – which they both blame on other people, are of their own doing, and from their own behaviour. The people in my life who display toxic tendencies (and I used to be like this myself) are very much lacking in self-awareness.

I used to take it all very seriously and let it stress me out. I’ve since taken some steps back, maintain my boundaries, and have surrounded myself with more supportive, present, and unselfish people. When they come around with their drama and changeability now, it mostly rolls off my back. It’s not easy, but with some practice, self-love, and self-awareness, I’ve learned to manage pretty well!

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Hey Sigmund

You are acting with grace, strength and courage. That’s not easy, but it’s important when you’re dealing with toxic people. Keep going – you sound as though you are doing a wonderful job of managing this.

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Shirl

I have full and utmost sympathy for you. I have never experienced what you are going through but I know what that type of ‘abuse’ can do to a person. I know you care about your animals and you sound like a wonderful person.
I have an aunt who is a destructive, cruel person who has created unfixable problems in my family. For no reason other than she may have been envious of my loving and ‘normal’ relationships, who knows? I have nothing to do with her and have taught my children that even though she’s a relative they don’t ever ever ever need to spend a second of their precious time with a person like that.

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Hettie Trahms

I had a husband like Gata, and now I have a daughter like that. Gata, all I can say to you, is: carry on with your life as best you can. I can remember that I tried to see what I could do to make the situation better. What I found was that I could not. He found fault with everything I did, said and thought. I once asked him whether there was anything he was satisfied with and his answer was no. I found I could not discuss problems with him – it was always me making him unhappy. Carry on with putting money away, make your plans to get away. I remember that I felt disrupted the whole time. Keep telling yourself that you are right. Fortunately the man moved out to live with a mistress. That gave me time to relax and calm down. Even my children calmed down. I did not shout at them anymore. They are grown up now, but still think that I saved their lives by divorcing the man. Fortunately he died before any of them got married. My son did not want him at his wedding and my daughter said he is not giving her away in the church. Can you imagine the trouble that would have caused! I wish you best. Your life will not get better in a hurry, but carry on surviving. Remember, you are right!

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natalie

I met a guy in beyluxe messenger,we became friends on net,he accused me of jealousy when he talks and spends more time with other females.He always accuses of me of liar and many more toxic accusations.i always try and resolve the problem,he brings up old problems and circle never ends.he ignores all my apologizing texts and block my ids.

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Hey Sigmund

This person is showing you really clearly who he is, and it sounds as though he is someone who doesn’t bring out the best version of you. I’m sure he has his good qualities, but you deserve to have people in your life who make you feel wonderful.

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Elise

Just wanted to say thank you very much for this article. I have been dealing with a toxic friend for some time, and this article really helped put put her behavior in perspective (numbers 5, 8, 11 and 12 ring especially true for her). I have gone back and referenced this article a few times as as reminder to myself on how to view the situation. She has said some really unkind things to me that I have been trying to work through, but it has been very difficult to not take her words to heart. We also share many mutual friends, so that makes the situation a little more complicated. Do you have any advice on how to handle hurtful comments? I want to be the bigger person and not lash out at her, but it is very difficult to not respond back to her in an equally hurtful way. Thank you again for such a great article!

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Conscientious Observer

Hello! Hurtful comments? Are they jn social situations/ over the phone? Next time she puts her foot in her mouth, kindly let her know, so everyone can hear, to thank her for pointing out your flaw, and that she must really care about how you feel when she points out something personal/ or the obvious about you in front of everyone. Then make a joke ‘hey, Who needs enemies with a friend like that’. Depending on if she is a psycopath or not- yes that- if you ask her nicely to stop she will only go harder and get friends to join in. If she gets friends to join in, diffuse the situation with a funny comment. Say ok who is next to get hurt? Lets go (nasty friend), who is it? And by the way you do know this game you are playing also allows us to embarrass, humiliate and hurt you- and be prepared to follow thru. If u dont you will be her doormat to poo on until you die or never speak to her again. Just do it- at least for your own sanity. If you do and get nasty with her and she whinges about it- before you terminate the ‘alleged friendship’ just nicely let her know she has a talent for bringing out the worst in people and you have better things to do than associate with someone that likes to make others feel awful about themselves and others. All the besr.

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beth

I 4got 2 mention that she always acts so sincere and kind but then chooses to ignore me like I don’t even exist.

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beth

Any replies to my question/situation would be GREATLY appreciated. I have a toxic person in my life, unfortunately and I seem to always react in a way that I always look like the fool while this person walks away every time with all of her needs/wants met and with a smile on her face. I try to put up boundaries but that doesn’t seem to work. Here’s my biggest issue with her. Why does she contact me (text me) when she needs something/asks me for help and then when I do reply, I get ignored?! I sent her multiple texts back to her over a period of a few days and not one single response. What is going on with that?

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Hey Sigmund

The important thing to remember is that people only do what works. Sometimes what they’re doing might not be working well – in fact, sometimes it might be disastrous, but it will feel like it’s working in some way towards getting a need met. It sounds as though your friend can be guaranteed of a response when she contacts you. Each time you respond, you reinforce to her that she can get her need met by sending you a request for help. It’s impossible to know what that need is, but we can speculate. It might be a need for control (to know that she can control you if she wants to), a need for certainty and security (you’re still there for her), or perhaps it’s something entirely different. Once her need is met, even if it is met in the smallest way, there’s no need for her to respond – which is likely to be why you’re getting ignored. The reason she is so sincere and kind is because that’s what gets your attention. If you want her behaviour to stop, the thing to do is to teach her that her behaviour won’t work. Let your friend know that you will no longer be responding to her requests for help, because in the past when you’ve responded, you’ve been ignored. Don’t expect her to be okay with this – even if she appears to be, it’s likely that she actually won’t be – and that’s okay. It’s also likely that initially, when you stop responding to the requests for help, her behaviour will get worse. When something stops working, it’s human nature to do more of whatever it was that once worked. When you ignore the requests from the your friend for help, her requests might get more frequent, stronger, or perhaps even nastier – it’s hard to know. Eventually though, when she realises that it doesn’t change anything, she will likely stop. Hope this helps you to make sense of things.

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Drey

I was involved in a toxic relationship for almost 11 years. I loved this man with everything. He manipulated me every chance he got. I joined a car club and that was the ultimate betrayal. I loved those people and my car more than him. He didn’t want to join in, but he would always disapprove of me going to events. Well he allowed his mother and ex wife to do things to me and woukd not stopped them or at least say something to them. His thing was you are doing that club stuff, so my ex can call. He never said that outright but he woukd insinuate it with actions. My final straw, I told him where his mom and his ex could go…. It has been 5 months and he cut all contact and is seeing someone. The person he is seeing has managed to be one mutual friends with my friends on face book and she also has joined my car club supporter page. She puts mems on Facebook about ” What a good woman can do for a man.” And now he is telling mutual friends and family that I was the toxic person in the relationship. Doing the beginning of the break up I admit I became obsessed snd out of control. Constantly calling him, texting him, and going by his house. I just couldn’t conceive how he could just cut me and my children off cold turkey.. Well that’s when I found out about his new woman. I had to go into a mental health facility foe PTSD..this relationship has dropped me so low. I am still recovering and I am still tearful when I think about it. I am hurt as to how he manipulated me and now everyone thinks I am the toxic person in the relationship, how do I move forward with my life? Will this pain sibside will I ever feel better?

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Hey Sigmund

11 years is a long time, so it will take a while for you to find a new normal – but you will. Absolutely you will. Coming out of a relationship is like breaking an addiction – it’s physical, emotional, spiritual, mental. Here is some information that might help you about what happens to your body during a breakup. It might make it easier to understand why it’s so difficult to move on from long term relationships: https://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/ . Understand that sometimes the only way people can move forward is to completely cut contact. I know how much this is hurting you, but in time you will be grateful that he is getting out of your way so you can find the life and love you deserve. Be kind to yourself and know that you will stop hurting in time, but the time takes time. You will get through this. Light and love to you.

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Gata

Here’s my take on this: seems to me there is an epidemic of these self-absorbed, intimately dysfunctional people, of which I am married to one, also just recently discovered who/what he is. I am middle-aged (if I’m lucky!), disabled, nearly bankrupt, nearly friendless, short of family members, and most assuredly “stuck”. I get the ideas of stash money, build support network, seek counseling. I have been doing all the things that are supposedly my network of help, if I just reach out and ask for it. I even hear this crap from the few people I love and trust. People generally do not seems to understand not only the atomic devastation of self and assets, but the utter lie that is “women’s outreach”. I used to even promote this lie in my place of business, posting flyers and planting cards in the restroom, saying love shouldn’t hurt, call the crisis center, get help. Blah blah. When I first started reaching out, for real, I contacted a former client/acquaintance in law enforcement. She gave me multiple phone nos to call, websites to visit, etc. the numbers of course said if it’s an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, leave a message. I did that. With legal aid, crisis counseling, disability app process, blah blah blah. On legal aid websites, I saw the backlog of cases. One was a woman who was being physically assaulted, and had children. She was on the waiting list. How far down the list am I with “he’s being mean to me”. I met with my family doctor, told him what was going on, worst doctor visit of my life. His response was to give me 800 #s and scripts for mood enhancement, calm me down. I met with a crisis counselor at their secret, high-security, gated compound. Once I told her that he wasn’t hitting me, he has made a mess of our lives, and he is verbally and emotionally and psychologically flailing at me, every hour of every day. I have recently had major surgery that has obliterated my ability to work, care for the house and our animals, forget any fun stuff in life, no hobbies, no eating out, no jaunts with friends. All anxiety and stress and drama and worry about money. While he sleeps like a baby. When counselor heard he’s not hitting me, she actually put her pen down on her little notepad, and her physical demeanor was, oh, oooookay. Not real abuse. She advised me to write in a little journal my little feelings, And call her back to talk it out. Oh, and take some of my emergency money, get one of my friends, and go do something fun for awhile, no serious stuff. Go eat lunch, or catch a movie. Have fun. I have been winding my way thru disability system, dealing with failing parents, ailing animals, as well thru all this. Applied and was approved for a hospital charity program to help me get treatment and meds etc, went thru 1.5 months going back and forth with the hospital and doctor that they referred me to, only to be told yeah, no, we can’t help you out, it’s not valid anymore, we can’t help you get surgery that you’ve already tested for and been found to be necessary. Good luck. Signed up for and approved for psych counseling (both physical and medical ongoing treatment necessary for disability case, as well). Attended group session prescribed by screener. Our activities? Coloring mandalas and going over homework pages to work on our emotional control levels. Oh! And doing all of the above and more, under the worry that he will find my papers about my comings and goings to get help for myself, knowing full well that if he does see something, it will mean I have outed his behavior to someone of authority, especially our doctor and to law enforcement, that it will be considered by him an open declaration of war, and he will work tirelessly, night and damn day to make every moment of my existence,and that of our animals, just as miserable and soul-sucking as possible. As if he hadn’t already done all that, but just when I think he can’t stoop any lower or get any nastier or crazier, he creates a new level of agony. I am most certainly, utterly, in every way, stuck. Those people that say you are never stuck, you can get out if you really want to. Ok, let’s entertain that inane idea: if I just pack what I can fit in my vehicle, leave all my other worldly belongings behind, leave every animal we have rescued and cultivated to health that he is now determined to undermine, and he said he would, all our joint accounts (which by the way, were once mine solely, that I have spent lifetime creating and preserving carefully for retirement, emergencies, etc, he can’t even balance the checkbook), all now at his ignorant disposal, along with my credit name, and hit the street, with nowhere to go, and no way to get there, and not one real lifeboat in sight. Excuse me if I call bs on that, live in one hell, or trade it for another. At least under my roof I have shelter and air conditioning, for the moment. He managed to get fired early this year, and is eating on what’s left of his retirement account, having gone through all of mine, savings, investments, and a small inheritance I received over 10 years ago. Gone gone gone. Suggestions? Donations? And the first platitude I get, I will wad it up into a ball and throw it at you. The real truth is that some of us may be stuck in Pergatory forever. As long as I have living beings that I care for, I will never consider offing myself. After that? I feel quite solid in telling you that it might be game over. But I promise, I vow, I will send out letters he will rue for eternity. I might be gone, but for once, I will have the last word, not him.

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Hey Sigmund

I hear you. It’s never easy to leave a bad relationship and sometimes, despite the pain that comes with staying, there are so many barriers to leaving, to the point where it doesn’t feel possible. There are so many things to be considered when leaving a toxic partner, and I have no doubt that if you thought there was a way out you would have found it. I want you to know that I get it. There would be so many women and men who would understand exactly why you’f stuck. I wish things could be different for you. You clearly have incredible strength, courage and resilience to be able to stay and take care of the animals who need you. You sound like an amazingly strong, wise woman, and I hope you are able to own that for yourself.

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Rae

@Gata…Hey I felt your comment deep within my soul. And sidebar, you sho don’t sound like no middle aged women. Anyway, I’ve been reading up on toxic personalities for a few months now and this heysigmond’s article, as well as your comment have come the closest to articulating the sum of the toxic person in my life, as well as the hell I just traded out of. (Gotta mention this trade must have been brokered by the toxic mug I speak of, because I can relate completely when you said trade one hell for another) You left off commenting on how do you leave? Or saying, that you believed you are indeed stuck in your situation. Well only you know to what degree your bullshytn right, and I mean as far as what has your fear, and bring afraid robbed you of? As well as all the nasty damage done to us on multiple levels while in that relationship. So blah blah blah right. ..im rambling lol, but my point is this. THE energy and read I got from your comment, doesn’t jive right with the “leave the animals, he took all the money, and I forgot how to survive and do what I gotta do to keep my tail from being on the street”. You were clear, organized, insightful, aware, directed, and passionate in you telling your story. Those aren’t just in a great wtiter, they are your own character attributes, and they pretty damn awesome. I don’t even know you and I believe you got what it takes to strike out and hustle up you and them animals a lil piece of peace. Ya dig? I’ve never replied to any of these although I’ve read them all. I hope I haven’t offended anyone, most of all you. I dont know entirely what you deal with, or for that matter…too much about toxic folks. But I feel certainly inside my soul seat, that you my dear are a fighter. Seems like your in a pretty big fight now chic. Get to it. And like my daddy told us coming up…”Let go, or be dragged.” I let go, by far the hardest, most painful, heartbreak I’ve ever had. He is the 25 yr.long love of my life, and although I miss him, hate him, want him, don’t need anything from him….He can’t get better, if I stay and allow his sick ass to keep practicing his evil craft on me. Nor can your quite charming spirit remain in tact, or thrive, and better yet help another person through these dark times if you stick around. Just my opinion , not that you asked and it wasnt my place to say that really but…I DID. And if you stick it out you gotta get at me and share your best practices. I haven’t left my husband completely. Or forever officially, but the next few years are mine and I’M GOING TO GET FREE. MAY THE MOST HIGH CONTINUE TO USE YOU TO REACH OTHERS THROUGH YOUR TESTIMONY. ALLOWING YOU TO SEE YOUR TRUE IDENTITY, BEAUTY, AND STRENGTH DAY BY DAY. PEACE

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Rachel

I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. I really hope you’re okay. Has he always been mean to you or is it just since he lost his job? If it is just since losing his job, he may feel bad about himself and is taking that out on you. If it is just since losing his job that he has been acting this way, try talking to him (keeping your voice calm) and being kind and understanding of his situation. If this was going on prior to losing his job and it is a long-term issue then maybe consider seeking advice from a legal professional or organisation who understands these situations. If you decide to leave, take the animals with you or move them to an animal shelter or to a friend’s house so there is no risk he will harm them. If talking to him doesn’t work or if he is not open to relationship counselling of some sort, then you should maybe consider separating and staying with a friend or family member. Maybe time apart will help. But most importantly, look after yourself and stay safe. Leave when you know he won’t be back for a good few hours so there is no risk of confrontation. Make a plan in advance with a friend/family member to come and collect you and have your mobile phone on you (and make sure your friend has hers on her too) in case you need to call the police. You can start over. I know it may seem hard but you can do it. Maybe leaving for a week or so will make him realise he needs you and will make him realise he can’t treat you the way he has been treating you. If you feel that leaving properly is unsafe or too much, maybe consider visiting some friends a few hours away for a week to get a break. I don’t know your circumstances but just please stay safe and look after yourself. I think the advice to get out of the house with friends is good as it gives you a break from stuff at home. We all need a break from stuff at times. Even going for a coffee with friends can help clear your head. If there is a support group nearby, join it. It seems like both your husband and you have your own stuff going on (him with his job and you with your recent surgery) so maybe some space by going out for a few hours for a coffee or whatever will do you good. It can be difficult when a partner leaves a job as you end up almost spending too much time together. If he is frustrated with his job situation and he takes it out on you when you are in a fragile place due to recent surgery, it can be hard. Try talking about it with him. But obviously if you feel your life is in danger then get out and seek help though. I don’t know you and my advice may not be right but I wish you well and really hope that you will be ok. Look after yourself and please stay safe (and make sure a friend or two are there if you do leave even if just for a holiday) :).

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Lorraine Bergman

I started reading this article because, just like everyone else, there are some toxic people in my circle, but for some unknown reason, my demeanor never allows them to “bug” me, but it does hurt mutual friends/family so I am interested in how to help them. Maybe being the oldest of five kids and coming from a very laid back family has something to do with it, but toxic people just get the raised eyebrow from me and they seem to know not to “poke” me. My own husband of 40 years, started getting, for lack of a better word, miserable and snotty with me and others, including our kids, a while back. (figured it was his Manopause!) I did put up with it for a bit, but then wham! He got a talking to and an admonition that he could just leave if he wanted to stalk about and pout about nothing much at all. That did work in my case, because essentially he is a good man. Gata, I am sorry that with everything else going on in your life, the pets, the disability (and you never said how serious or long term it might be?) the lack of money, that you feel stuck. I can see how bitter you are about how your life is unfolding and the lack of help you are getting. The crisis agency is probably so swamped with women with broken bones and black eyes, that they just don’t have the resources for your particular problem. I guess the only advice I can give you is to not “swallow ” the whole elephant. Take some little bites. As hard as it may be, you first need to adopt out your rescue animals because other than your ailing parents, this is a huge problem that a disabled, abused and “broke” woman does not need. Contact an animal rescue group. (I know they can give you comfort, I have pets, but…. ) If you have siblings, you have to insist that they help your parents until you are back on your feet. If you have a best friend, you need to appeal to her/him for temporary shelter. This is not a platitude, these are practical, real suggestions; instead of depending on social organizations where you do not fit into their little box! My last piece of advice, not to you because it is probably too late, but to others is, sure you love(d) the guy/girl to start with, but you must still keep some autonomy, especially with some money for the unknown. And establish your very own credit while you are working….. Finally, I hope you can take a bit of everyone’s advice from where it comes from, a desire to help you. Good luck.

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louise

Take out life insurance on him and rescue a rabid racoon and lock them both in the bathroom. Lol

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Giselle

I was right where you are AND I was being physically abused as well. I was even homeless for a while with this man!! It was the most insane, depressing and rock bottom situation that I could have ever thought I would be in! I never experienced that kind of lifestyle and I hope to never again!! I turned to friends, family, women’s shelters, law enforcement, etc. and got pretty much little to no help. I stayed stuck and in constant fear and pain mentally, emotionally and physically for eight long years. I saw no way out! What I did have was myself and my goals. Despite all the setbacks, the abuse, the sabotages, the insecurities, the fear, the unknown, etc. that came from both myself, from him and from others I kept plugging away with my own soul searching and goals. I am happy to say that ever so slowly and dealing with even more difficulties along the way I have since found my way out. I am on my own and building two businesses at the moment. If you truly want out you WILL find a way but it damn sure won’t be easy!! You WILL have to sacrifice and face your fears! It is doable though and I did it!!

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Shana

I just want to say I hear you. And it can even be very subtle, more than they say in this article. I have been dealing with a masterfully toxic person for 30 years. I care for a number of animals as well and I don’t see any way I could do that alone. But maybe one day a way will appear. I haven’t given up hope yet and I hope you don’t either. Miracles happen. I believe it will take a network of real friends. Physical abuse is not the worst torture one can endure. The shifting ground of a person who undermines your independence and self worth is the worst. May doors open and ways appear that you haven’t seen before! Life is good. May you find the means the means you need to make changes. Please know that others are out here who understand. Blessings, peace and prayers to you.

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DJ

I did it. You have to just make a plan and leave. What would you expect all those other people to say? You seriously aren’t mad at the are you? If you cant move in with a friend or a relative then save money, get your name on apt. lists or low income housing lists and just make the plan to go. I know it’s hard. I’ve done it twice. Once when I was very young and once older (the hardest). My first husband was toxic and I am a rescuer, nurse, caretaker type, so I offered to help my dad when mom died and found out he was the most needy, self centered, narcissist, controller I have ever met! I lasted 5 years and then I had to make a plan to get the heck out of Dodge! Just do it. Life is too short to live in turmoil…I LOVE my little apartment with just me and my dog!

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linda

I have read your post and although I can understand what you are going through ( will not bore you with my experiences and divorce , so on).
However I do disagree with your view. It sounds like you can be rather quick witted and a doer, so I am puzzled as to why do you chose to be passive in your relationship?
If you wish to see a change , do something differently, or indeed start over. It is never too late .
Sometimes tough love is the better way, because we all have to deal with what life throws at us.
I don`t think you are STUCK, I think you already made a decision and it is extremely difficult to face up to it.
I do hope your circumstances changed in the past few months, do let us know how you got on.
All the best .

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Linda Deckert

I did reply about 10 mins ago please let me know later today if you received it
I did send BD card to sister today as it is her birthday… She ignored mine last week
I did wish her well and asked her to please email me and perhaps we could talk
I will probably not hear from her
This happens about every five years and she drops out of sight until someone is ill I feel this is a control issue and she knows myself and older sibling are upset by these actions
Her initial anger came from me stating that I was not willing to wait for 3-4 hours for her to come for a visit… She lives 1 hour away and is ALWAYS late
Yes, two years later I would still say the same thing as I am sick of waiting for so long and I end up not even wanting to visit with her

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Lex

That toxic significant other may in fact be a person with a personality disorder.

Look up the following personality disorders;

1. Borderline (BPD)
2. Narcissistic (NPD)
3. Historonic (HPD)

Now, I can’t and won’t diagnose him but from what you’ve said, if it is in fact true, sound more like narcissism. By the time someone has a psychiatric disorder, they can’t be helped, only managed by professionals. Be aware of the 3, narcissists and one step beyond, known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be dangerous if you try to leave them or go against their wishes. In some cases, deadly.

My one word of advice is document to high hell what is going on, record audio and video, not just physical written documents give them to your public defender / court appointed lawyer to help you help yourself in this trying time.

It’s all about the external image, showing the he is of good moral character and he will try to paint the picture that you’re the crazy one. Good luck and be really careful!

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Carrie

I hope you leave and move on because I just know how much happier you will be and you will wonder why you didn’t leave sooner. Trust me I have yet to heat anyone tell a story of how glad they are for staying in a toxic relationship and how or why it was worth it. Life is too damn short.

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April

Other women get flowers and apologies when hubby hits them. Mine just looks me straight in my face and says it did not happen. He cannot own up to anything. He accuses me of dreaming it or being crazy. It was those times when he slapped me, kicked me, picked up a metal chair and hit me with it. And then there was the time he was dancing naked with his ass facing my face as I was laying on the couch. He later confided that he was thinking of shoving his ass in my face out of anger that I wasn’t sleeping with him enough, but he felt bad for me and therefore didn’t do it. How charming. 20 years later I reminded him of what he did and said. I pointed out to him that just because I said “I do” a number of years ago did not mean that I ever owed it to him (historically, saying “I do” in marriage vows was considered tacit agreement to having sex with her husband whenever he would want it during the course of their marriage, i.e. sexual privilege for men. I pointed out that I have now been celibate for 13 years because of his choice. He said ” no, that did not happen,” (the dancing naked) …and I must have dreamed it.

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Glendalough

I am so sorry he did this to you. I hope that you are no longer in that marriage. Sending you hugs {{{{{{{HUGS APRIL}}}}}}}. My heart goes out to you.

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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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Siana

Sounds like a surefire way to make sure you’re always wrong. She’s engaging only far enough to allow you to respond with anything wrong. It probably isn’t that you’re bad at texting… Just likely she is really very good at making sure you know how much she hurts and leaves no avenue for you to mend. Perhaps your only text message reply should be, “we’ll talk about this when you’re ready, in person.” Just an idea. I, too, am in recovery. I wish you the best. Don’t let this tear you down. Keep up the good work.

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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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Rosie

That’s unfortunate but I have grown to learn to put myself first too. Care but don’t let sb take your kindness for granted. If she can’t see the good in you and be grateful for your presence in her life then talk about it with her and if she doesn’t adjust, I advise you move on, hard as that sounds.

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Penelope

You and I are a lot alike. I know I need to go away from these people I’ve invested too much into as it is. They turn everything back on me anyway and the support that I give usually goes unrecognized and rarely, if ever, reciprocated.
The only way to earn their, and most important, your respect for your self, is to become way too busy for them. After a while, they will miss you and probably reach out at some point. The more scarce you make yourself, the better with these people. If they don’t reach out, they’re not interested in being in your life anyway, which sounds like a big lose for them! Haha. Best of luck to you in setting boundaries and being happy with you! That’s the only way to keep it together and get what we need from others as long as we aren’t going out of our way so much. We have to make it mean more but keeping it minimal.

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Michelle C

This makes so much sense. I have always blamed myself for things. 13 years of abuse when I think about it. I’m not perfect, but I don’t deserve being spoken to in such nasty ways. Everything is always my fault and not theirs. They then drink all day, make stuff up about me, then get their 2o yr old son to ring and threaten me. The thing is, I always go back, but i think after being threatened things need to be separated. I blame myself for everything. I haven’t felt well recently. I was told that they cant cope with that as they are unwell too. I thought people were meant to support one another. Sorry to go on but I’m so upset. I feel I have wasted 13 years of my life.

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Merle

No. Why should you? You sound like a good person. If you can, walk away. I’m done trying with selfish, self-absorbed, unkind, ungrateful daughters who are grown up and use me.

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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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Joan T

I am living with my 23 yr old son who is extremely toxic. I wake up everyday fearing what mood he will be in today. He is also consuming psychedelic mushrooms atm and is a chronic pot smoker. I am really at a loss what to do as he has no where else to go.

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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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Penelope

You are speaking almost exact story between my sister in law (brother’s wife). We were close friends, I thought, until they married and she got pregnant. She is almost the same person you speak of and has deliberately driven a wedge between my brother, his family and me. My parents doted on her profusely for having the first grandchildren and wanting to be part of their lives (probably felt they needed to keep her ego boosted so she wouldn’t withhold them for any reason). Her jealousy keeps her in the way of allowing me to have a real relationship with my niece, whom I share interests with and looks exactly like me when I was a kid. She recently, after being married to my brother for 15 years decided to sell her body on the internet and carry on multiple side relationships over the phone. It broke my brother’s heart and the only good that has come of it is that he finally reached out to me for someone to talk to so I let him talk my ear off for hours, multiple times. It’s been a rollercoaster for he and the kids, always feeling he has to play her games to keep her around. I wish he would just leave her but he thinks she will do something even more stupid if he isn’t around to look after her like a child. It’s a horrible situation.

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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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Peaches

Excellent article! I remember your site and am glad to have “found” it again years later.

Reading this reminds me that I had strong boundaries as a child, and knew what people said or did icky things – many of the behaviors described here.

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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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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 and 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. My friend came over to discuss what happened and 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 and 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 and being rude & mean to her (during reading times). She’s also projecting her feelings on to myself. She actually, pounded on my door and 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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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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Peaches

In the thick — Great job!

You sound very perceptive and wishing you the best.

Sometimes people have a nasty habit of minimizing hurtful behavior, or lying and accusing you of their issues. It smacks of emotional immaturity when I see it. It tends to cluster with manipulative behaviors.

What sucks is I was falsely accused. Nearly every word of theirs was a lie. It was challenging not to react in a way that made me appear that way. It was done very much by design by paid counsel to cover their criminal behavior.

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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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Peaches

Thank you for your website. You explain these dynamics with a beautiful calm clarity.

Toxic patterns are so incredibly harmful. This thread is a fascinating reminder because some are willing to learn and actually grow, while others engage only in mimicry to get what they want.

To the lady whose boyfriend cut ties with his “toxic patterned” father. It can help him to heal and not be assaulted further. However from experience, that is where his real work begins, because especially in the case of a parent, “the apple doesn’t always fall far from the tree.”

Thank you Karen, for your gorgeous insight.

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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. 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.

Reply
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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The point of any ‘discipline’ is to teach, not to punish. (‘Disciple’ means student, follower, learner.)

Children don’t learn through punishment. They comply through punishment, but the mechanism is control and fear. 

The problem with this, is that the goal becomes avoiding us when things go wrong, rather than seeking us out. We can’t influence them if we’ve taught them to keep their messes hidden from us. 

We can’t guide our kiddos if they aren’t open to us, and they won’t be open to us if they are scared of what we will do. 

We all have an instinctive need to stay relationally safe. This means feeling free from rejection, shame, humiliation. The problem with traditional discipline is that it rejects and judges the child, rather than the behaviour. 

Hold them close, reject their behaviour. 

This makes it more likely that they will turn toward us instead of away from us. It opens the way for us to guide, lead, teach. It makes it safe for them to turn and face what’s happened so they can learn what they might do differently in the future.

Rather than, ‘How do I scare them out of bad behaviour?’ try, ‘How do I help them to do better next time?’ 

Is the way you respond to their messy decisions or behaviour more likely to drive them away from you in critical times or towards you? Let it be towards you.

This doesn’t mean giving a free pass on big behaviour. It means rather than leading through fear and shame, we lead through connection, conversation and education. 

The ‘consequence’ for big behaviour shouldn’t be punishment to make them feel bad, but the repairing of any damage so they can feel the good in who they are. It’s the conversation with you where they turn and face their behaviour. This will always be easier when they feel you loving them, and embracing who they are, even when you reject what they do.♥️
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#parent #parents #mindfulparenting #gentleparenting
Kununurra I’m so excited to be with you tonight. I’ll be giving you super practical ways to strengthen your kiddos and teens against all sorts and all levels of anxiety - big anxiety, little anxiety, anxiety about school, separation, trying new things - all of it. You’ll walk away with things you can do tonight - and I can’t wait! Afterwards we’ll have time for a chat where we can dive into your questions (my favourite part). This is a free event organised by the Parenting Connection WA (I love this organisation so much!). The link for tickets is in my story♥️
Hello Broome! Can’t wait to see you tonight. Tickets still available. The link is in my story. 

Thank you Parenting Connection WA for bringing me here and for the incredible work you do to support and strengthen families.♥️
What a weekend! Thank you Sydney for your open hearts, minds and arms this weekend at @resilientkidsconference. Your energy and warmth were everything.♥️
I LOVE being able to work with early childhood centres and schools. The most meaningful, enduring moments of growth and healing happen on those everyday moments kids have with their everyday adults - parents, carers, teachers. It takes a village doesn’t it.♥️

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