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.

2,472 Comments

Linda

I just recently began dating this guy who seem to be really nice. We were a month and a half into a relationship when he contacted me via e-mail about a special gala event. He said he had purchased tickets for the event that was scheduled for both Friday and Saturday and invited me to attend both days. I was not feeling well because of an acute eye irritation, so I could not read the attached information about the dates, times, and other event information. Therefore, I replied to his e-mail informing him that I was not well, but would take the next day off in order to rest up and read the attached information and get back with him on that same day. I followed through with my promise, letting him know that I would not attend Friday but Saturday’s event only. However, he immediately sent me an e-mail saying HE would attend the gala event on Friday, but WE would not attend the Saturday event together because he had given away the tickets. He said when I stated I was not feeling well, he thought I was not interested thus gave the tickets away. Then he said, “I feel you are being gracious, but, I am impeding upon your time. If that be the case, I am a big boy and will back off.” I was confused with his actions and texted him. He said he was with family and would get back with me, but never did. Then I attempted to contact him via phone call, but he would not answer. I just keep wondering over and over what did I do wrong? Why did he assume that I wasn’t planning to attend the event? Why did he go offline?

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Hey Sigmund

He has told you why he has pulled away from you, ‘I feel you are being gracious … I am impeding on your time … I… will back off.’ He has taken your response to him as a gentle brush off. He bought tickets and was probably excited, thinking he was doing something special for you. Rightly or wrongly, he was probably expecting you to feel the same. Your response may have sounded to him like a brush off. It’s impossible to say exactly how he felt about your initial email, but he may have been confused about why you weren’t excited or appreciative (and I’m not suggesting you should have necessarily done anything differently – I don’t know enough of the details to comment). I don’t know, but the message that is coming through very clearly in his response to you is that he felt as though you weren’t that into him. It was only a month and a half and it sounds as though he may have misread you, but was reluctant to put himself out there for clarification at the risk of being hurt.

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Linda

Thank you for your reply and your insight. Yes, he definitely misread me and I actually sent an e-mail to him apologizing for any confusion and explaining to him that he was not imposing upon my time and that I enjoyed being with him. However, he never replied. I felt as if he should have contacted me before giving the tickets away instead of assuming that I was not interested. He describes himself as one who “wears his feelings on his sleeves”, but I am not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing. So for future reference, is it good to date a guy who wears his feelings on his sleeve, or can that be a sign for toxic behavior? Also, when someone does not return phone calls or texts, although they say they will, is that a sign of toxic behavior as well? I actually prepared for the gala so, I do not want to go through something like this again if it is toxic behavior. Thanks for your advice.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes, I agree – he should have contacted you before he gave away the tickets. You did deserve a response.

About your question, it depends what he means by being someone who ‘wears his feelings on his sleeves’. For me, it means someone who is open and generous and responsive. I love people like that. You never have to guess what they are feeling, they are often communicative and responsive and emotionally giving. That’s how I interpret that phrase, so it’s definitely not a sign of toxic behaviour. In this instance, wearing his heart on his sleeves isn’t the problem and if he had done that, you would know what he was feeling because he would have told you. The problem is not that he felt what he felt, but that he ignored you and wasn’t prepared to have the conversation. He may be someone who runs from conflict or difficult feelings, or who is scared of being hurt and so finds it easier to walk away – I don’t know, it’s impossible to say what was motivating his behaviour. None of this is necessarily toxic, but he has shown you that he is not prepared to engage on difficult issues which can be problematic for a future relationship. Of course, you can work on this but it has to be something you work on together.

Similarly, with not returning phone calls, texts etc. This isn’t necessarily toxic but if it’s used consistently to control you, the relationship, avoid accountability or keep you guessing it can be a problem. The other clue is the way people when you let them know they are doing something that is hurting you. If they are prepared to listen to you and work on the issue that’s a great thing, but if they know how much it hurts you and they keep doing it anyway, you would have to wonder what they are getting out of that. It also depends on when you’re sending texts and how many. Sometimes it’s just not possible to return phone calls and texts. It really depends on context and intention.

Toxic behaviour is anything done by someone that has the potential to contaminate the way you feel about yourself or the way you see yourself. It is behaviour that is controlling, manipulative, judgemental. We have a responsibility to make sure that we protect ourselves from that sort of behaviour by walking away when we can, but it’s not always possible to walk away from relationships.

I wouldn’t call this man toxic just from what you have said, but it would be very difficult to have a relationship with someone who won’t talk to when he is hurt and deals with disappointment through avoidance. I hope this clears things up a little. If he isn’t prepared to engage with you on difficult issues, he may have done you a favour by walking away.

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Tori

I am in my 60s and when I was 60 years old I met a gentleman three years older than me in the cafeteria of the school and we started having lunch there once a week and he was very gentlemanly and very charming and eventually he invited me to his families home for the holidays at Christmas time and then we started sort of a relationship but he started to change and gradually started to act very standoffish to me all the time. He acts very standoffish and serious and almost I would call it more roasts. He acts very unpleasant. he started little by little moving things into my apartment without telling me and before you know it he is here most of the week and when I have told him to just stay at his own place and we can get together maybe once every week or two he does not want to do this. And he tries to blame me for his attitude

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Lessons Learned

It’s taken 36 years to take me from the determined, self assured person who never wavered on values, morals or principles, confident in recalling conversations almost to a tee; to a person who was unsure on when my own birthday really was, even if I had the certificate in front of me; to suffering cronic pain for about 2-3 years and finally being at the end of my rope one day and typing this question into the Google search engin “Is Everythng My Fault” and within the first few hits was the answer “No, It Is Not All Your Fault” you are living with someone who has a personality disorder!
That was 3-4 years ago and I am still trying to plan my way out and every day reminding myself where I’ve come from, been and am headed.
I started sleeping in my little ones room last October and have now moved her and I to a upstaires bedroom. I have had a difficult time trying to unprogram the toxic reasoning in her mind only using examples of how others act and treat us as well as theire families at theire home or out in public to show that everyone should be treated with respect, fairness and kindness.
I take every opportunity to tell her if ever she is unsure that I am telling her the right things then she should go to one of the adults she trust at school and ask them what the right thing would be to do in that particular situation. Example (is watching tv, eating junk and ignoring your mother something they would do or encourage theire kids to do.
I’ve also had to bring it to her attention that if everyone in the house says God Bless You when you sneeze then they should also say God Bless You if Mommy sneezes.
The best advice I can give anyone dealing with this type of situation is under no circumstance do you ever Engage no matter what kind of bait they use, walk away don’t respond or reply.
If your responsible for anyone else make sure it’s clear you are not ignoring or being rude to the other person you are only exercising your right to be treated with dignity, respect and kindness and you will not allow someone to treat you in any other manner.
Do onto others as you would have them do unto you!

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Hey Sigmund

Yes this is great advice – ‘Don’t engage’. Toxic people will deliberately misquote you, take your words out of context, lie and twist your words to prove their point. You will never be able to bring compassion and understanding to someone who is only interested in being right. I’m so pleased you have the insight you have on this and hope you are able to keep moving forward. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Jessica

Everything in this article explains my ex perfectly. We have a child together which makes it even harder. I’ve always been convinced he has some sort of personality disorder along with being toxic and verbally and emotionally abusive. Trying to deal with someone like this is beyond difficult. He even blamed a marriage counselor for being on my side when we tried counseling. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that trying to be “friendly” with him for our son’s sake just doesn’t work. Unfortunately, I have had to make it almost like a business relationship. I sincerely hope these traits are not passed on to my son, he is only 3 and I already see some of the effects of his father’s behavior. This was nice to read and have some re-assurance that I’m not the crazy one!! Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Jessica. When the toxic person is an ex and the parent of your child, it makes things beyond difficult. You are certainly NOT the crazy one! The most important thing with your son is to let him see the better way to do things by watching you. All kids go through stages where they’re really difficult and testing the limits, but if you’re clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay, nurture the connection with your son, and model compassion, empathy and emotional responsibility, you will be able to push against the things your son might be seeing in his father. Keep doing what you’re doing – it sounds as though you’re dealing with the relationship really well.

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sarah

I don’t agree with #7. I rather not reply to texts or fb messages because the relationship with my toxic person is they will always wait till they are gone to work and will start fights through text. It’s bad enough that my phone will blow up all night because their continuing to fight me through text,I don’t want to add kindling to the fire. I know avoidance isn’t what I should do but if it affords me a little peace,being that I know I sure won’t get any sleep over the attacks and my constant state of evaluating who I am and mind talk of not being good enough.

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Hey Sigmund

You are doing the right thing by avoiding the thing that the toxic person uses to draw you into the argument. It’s important to do what is right for you and your circumstances and if texts or Facebook messages are the hook that are being used to gain leverage over you or to manipulate you in any way, then you are absolutely right in avoiding them.

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Melz

Hey, I have been meaning to leave this particular person for good but everytime he seemed to agree for breakup, he ended up threatening me. What should i do?

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Hey Sigmund

Melz, this is a form of abuse and it’s really important that you get support, information and the resources to help you leave safely. I’m not sure what country you’re in, but find a domestic violence organisation near you, or in the country you are living in and they will be able to help you. If you are in Australia try http://www.domesticviolence.com.au/index.php, in the UK try http://domesticviolenceuk.org, and in the US try http://www.thehotline.org/help/. Hopefully one of these will be able to help you.

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rob098

The manipulators are all around you-everywhere! They’ll act so sweet like they’re missing or thinking about you-when the only thing they’re really thinking about is there own desire to get something from you. Something tangible or a get away at your place, or information, or your friends/lovers, etc. – the list can go on and on. Bottom line is that they’re really only users. Once you open your eyes you can see their plan of action/manipulation clearly. They want what they want. If you don’t give in-they disappear-no embarrassment. They act like they were trying to do you a favor. (LOL) Any fool can see them for what they really are!

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Jenny

Thank god i looked at this website it’s made things a lot clearer as to what’s happening with my daughter. She never owns her bad behavior and twists things around denies she has said things. I always end up giving in to the situation because you cant reason with her. It’s exhausting and i feel like I’m treading on egg shells sometimes. She can be the best person ever and then just change like the wind. Thanks for the tips. Love her dearly but wil try not to fall into these traps. Have to be on guard at all times

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Jenny. It’s so difficult when these patterns come from your kids. It always good to know what to watch out for so you can step around them without being drawn into them. I’m so pleased this has cleared some things up for you.

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Anthony

This is an absolute incredible article! I am an addict in recovery and when I use I’m just about all these things. When Im not using drugs I am compassionate, caring, spiritual, and motivated. It is only until I surround myself with someone who is toxic that I start to absorb some of these defects. We all have them at times, lets be real. Not just people that are using drugs, It’s the people who AREN’T on drugs that act this way are the ones you need to be careful of!

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Hey Sigmund

Thanks Anthony! You’re absolutely right – we all can display some of these qualities some of the time. The key to living well and being emotionally responsible is being aware of your impact and trying to put things right when they stray a bit off track, which we all will from time to time. I hope you are able to stay strong and keep moving forward with your recovery. The world needs more people like you.

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Vicky

I came very close to marrying a toxic person. We broke up 2 months before our wedding date. I loved him very much but when we broke up it felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I suddenly felt lighter. After years of his mind games, stonewalling me for days at a time following an argument, starting fights about nothing, denigrating the success of everyone around him, complaining about absolutely everything and overall refusal to seek any kind of joy in his life- it was an incredible shift to all of a sudden be free of that drama. I’ve been attempting to learn as much as I can about toxic people so that I never make the same mistake again. Thanks for writing this!

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Vicky! You are clearly strong and brave and it sounds as though you have too much insight now for it to happen again. Nothing teaches like experience!

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Billie

I feel like calling any fellow human being “toxic” should be on that list in how problematic it is in itself.

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Hey Sigmund

So what would you call someone who consistently manipulates, lies, cheats, controls, berates, abuses and contaminates someone’s self-esteem and self-concept? I’d say ‘toxic’ is putting it mildly. Suggesting that the targets of this behaviour are toxic for naming it as such is taking a swipe at the victims.

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Patti

Have to strongly disagree with Billie on this one.
Billie, you try dealing with my mother for a week and see who is toxic.
Please don’t act like you’ve walked in my shoes when they don’t even fit you.

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Blue

I have to agree from a psychology/human services standpoint. With these kinds of articles, like okay sure, maybe your person with a personality disorder is purely a detriment to your mental health and there’s nothing to be done to redeem them but cut them from your life because they deny they have a problem and refuse to put in the work to fix it. There’s nothing wrong with cutting those people out of your life and I support it. But it forgets that things are not always so black and white, either toxic or nontoxic. You can realize your actions are hurting other people and admit you have a problem, you can work on changing and even make substantial progress and still you will likely struggle and be in therapy for the rest of your life because you have a personality disorder. Those people deserve to be seen as human beings and they deserve a shot at securely-attached and healthy relationships. People forget BPD and other disorders can be caused or influenced by childhood trauma or an otherwise dysfunctional upbringing and insecure parental attachment. These things are not excuses to treat people badly, and yet they can take years or decades even to make a dent on them. Never stay in a relationship you are not happy in, but also have some compassion to realize that some people are just doing their best with the tools they have while accidentally hurting people because they don’t know how to handle their own emotional pain or were never taught how. They may have been taught instead that their feelings are invalid and they were wrong for being who they are, so there is no hope. Some people need a little help to realize they are worth going to therapy and putting in the work on themselves, that they are capable of growth and happiness, instead of reconfirming exactly what they were taught by their parents and peers growing up. But I’ll bet most people will just claim that’s “playing the victim.” This isn’t a storybook where there are only good people and evil people. Everyone is a human being each capable of bringing positivity or causing pain to the world, if they so choose.

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Dreamer

That is so true!
I really dislike it when people think that I’ll always be there for them, like I have nothing else to do. You know I am a very enthusiastic type of person and I really value my friendships but the people around me use that and when I show them that I don’t like that they get mad. And when I hang out with other people they get angry! But I don’t get angry when they hang out with other people! That’s insane. Also there was that guy who I used to like and I was helping him all the time. He never knew (at least from me) that I liked him. Now I don’t like him in that way at all – but we are good friends, but still, I feel like he kind of uses me. I don’t want others to use me. I am a strong independent woman, with many dreams and those vampire-ish people suck literally the blood out of me. I don’t want to lose them or get in fight, but I want to prove ’em that I am a human being and like everyone else I deserve to be respected. That is what I want – respect!

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Hey Sigmund

And you deserve it! Don’t stop expecting respect from the people around you. They’re lucky to have you and if they can’t figure that out, well …

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JT

I love someone who is bipolar, these toxic traits seem to be synonymous with bipolar disorder. Am I correct to understand that people with this disorder, don’t have a choice? Even so, the toxic behavior still hurts and I’d like to find an appropriate outlet for my frustrations. Any suggestions? Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

Bipolar is a chemical imbalance that can often be controlled through medication. Sometimes it might take some experimentation to find which medication works the best, because not all work as effectively for all people. Toxic behaviours certainly aren’t synonymous with bipolar disorder and the chances of someone with bipolar disorder being toxic are the same as the chances of someone without bipolar being toxic. Toxic behaviours are personality traits and learned behaviours. I can hear how much the behaviour is hurting you. You can’t change a toxic person – that is completely their call, but someone who has bipolar disorder to the extent that the symptoms are interfering with life and relationships may find some relief in medication, but of course, this will also be his or her call. Living with toxic behaviour is hurtful whatever the cause. I hope that you are able to find strength and comfort moving forward.

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realist

Toxic behaviour can also be found in people who feel they are picture perfect.

Toxic behaviour can be found in lack of understanding regarding the lived experiences of others.

Toxic behaviour can be found in those who are only there for the buzz in life, but never seem to be there for all of it.

Change your understanding. Until then you will only be there for the party and wonder why ‘the toxic’ are angry with you.

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Susanne

I have been married for 2 1/2 years to a man whom I love very much (ten years younger). His Brother who is much younger is like a son rather than brother to my husband. Their parents are both passed away. His brother is the same age as my oldest son. Anyways…the day we were engaged his brother started spreading rumors about me. we live in a small town where they grew up and I’ve been there for 5 years, which makes me an outsider with 10 strikes against me to begin with. He slandered me maliciously in front of their family and in front of my husband and me. I have had strangers in town tell me of things he was saying. I have had my husbands employees tell me what he was saying about me. We 3 always got along and i made sure his brother was never left out. I cleaned his house all the time to help out, feed the farm animals, everything for his brother. however it was like I was dating two men really. But when we were engaged everything changed! I was repeatedly told in front of others and my husband when i would call our home ours that “its not your home” to the day it hasn’t been my or our home. His hurtful words are imbedded. It gets worse….rumors of ” she is a bitch”, “a gold digging Bitch”, “I hate her she is nothing but stupid”. Even though before we got married our Pastor even had heard these rumors!! He counselled us about what to do and my husband believes his brother that nothing was said bad about me. he was lied to by his manipulative brother. So three years later my Husband and I have been seeing a marriage psychologist to help get out toxic marriage on track due to this one spoiled 25 year old brother. It hasn’t helped. Its made things worse for me. my BIL had already went to all their family and hard core made his point of hate to isolate me from any town functions and family functions. You may ask what does my husband do to help me through this? He blames me for not getting along with his family, he tells me his brother didn’t mean anything, he gets physically mad at me because I get angry when he makes excuses for his brothers toxic and harmful slandering. I have avoided his family functions, i have read ignorant texts between my husband and his brother about me. I’ve had enough trying to make a marriage work when obviously its my fault for everything.
I pay my own way, I have a great career. My family is very loving and close but I don’t live near them. His family just this weekend at a X-mas town dinner treated me like I was non existent. when my husband wasn’t around they said rude remarks and all chuckled. I moved to a table where my friend was sitting because I refuse to sit with them any longer. He was divided to sit with me or them. literally!! I told him I was ok being with my friends and him with his family. He decided to move the tables together so we all could visit. as soon as my husband went to the bathroom, they all glared at me and moved the table back and turned away and snickered about me cleaning the clogged men’s toilet as they all laughed. If it wasn’t for my friends hearing them he would of never believed me that happened and I would of been in trouble for not getting alone with them. His family also that night were slandering people they didn’t even know, calling unknown girls sluts and whores ect….it was embarrassing and disgusting to be associated with these people. But that is how this town treats outsiders…literally! My career is dealing with hard to handle people and I’ve used every skill to resolve and/or ignore this behavior for the sake of my new marriage. I need opinions on what to do. My husband wont move away from his family to be with me, but will not set boundaries either which keeps his family abusive towards me.

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Hey Sigmund

This sounds like an incredibly toxic situation to be in. A marriage is a partnership, and for a marriage to work, it takes both people to protect each other from outside forces that might undermine the relationship or the people in it. This isn’t happening, and it sounds like a lonely place to be sometimes. If he won’t set the boundaries with his family and insist that they treat you with respect and kindness, then it is for you to decide where those boundaries will be. When you say he gets ‘physically mad at you’, do you mean physically abusive? If so, you need to see that for what it is and do what you need to protect yourself. Your husband is failing to protect you and is exposing you to harm from his brother-in-law, his family, and if he is abusive, from himself. Is he prepared to change this, or is this what he expects for you? If this is the best he expects for you, it is up to you to decide to expect more for yourself. You sound warm, generous, loving and compassionate. you sound wonderful. You deserve someone who will act to protect that from those who would tear it down.

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Susanne

Thank you so much for your honest opinion and quick response!! I agree with you 100%. Even with all the counselling we did go through you have replied with actual thoughtful to the point statements! The Dr. we’ve seen doesn’t say anything beside the 5 horsemen when communicating. I appreciate constructive criticism. This past April 2015 my husband and I went for a drive to have a serious talk. I had read text messages between his brother and him putting me down and laughing at me. I was needless to say raged, hurt, disgusted, hurt again…done. (this was three days after seeing the Dr.) In the truck, I was driving, I sprung this on him. I questioned how he can do this to me with him. He was mad I caught him I guess. I was being disrespectful towards him and his brother defending myself and he had enough so he punched me in the mouth as I was driving to shut me up. I don’t believe in violence but it really is too bad he cant do that to his brother. Since that moment; I decided to never trust him again. As soon as he makes excuses for his brothers behavior and/or family I am defending myself. lonely? hell yes! . So now he insists we go back to the Dr for more therapy. He even said his brother was willing to go too. However I declined; and said the both of them to go because they are both effed up. Now guess whose blamed for not trying…ME…wow I just can never get a break. Its not one time being slandered and its been 3 years of trying to fix the unfixable.
I don’t believe my husband will ever choose me or change. He lies to me when he goes to family functions I don’t even know about. I don’t think he thinks sometimes but I am not his therapist or Mom to tell him when he is bad, lying, or hurtful. Im too old for that shit. lol I tossed around the idea of relocating to get away from this and my husband flat ass said he wont move away from his family because he needs them…knife in the heart and a reality check!! Not even an hour or 3 hours away!
I am well trained in human relations, behavioral studies and talk to him with the same approach I would give to anyone else… but my God that isn’t my purpose to being married. I have never actually been apart of such a hurtful, spiteful, jealous family before.
I’m also his second wife and he did tell me his first wife hated his family…. I hate to laugh at that but he tells me I hate his family too….I don’t blame her either for leaving (that marriage lasted 4 years) Actually I never hated his family….I was never given the chance to even get to know them…I just don’t like their behaviors and you are quite right…I DO DESERVE BETTER!
After I wrote to you, I did tell my family what was going on, not to take sides but because I never involved them, they never knew. I am not doing this alone anymore.
He doesn’t deserve me.
Thank you so very much! God bless You.
Susanne

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melissa

Susanne! All your training and experience in helping people, behavioral studies and human relations is useless if you cannot follow the sound advice anyone would give in this situation. If this was happening to a family member what would you tell them? First, it isn’t your fault because an abuser makes sure the victim slowly becomes used to the situation. Second leave then tell the police! Once you are out of this, it will shock you at how terribly you have been treated. Punching you in the mouth while you were driving? Are you kidding me? Are you just making this up? Leave him forever, there is NO hope and tell the police! There are NO excuses for that sort of treatment. There is no hope here. Leave in time for a kind Christmas with a family that loves you. You are in danger and too depressed to think clearly. Leave!!! NOW – tonight!

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susanne

Well it’s been hard and easier every day but I spent christmas seperated. I kicked him out of our house and he lives with his brother! I have realized and really thought this article I AM NOT THE CRAZY ONE. Twice he tried to come back home but when I asked if he understood why he wasn’t home? And his reply seemed more like his excuses…plus the damage is done and he had…..HAD a damn good wife…I will never trust him again. Nor his family.
I love my career…I go to work, and come home and can breathe! I see a psycologist who is helping me move on.
Life is too beautiful and too short to live this way.
Happy New Year! Thank you again.
Susanne

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Alexander

You will try to point out some behavior of theirs which hurts you or express how they made you feel, and they will point a finger at you; never willing to admit their faults.

E.g.
– Why are you talking to me in such an aggressive way?

– And how do you talk? Don’t you realise what you do? After every thing I have done for you… (The shit did nothing for anyone)

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Diane

totally agree…pretty soon you don’t say anything at all. Relationship is irreparably damaged

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Tracey Y.

My favorite one is the friend who hooks me with an invite and some general times or even a client and then when I respond with enthusiasm and some times either they shoot them down and then even worse.. go “off-line” and I’m left hanging… TODAY it just happened.. and I sent a message back: I’ll get back to you soon Lael, thanks so much for thinking of me ! after I had gone to my calendar and picked out a time to go for a walk that SHE approached me about and some times… that woke her up and she IM me back right away with “on the calendar”.. I will NOT have people put me on hold.. how rude.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes – so rude. It sounds as though you have a lot of clarity around what’s happening in this friendship. Sometimes people thing they are getting away with something, but when that process is named – ‘You invite me to these things and when I get back to you with times you leave me hanging and I’m not sure what’s happening. Of course I want to spend time with you but it makes it really hard for me to plan my day/week when there’s no word on what’s happening.’ – it makes it harder for them to get away with it. Perhaps you have tried this already, but if you haven’t it might be worth a shot. People do all sorts of things in relationships and friendships thinking that other people won’t notice or name it, but when you switch on the light, things sometimes change. You are completely right to want more from this than you are getting.

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lipase

This all happens because of human nature plus the way parents raise (or don’t raise) their children. There should be more focus on encouraging people to either not have kids at all if they’re not the right sort of person or at least parents should be more encouraged to listen to information about raising a well rounded human being. I’m not saying this article is bad just there would be no need for it if the problem was tackled at it’s cause

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Patti

I only partly agree. We don’t know what causes some people to be toxic. My mother is a flaming narcissist who became worse with age. None of her 4 siblings are or were narcissists. Her mother was most definitely not toxic and I don’t believe her father was either. So who knows?
Toxic people have been around since the beginning of of time, and some of their children turn out to be well-adjusted people for some reason. Again, who knows how that happens.
I’d like to agree that those people shouldn’t procreate, but then I wouldn’t be here, and because my mother was toxic, I turned out to be a pretty good parent.

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Andrew

What can I say that is not already said I’ve been married to someone like this for 18 years, I love her endlessly but feel so… untouched

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Hey Sigmund

You deserve to feel so loved. If you don’t feel nourished by your relationship, and if you feel bad more than you feel good, it might be time to really explore what you are getting out of staying. I know how difficult this is when you feel love towards someone, but relationship when a relationship stop being two way, it can start to do damage. I wish you all the very pest.

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JohnQ Public

Stay. Even if you’re miserable. Why? Because if you DIVORCE… you invite a ton of lawyer sociopaths to first ask, “Where’s all the equity?”, then drain EVERY PENNY… regardless of facts, evidence, sanity, morality, honesty, law, ethics, and integrity. IT IS TRULY “CHEAPER TO KEEP HER AND GET WHAT YOU NEED ON THE SIDE.”

Trust me. Our “judicial system” is a con game, populated with predators who demand you call them “Your honor” as they LITERALLY wipe you clean, then have a steak dinner and brag about how important they have become.

ABOLISH “JUDICIAL IMMUNITY” by national referendum on the 2016 Presidential ballot would be THE ONLY lawful method for dealing with these swine.

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Sarah

Wow. All I can say is this: if this is your partner…they only need read this article. I have been hurt severely by my partner by other things (infidelity/lying) but the one described in this article is and has been me. It’s a very hard realization and I only hope there is some way to fix this negative Core problem 🙁

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Sarah

I will say this…for those of y’all who feel your partner is manipulative like the one pictured in this article- try printing this article off- share it- if I had found it sooner I might have been a better person to my spouse and possibly not driven him away in the first place by my own selfishness. My lack of showing him my best self instead giving what I thought was the real me (the real me was not what I offered family friends etc) the real me was a selfish tired crabby bitch. That’s not fair. But you can try till you are blue in the face- we have to come to realization for ourselves- but having help doing so might be what saves a person

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Hey Sigmund

Your insight is amazing. Thank you for sharing your story – you’ll never know how many people it might help. We are all a work in progress, but the real growth happens for all of us when we have some awareness around what we are doing. That’s not easy. It takes guts and a willingness to take a look at what we’re doing. But you’ve done it. The insight you have changes people and lives. You deserve happiness and love and I hope it finds it way right to you.

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Anonymous

My partner wouldn’t even take the time to read it. If he did, he would be so stubborn, like usual, he would turn it around and say I am this type of person……gosh, 8 years together and 3 children later, I never thought I would feel so alone.

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Steve

22 years and three kids, I’m just now realizing everything above has been happening to me. This article opened my eyes wide. I really wish I knew this 20 years ago, my life could have been so much better.

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Blue

This. If you just cut someone off without helping them realize why, it might take them even longer to admit they have a problem, find help and start getting better than they otherwise would. That could also create more victims of “toxic people” who might not even be fully self-aware of what they’re doing. Some will go down with their ship that they are perfect, but there are others who just aren’t aware of how toxic they are or how go about fixing that, if it’s even possible.

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Anna

I had a situation recently with some of the traits described above on the article. I have this “friend” who in the beginning was very nice and approachable. We would talk frequently. When I was struggling with something, he would step out and come back when he wanted something from me, or felt bored I suppose. Some time later, he had a change of mind and he disappeared for two months. No explanation, zero contact. I decided to hit him a text asking if he was ok. No response. I assumed he was caught up with life or work. I kind of made mental excuses for him somehow.

After those two months, he reached out again to me, but pretended nothing ever happened. It was like everything was ok, but I felt kind of uneasy to resume the friendship relationship. He didn’t apologize. Instead he asked me to go out for a drink, and began to make plans to go out with me. I decided to give him a second chance. Eventually, things fell off again when he started to give me mixed signals between friendship and dating. When I explicitly asked him where we stood, he got mad and gave me the silent treatment. That’s when I realized that he was playing with my emotions.

He did the same thing to other people in the past, and left them guessing where they were standing all the time. Some people call him a player, others a narcissist. In my point of view he’s a person who needs professional help, but I don’t believe he’ll ever reach out for it.

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tara

My husband has all that…. I have been married for 9 years now.
Sometimes I just want to leave but our children love him, so I feel stuck with him.

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James

I just left a toxic relationship with a crazy woman. She demonstrated all of the traits above. She manipulated me to do everything for her and often she would use lies that I knew were lies but still accepted them to do some task for her. She was always hostile though and we could never finish a conversation or topic. She often called me derogatory names and often refered to me as them even when I requested for her to stop. She was not saying them as a term of endearment either. When I demonstrated resistance towards her such as refusing to do certain things due to past behavior she adapted and started coercing me by calling the police saying I was beating her. A few times they came and they did suggest I get of her and these were female officers. They saw I never hit her and they saw that she was a bit crazy and warned her each time about calling 911. The other tactic she would use is to conviently get a panic attack to the point that she goes to the hospital. When she gets there she began to act a little bit normal until I leave her side. A few times I would come back with them saying she went in a psychosis and they baker acted her. I felt sorry for her a lot of pity because she was seemingly helpless without me but she would still treat me terribly. It escalated to the point she started to attack me. First just some closed fist punching to my face on occasion (probably hurt her more than it hurt me to be honest but completely disrespectful) to her attacking with knives and throwing scalding water and some chemicals at me (Which really hurt and caused an eye injury and loss of sight) . Each of these incidents she either down played or made up a really bad excuse that’s laugable. But she just drew me in still I didn’t know how or why I just wanted to make her happy so she could be nice to me. But after self reflection and just thinking what I wanted for myself in life and how I wanted my life to be I decided that to achieve that I would have to cut loose this woman. It was hard as she really had no where to go and probably became homeless or is couch surfing other victims…. I felt that if I were to put her in that situation it was because I was not patient enough but in the end I had to tell myself that she is not my responsibility and if I stay with her it will not end well for either of us. Either she will: hurt/kill herself and have me go to jail, kill me and herself, have us both arrrsted, or at the very least make me lose my sanity. I gave her 90 days to find a place and leave and I cut my lease short. I drove off and left. She refused to leave eventually the police had to escort her out. I stopped talking to her after I left. It was a great decision as I got my life back on track to be where I want to be without her as a drain or distraction.

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Hey Sigmund

James, it sounds as though you have been through a really tough time. Without a doubt you have done the right thing by walking away from this person. I know that leaving a relationship isn’t easy, even if that relationship is a destructive one. Your warmth, openness and commitment to the relationship would be such strong qualities in a relationship with someone who deserved you, but it sounds as though they have been used against you in this one. There is no amount of patience, kindness or love that can change these type of people. They can change, but it’s unlikely that they will. I’m so pleased you have your life back now. You deserve to feel loved and cherished, and now that this toxic relationship is out of the way, the love you deserve can find you. I wish you all the very best as you move forward.

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Josie

Hey James I’m so sorry this woman disrespected you and was hateful in her cold heart to you, no one deserves to be treated like that. Remember you are special and no other person will ever be like you. You tried your best but when someone is toxic they will mistreat everyone around them. I’m glad you left and didn’t let her use and abuse you. You’re the better person and deserve much happiness 😘

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Colby

I’m going through this right now with my fiance. Initially I saw a completely different woman. There were signs but I guess I ignored them. Now it’s out of control, but she’s pregnant and we have a place together. I don’t know what to do. Yesterday she actually laid hands on me but I have no family here so if I leave I’ll be homeless.

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Joanne M

I’m a lesbian and I love women. I would never go against a women physically. When I was younger I’d fight lads but never girls.
I’m so glad you ended it.
I had a relationship just like yours, verbally, mentally and physically abusive. She pushed me mentally, emotionally and physically. Until she pushed me that much I broke and hit back. I’m really not proud of it, she pushed me to a place that I never ever thought I’d go to. It ended up were I got arrested and put in cells, suspended from my job as a care worker which she did as well, there was an age difference I was 40 she was 22. I spent thousands of pounds on her , loved her did everything she wanted gave my all, what I thought. But now 8years single I’ve learnt it was a toxic relationship, alcohol fumed and one-sided. I’m the vulnerable one and was the victim of her games, manipulation and physical abuse. I’m still single, sane and finding myself. Im still hoping to find someone to enjoy life, but in the mean time I’m enjoying being me😊xx

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Luke

Hi James I understand everything you as sais,I’m going through this as well now only I married mine 10 year’s ago have a son,she having an affair for last 2 years brings him home when I’m either not here or wait when I’m a sleep in the other room I’ve got photos not perfect ones but enough I feel to show it’s happening, she says there’s no one there she is manipulative narcissist and violent towards me angry never admits fault, she called the police on me aswell I’ve hit anyone in my life, she cry to the police saying we are have argument when I wasn’t I was going away for a week for head space, anyway she got arrested for assault and a 2 year good behaviour bond,she tried to blame me I said you called the police I just told the truth,she is trying to make out I’m crazy so she can get custody of our son I feel I buy a house 20 years ago this is not what I planned for it’s a sick feeling to have someone I help get an Australian PR or passport. I can’t wait for the day she leaves now I pray every day she goes

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Angelica

After reading your story, I’d love an update!!!

I wouldn’t say my significant other is toxic, but sure fits most, if not all these points that were made. What’s more shocking to me tho is we have been together for 16 freaking long years and I guess its just more visible since “the pandemic” because he lost his job and we have been riding this out with our 3 kids and my MIL. I’ve recently realized that the only way to make this work is to work on my relationship with God first and pray for each of my family members relationship with him to grow.. Only then we can get back to each other..

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Tshepo

I am a 23 year and I am going through it. I don’t know what to do because everytime she gets mad we do not talk, she ignores me anonymous talks when she finally feels like it. We can never having a proper conversation and finish it when shshe’angry. She chooses to make me feel worried and that actually led me to cheating. It I really to trust her over my feelings coz I feel like I am not safe

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Andy Robbins

I’m a guy in the UK living with someone like this. Men suffer at the hands of toxic people also. Thanks for the article – it really helps

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Hey Sigmund

Yes, absolutely! Men suffer every bit as much as women when it comes to toxic people. I’m really pleased the article has been helpful for you.

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Nat

I have a boyfriend who would always bring up past fights and arguments into current ones and gets mad that I don’t feel like spending a whole week at his house and saying “You always want to stay home!” Which isn’t true, it’s only sometimes but whatever. Anyways, he makes me feel as if it’s my fault or I shouldn’t feel the way I do. Whenever i bring up that i want to go home [this day] or something he gets upset saying “Then go home. You don’t like spending time with me.” When I clearly do, it’s just I get burnt out. And then he’s like “What are you gonna do when we move in together?” I replied “Well, by that time we’ll be able to do what we want in the same house away from each other if needed and not constantly do what you want.” Plus, he doesn’t like doing what I want because it’s boring. :/ idk what to do.

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Connor P

I recently left a toxic relationship and she continues to try to talk to me like I will block her on everything, from all social media to email, and even her phone number, but she goes and creates new accounts over and over trying to force me to come back and saying things to me like if I don’t come back she will commit suicide and tell me that her blood is in my hands, or she has constantly told me in great specific details how she would kill me and get away with it because all she had to do was put my body parts down the garbage disposal.

Eventually I got the courage to leave her and actually not come back but now she is not online harassing me like I had told you above but she is bullying me online and making false accusations against me and lying on my name, I am at the point I fear my life but she wants to go and turn me into the police and say she can’t even go to her apartment bc I happen to still have a key, because she is afraid that I would come in when she would be sleeping and kill her. I only have kept the key this long due to the simple fact that not only has she not stopped harassing me, bullying me online, making shit up and accusing me of it, but now she has decided to burn my personal belongings and even burn my transgender flag and record it and post mean threats about my sexuality all because I finally left her. She has nothing to worry about with me I just want her out of my life, but I am scared of her, afraid she might actually kill me. She had even gone to the point of having her underage cousins say that they sent me nudes and shit and that I have porn on my phone of her little cousins and I don’t nor would I ever do that. I’m fairly young and I have never gone through something like this but everything I have tried to do just makes it worse so idk if I should hire a lawyer or what because idk what she will do next nor if she would come kill me in my sleep. Any recommendations or advice on what I should do?

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Coco chanel

Make a police report and have her arrested for defamation, libel and harassment. If not you will end up in trouble for lies…that’s not true. Why you have not blocked her? Scan all your calls that you don’t know

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Tushar

This is really true in my case everything has happened to me I had almost around 8 very close friends but I am left with only 2 of them .I don’t understand what I have done to them ,I feel like dying, I didn’t had any friends in my high school as they were very fake and I thought making some friends in college but now I realize being without friends is far better then getting cheated like this.
I thank this website as it made me realize how to make good friends and how to know who is a good or a bad friend.

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Hey Sigmund

Tushar, I’m sorry this has happened with you and your friends. Not everyone who comes into your life will deserves to stay. There are people who will be very grateful to have you in their lives. Please don’t give up on finding them. I’m pleased the information you have found here has been helpful for you.

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Susan w

Let it go! If you can’t find peace with the time you have together, there won’t be peace when you are there the whole time. To contemplate a full time commitment, you need to be content, at the very least, for most of the time. If you feel you are fighting your emotions, you are in completely the wrong place, with the wrong one.

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Haydee Cueto

I am on a toxic relationship right now,all what I read is really happening right now,all false accusation..I find it so stressful…and I want to say thank you for the indicate advice.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re very welcome Haydee. I hope it is able to give you the strength you need to do what is best for you and open your path to the love you deserve.

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Latoya

I just met a female who acts JUST like this. I thought it was me and I tried to readjust and also tried to be understanding, but this article describes her. She moved on to try to run with my business too and call her it her own. I’m certain that she does this often and calls it something different each time.

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Brand

I am having difficulties dealing with a chain of unfortunate events in my relationship. My boyfriend is a survivor of abuse from his father – and has had a difficult time dealing with it. This past summer he cheated on me. I have taken him back under the conclusion that it was a horrible mistake and he was in a really bad place at the time. Although now I am feeling very insecure and insignificant. Before when he didn’t want to be intimate I would understand – now i take it personally and have a hard time being sympathetic to him. I have been in bad relationships and cheated on many times in my past as well and feel like i am spiraling. He turns to porn often and it never bothered me before but now it does – as i feel neglected and unwanted. I don’t know how to balance anymore and i find myself trying to control his every move. Help?

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Hey Sigmund

It is really understandable that you would feel insecure and insignificant if you have been cheated on. It’s an awful thing to have happen. What’s important is that this doesn’t change who you are. Difficult relationships can send anyone crazy. Relationships can heal through cheating but it’s also going to take full commitment from your boyfriend, and deliberate action on his part to support you in feeling secure again. That will take a while, and it will take effort and commitment. If it gets to the point where you are feeling bad more than you feel good, it might be time to really think about what you are getting out of the relationship. You deserve to feel loved.

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Violet S

Amen! Don’t let anyone make you feel less than what you are! In God’s eyes, your everything!

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Isabelle

Question if anyone has an answer. I recently had another incident with a friend. He is a wonderful person until he isn’t. Gets in moods and in a subtle ways digs, insults my intelligence. Keep in mind it is all so subtle, as described in many above posts, that you get off the phone furious and scratching your head having had let it happen again.

This time I email him, probably the best letter I’ve ever written. It was to the point finally addressing exactly what he does and that I have his number and will not continue tolerating this behavior.

The same day I heard back from him telling me to “have a nice week”. Now a week or so later I get another email where he speaks briefly about what he is up to in general and also lets me know about a T.V. series I might like. That is it.

So what do you do when you’ve really addressed a situation and the person pretends the incident never happened and that you never addressed it?

Would appreciate any input on this. Thanks, Isabelle

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Cindy R

They pretend it never happened because they don’t want to address it or answer why they behave that way. Some people are so insecure they aren’t surrounded with anyone else but a few and take everything out on them. And some don’t know how to change their behavior or are in total denial they are doing anything wrong.

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Edward

OMG! My wife, as much as I dearly love her, can be the poster child for this article! I aw vague hints of her personality, narcissistic with paranoia and toxicity before I engaged her, then married her. I was so in love with her I overlooked the many little issues thinking all along it must be me and I would make it all better by trying harder. But soon after the wedding it got worse – routinely. About every 2 weeks there was some misunderstanding, or spat that she would never accept blame for & attack me for being loud, or getting mad at her kid, or using a bad word, etc. She refused to ever take my advice on family matters, or even hear me it seemed. I learned to avoid the conflict by backing off to let her have her way, but it caused more and more seething resentment within me, so every now and then, usually at the kids that were pushing buttons I would blow up at them. That would turn her against me even more, but typically we would kiss and make up great and all would seem o.k. for a couple of weeks or months & then wham! she would get riled up again at something I did not even know I had done wrong & I would go overboard apologizing and she would make demands on my time and take a week or two to get back to the kiss and make-up stage. A recent death in her family flipped a switch in her. After a few really great weeks when all seemed great her sibling died. I was there to comfort her as much as I could be, then she flipped a switch and ordered me away, never to come back to see her or talk to her. Week by week I begged and pleaded for her to let me see her and to attend counseling. I apologized over and over for this and that, but she never has once that I can recall apologized for anything and only barely accepted blame for our dying dreams. Finally after 8 weeks of this nightly begging from me and rarely getting a reply at all, she and I blew up via texts (the only form of communication she accepts) & I vented a lot that had been seething within me for our entire relationship. She announced she was filing papers and blocking me. She did not block me however, but I know her and expect to be served divorce papers any day. I have given and given in the marriage & dearly love her, quirks and all & would do nearly anything to save the marriage. But it seems to be a 1-sided marriage as scores of family and friends have told me. Maybe it is for the best to divorce and get on with our lives, but I know she will haunt me forever. I wanted to please her every day and had dreamed of making her happy each day for the rest of her life, but I realized finally – too late I guess that she is unwilling to be happy with me.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you have fought really hard to make this relationship work. I can hear how much you care about your wife. It would be no mistake that she chose you – your generosity, your warmth, your loyalty and commitment. I’m sure she has many good things about her as well, but that doesn’t make the relationship a good one for you. It sounds as though it has brought you a lot of pain. Listen to your friends and family and listen to what you now know. Toxic people find it difficult to be happy with anyone. It’s so important that you see it for what it is and don’t take it personally.

I really understand why it is so hard to let go and why it’s difficult to imagine moving on from her. Loving someone is like an addiction and moving on from someone you love is like a physical and emotional withdrawal – but the pain does end. Here is some information that might help you https://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/. You deserve a relationship that nurtures you and a love that feels nourishing and mutual. You deserve to be happy. You will find that, but first you have to let go of that which is getting in the way of it finding its way to you. I wish you strength and courage and the love you deserve.

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Edward

Thank you for the advice and reply. As I guessed I got the decree to sign today. Begged her to reconsider but her terse response was simply “I’m not coming back.”

I tried everything I could but the worse part is that she literally did not shed a tear over it I can tell.

Well, I hope she finds who she’s looking for and I will always love her but will never see her again.

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Theonlyone

She is probably doing you a favor. When one door closes another one opens. You will probably meet some new women and realize you have been missing out on some great times. It is a new beginning.

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Crystal

This is what a narcissistic person is like. But why do they need your approval? Are their self esttems actually that low that they need to lower yours as well?

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Hey Sigmund

Toxic people need control above all else. Sometimes this is driven by low self-esteem, sometimes insecurity, sometimes both or something else altogether. Having power and control over the relationship and the people they are with is everything. They don’t see their behaviour as damaging – they’ll be more likely to see it as your fault that you’re not doing things the ‘right’ way, which will always be their way. They are incapable of recognising the needs of another person above their own. One of the reasons they attack the self-esteem of those they are in a relationship with is because people are much easier to control when they are full of self-doubt. Toxic people choose well – they will often choose people who are generous and who work hard at a relationship. A toxic person knows that for these people, the more they are told they aren’t doing a good job, the harder they will try to make things right.

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Charmaen

I am in a toxic relationship right now all the things you mentioned are him to the T! Just today he threw burning hot pizza at me burned my arm with the sauce because I told him he was only thinking about himself and unless it benefits him he doesn’t care. Last time it was a hot plate of spaghetti off the stovetop because I said something he didn’t like. And the time before that was a glass of wine thrown in my face because he said I was lying about something I said and it wasn’t a lie. Prior to that he grabbed my hair, took my glasses off my face and broke them because I told him no to get mad at my daughter she just a baby. I said it more than 2 times and he snatched me up had to find the pieces to my glasses and tape them together to be able to work in the am. He told me next time I should learn not to open my mouth.
He tells me I don’t make enough money but I work 2 jobs while he doesn’t work, only every blue moon. He says I’m lazy and fat when I work 2 jobs and take care of all our kids, mine and his, 7 altogether. I get sick one day and I’m a lazy fat b*tch while he’s on the couch 3 weeks straight only to get up to eat, shower or use the bathroom. If he does anything it’s just for himself. I accidentally dropped his pants on the bathroom floor and he went off talking down to me, throwing stuff at me. It’s hard to leave and it’s hard to stay !!!! I just pray it will get better

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Cassandra

About 6 months ago, I stood up to my brother, and he tried to put me in my place. He has given me the silent treatment ever since. Recently he has implied to others that I’m broken and need to be fixed. I don’t feel broken. How do you know if you are?

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Wilma

My eldest sister (I’m the youngest of 5 sisters and 2 brothers), is so toxic towards me and has been ever since we joined the same religion. Long story short, we had been close (albeit dysfunctional) for 18 years, but no more since the last 2 years. The demise stems 10 yrs ago because of an inheritance my parents received. (Background: We grew up poor. She was abused physically/verbally by my father and left the house at 16. However, he had a respect for her once she got older. In fact, he nominated her as a successor executor in his will years ago. Today, she’s married and lives across country and I live very close to my parents. Though my father was verbally abusive to all of us kids and we all have issues as a result, he was least to me and another young sister.) Anyway, trouble started when two of my single elderly uncles (both of whom had sizable savings and lived together) declined in health and one died, leaving my father his savings account. The other, with dementia and anxiety, leaned on my father for help, who in turn, leaned on me for advice and help, which was very new grounds for me and nervewracking. However, that left my eldest sister upset b/c she wanted play by play and an accounting of every penny my father was receiving and spending because she was the “executor”. (Note, my father was and still is managing his own finances and he specifically asked me not to discuss them with my other siblings). When I refused to “comply” with her, she was so irate and yelling and screaming at me on the phone. So I gave in and told her how much he received. She flew out for the uncle’s funeral and was so cold and has been cold to me ever since. She has slandered me to our mutual friends, who give me the cold shoulder, for which I called her out on. We had other yelling incidences too, all revolving around my parents’ money. She was so upset with me one time, screamed abusively because she claimed she had to ask my parents directly whether they had gone to see a lawyer to sign new estate planning documents. (which they did not do and have not to this day). I said “good, you should be communicating with them yourself!” She has always claimed she wanted to manage their finances from afar with me (since she couldn’t be here to help out in other ways) and has told me that specifically. I believe she is angry because she knows my father was turning to me for support/advice and she realizes she cannot control me the way she seemed to think she could. (She also had plans for my parents’ inheritance, which included adding her name on a bank account and wanted me to propose that to my father.) I say we joined the same religion but she is more active than I am, and others see her involvement and seem to think she is so “fabulous”. She loves to awe inspire, in fact, that is how I joined the religion, through her (I was 20, she was 30.) She claims that she is following Jesus’ footsteps, which she does in front of others, but to me it is a whole other person that shows up. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. She did make a very nice gesture at my wedding (to whom she did not approve of the man I married) recently but I wondered if it was more to save face in front of those we both know so she can have one up on me down the road. She’s always acting as if I am untrustworthy, questioning my moves. I feel obligated to reach out to her b/c we are of the same faith and encouraged to forgive/forget/love, but when I reach out to her via email (because I refuse to talk on the phone and have arguments), it is a stone cold response, so I stopped. I feel more at peace that way, but how do I feel good about myself in this situation? My parents though in good health, are in their mid-80’s and need more assistance, to which I am doing more than her and other sibling’s fair share of help. I can’t seem to feel good about my sister even though I feel she’s being abusive to me. She is very demanding behind closed doors. Help!

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you have been having an awful time with this. It’s really important that you listen to your own feelings and intuition around who (and what) is good for you and who isn’t. I understand this can be really difficult when it comes to family because it’s harder to put up boundaries or walk away, but you can do this in love and strength without it being a complete rejection. By this, I mean you can reject your sister’s capacity to hurt you without rejecting her. Similarly, forgiving your sister doesn’t mean accepting her behaviour, nor does it mean that you have to open up yourself to her again. What it means is that you release yourself of anger or any other bad feelings towards her – BUT – that doesn’t mean that you have to feel good feelings and let her in again. Letting go of the bad feelings is something you do for your own sake.

One way to do this is to put up a really clear boundary, but with love and the option to have it come down, but on your terms. Let your sister know that you love her and care about her but that you won’t put yourself through the yelling and nasty conversations that are happening between you at the moment. Acknowledge that you understand that she doesn’t like some of things that you are doing, but that you are doing them because they are right for you. She doesn’t have to agree with what you are doing, but you won’t allow yourself to be shamed and mistreated for these decisions.

Let her know that she is important to you and that she matters, and that when she is ready to respect you and work towards a calmer, healthier relationship, you will be ready to have that relationship with her but until then, you aren’t prepared to engage with her – or something like that. Tell her what she means to you and be generous and loving, and also let her know what feels intolerable. Decide on the terms for your relationship and let her know what they are. Ask her what she needs from you and decide whether or not you are prepared to give her that. It’s completely okay to say that you’re not. That way, you are putting an end to her capacity to hurt you, but being open to being in a relationship with her in a way that is better for both of you.

If she is acting as though you are untrustworthy and questioning you a lot, that is an indication of her own insecurity. She lives away from the family and seems to have (or feel as though she has) little influence over what happens with your parents and the family. On the other hand, she suspects you have a lot. Insecurity has a powerful way of turning people against each other, but if you can see it for what it is, it will be easier for you to take is less personally. Keep her feelings in her front yard, and don’t let them cross into yours. See them for what they are. Of course it’s important to really be honest with yourself about whether there is anything you might be doing to contribute to the issues, but if you can say with an open heart that you are doing the best you can in the relationship, then it gets to the point where putting up a boundary is important and is a great act of self-respect and self-love. Showing her love and respect comes in the way you put up that boundary – don’t do it harshly or as a rejection. You have every right to decide what behaviour you will tolerate and what behaviour you won’t. It’s important because if you don’t do this for yourself, nobody else will. The main thing to remember is that you can love someone and decide not to tolerate them anymore. Loving someone doesn’t mean accepting them or the things they do. I wish you all the very best with this. Families can be a great source of pain. Love yourself enough to have the boundaries you need. They door to them can still be open, but make that entry on terms that are acceptable to you.

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Wilma

You’re so correct on all your suggestions. It’s just so difficult because I find her so harshly accusational, even over minor things. She’s slick only abusing me when we are either alone or on the telephone. I’m always left like a deer in headlights. She catches me off guard. I know it is “control-driven” on her end. When I start defending myself, then she says I’m too sensitive and that’s when the arguments start because I’m defending myself and she doesn’t like it and denies anything she ever said to me. Then she’ll tell our mutual friends that I’m fighting with her and they should avoid me. (when it is she that started the whole thing because she can’t get control of my parent’s money, which they do not know). Unfortunately, they believed her because they’re also her husband’s parents, which are/were close friends of mine too. Now it is just completely awkward.

I just don’t have the tools to deal with a personality like hers. I hear what you are saying but I don’t know how to actually deal with someone like her. I don’t know how to stand up for myself to her and create a boundary – I keep reading about it, but putting it into practice is another thing. She thinks because I’m the youngest, she can push me around behind closed doors. I know I have to be smarter about any interaction with her, but she is always “out to get me” it feels no matter what I do. She looks for the absolute worst and exaggerates everything about me. I have seen her do it to others who she feels have done something to her. I believe she is very narcissistic.

I find it hard to even reach out to her (though sometimes I want to just say hello and hopefully smooth things over) but I can’t even do that for fear of an attack of some sort. So I don’t. It’s too stressful and fearful. I have had nightmares of her.

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withheld

hello. what to do when a former good friend turns against you, sends you hostile emails, and won’t tell you why she’s upset-despite your multiple attempts to find out? this is very much complicated by the fact that our preteen daughters are good friends and in the same larger friend circle. she’s also a huge gossip, and my biggest fear is that she’s telling awful lies about me and my sweet, sensitive daughter. i worry because she did this (and much worse) to another woman, whose family eventually left our school. she’s extremely competitive, and honestly, i think her actions are based on jealousy over my daughter’s abilities, which is not a problem that can be “solved”. what do i do? i’ve asked her to talk, and i’ve tried ignoring her for several months, but she’s now sending more mean-spirited emails. i’ve reached out to a couple of mom’s in our circle who want to remain neutral. frankly, i think they’re all afraid of her. plus, she’s very good at being charming and helpful when it benefits her or her kids. the other odd think is that she is now angry that i’m not including her in group emails to the moms of other friends in our circle. i’m normally a very strong person, but this is really starting to bother me, causing me to lose sleep and feel nauseous. any help would be appreciated.

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Hey Sigmund

This is why toxic people are so damaging. You deserve better than this and I’m sorry you’re going through it. You can’t change this woman – if only we could change other people. All you can do is protect yourself as much as you can, by building the wall higher between you both. When you withdraw from toxic people, it’s not unusual for them to get worse before they leave you alone. They’ll do more of what used to work with you, or what has worked for them in the past. It sounds as though you still have to co-exist in the same environment and your daughters are friends so you have to tread carefully. Any contact with her will feel bad for you, so avoid her where you can without getting into a confrontation. It might be the case that any attempt you make to talk to her will be heard through her negative filter and twisted in such a way as to make herself the victim. If she has no intention of reconnecting with you in a way that is healthy for you, the only thing you can do is to pull away gently. If she is acting in such a way as to cause harm to you daughter, I would consider speaking to the school and asking them to deal with it discretely. If she’s telling lies about your daughter it’s a form of bullying, and I expect that the school will be quick to respond. There’s no easy answer for this one. I wish you all the best.

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Patricia

This woman sounds like a narcissist who needs her children’s accomplishments and status to reflect on her.
I was a school volunteer with a woman like this when my children were elementary/middle school age. When we moved to the area, her kids were on top of the academic pile. Here I come with my equally intelligent children, one of whom was found to have an IQ of 145. To me that didn’t change who my child was; to this mother, it was a threat. She found out only because she was an aide at the school. From then on, she was out for blood because she thought my kids were about to unseat hers. I still shake my head at this…..
The only way you can “win” is to withdraw from her presence. Serve only on committees she doesn’t. And like I always told my kids: when someone tells lies about you, conduct yourself in such a way that no normal person will believe it. Let her behavior reflect on her. If she involved my children, I’d go straight to the school principal, and higher if necessary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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