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.

2,520 Comments

Deepa

Even a person with whom I m in relationship is same like this.. Fits all these points but I love him so much b not able to leave n avoid. I feel he is avoiding.. I m confused don’t know what to do.. Help me

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Hey Sigmund

If the relationship feels bad, then it’s bad for you. There is no way to ‘fix’ someone or to make a toxic relationship a healthy one. It’s not that you can’t leave, it’s that you won’t. Relationships can be like an addiction – they activate the same brain networks so the thought of leaving someone, even if they are bad for you, can feel like withdrawal from an addiction. This can make it feel like love, but the truth is that love is nurturing and nourishing, not painful or diminishing. Leaving any relationship is difficult and painful, but so is staying in a bad one. The difference is that the pain of letting go of a bad one will eventually end.

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Katey

I think I might be toxic. Is it possible to have isolated toxicity? I have great relationships with friends and family, but I have been struggling with my spouse for years. My husband gives me everything I could want and I am not satisfied/content/happy. On paper, I should be. Does this mean I am toxic? I don’t want to be this way. What is it about my husband (and what is it about me) that brings out this dynamic?

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Hey Sigmund

Katey this sounds like more of a problem in your relationship, but as for what, this is something that only you can answer. You say he gives you everything, and he might do exactly this, but there is something in the relationship that you need that you’re not getting. There are plenty of people who, on paper look wonderful and are wonderful, but that doesn’t mean they are wonderful for us. It is about the combination of the both of you. If you could change anything about the relationship what would it be? What are you missing? This will be the key. Don’t get caught up with what you ‘should’ be feeling. If being a good person was enough for a relationship, we would be falling in love all over the place. It is about shared history, a shared view of the world, the connection, needs and wants that are compatible – these things aren’t necessarily automatic in a relationship, even if the person is an amazing one.

The other thing to try that can be really helpful is to each night write 3 things that you are grateful about in relation to your husband. Keep doing this and see what happens. Research has found that this can bring relationships closer together.

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Jessica

Ok, I love this article for one. It has really helped me asses what is going on in my current relationship. We will be talking about something and it could be happy and then he will say something like “you don’t want to fall in love with a guy like me, I’m bad, I’m a slut”. So my response is what do you mean you are bad? Have you cheated on me? Have you thought about it. Then he will say no and say that he knows I have. What! makes no sense as to how this conversation just happened when we were just expressing how into each other we both are. Talk about whip lash. Then making fun of me for having children or my area of residence yet it is a nice place (those are his words). And when I ask if he would like to go out or come over or even end the conversation with a good night I get back “maybe”….. Maybe…… What the heck is this maybe about? Leaves me very confused and yes I know I am an easy target and I am working on that, I know I need to stick up for myself and stop tolerating these types of behavior but it does take time. I see the signs but I don’t know how to get out. I want to know, why do these “toxic” people do these things? What are they looking to get out of it? If I am not enough then why do you try? If I have kids and you don’t want someone with kids then why didn’t you say so from the start? If you don’t like where I live because you are a spoiled brat who thinks everyone should and is expected to live the high life and I am not at that point in my life yet (but have been working on it, but these things take time) then why are you with me? If I do not meet a person’s standard(s), then what is it that this person wants from me? Why act like you care and then 2 seconds later turn around and not care? Or talking to other women out of the blue? What is the point of keeping someone insecure and then telling them you don’t like that they are insecure? Ummmm…. you make me that way! This is where it is so frustrating. I don’t understand why? And then there is the almighty question to follow…… I am aware of this but yet why is it so hard to walk away? I know the bad parts and I hate the way I feel yet I chose to stay. Why? I know I have a hard time losing people I care about, but when he makes me feel this way why do I even care? Thank you for reading, I look forward to your reply. I am not the greatest at writing or explaining things.

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Hey Sigmund

Jessica, your words make perfect sense. You have explained this person’s toxic behaviour really clearly. I know how confusing it is to be with someone like this if you are someone who has a kind, open, warm heart. The reason toxic people do this is to keep other people small and manageable. It all comes down to control. Toxic people know that when they chip away enough, they can reduce people to the point where they are a shadow of their previous selves. Their strength is less, their independence is less and they try even harder to make the relationship work. Be so careful with this relationship. The longer you stay with a toxic person, the more they will reduce you, the greater control they will have and the harder it is to stay. If it doesn’t feel like love, it’s not. If it feels bad more than it feels good, then it’s bad. You deserve someone who will love the beautiful, warm, open person you are, not someone who keeps making small-hearted remarks that confuse or hurt you.

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Lisa Philip

It is a terrible thing, but there seems to be many people like that today. How very, very sad. My lovely daughter is getting treated like this, and it breaks my heart, to think these are supposed to be her friends. Why do some people go out of their way to be like this, when it takes less effort to be kind and considerate???

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Hey Sigmund

It’s heartbreaking to see someone you love being hurt by people around them. Toxic people have an unfathomable need for control and a complete lack of empathy. It is not at all unusual for toxic people to choose people with big, open, generous hearts because they are ones who will work hardest for the relationship. It is your beautiful daughter’s growth to realise, as hard as it is, that some people are just cruel and no amount of flexing and effort will make them deserving of her. In the meantime, keep lifting her up to help replenish in her what their toxicity takes out. She will eventually realise that she deserves so much more than what they are capable of giving.

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PJ

Please I need help with figuring out how to fix a problem that I have caused with my mom. For a long time I have talked bad about my mom and I don’t know how to fix it. She wants me to stay away from her until I have a plan to make up for the gift I have caused her. Please help me!

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you are really trying to take responsibility for whatever you have done that has hurt your mom. That takes guts. Do you know what she needs from you? Perhaps a better way to think about this is what you done and how have you cost her? Then, you need to think about how you can restore that. If it is trust, let her know how you will be trustworthy. If you have hurt her, how will you start to put things right? If you have spoken badly about her, do you need to set the record straight with certain people? Acknowledge the things you have done that have hurt her and whatever you do, stay away from explaining why you have done them – it will likely just sound like an excuse. It is also important that you let her know what you appreciate about her.

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Jack

I’m going through a divorce. I’ve struggled to explain why I had to leave, I couldn’t put it into words, I just knew I had to get out.

With this article, it explains exactly why I was miserable and had to leave.

I was being manipulated for years and had no idea. I was (am?) in love with a toxic person. I would sacrifice everything; family, friends, my career, my happiness in order to please her, and it was never, ever enough.

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Hey Sigmund

With toxic people, you can give everything you have and it will never be enough. Their toxicity can be so subtly destructive that it can be difficult to put into words. It is a great measure of your strength and courage that you were able to recognise what was right for you, and act on it.

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J. Smith

I really needed this article to erasure that I am not insane or crazy. So thank you. But now how to approach the boyfriend (my toxic person) when we are 8 months pregnant (my first his 3rd) I have learned to just keep my mouth shut due to every thing is turned back on me for my past wrongs when we meet. This stress is causing pre labor. Not to mention his controlling ness. My heart is broken and I am so lost. This article was awesome but I still am so lost on how to approach him. It’s better to keep quit and let him be how he is. I can’t take it any more.

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Hey Sigmund

This is such a difficult situation. He has shown you clearly how he will respond to you. This isn’t likely to change if you try to approach him one more time. It is all about control and if he has a handle on any mistakes you have made (and we all make them – even him!) he will use them to control you. He has shown you that his love is stingy and self-serving. You are NOT insane! This is such typical behaviour of toxic people, so you are truly not alone, even though it might feel that way. There are so many people who would understand what you are going through and how stuck you feel. If he isn’t prepared to change, be wary of the damage that staying with him will do to you as a mother and to the little person who is about to come into this relationship. And know that if you have fought for the relationship all you can, and tried everything to make it better, it is always okay to leave. Love that little person when he or she arrives. You will be their everything, as I’m sure they will be yours.

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Kiersten Castellano

I am thankful to read this and know that what I was experiencing was very real and that I wasn’t going “outta my mind”crazy thinking it was me. I truly loved and trusted again…and married the very man who is now the one I am running from…the subtly of the behavior is clearly outlined in this article and my eyes are wide open now.

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Hey Sigmund

You sound really clear and certainly not crazy! I’m pleased your eyes are open and I hope you are able to keep moving forward with the courage and strength that is so obviously in you.

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Kiersten Castellano

You are a true blessing and touch many peoples lives with your wisdom and discernment… God Bless you….

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Mary

Sounds like everyone in the world has some “toxic” traits. If we would teach the “golden rule” instead of always “looking out for # one”, the world would be a much more peaceful, safer one.

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Jaya

I loved this article. I had no idea everyone had one such toxic character…it has been so downright humiliating and painful to deal with this person and until I read this article it really seemed like my fault and that I was not good enough. I have no idea why I even crave for approval from this one person when hundred others who give it to me without asking…There is something we do to help this toxic people grow at our cost.

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Hey Sigmund

Toxic people often work by making you chase their approval. They have an awful way of turning things around to make it seem as though you are the one compromising the relationship, so you keep bending and flexing to try to put things right. If nothing you do works with them, and if your other relationships are healthy, then the problem lies with them, not you. You will likely never get this person’s approval because it’s by withholding approval that he or she gets to control the relationship. Toxic people can only grow when they decide they are ready. In the meantime, they will keep you thinking that there is something you can do to help them, but the truth is, there’s isn’t.

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CatHedder

great article. My daughter-in-law has all these characteristics. She twists everything I do with my grandson into something negative and takes away enjoyment when I spend time with him. This affects my relationship with my son as well, as he is forced into “keeping peace”. Compounding this is that her mother acts the same way she does towards me.

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Hey Sigmund

This is such a tough situation. Your son is in a really difficult position because as you say, he does have to ‘keep the peace’. However much he loves you and wants to support you, it’s likely that home could get miserable very fast if he doesn’t support his wife. It must be really difficult for him. Try to keep in mind why he’s doing what he does – it likely has nothing to do how much he loves you as his mother and everything to do with preserving the peace at home and his relationship with his wife. I’m sure he wishes it could be different. You sound like a wonderful grandmother and a wonderful mother – that’s the truth of it. Stay strong to that and try not to let your daughter-in-law contaminate the important relationships you have with your son and your grandson. She will try – it sounds as though she has learned well. Every time you compromise or stay silent in relation to your daughter-in-law, feel empowered, strong in the knowledge that you are not doing it for her, but for your son and your grandson.

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Bobs your uncle

Actually these kind of people are diagnosised as “anti-social personality” or the less politically correct term is “Psychopath.” It is a much more common state than most people think. There really isn’t much you can do with them as they have no empathy for the world around them. Best is to keep you distance.

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lily

excellent article. I searched for it to confirm my thoughts, and indeed, my sister fits in all the criteria. I am sad and quite devastated as I confirm it. I would have walked away from her completely but that would have meant not seeing my nephews ever grow up while denying them the only aunt they have. So there is no way out I guess. Toxic people in the family is a different issue than toxic people elsewhere in life. She won’t listen to any attempt of any kind to defend myself from her aggressivity, let alone to make her change her ways. It is devastating and our parents and her children suffer as well. She has become a tyrant, a dragon. If any of you have any advice I’ll be thankful.

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Hey Sigmund

Lily you are so right. Toxic family relationships are so different to any other because they are so difficult to walk away from. In your case, it’s completely understandable why you can’t walk away if it means losing your nephews as well. The main thing is to remember why you are continuing in the relationship with her – for your nephews. You can’t change her, but you can reduce your expectations of the relationship to being one that sustains your relationship with your nephews. It is also important to let go of the hope that it might be different. To hang on to the fantasy that she will change will set you up for more hurt every time, but it sounds as though you already know that. Healthy relationships always have to move in both directions – them to you and you to them. When one person isn’t capable of kindness, love or grace in the relationship there will always be a fracturing. Here are some articles that might help you
>> Relationships: When Family (or Any Relationship) Hurts https://www.heysigmund.com/relationships-when-family-hurts/
>> Toxic People – 16 Practical, Powerful Ways to Deal With Them https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-16-practical-powerful-ways-to-deal-with-them/
I hope this helps. Your nephews are lucky to have you.

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Sheila

I have recently been through the death of my mother and since then our family has seen great strife. I know I have alienated myself since her death and I am only talking to one sibling out of the three I have. My mother showed great favoritism to my youngest sister and my brother. She always tried to turn us against one another. I have a daughter that has become close to one of my siblings and she did not attend my mother’s funeral, yet that sibling is in charge of family pictures that I would like to have copies of. My daughter that is close with her refuses to speak with me because I said ugly things to her and exposed her hateful email about my sister in law to said sister in law. I am so tired of this family strife. It has went on forever. I want to apologize for any transgressions that I might have made. Do I do this to the whole family or separately to the siblings and my daughter that has estranged herself from me?

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though your family has been through a tough time, with relationships splintering all over the place. If you are looking to apologise for your part in that, it will be felt as being more sincere and genuine if it is to individuals separately, one at a time. I expect that every relationship will have different dynamics and issues that have stood in the way and the best way to apologise is always to acknowledge those issues. Whether or not your apology is received with grace and generosity will depend on a number of things, including the people you are apologising to, the history and the depth of the division. Remember that you can only to what you can do, and then it will be up to the other person. Apologising for your part is a strong, brave place to start and I hope your siblings and your daughter are able to see your generosity of spirit and your deep wish to heal the broken relationships.

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Hey Sigmund

Maryellen there is print function that will let you print out a copy of the article without the comments. On a laptop you’ll see the share buttons at the right hand side – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc. The green one at the bottom is to print the article. On an iPad or a phone, down the bottom you’ll see ‘Share This’ on a grey bar. If you press that the share functions will come up and the green one at the bottom is the printer one. Hope that helps.

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John

Recently, I made a mistake and my friend was deeply affected. It’s been two weeks since then. I’ve kept explaining myself and saying how I was wrong and how I am sorry for that mistake that I have done. I don’t know how she’s taking this but for me, everyday is painful knowing that I did something wrong to lose her. I don’t know what to do to get her back. I know my statements might sound biased to me since I really don’t know how she’s taking this and how she’s feeling since we haven’t really talked about it seriously but should I just move on with my life without her even though I want to get her back? Is she someone toxic and not worthy to look back upon?

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Hey Sigmund

John I can hear how sincere and confused you are about this. We all make mistakes and you sound deeply sorry for yours. I can hear how much feeling disconnected from your friend is hurting her. None of this means that she is toxic. She sounds as though she is feeling really hurt and confused, and is taking some time to figure things out and understand what has happened in a way that makes sense for her. Give her some time and keep reinforcing how sorry you are and how much you care about her. Depending on the circumstances around the mistake, she may need reassurance that it won’t happen again. Are you able to give her that? What will be different in future to make sure it doesn’t happen again? If she has been as hurt as she has been, she is likely to have a protective wall up. It will take time to work through this and lots of comfort and reassurance of how things will be different in the future. She may need time to trust you again, which is really normal and doesn’t mean the end of a relationship. It’s a bump in the road and hopefully give your generous intent and the regret you have around it, in time you will be able to give her the comfort she needs to see that you care deeply about her and would not risk losing her again.

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Sido

Thanks dear reading I feel good there are r many wicked people on this earth show off they’ are best great ect as they r sick in there minds. Few people who have hurt me. Now that I am old I hve one in my family who does it I leave to my GOD . Thanks

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Skye

Thank you for all the advice, but there is still one thing – that “toxic” person I’m facing is my father. Always telling me what should I do and whatnot even though I know deep inside me that he wants what’s best. Unfortunately, he fits into most of the criteria above and I don’t want to shut him out. Please, what should I do? Almost everytime I want to do the things I love he stops me, saying that I should do it another way or ripping any confidence I have in shreds. And now, all I can do is sob like a pathetic little girl with no clue what to do to go on. Can you help?

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Hey Sigmund

Skye I really understand how hard it is when the toxic person is a parent or someone who feels difficult to walk away from. See if there is something in this article that will be helpful for you https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-parent/ . There is NOTHING pathetic about you! This is something that happens to so many people who have toxic parents. You are not alone. There are so many people who would understand exactly what you are going through because they are going through it too. The strength it takes to be able to live with this toxic behaviour is immense. I want you to know how much you matter – your thoughts, your opinions, your choices and the way you want to live your life. They all matter. When you grow up with a toxic person, it becomes so easy to doubt yourself, but I hope the information here is able to give you another way of thinking about things – that what your father does is his dysfunction, not yours. I hope you are able to get some comfort and strength from the article. Be courageous and kind to yourself. You’re so important.

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M. Diaz

I’m thinking my daughter is the toxic one, many of your 12 items describe her to a T, she can never seem to develop and keep a friendship… I have several friends and even if we don’t see or speak to each other for months, when we do finally get together we pick right where we left off. My daughter has cut off her entire family, mother, father, sister is dead to her… We use to be such great friends to each other. I see one denominator here her….How do I fix this?!

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Hey Sigmund

One of the hardest things about loving a toxic person is that there is nothing you can do to change them. They can change, but it has to come from them – when they are ready, and when they are committed to doing something differently. People generally change when they feel enough pain, or when the benefits of being the way they are cost too much to them. Let her know that you love her, that you miss her, and that when she is ready to reconnect with you, you will be there. Make it easy for her to come back to you. Still have your boundaries around what you will accept and what you won’t, but let her know that you will be there when she is ready. In the meantime, be patient. This is her growth to do and her lessons to learn. I know that can be painful to watch when it’s your daughter, but hopefully in time she will remember what you had and will seek that out again.

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Heather

Great article! I wonder if the people who have suffered the most from such unkind people would be polled, how many of them were youngest in the family and or abused in some way growing up. I think that people who are cruel seem to for some reason be attracted to tender, gentle and emotionally wounded people. It seems like the old adage “opposites attract” is true, but the toxic person has the ultimate goal of dominating the gentle/sensitive & kind hearted person. I know for years I have seemed in the past to attract such cruel people who go out of their way to devastate your life. I always wondered how they can wake up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror when they have so cruelly treated another person.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes Heather – you’re spot on. Toxic people are often drawn to open, warm, giving people. By doing this, toxic people get what they need and leave too many beautiful people broken. Their behaviour is so baffling and impossible to understand to non-toxic people, because they do with such ease the things we would never dream of. This is why it’s so important to be aware of them and what they do because they will often not show themselves until it’s too late. If only they came with a warning!

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Jenni

Thank you for this. I have always thought there was something wrong with ME that (as my father said) “I always seemed to want to bring home the waifs and strays”… To realise that perhaps they were choosing ME as the easy target because I actually had some desirable character traits rather than because I’m a total loser, makes me feel just a little better about some of my past mistakes. 😀

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Hey Sigmund

Jenni – You are NOT a loser! Toxic people will always be drawn to people who have open, warm hearts and generous spirits – wonderful people who shine light on the world. You don’t want to be different to that. If toxic people are being drawn to you and hurting you, you don’t need to change who you are but you might want to tighten your boundary, but that will always be your decision to make. Having a firm boundary isn’t about being any less open or kind or loving to others, but about being more of those things to yourself. A boundary is about being clear about what you will tolerate and what you won’t, and withdrawing yourself from a relationship with love and strength when the other person shows a willingness to hurt you. Feel better about your past mistakes – they would have taught a lot. There is wisdom that comes from experience that can not be found anywhere else.

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Gayle

Wow this has helped me tremendously thank you I have been experiencing this my whole life and have always felt like I wasn’t good enough or could never be good enough.

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Alice

Hi
I am not sure if this thread is still live, but if so I would welcome your advice.
I have been married for 2.5 years. Everyone told me not to marry him, but I absolutely feel head over heels in love and think I became obsessed with him. I had been married before, for 12 years, and it was a completely loveless marriage. I had a terrible mental breakdown as a result of my first marriage and during my legal separation from my first husband, this new man came into my life and wooed me and we were married 9 months later. When I met my current husband, who was charming and fun to be with, I fell hook line and sinker. The excitement of being in love and of feeling loved made my panic attacks and depression subside. In the early days while we were dating, he was amazing to me. He told me how much he loved me all the time, bought me flowers and made me feel like a princess. I paid off some of his debts and gave him a nice lifestyle – he came from nothing. This was not a problem to me as I am a giving person and loved seeing him so happy. However, we then started a business which sent pop and since then our marriage has been extremely stressful – we’ve had financial problems and ongoing problems with my family’s rejection of him. However I have kept going – despite him often being angry and secretive. Then, four weeks ago, he sent me a text blaming me for things I hadn’t done and said he was leaving. He gave me no opportunity for 4 days to speak to him and I nearly went out of my mind. He then answered the phone and told me he had needed space to clear his head. He has left me with all the bills and whilst I know which county he’s in, I’m not allowed to know his exact address. He met up with me two weeks ago, after I begged. It was a lovely weekend. But he made it clear he still needed time on his own. He called me Friday saying he wanted to take me away soon and had a surprise planned and that he wanted to see me this weekend. Then, yesterday, a few hours before we were to meet, he sent a horrid text blaming me again for things I haven’t done which he has misunderstood. I called and texted frantically, begging him to speak to me so I could explain myself. He just texted back saying he wouldn’t meet me. I’ve been in bits all weekend. Crying, unable to eat and having horrendous panic attacks. He is completely ignoring me now. I am in bits and don’t know what to do. I am living hour by hour. I would love your advice.

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Hey Sigmund

Alice, this is an awful thing for you to be going through. In any relationship, both people need to be accountable to each other with their whereabouts and what they are doing (unless there is domestic violence involved of course). For one person to trust another, each needs to act in a trustworthy way. This isn’t happening for you, which is a betrayal of you and your relationship. ‘Needing space’ is absolutely no reason to disappear and go offline. It’s excruciating for the one left behind and anyone who has been in your situation would know how frightening and confusing it is not to know where the person you love is, whether they are safe and what it all means for your relationship. It’s a cruel thing to do. It’s okay to take space the relationship, but this needs to be done on terms that are acceptable to both. Your husband is controlling the relationship and showing no thought or concern for you. There are so many things that could be going on for him, so it’s impossible to say what is motivating his behaviour. It may be that he is at his wit’s end and desperate to figure things out, but there are other ways to do that than disappearing for days on end. As well as that, he has blamed you for what he is doing without giving you a right of response.

First of all, you need to deal with the practical things. If he has left you with bills, and if there is a chance he will be ending the relationship and not coming back, you need to secure your finances. Make sure that the money in any joint accounts or lines of credit are secure so he isn’t able to drain them and leave you with nothing. This is important.

Next, stop trying to contact him. He knows where you are and how to contact you and every time you try, it is hurting you more. Take back your ground and your strength and decide that he is not going to determine how this relationship plays out. Leave a message that you love him and that at the moment you are prepared to listen, but that you are going to start protecting yourself. Let him know that he is damaging the fibre of your relationship and hurting you and that you aren’t going to keep leaving yourself open to this. When he is ready to sit down with you and talk, let him know you are open to this, but in the meantime, make the decision that you want more from him than he is giving you.

He also needs to provide you an explanation of what he has been doing and where he has been staying. He needs to understand that this isn’t a free pass to do whatever he wants. If he isn’t prepared to do this, and if he is prepared to keep hurting you like this, what is in this relationship for you? One of the most hurtful things you can do is to keep hanging on to something that is trying to let go of you. You deserve better than this. I know at the moment you are heartbroken, of course you are, but you are strong and brave and wonderful and you deserve to feel loved. Whatever is going on for your husband, nothing can excuse or explain the hurt he is inflicting on you. Be open to him coming and talking to you and wanting to resurrect things if you want to, but let that be on your terms, starting with a time limit and an explanation of what is happening and that he stops playing this game – and it is a game – of hide and seek. It’s cruel and disrespectful and you deserve so much more than that. I wish you all the very best. Love and strength to you. You will get through this.

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Manuel

You sound like an amazing person who does not deserve to be treated like a teenager.
He is playing games and taking advantage of your emotions. Please don’t give up on love/life but do move on with the support of family and or a professional. Best wishes.

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Buddy

Forgive and forget
He is a toxic man. If it wasn’t you it would be someone else. Move on and cut your losses. Life is too short to be sorrow.There are plenty of fish in the sea.

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Monica

It’s easier said than done but is very good advice he just keeps me hanging on and keep me hanging on a thread and I hope that he’ll come see me and tell me explain where he’s been and what he’s been doing and why he left but he never does what he says it’s been a year now and he still lies and says he’s coming and going to meet me somewhere and every time he never does it’s time I move on and forget what was or what I thought was was He wasn’t what I thought he was and it’s time I did that to myself to God into my into my heart thank you for your advise

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Tobbe

For the love and God, please leave him. He sounds toxic af. He wants you to chase after him. Just leave him. You will thank me later.

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Jenni M

Narcissist!! Secure your finances, get an attorney and go no contact. Save yourself. Love bombing feels great and then they turn into themselves. That man you met is not your husband. Good luck! Maybe you can get it annulled??

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Martha

Alice, you need to get into some counseling and find yourself. You need to know how to read the signs of a person who is not right for you. AND, you need to love yourself enough to realize that falling head over heels in love does not always make for a good relationship.

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Layni

I don’t know much about being in a relationship with someone else, but I do know that if someone is blaming you for things you didn’t do, they are not the right person for you. Especially, if they blame you repeatedly, even though you told them you didn’t do it.

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Fatima

My cousin brother always hurt me ,I never had a brother and that’s why I love him most as a sister,I always want a brother .He is 16 years old but act like with me that he is older than me btw I am 20 yrs old.He always mock ,I know that’s what other siblings do but I still get hurt because he used my insecurities in every topic.I tried to ignore sometimes but it looks like this is not a way for escaping.Whenever I tried to talk him ,he sound rude at everytime.
He talk to me in two ways
1.He make fun of me , always drag my parents in every conversation ,use my insecurities and try to drag those topics which I dislike.
2.He will stay silent and if I try to talk him then he will reply back angrly.
In both condition i founded him as a rude person
But I am also the person who forgive him easily whatever he do because I love him .
But sometimes he crossed all limits.
I don’t know how to deal with this because now I can’t endure rudeness anymore

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Mike

I’m a 59 year old man and have been thinking king it’s me going crazy after 6 years of my wife doing all of these things to me regularly. I’ve just found this, and it’s finally opened my eyes.
We are both married for the second time, and our relationship was perfect and awesome for the first 6 years, and then in the space of a month she changed and became toxic. People at the time suggested the menopause, but for 6 long years? Really? I told my doctor about her but she needs to voluntarily admit to the problem first.
And 18 months ago her elderly mother moved in with us, which is totally fine with me. She treats her mother the same as she treats me!!! Toxic!! She has her mother in tears very often.
I’m sure my marriage needs to end.

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Barb

I’m in a toxic relationship myself. I met him after being in a physical and mental abusive relationship. At first I thought finally a normal relationship, but it didnt take long to see the red flags that I chose to ignore because I wanted to be loved so badly! I over looked his outburst of anger and awful names he called me because at first he would apologize. now he rarely apologizes, he says my actions cause him to react like that. He calls me a manipulator and mindfuck and truth be told everything he says I’m doing is what he does. He tells me I’m crazy, that no man would of been with me this long, calls me disgusting names , doesn’t let me speak he screams at me his vile words hangs up the phone and then randomly sends me texts that he is done unless I change and wake the fuck up! Now I must tell u I been in therapy before I met this man and I talk to my therapist about my role in this relationship . I try to see my flaws and always want to become a better person but nothing I do or change is ever good enough for this man. He disappears at night for hrs not responding to texts because now it’s our only form of communication because it’s the only way I can talk without him cutting me off. I clearly know this is toxic , full of gaslighting and mental abuse. I have lacked self esteem and confidence because of abuse . I’m just trying to work through this and regain who I am and be strong enough and love myself enough to walk away for good and never look back again . Anyone with advice or good self help books I would be so grateful on suggestions.

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JBinSoCal

Barb, you stated that you are in therapy. What does your therapist say?
I’m not a therapist but I’m sure that you have very low self esteem, are likely depressed and that the likelihood is that the root of your behavior has something to do with your childhood.
You don’t deserve to be treated like this. If you’re financially able, get out before he grinds you into the dirt any more. Don’t give him that satisfaction, he isn’t worthy of satisfaction or of you!
You seem to be a kind, loving woman who needs more therapy (possibly a new therapist) to learn how to seek out, focus on, satisfy and love yourself before you seek out a great mate. 🤗💪

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Mike

Barb, if you’re out there I feel your pain. I’m a man and have very similar problems with my wife. For 6 years I’ve thought it was me going mad until I discovered this thread. And I’ve had therapy too, when my first marriage ended 24 years ago. That therapy back then taught me how to deal with stuff ever since.
However, it doesn’t help very much when I know that there’s nothing left for me to do to try and fix this current mess.
I need to walk away, or she does. The idea of me walking away from the farm that I bought with my inheritance from my mum, and spent years and thousands fixing up is killing me though.
And she’s so nice to other people that nobody would ever believe me. I have nobody to share my pain with.

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Manda

Barb,
You just described my own relationship that I’ve had for the past 7 years!!! Pretty much word for word when I describe the issues in my relationship!! Kind of scary but he does everything your partner does and did. I’m stuck in this! It’s the end of our relationship and I’m working on getting out, moving out but then also expecting. Just a shit show basically!! I recently started looking into counseling as well and someone to talk to.

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Agnus m

Hi Alice. With everything going on in your life it is a little wonder you had the time to pen this letter. This says a lot about your ability to rise up out of the ashes and to find a way through the corridor of emotional stress you find yourself in.

He is the last of your problems and there is nothing you can do for him that he can’t do for himself. He is not your problem and neither are his issues. But, there is a lot you can do for you to help move yourself forward. So let’s focus on you and forget about him. He sounds like a lost cause so we will leave him where he belongs – somewhere inside your past.

Putting your emotional health needs first is a priority. First of all, you haven’t done anything wrong, and falling head over heals in love with someone is very normal. When you have loved so deeply the way you have, then yes, it hurts when that love is not reciprocated. Emotional attachment runs deep and you need time and space to start figuring out how you will manage your emotions and the relationship you once had with him.

Loneliness is the same for everyone and the feeling can create havoc with your emotions which makes the pain more unbearable. Sometimes it will consume your thoughts and your feelings. What you’re going through right now isn’t about money or other issues you both experienced together, so you need to find a way to kick these little monsters to the curb by reminding yourself that you are special, you have meaning and integrity, that you matter, that your life has value and meaning and you ‘can do’ anything you want to. I am with you and you are not alone in this. I will walk beside you to encourage and inspire how worthy you are going forward. ‘You’ve got this.’

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Sarah

Agnus, what a beautiful answer.. you sound like a lovely person and the world is a better place with people like you in it.

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Dee

Please, please please Google ‘narcissist’. Do not respond. Call a lawyer. Protect you assets NOW! He has obviously been grooming the side chick and will drain every penny from you including whatever is in your house. He’s going to get half of everything and talk about how hard he worked dragging YOU out of the mud.

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LW

Thank you for this – just this morning I had an encounter with my mother, who is a toxic person. We live 15 miles apart, which I know isn’t much, but she expects me to constantly drop my life and drive back and forth to her to sort out things for her I don’t need to be involved in. When I tell her no (which happened this morning) she guilts me and makes me feel like a bad person.

It’s just tough because I love her very, very much and I hate when this happens. I very much just want to make her happy and be a good daughter. And she knows how to make me feel bad or what to say to get me to do what she wants. I wish we had a better relationship. I hate feeling like i’m the bad person even though I know i’m not.

I could definitely identify with this article and will remember it for the next time this happens with her. I’ll try to be stronger. So, thank you for this.

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Hey Sigmund

It’s so difficult when the person who is hurting you is a parent. Know that you are NOT a bad person. You sound like someone who is loving and kind and with a generous heart. I wish she could see how fortunate she was to have you as her daughter. The way your mother treats you is about who she is, not about who you are. Keep the article close to you as a reminder. Who you are is more than enough – so much more than enough – and you don’t have to be anything else.

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Tracy M.

I have a very toxic mother that I believe has a personality or mental disorder of some kind. She’s very tiring and hard to be around, my anxiety soars when I am and for days after I have to try and calm down. Then when not hearing from me for a couple days because of it, I get the “Are you ok? Did I make you mad? What did I do?” email. I believe she knows what she’s done and loves doing it but of course, if confronted, will play the victim. I’ve dealt with her all my life. I don’t think I can anymore, she has worn me out mentally. She has made me into a person that has low self esteem and confidence and I hate her for it. But of course she does no wrong. It would be all my fault. She’s perfect.

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Hey Sigmund

Tracy, this is really typical toxic behaviour. It’s so difficult when it is from a mother who is meant to love you. It’s also difficult because when it is from someone you should be able to trust, it’s easy to be drawn into believing the behaviour, and that you deserve to feel the way you do. You don’t deserve this. You deserve so much more than this and I completely understand why you are exhausted. See her behaviour for what it is – a sign of her dysfunction, NOT yours. I hope you are able to open up to this and find a way to reclaim your self esteem and confidence and see yourself for the woman you are, deserving of love and respect. You deserve that, you really do.

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Bonnie

Thank you so much for this article! It has been so enlightening. I’ve realized things about myself and others and can’t thank you enough for it!

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JS

What do you do if you love a toxic person? I’m a (former) people pleasure and the second I got a life of my own, starting living my dream my toxic friend went off on me and brought up yeaaaars of complaints about me. I did everything for her, was always there for her minus the past 6 months where I was there for her still, I just had healthier boundaries. Your article makes me feel more sane I’m clear the relationship is/was unhealthy. When I think of her I feel sick to my stomach but I still miss her and love her dearly. What to do? Also. I am so afraid of running into her and her husband and them inviting me to dinner like nothing happened. Now that I’m on the other side of the abuse I don’t want to get involved. How can be decline without causing a scene but not lying. And saying ” sure!” And never making a date. I desperately need insight the ants I feel around this is affecting every aspect of my life.

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Hey Sigmund

You might love a toxic person, but that doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Also, if the relationship has been this hurtful for you, are you in love with the person, or the idea of loving her? Remind yourself of the things in the relationship that were bad for you and let go. If she is married to someone else and she has had the effect on you that she has had, there is nothing good for you there. If you don’t want to get involved, then don’t. Calmly and politely decline. You don’t have to step up to everything you’re called to. ‘Thanks, that’s really nice of of you but I think it’s best if we leave things as they are.’ If your ‘no’ is met with a scene, walk away or hang up the phone. It is part of the manipulation and the attempt to control you. Just walk away. There is nothing for you there. I understand that you love her, but you have to love yourself more and that means deciding not to expose yourself something you know will hurt you. Be strong and be kind to yourself.

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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

Reply

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Separation anxiety can come with a tail whip - not only does it swipe at kids, but it will so often feel brutal for their important adults too.

If your child struggle to separate at school, or if bedtimes tougher than you’d like them to be, or if ‘goodbye’ often come with tears or pleas to stay, or the ‘fun’ from activities or play dates get lost in the anxiety of being away from you, I hear you.

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The more we treat anxiety as a problem, or as something to be avoided, the more we inadvertently turn them away from the safe, growthful, brave things that drive it. 

On the other hand, when we make space for anxiety, let it in, welcome it, be with it, the more we make way for them to recognise that anxiety isn’t something they need to avoid. They can feel anxious and do brave. 

As long as they are safe, let them know this. Let them see you believing them that this feels big, and believing in them, that they can handle the big. 

‘Yes this feels scary. Of course it does - you’re doing something important/ new/ hard. I know you can do this. How can I help you feel brave?’♥️
I’ve loved working with @sccrcentre over the last 10 years. They do profoundly important work with families - keeping connections, reducing clinflict, building relationships - and they do it so incredibly well. @sccrcentre thank you for everything you do, and for letting me be a part of it. I love what you do and what you stand for. Your work over the last decade has been life-changing for so many. I know the next decade will be even more so.♥️

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Posted @withregram • @sccrcentre Over the next fortnight, as we prepare to mark our 10th anniversary (28 March), we want to re-share the great partners we’ve worked with over the past decade. We start today with Karen Young of Hey Sigmund.

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Karen also blogged about our work for the Hey Sigmund website in 2018. ‘How to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Children and Teens by Understanding Their Unique Brain Chemistry (by SCCR)’, which is still available to read - see link in bio.

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I often go into schools to talk to kids and teens about anxiety and big feelings. 

I always ask, ‘Who’s tried breathing through big feels and thinks it’s a load of rubbish?’ Most of them put their hand up. I put my hand up too, ‘Me too,’ I tell them, ‘I used to think the same as you. But now I know why it didn’t work, and what I needed to do to give me this powerful tool (and it’s so powerful!) that can calm anxiety, anger - all big feelings.’

The thing is though, all powertools need a little instruction and practice to use them well. Breathing is no different. Even though we’ve been breathing since we were born, we haven’t been strong breathing through big feelings. 

When the ‘feeling brain’ is upset, it drives short shallow breathing. This is instinctive. In the same ways we have to teach our bodies how to walk, ride a bike, talk, we also have to teach our brains how to breathe during big feelings. We do this by practising slow, strong breathing when we’re calm. 

We also have to make the ‘why’ clear. I talk about the ‘why’ for strong breathing in Hey Warrior, Dear You Love From Your Brain, and Ups and Downs. Our kids are hungry for the science, and they deserve the information that will make this all make sense. Breathing is like a lullaby for the amygdala - but only when it’s practised lots during calm.♥️
When it’s time to do brave, we can’t always be beside them, and we don’t need to be. What we can do is see them and help them feel us holding on, even in absence, while we also believe in their brave.♥️

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