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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. They’ll manipulate.

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

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

  2. They won’t own their feelings.

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

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

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

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

  4. They never apologise. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. They exaggerate.

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

  11. They are judgemental.

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

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

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

2,524 Comments

julia

This is the first article that really hits the nail on the head. I don’t know if 9 years after this being published you’ll see this, but thank you very much. This is very insightful. 2 points listed are so much my mom, I just didn’t realize until I moved closer to her. I am not sure what to do, but at least I have a better understanding. I too, have a tendency to point out the bad or risks when people give me good news about themselves. I really see it that its bad and am working actively to stop. I always thought I was just being honest, helpful even, but I see it more in my mom and realize I must stop. Thank you!

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Jeremy

I encountered this guy named Freddy Davis and he is a very evil person he will bully you on your Google account I sent him a prayer request on his page saying how I don’t believe people when they say they’re such thing of the devil and then he started being mean to me he created this fake page on Google called Marketfaith he uses that page so that when people send him a prayer request he’ll be mean to them. He was being mean to me on my Google account and he was enjoying it he’s a very evil person. He’s a religious nutcase that likes telling you absolute nonsense.

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Molly

My adult daughter exhibits all the traits in your article. I am at a loss as to how to maintain any sort of relationship with her. The issue is that she threatens to not let me see my young grandchildren if I upset her.

I would like to know how to deal with her.

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Thali

You cannot control nor change her. She has a mean spirit, not knowning true love. I found support doing coda,,co-dependents anonymous. I do zoom once a week. Try several meetings until you find one you like. I do not bother my friends with my family matters, only if they ask

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" class="url" rel="ugc external nofollow">Dean

I have a very toxic father in law, on many occasions he tries subtle methods to belittle me in front of others.

I am a humble person that has been around the block and have accomplished projects and tasks that I’m very proud of and experiences that he could never attain to.

When there are family functions, usually theirs, I wait for the sarcastic remarks, or subtle belittlement to surface. It always does.

I find that keeping quiet usually helps, not giving him a reaction upsets him even more.

I ‘ let it go’ because it gives him more rope to hang himself , a bit of reverse phycology and it works.

Remember, you are better than them because you don’t stoop to their levels.
You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.

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W M

We have a toxic family member. Can anything be done to help them, or do they just need to suffer the consequences of alienating the entire family, and seek help on their own?

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Gerry_SA

This was brilliantly caught out. Clearly you’re seasoned in seeing them even in a virtual world. Thank you for doing this because I’ve left my toxic fam as well and they labeled me in the exact same way, just because I started to force myself to find myself outside of them, so I can heal and be a healthy minded person for the sake of my son.

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Tena C

I could really relate to this article. It was like a validation to my thoughts about this one individual that was a tornado and hurricane in my relationship with my daughter. It was devastating and the reason why it was devastating is because I could see what this person was doing; but my daughter was stuck in the whirlwind of the persons crap. It was horrible. So so sad.

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Time to have an EXIT strategy

Know your worth! You are worth to take on rides, to be cared for, to be given quality time, to go on dates, and to truly matter someone. Leave now since he doesn’t even give you any crumbs as a partner. He just gives horrible lame excuses. This happens because you stay and you “allow it” by staying with a POS. Know your worth and even if it takes time, plan an exit and LEAVE. In the meantime you can learn to love on yourself, to value yourself, and to start being your own best friend. How would you care and love a true friend going through a horrible situation? Now do this for you. Surround yourself with people who will love you and support you in this difficult situation.

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John

WOW. Just, ‘wow’. I’ve been living in my own part of the world and didn’t realize others had similar situations as my own. Everything that’s listed and talked about, yep, I’ve been going through it for the past 14 years. However, maybe I have a slight different twist. The other day when my wife and I were in bed after having sex, and my wife looked at me and said, “Maybe you should just go to a prostitute once a week for your needs. Sex really isn’t that important. Also, it’ll be one less thing that I have to do”. Of course this festered with me for nearly a week, and yes, there was a whole lot of silent treatment on my part. Oh, I would occasionally talk, all superficial, i.e. did you see it’s raining, the weather is cooler today, do you want a cup of coffee, are we doing anything this weekend. I just don’t have anything to say. Like I said, the issue just festered with me. Who tells a spouse “Maybe you should just go to a prostitute once a week?” After nearly a week of silent treatment and really stewing about this, I calmly asked her, “If I told you, ‘Go have sex with a man once a week. Just make sure you come home to me,’ what would you think?” Her response was, “You know I was just joking? Really, you can’t tell that was a joke? You know I don’t always mean the things I say. What’s the big deal?”

After 30 minutes of attempting to speak calmly, and being exceptionally frustrated at the “gaslighting” responses, I added my thoughts to my own question and proceeded to tell her what I think. First off, those that normally grant their spouse permission to have sex outside the marriage, are generally the spouse that’s already cheating outside the marriage. That’s my first thought, but my second thought is, you can’t possibly love me, nor care about me, if you’re ok with me sleeping with another woman.

Here’s some more detail, my wife is 17 years older than me and I’m 55, I’m 6ft 1inch, 189lbs, 32inch waist, best shape of my adult life. I’m not overweight, I have no health problems at all, I make well over 6 figures. So the question is, why would a spouse (wife), say it’s OK to go to a prostitute once a week? What am I missing, a spouse that cares so much about me that she’s willing to grant me permission to see a prostitute 4 times a month?

This is a typical situation for my wife. She can say WHATEVER she wants at any time, no matter how hurtful it is, and only when I confront her, she MIGHT say, “Oh, I’m sorry”. It’s a very superficial “I’m sorry”, then quickly followed by, “Can we just move on? I told you I’m sorry.” That’s where my voice raised, and I said, “You always say you’re sorry, but only when I tell you there’s an issue, then you say, “Sorry,” or, “I’m Sorry”, but you know what, you NEVER acknowledge what the issue is. You don’t own your behavior, you don’t understand my pain and you think one word and everything goes back to normal.”

Even if we go to the store shopping, it doesn’t matter what she’s buying. If she asks me to pick the item, she will ALWAYS select the opposite item I recommended. I’ve been testing my theory for YEARS. When we go to COSTCO, she says, pick out the apples. So when I do, I purposely pick a really good bag and one I can see has rotten spots. I hold up the two bags and tell her, “I think this bag looks good”, but I keep the other bag in my hand. She ALWAYS picks the opposite bag I pick. Sometimes now, when I do this, I purposely pick the bad bag of apples because I really want her to pick the good bag. It works the same for rotisserie chicken, celery, cauliflower, oranges, avocados, steaks, you name it. I can even go to Best Buy, pick two monitors and ask her to help me decide. When I tell her I like one monitor, she picks the other. So what do I do? Always, always, always, pick the one I don’t want, so that she picks the one I really want.

When we go shopping, I can’t even begin to tell you how many checkout lines I’ve left because my wife told me another line 75 feet away looks like it might be shorter. I’m so tired of chasing lines at the store that have one less shopper in the line> I’m just not in that big of hurry.

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San

John, all I can say after reading your story, is wow. That is a truly exhausting way to live a life. My opinion, you’d be better off alone than in the hot mess you have to deal with everyday. Side note, I don’t believe you would be alone for long, someone that is less selfish and more appreciative would be completely satisfied having you. You deserve better, this is a short life, don’t waste it on miserable people.

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Kiki

I wouldn’t stay with her. That’s all I have to say. Sorry to be straightforward. She will make you miserable for another 14 years.

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Sher

Not sure how long you’ve been together but let me play devils advocate here (without the baby gloves)…I bet she’s been trying to reach you and connect with you forever to no avail, and has given up on trying but, not on you because she’s still there! A real man will look at being a part of the solution not the problem. Take some accountability (if you’re a capable grown man), ask the hard questions, suggest counseling and for god sake stop acting like a mamas boy. Most of us women don’t get to that place for no reason so take some responsibility for the outcome of your relationship and stop looking for sympathy. You know the truth deep down one way or another. Honestly, best wishes

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Kevin

Exhausting. One common thread is that toxic people are exhausting. They will nit-pick, criticize, and put down others, but they will become like a bomb set off if anyone points out they make mistakes too. Toxic people will try to play other people against each other (especially if the toxic person is a boss or parent). A toxic person will seldom hear someone else out and will become furious if someone else tries to have an opinion.

Toxic people have no regard for others true wellbeing. Instead, others are just there to be used by toxic people, so it is a one-way relationship. It is almost impossible to have honest communication with a toxic person. A toxic person just wants to tell you everything others do wrong and has no interest in mutual growth. Yes, all the things the article points out summarize behaviors toxic people exhibit. I agree that if one doesn’t need to be connected to these types of people, don’t be!

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Annonomous

You hit the nail on the head for a toxic person that I am dealing with. The problem is that we have mutual friends that do not see her behavior. I don’t know how to handle the mutual get togethers but I must get away from her.

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Stephenia J

My own mama has always been a toxic person, all my life. At Thanksgiving this year, she had an outburst toward me, in front of my sister in law and her new daughter in law. I never said anything to her about it, until the next day. My mama’s husband died in January of 2023, and they were married over 40 years. He was a narcissist. You never knew what to say. Every thing you said, he’d use it against you. Well at Thanksgiving when my own mama did this to me, the next day I let her know what she was doing. She was doing the same thing to me, that he did to her.

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Rasse H

The reason I came to this page is It just struck me, AGAIN-AGAIN, that my girlfriend of 7 years never says, ‘thank you’, ‘I am sorry’, ‘I love you’, ‘now let me help you’, ‘please help me’, ‘I need you’, ‘can I help you’. She very rarely confides in me and never shares her friends with me. It is as if she is living in her own bubble, and for quite a while now I have felt uncomfortable in her company. She is never totally honest about her opinion of me. I think I am falling out of love, but I also feel that I am afraid of her and definitely react with stress when we arrange to meet.

Recently her 18 yr old cat suddenly got sick and we had to let her go. She didn’t express any grief, apart from agreeing with me.

Before her I was stalked by an ex for several years, and this affected my belief in myself in regards to other people. With my present girlfriend, I am beginning to think that maybe *I* am a narcissist. It could however be that I just cannot deal with people anymore, following several years of post-cancer fears and isolation, but I am losing my ability to feel anything for anybody.

How can I get in the clear about what is going on here? There is up to 1 year of waiting for a psychotherapist here!

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Tina

Seems like you are in a toxic relationship and need to slowly cut it out of your life. Right now whatever you are thinking is a projection of all that you have been made to believe. It will take iron grit strength but once you do cut her off completely, and start the process of healing you will eventually realise how none of what you are feeling and thinking is true.

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:(

I went out of town, away from my boyfriend, for work during the height of pandemic for almost 2 months. He had a work from home job, I had a field job. He’ll fight with me on the phone every night leaving me with almost no rest from my tiring work. He won in a film competition one day and was telling me how he misses me and hoping I am there to celebrate with him. But apparently while he was saying that he was celebrating with another naked woman on his bed.

I found out 2 years later while I was watching their online celebration, on the video he accidentally switched to hisfront phone camera. He never apologized. We’re still together now. And every now and then i still feel very stupid.

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Lux

I don’t know if I am being too cautious or not, but my mother has always seemed off.
One moment she is having fun, being kind and overall normal but at random times, things that wouldn’t usually bother her do and it’s really confusing and frustrating. She never really admits she is wrong but when she does she says it as if she is irritated like “Okay! I was wrong, alright!”. It’s really difficult because I fight to prove my point and she just acts like it’s a bother to her. I have told her that the tone she uses a lot feels like she can’t be bothered to deal with me, or she just wants to get the conversation over with and every time she says “well, I don’t *mean* to sound like that”. At first I thought this was fair. Nobody can fully control their tone but no matter how much I ask her to maybe be more aware of it, she never does. I also get irritated easily and cannot control my emotions very well, so me and her are not the best match when we’re angry. Sometimes I feel like the toxic one but it all goes away until she has another random mood swing. I feel as if I don’t know her. Or maybe it’s just me.

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Anonymous

It’s not your fault. It’s how they grew up to survive. But now, even though it’s unnescessary to be toxic in order to survive, it became a part of their personality. It’ll pass. Either you wait or leave, it doesn’t matter. My suggestion is if you can, leave from their vision as much as possible. Distract yourself with things you like or have fun with your friends. Your well being and health is important too. Don’t blame yourself from their manipulation. They want to drag you down so that they’re not the only ones that aee down. To feel like they’re on top and not admit their faults. So leave and avoid interactions if you could or they’ll find something to be anger about, even if it’s a small spec. If thwy asked a favour, do it and leave again. After their toxicity has passed, do the things you need to do. The trick is to let them know you’re with them, but you’re not. Remember, they will pass wether you leave or wait till it stols, you’ll move on either way. Protect your dreams and progress. Don’t let a short-term problem take your whole life. It’s unfair for you. That’s all there is to it. Goodluck

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Anonymous

Slightly different perspective: I realize many of you have gone through things that only those that have been there understand.
To preface, I am not perfect. I am extremely flawed. I have a history of binge drinking but not consistently. I managed to get a life together. Went to college, got my own place, and really thrived in the monotony of society. I may have some slight mood disturbances but it is unclear if it’s because I have not the appropriate time to heal or it is who I am.

I was with my partner for 4 years. In the beginning I was going through my own turmoil and exposed that I drank. His mother used to do illegal activities to procure items and he had a shed full of alcohol. At first he was sweet and told me he was going to make sure that I made it out. He was attentive, conscious of others, had me feed his siblings which at first made me believe he deeply cared about them. They no longer speak to him because he got physically abusive towards his brother.

A month into it, his mother got deported and we were both forced into my parents’ house. He made a great impression and they accepted him, but soon after he began placing immense pressure on me to move out and he wanted to move out far away. He quickly started bashing my entire family, my friends, to the point where I lost everyone I was close to. It was my behavior but they couldn’t have known what fueled it. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone about our relationship because apparently that was “toxic” to the relationship and disrespectful.

So we spent 3 years in California. There I would work 9-5 and he would stay home, smoke weed and play video games. He had several violent outbursts and at one point gave me a concussion but encouraged me not to go to the hospital. (I know why didn’t I leave then) but those of us in the trap know why.

We broke up after the 3 years and I came to find out that he was cheating a couple times a week with different people in my apartment while I worked. He blamed me because, admittedly , I slipped and I was unfaithful in the first week of the relationship. When I attempted to explain the difference – I made a mistake and his was a constant pattern of cheating – he would get angry and we all know where that goes.

Now I have moved back in with my parents once again because I need the support. We have an on again off again thing where I get fed up with the behavior and try to establish boundaries and then leave. He then promises the world. He promises to stop the cheating but I have found that he spends all day talking to people. He constantly puts down my appearance and my financial situation. Saying anyone would be willing to support him because I no longer am. It’s even difficult to explain, because the behavior is so unpredictable but he goes from that to promising he’ll get me a home. (Through means that, let’s just say, don’t involve purchasing a mortgage.)

I am still very much in it but on the verge of gathering the strength and self love to leave, but I did ashamedly give him another chance. This morning he accidentally sent me a text that was meant for another individual which implied they spent the night together. We were supposed to be fixing us. He has been acting 10x worse and I am suspecting drug abuse. Whenever I bring it up he gaslights me of course, but his behavior is too erratic and strange to be normal. He tells me he and I are both just crazy.

For the sake of making this too long, it was nice to just write everything out and read it to myself. I feel broken. I have moments of strength and motivation but the second he’s back it crumbles. I was not going to post this but for the sake of others going through what I’m going through, I want to share my story.

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Tena C

Thanks for sharing your struggles. I bet it was very freeing for you or at least hope so. The person is not going to change, you need to get out and stay out. You should build yourself a network of people that support you and value you. Because you are very valuable, important, deserving of reciprocal love, special, beautiful and created for receiving back what you so freely give. Don’t let this person grind you down in the dirt so far you can’t get out. There is someone special out there for you, but you’ll never find them until you find yourself. And we all were created to have love for ourselves and who we are. Love yourself!!!

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Black

You should no longer be in a relationship with this man. He will continue to break your heart and take advantage of your love. You have to be strong. Get some new friends and spend less or no time with him. Eventually, you will be able to move on and find the right partner. If you continue to stay in a relationship with him, you can only blame yourself for the pain he causes you, because you decided to stayed with him. Be strong for your own happiness and safety! You deserve to be loved. Life is really short to waste it on a bum. Remember, garbage in garbage out!

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Terri

I suggest you detach with love from your father-in-law ,or set down some serious healthy boundaries. Keep them out of your personal life. Don’t divulge anything about your personal business to him or even both. You mother-in-law could turn around and share with him all the details. It’s not hard to do. You just need to do it – and probably sooner rather than later.
Good luck.

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M.

I totally understand. I can relate to this all too well. Don’t allow anyone – and I mean anyone – to dismiss your feelings, and invalidate you, or to make you feel less than. You have feelings for a reason. You matter and you are important. I hope someone who can really see that will enter your life and treat you the way you deserve to be treated. 🙂

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Lux

Yes I totally agree but I’m very stuck because she is my mother after all. I am young and what she says is always going to be right. I wish I could sit her down and have her listen to what I have to say. I feel she is not validating my feelings but I know that I can’t get her to change. I feel trapped. I wish she did not act like this. 🙁

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Hanna

I just went through a situation where my daughter blocked me and cut me off. I had an accident three years ago and I haven’t worked since. I have chronic migraines. I was put in the hospital for an infusion for the migraines and was given medicine that I had a psychotic reaction to. I was literally trying to jump in front of cars and kill myself. Then I was hospitalized again, and given another anti-nausea medicine that gave me the same reaction. I understand it was traumatic, but I always thought families pull together and that they would be there for me.

I got completely stoned. Then I had an episode where I couldn’t breathe and since I don’t drive anymore, I needed to go to the hospital and no one was there for me.

My kid told me that she would be relieved somewhat when I die. That was so devastating because I love my child, and I did not mean to cause her any pain or scare her or put her through anything traumatic. It was just an event and I would think that people should be able to go on even though it was horrible.

So I got hospitalized again and was put on morphine every two hours, Ativan every four hours, and oxycodone every four hours. When I got out of the hospital I had a complete mental breakdown. I said things to my daughter that I don’t even remember that were completely out of line. My daughter blocked me.

I was on the verge of suicide because I had no one I could turn to, and no one that could help me when I needed to go to the hospital because I could not breathe. It was such a lonely, horrible feeling. How do you draw the line between not draining someone with your problems by being able to get help from them?

My daughter harbours a lot of resentment because I wasn’t the perfect parent, but I did the best I could with what I had and I don’t know how to fix it all. I don’t want to be toxic to my daughter. I love her and I do not want to cause her any pain.

I understand her decisions, but where is the thought of families staying together even when situations aren’t ideal. I certainly never asked to be given medicine that I have reactions to that were completely out of my hands, but yet I am responsible for what I do.

I just want to not bring people down with all of my stupid stuff that I’m dealing with it, but it is impossible for me to deal with it alone also. So do I just go away and leave her alone so she will be better off? I have no idea what to do. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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MOM

I have a son who does this and is empowered by a toxic girlfriend. It’s a losing battle. It does not matter how hard I try to be patient, kind, or listen, I always get the toxic, angry him telling me that he is so happy. He looks terribly unhappy. He is different to how I have ever seen him in past 25 years. (This has happened in just this past year.) It’s very sad. He is so stuck on trying to prove me wrong and do what the girlfriend wants, he is forsaking his own happiness and mental health. Sadly we are the company we keep, and he and her are very immature and won’t take any accountability for their actions. It’s so hard watching someone you love so much suffer and you cannot help them.

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Stacey

I know my flaws and faults and I struggle with them. I own them. I allow certain people in my life to dictate my actions and I seek validation from them constantly.

I got divorced in 2014 and made terrible choices for myself and my boys and then got remarried to an alcoholic. (I didn’t know he had a huge problem then and was naive, and I guess selfish?) He ended up committing suicide in 2020 by hanging himself from my car side mirror and I had to cut him down.

I have always tried to put everything into my friendships, so much so that I started worrying about my actions and if I was hurting them in anyway. Now I can’t seem to deal with their drama, especially if I am expected to, let alone my own. I am trying to rebuild my life. I am trying to do the good and right things.

I have always known that my “best friend” had emotional issues, but she interjected into my life willingly like a counselor type and was absolutely there for me during the suicide and other high stress moments of my life, but there have been many many times over the years when I don’t know what person I will get, and I have to walk on eggshells. I don’t always know what to say or do. She goes back and forth on what she needs from me and it’s hard to keep up with.

Now, after the suicide, I have to really focus on myself and my family. She says I have not been there for her and I am selfish. She’s gone to great lengths to tell me how selfish I am, and that all our friends have told her this would happen, that her family hates me and how I have hurt them all deeply (by doing what I am not sure?) and that I am bad mother, saying I spend money on myself and not them, when she has no idea how I spend my money. I explain that I can’t up and come be with her and sit with her in her outrageous (in my eyes) drama. I have obligations as a single mother and someone who needs to focus on my mental health now. She has always overreacted to things, and everything is a crisis or a trauma.

Maybe we are just two different people who see things differently, but she never has a problem telling me my faults. She tells me she needs me to do that with her but when I do, she freaks out. I have to now prioritize my life for my mental well-being, my kids’ mental well-being and the new relationship I am trying to build (which also has its problems).

She says I don’t love her if I am not there in the way she needs me. She seems to make up things I’ve done to her in the past that didn’t happen. She says she begs me to be there for her, when she does no such thing. She tells me how she is feeling, but doesn’t express that she needs me to come over. I am not a mind reader and I also can’t be there like she needs me, especially right now. It’s like since she was there for me in times of need, I am expected, no matter what I am going through, to do the same.

She gives me anxiety and sats I don’t ever do or say the right things. I don’t know how to deal with this woman and after she last laid into me, I blocked her and her husband in fear of them continuously telling me what a bad person I am. They want to still have a relationship with my son, but I don’t feel comfortable with that. That will cause an even bigger issue. She tells me I only defend myself and I only listen to reply. I am not sure what she wants from me? To sit back and take her cruelty? She can dish it, but she can’t take it and it’s got me spinning. The only thing she has ever apologized to me for is not telling me she had issues with me when she had them. I say sorry to her constantly (because I truly don’t ever want to hurt anyone) and it goes in one ear and out the other and she’ll continue to bash me. This is a cycle that has happened at least 5 times over the course of 15 years.

I think for my own mental health I have to finally let go of this friendship. I just can’t get out of my head all the bad things she’s said I am and do. It’s messing with me big time.

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mom

This describes my adult daughter to a T. The trouble is that if I walk away to spare myself all of the sadness, grief, questioning my self, feeling less than, and always doing and saying the wrong things, I will not see my teenage grandchildren again. I love them so much. I’m not sure I can handle that. I don’t know what to do.

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Mr Tree

I have a regular experience with my girlfriend that happens every few days,

She repeatedly kicks me out of the property in huge anger outburst where she pushes me about and screams in my face. If I say anything she will tell me to get out the property. If I don’t leave she will damage my things.

The abuse she screams is horrible, telling me I’m a disgusting bisexual, that I caused her miscarriage, that I’m cheating on her, that my father is a pervert and that I’m constantly abusing her

I genuinely don’t understand this because I don’t do anything like that, but all I ask is why she has kicked me out, screaming abuse that is quite depraved.

Anytime I raise the issue, she denies what she said, or says it’s because of me, forcing her to be so angry and react. I’m extremely confused as this abuse has got worse.

Tonight I got accused of having secret sex meets with my own father, while she then accused him of groping her. I was shocked beyond all measure. I’ve questioned her via a phone conversation and she denied it.

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Tena C

Walk away. Do yourself a favor. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment. It’s so hard when dealing with these kind of people. Hope you find some peace. 🙂

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Diane S

This describes all 3 of my adult daughters. They have ghosted me blocked me sense August 25th, all because I said I wasn’t going to Cincinnati to watch 5 grandchildren while the middle had baby number 6. I was sick and going through some testing to find out why I was throwing up and losing weight. I was being checked for stomach cancer and oesophagus cancer. They didn’t care and shut me out.

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Christina

Reading this is clear to me now. This is a co worker of mine. Wow. Thanks for this article.

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Robin H

Hello. Thank you for the very helpful information. I have been in a relationship with my bf for 5 years. Everything mentioned in the article is exactly the way he is plus a million things more. I cannot believe I have put so much into our relationship and never feel like it’s appreciated. Most of the time I don’t even believe he listens to what I’m saying at all.

This 4th of July he was upset with me about something he accused me of 4 years ago and once again I told him it’s not true. He called me late night in the 4th/ early am on the 5th asking for me to come take him home because he’d had too much to drink. I felt I had to. I lost my Dad when I was 12 to drinking and driving. Anyway, all seemed ok until we made it maybe 5 miles down the road. He was trying once again to get me to admit to doing something I never did from 4 years ago. When I refused to say he was right, he reached and grabbed 2 handfuls of my hair and shook me back and forth while I was driving. I managed to stop my car safely and I told him to get out. He refused, so I agreed to drive him to the front of his neighborhood and once there I agreed to drop him at his driveway. I didn’t even park. I stopped in front and waited for him to exit, only he chose to climb over the console to the driver side and drag me out by the hair to the ground prying my iPhone from my hands. I was screaming and crying begging him to let my hair go and to give me my phone and he refused.

It’s now the 12th and I still have no iPhone. He refuses to return it and I don’t know what to do. I have asked him to return it. I’ve said I’m going to police. You name it. He still refuses. I’m sure that’s because I’ve never followed through with what I’ve said the other 100 plus times he’s done this sort of thing. He’s smashed 2 other iPhones and taken 2 others including my purse once. He never returned anything.

I have blocked him and decided to never go near him again, but what should I do about my phone? I paid more than $800 for it and everything is on it including my bank accounts. I am lost at this point. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much. R-

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Kamieman

You lost a phone, but not your life. A phone is replaceable, no matter the cost. Your life is worth much more.

Go to the bank, close your account, and open a new one or change your pin number – whatever the bank recommends to keep anyone from abusing you anymore. Cancel your credit cards (replace them), change the locks on your doors, and beware of the company you keep. This means stay away from events or gatherings where people drink, smoke, abuse their health and wellness. Do whatever you need to do to protect yourself. A person’s health and wellness are a gift that shouldn’t be abused. Keep your time filled with positive people and statements.

A person cannot change another unless they take the first step. Right now work on yourself. You can volunteer your time or get a job at a hospital, senior citizens housing, gym. You can make a difference for yourself and your own mental health/wellness.
BTW – whatever he alleged that you did 4 years ago is between you and your conscience. Everyone has a skeleton in their closet. Additionally, you saw firsthand the effects of drinking from your dad when you were young. Why would anyone choose someone like that to have to deal with?? – pulling your hair, dragging you, smashing your phone, etc. These are unacceptable behaviors.

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E

Go to the police and file a formal complaint and get an order of protection. $800 is a small price to pay for your physical and emotional protection even if you don’t get your phone back. This man is dangerous. Next time he might kill you. Stay safe and get some counseling so you never find yourself with a man like this again. Namaste.

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Anna

Please go to the police and report him – domestic violence, theft, abuse – and stop feeling that you have to “protect” the abusive bully you keep putting up with. He’s a loser.

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Nate

He is not a real man, stay away from the immature little boys. Stop returning to him. It sounds like it’s been several times with a purse and 2 other iPhones. The fact you dropped him off at his “parents” tells me all I need to know about him. He is irresponsible and not man enough to face the world alone without the protection of his parents. Go for an older guy, 8-10 years maybe. Someone that is focused on the future, with a savings account.

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Little Miss Toxic

Whoever wrote this article must know me personally. My son brought it to my attention today that I’m very toxic. He may not have used those exact words but the message was loud and very clear. Now how do I stop being toxic? Well the truth of the matter is that I’m going to be 70 years old in September and really don’t have much time left to repair the damage I have caused.

My two biggest regrets are the pain I agave caused my family (husband and son) and last but not least, my grandson who really has no idea that I exist because of his age and the fact his other grandmother is very much in his life. She visits and FaceTime calls at least 3 to 5 times a day. If it sounds like I’m being toxic, really I’m trying very hard not to be, but anyone has to admit that’s a tough one to compete with while living out of state. Truthfully there isn’t much time in a day that both of us could fit in. I totally get that my daughter in law’s Mom comes first and I’m second.

So now still remains my toxic behavior. I haven’t a clue how to fix this or is it just me and be done with it all??

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GR

Acknowledging that they feel hurt by our behavior and/or choices is a great place to start. While we might not be able to fix all of it, we can start with whatever we can see and are motivated to change. It takes courage and perseverance. Professional help can provide you with the necessary support and cut down the amount of guesswork (speed up the process) if you have access to resources like that. It’s never too late to start. And don’t worry if loved ones can’t see your efforts at first. This is your private work, and they are often the last ones to come around. The proof is in our changed behavior, which is like the flower from the seeds we plant when we begin. The fragrance of that changed behavior sometimes comes in beautiful and unexpected ways as we begin to connect more effectively and deeply with others. Just my 2 cents. Best wishes.

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Anne

I doubt that you are so “toxic” at all. If you’ve monitored and noted your own supposed toxicity, it’s very unlikely that you ARE.

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judy

I see that you haven’t received a response. Your post fits me to a T. I am going to be 70 in a couple of months. My grandson has nothing to do with me. I stay to myself. I am married but I seem to piss my husband off. He stays at one end of the house, me the other. I am usually out in the garden. I try to stay away from him. He and I do NOTHING together. I have no money to separate, and I do not have family. I was an orphan – foster home to foster home.

For better or worse, I have started therapy. As for my husband, he says it a crock of … He says therapists and counselors have problems at home THEY can’t fix, yet we PAY them to listen to us. I absolutely can see his point there.

I look back over my life. This is my second marriage. I irritated my first husband. My daughter, I want to add, the minute they meet me, I can see they want nothing to do with me. I am 40 lbs overweight, 70. I guess that is part of the reason? I don’t think I am horrible looking, if that has anything to do with it. NO BAD BREATH.

I don’t think I am a victim. I am in a LOT of pain with osteoarthritis now. I have many health issues, but this problem has been going on for years with me. I cannot figure out what I am doing wrong. When someone needs help, I am the first one there. I NEVER, EVER ask them to pay me or to help me. I don’t go to their house or bother them. Again, I stay to myself. I share and I give things away if someone needs something. I am lost on what to do. No personality magnet here. I wish I knew what to do.

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Orla

I think it’s amazing that you see there might be problems with your behaviour and are willing to adjust. Massive kudos for that 👏 👏👏👏. Find a good therapist and present the issue as it is. You have loads of time!
I think behaviour comes from an inability to express feelings or ask for what you need, among other things. This can be worked on 100%. Best of luck to you ❣️

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Debbie A

Almost all these points are describing a man I know, and unfortunately have to deal with. I have never met another person like him. Everything he says is negative. Even if it’s a somewhat good statement he manages to say it in a way that it is negative. I have found this to be very frustrating because I am constantly defending myself. He also talks to me, and other people, like we are not too bright. He actually finds fault with all humans in his orbit, from his family members, neighbours and even friends.

He has no memory of anything I ever did that was good, but remembers everything he thinks I did wrong. He mentions the same thing he thinks I did wrong over and over again. He implies that he probably woke me up every time he calls me, no matter what time of the day it is. I actually have my own business and also work for clients from home and he knows this. And yes, if something good happens to me he doesn’t acknowledge it with a positive comment, but with a negative outlook on this good thing going wrong. It’s never ending. He loves to rattle off bad news every day. He also resents people he doesn’t even know who have good luck, like lottery winners.

I do everything I can to spend as little time as possible with this person. Looking back I am really sensitive to negativity because my mother dished it out non stop throughout my childhood and until she died. I stopped seeing her or talking to her the last seven years of her life. After her death I spoke to a friend of hers who heard terrible things about me that were not true. My mother made me out to be a monster. This woman knew these were lies because she also got large doses of negativity and insults her way. My mother also didn’t acknowledge any successes I had, putting down everything I did and never telling me that she was proud of me. People like this really exist.

Luckily I ended up with a boss who was into being positive and gave me a different outlook. It’s amazing to me that I am in this horrible person’s orbit now, after spending most of my life being carful to be around positive people. Negative people are to be avoided at all costs. I never regretted that I stopped talking to my mother. It was always upsetting. Constant negativity will eventually make you sick. I actually started to believe that I was a horrible, stupid person and probably should do away with myself because of the constant negativity I received from my mother and then from the man she married. These people thrive on making the rest of us feel bad, starting arguments and treating us like crap while they feel nothing, because they think we are the problem.

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Aditya

Hi, I am a bit confused. I am not sure whether in my past relationship I was toxic or my partner was. I am completely stuck in the analysis, trying to figure out if I was toxic. For example once I crossed a boundary of my partner, unknowingly and with the intent of doing good, for which she started yelling at me while me I was at her home. I chose to leave the place even when her mother asked me to stay, as I was also filled with anger at that point in time. My partner later told me that I was playing victim, to which I said I had no choice because if I stayed, the conversation could have become dirty. I was told that I was being defensive and disrespecting her mother for not accepting her wishes. Can anyone help? If I am being toxic I need to recognise this and change myself.

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SheilaSnazzy

Great article! But unfortunately, toxic people who read this, are of course going to feel like all the people in their lives are doing one or more of these same things to them, because they live to turn that stuff around on the non toxic! It’s such an ugly cycle.

I’ve never been perfect but I’m very happy and respectful of others people who are nice and caring. I definitely get taken advantage of more often than not. Luckily I’ve been able to catch it before it goes too deep/far and get screwed in the end. It’s sad because it’s hardened the way I am and how I live. I learned more than anything else, to just not trust anyone. Period! You know how much that sucks!?

I’ve learned people don’t like it when you’re honest. In fact they really don’t enjoy it but they spin the tale that they’ll be honest, but they are NOT! It’s very hard right now because I don’t have any real friends who share the same respect as myself, so I hang out with toxic people simply because I’m so lonely. I am responsible for myself so I blame no one but me. It’s almost easier to be around scum so it’d be easier to walk away from them rather someone I care too much for. It’s a hard mean world every single day. I believe that people are just not interested or not honest or even nice or willing to try! I’m hanging in there tho because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to meet a really good person who cares and is honest and awesome! I’m looking forward to that day!!

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Jamie

Whenever I bring up something that bothers me or talk about how I feel, I’m met with hostility and anger. It usually ends in me being called insecure, controlling, negative, unhappy and being told that I ruined things for everyone and that I make everyone miserable. It seems that the only way I can make him happy is by not saying anything. Our relationship is very one-sided. I plan everything, I ask to do things, I check in to see if he needs anything, I cook and clean. What should I do?

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

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

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

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

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

Hold them close, reject their behaviour. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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