When It’s Not You, It’s Them: The Toxic People That Ruin Friendships, Families, Relationships

When It's Not You, It's Them: The Toxic People That Ruin Friendships, Families, Relationships

One of the joys of being human is that we don’t have to be perfect to be one of the good ones. At some point we’ll all make stupid decisions, hurt the people we love, say things that are hard to take back, and push too hard to get our way. None of that makes us toxic. It makes us human. We mess things up, we grow and we learn. Toxic people are different. They never learn. They never self-reflect and they don’t care who they hurt along the way. 

Toxic behaviour is a habitual way of responding to the world and the people in it. Toxic people are smart but they have the emotional intelligence of a pen lid. It’s no accident that they choose those who are open-hearted, generous and willing to work hard for a relationship. With two non-toxic people this is the foundation for something wonderful, but when toxic behaviour is involved it’s only a matter of time before that open heart becomes a broken one.

If you’re in any sort of relationship with someone who is toxic, chances are you’ve been bending and flexing for a while to try to make it work. Stop. Just stop. You can only change the things that are open to your influence and toxic people will never be one of them. Here are some of the ones to watch out for.

15 Versions of Toxic People

  1. The Controller.

    Nobody should have to ask for permission or be heavily directed on what to wear, how to look, who to spend time with or how to spend their money. There’s nothing wrong with being open to the influence of the people around you, but ‘the way you do you’ is for you to decide. Your mind is strong and beautiful and shouldn’t be caged. Healthy relationships support independent thought. They don’t crush it.

  2. The Taker.

    All relationships are about give and take but if you’re with a taker, you’ll be doing all the giving and they’ll be doing all the taking. Think about what you get from the relationship. If it’s nothing, it might be time to question why you’re there. We all have a limited amount of resources (emotional energy, time) to share between our relationships. Every time you say ‘yes’ to someone who doesn’t deserve you, you’re saying ‘no’ to someone who does. Give your energy to the people who deserve it and when you’re drawing up the list of deserving ones, make sure your own name is at the top.

  3. The Absent.

    These versions of toxic people won’t return texts or phone calls and will only be available when it suits them, usually when they want something. You might find yourself wondering whether they got your message, whether they’re okay, or whether you’ve done something to upset them. No relationship should involve this much guess-work.

  4. The Manipulator.

    Manipulators will steal your joy as though you made it especially for them. They’ll tell half-truths or straight out lies and when they have enough people squabbling, they’ll be the saviour. ‘Don’t worry. I’m here for you.’ Ugh. They’ll listen, they’ll comfort, and they’ll tell you what you want to hear. And then they’ll ruin you. They’ll change the facts of a situation, take things out of context and use your words against you. They’ll calmly poke you until you crack, then they’ll poke you for cracking. They’ll ‘accidentally’ spill secrets or they’ll hint that there are secrets there to spill, whether there are or not. There’s just no reasoning with a manipulator, so forget trying to explain yourself. The argument will run in circles and there will be no resolution. It’s a black hole. Don’t get sucked in.

    You:   I feel like you’re not listening to me.
      Are you calling me a bad listener
      No, I’m just saying that you’ve taken what I said the wrong way.
      Oh. So now you’re saying I’m stupid. I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. Everyone told me to be careful of you.

    They’ll only hear things through their negative filter, so the more you talk, the more they’ll twist what you’re saying. They want power, not a relationship. They’ll use your weaknesses against you and they’ll use your strengths – your kindness, your openness, your need for stability in the relationship. If they’re showing tenderness, be careful – there’s something you have that they want. Show them the door, and lock it when they leave.

  5. The Bullshitter.

    They talk themselves up, they talk others down and they always have a reason for not doing what they say. They’ll lie outright or they’ll give you versions of the truth – not a lie, not the truth, just that feeling in your gut that something is off. You can’t believe a word they say. There’s no honesty, which means there’s no intimacy. At worst bullshitters are heartbreakers. At best they’re raving bores.

  6. The Attention Seeker.

    It’s nice to be needed. It’s also nice to eat peanut butter, but it doesn’t mean you want it all the time. The attention seeker always has a crisis going on and they always need your support. Be ready for the aggression, passive aggression, angst or a guilt trip if you don’t respond. ‘Oh. You’re going to dinner with  friends? It’s just that I’ve had the worst day and I really needed you tonight. Oh well, I suppose I can’t always expect you to be there for me. If it’s that important to you then you should go. I just want you to be happy. I’ll just stay in by myself and watch tv or something (sigh). You go and have fun with your friends. I suppose I’ll be okay.’ See how that works? When there’s always a crisis, it’s only a matter of time before you’re at the centre of one. 

  7. The One Who Wants to Change You.

    It’s one thing to let you know that the adorable snort thing you do when you laugh isn’t so adorable, but when you’re constantly reminded that you aren’t smart enough, good-looking enough, skinny enough, strong enough, you have to start thinking that the only thing that isn’t good enough about you is this loser who keeps pointing these things out. You’ll never be good enough for these people because it’s not about you, it’s about control and insecurity – theirs, not yours. As long as they’re working on changing you, they don’t have to worry about themselves, and as long as they can keep you small, they’ll have a shot at shining brighter.

    These people will make you doubt yourself by slowly convincing you that they know best, and that they’re doing it all for you. ‘You’d just be so much prettier if you lost a few pounds, you know? I’m just being honest.’ Ugh. Unless you’re having to be craned through your window, or you’re seriously unhealthy, it’s nobody else’s business how luscious your curves are. If you feel heavy, start by losing the 160 pounds of idiot beside you and you won’t believe how much lighter you’ll feel. These ones aren’t looking out for you, they’re trying to manage you. The people who deserve you will love you because of who you are, not despite it.

  8. The One You Want to Change.

    People aren’t channels, hairstyles or undies. You can’t change them. Someone who snarls at the waiter will always be the kind of person who snarls at the waiter – whether they’re snarling or not. People can change, but only when they’re ready and usually only when they’ve felt enough pain.  It’s normal to fight for the things that are important, but it’s important to know when to stop. When a relationship hurts to be in, the only thing that will change will be you – a sadder, more unhappier version of the person you started out as. Before it gets to this, set a time limit in which you want to see change. Take photos of yourself every day – you’ll see it in your eyes if something isn’t right, or check in at the end of each week and write down how you feel. Have something concrete to look back on. It’s easier to let go if it’s clear over time that nothing has changed. It’s even easier if you can see that the only thing different is that the lights have gone out in you.

  9. The Abuser.

    The signs might be subtle at first but they’ll be there. Soon, there will be a clear cycle of abuse, but you may or may not recognise it for what it is but this is how it will look:

    >>  There will be rising tension. You’ll feel it. You’ll tread carefully and you’ll be scared of saying or doing the wrong thing.

    >>   Eventually, there will be an explosion. A fight. There will be physical or emotional abuse and it will be terrifying. At first you’ll make excuses – ‘I shouldn’t have said that/ did that/ gone out/ had an opinion/ said no.

    >>  Then, the honeymoon. The abuser can be wonderfully kind and loving when they need to be, but only when they need to be. You’ll be so desperate for things to get better that you’ll believe the apologies, the tenderness, the declarations of love, the promises.

    >> The tension will start to rise again. Over time, the cycle will get shorter and it will happen more often. The tension will rise quicker, the explosions will be bigger, the honeymoons will be shorter. 

    If this is familiar, you’re in a cycle of abuse. It’s not love. It’s not stress. It’s not your fault. It’s abuse. The honeymoon will be one of the things that keeps you there. The love will feel real and you’ll crave it, of course you will – that’s completely understandable – but listen to this: Love after abuse isn’t love, it’s manipulation. If the love was real, there would be mountains moved to make sure you were never hurt or scared again.

  10. The Jealous One.

    Your partner is important and so are other people in your life. If you act in a trustworthy way, you deserve to be trusted. We all get insecure now and then and sometimes we could all do with a little more loving and reassurance, but when the questions, accusations and demands are consistent and without reason, it will only be a matter of time before your phone is checked, your movements are questioned, and your friends are closed out. Misplaced jealousy isn’t love, it’s a lack of trust in you.

  11. The Worse-Off One.

    These people will always have problems that are bigger than yours. You’re sick, they’re sicker; you’re exhausted from working late every night this week, they’re shattered – from the gym; you’ve just lost your job, they’re ‘devastated because it’s really hard when you know someone who’s lost their job’. You’ll always be the supporter, never the supported. There’s only so long that you can keep drawing on your emotional well if there’s nothing coming back.

  12. The Sideways Glancer.

    Ok. So the human form is beautiful and there’s nothing wrong with admiring it, but when it’s done constantly in your company – in your face – it’s tiring, and it feels bad. You deserve to be first and you deserve to feel noticed. That doesn’t mean you have to be first all the time, but certainly you shouldn’t have to fight strangers for your share of attention. Some things will never be adorable.

  13. The Cheater.

    Infidelity doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship – that depends on the circumstances and the people involved and it’s not for anyone else to judge whether or not you should stay. It’s a deeply personal decision and one you can make in strength either way, but when infidelity happens more than once, or when it happens without remorse or commitment to the future of the relationship, it will cause breakage. When people show you over and over that they aren’t capable of loving you the way you want to be loved, believe them. Move them out of the damn way so that better things can find you. 

  14. The Liar.

    Let’s be realistic – little white lies happen. In fact, research has found that when lying is done for the right reasons (such as to protect someone’s feelings) it can actually strengthen a relationship. ‘So that’s the orange cocktail dress you’ve spent a month’s pay on? Wow – you weren’t kidding when you said it was bright. Oh, it has pandas on it. And they’re smiling. And the shop doesn’t take returns. And you love it. Well keep smiling gorgeous. You look amazing!’. However, when lies are told with malicious intent and for personal gain, it will always weaken relationships. Relationships are meant to be fun, but none of us are meant to be played.

  15. The One Who Laughs at Your Dreams.

    Whether it’s being a merchant banker, a belly dancer, or the inventor of tiny slippers for cats, the people who deserve you are those who support your dreams, not those who laugh at them. The people who tell you that you won’t succeed are usually the ones who are scared that you will. If they’re not cheering you on, they’re holding you back. If they’re not directly impacted by your dreams, (which, for example, your partner might be if your dream is to sell everything you both own, move to Rome, and sell fake sunglasses to the tourists) then you would have to question what they’re getting out of dampening you.

Being human is complicated. Being open to the world is a great thing to be – it’s wonderful – but when you’re open to the world you’re also open to the poison that spills from it.  One of the things that makes a difference is the people you hold close. Whether it’s one, two or squadron-sized bunch, let the people around you be ones who are worthy of you. It’s one of the greatest acts of self-love. Good people are what great lives are made of. 



I had a friend of 10+ years tell me today that if I asked her why she wasn’t going to be in town for a week that she would shut me off completely. Ummm really? This person has issues with PTSD, and completely falls into the toxic category…Ive struggled for the past year in dealing with her ups and downs. I feel like she has pushed me away and doesn’t even see it. At all. We used to be VERY close but now its flirting here and there and maybe a random text. I can’t take much more of her behavior.


What I just read it’s my, thoughts about her for many years. It has come to the point its just too ,much work to stay as friends. There no thought about the other person it’s what she wants she wants it there’s many other things most of which you mentioned it confirms what I’ve been thinking. Thank you
Sybil rice


@Pat – I stumbled in shock reading your post! I have a male BF with ptsd that I have known for 8+ years. We are very close even though he lives 4 hours away. We don’t see eachother more than 3 times a month, but we tend to have the FWB agreement going on. MY issue is that he will randomly text me when he is upset or sick but disappear. The “poor me” thing. Yet when I was in the hospital he never showed up. He claims work kept him away. I always tell him how I will be there for him and I have — trust me it’s been a wild ride of ups and downs. He just doesn’t seem to have enuff time for our friendship … Am I being too greedy ?


I just got out of a 21 year friendship/relationship with a woman I logistics loved deeply. She has PTSD (untreated). It was a rollercoaster. I did everything I could: went to therapy, talked psychologists who specialize in PTSD, watched 1000’s of videos, read books, talked to people diagnosed with PTSD, and so. She would never talk about how it affected her. PTSD is not one size fits all and there are five different types of PTSD. There are great therapies. If your friend like mine will not do the work they will not get better. They will think they will, but PTSD reorders the brain. There is no official cure, but there are many things that can help them manage their symptoms and triggers.
Unfortunately, they will find someone else to help them and repeat the process over and over again until they hit bottom or have some clarity.
They say never take it personally, which is hard because it is directed right at you.
It totally sucks. But when you have tried everything and they do nothing but point the finger of blame you just have to move on. Maybe they come back and you can speak to them. But the only only thing that will really help is the best therapy for their disorder.


@A thank you so much for your reply on this matter. I saw my friend yesterday and he told me his PTsD is worse. No one he works with understands and when he leaves work, he just needs space to breathe. Have you ever noticed in your experience that people with ptsd have trouble commiting to things? Example: I ask if he can swing over after work and pick up some bread I made for him. He never texts back confirming. Orrrr I see him in person and ask if he wants to roll by and visit and he says “yeah sure I just might” but never shows up and ignores texts. He sucks the life out of me because in person he can be a great friend and very charming , very present, and talks about the future, but suddenly disappears . I can’t help but blame it on the PTSD. He has told me it’s not me before. It’s one thing to hear that and another to convince yourself of that when you care about them so much. Do u suggest giving him space and letting him come to me?


Get rid of her ASAP. I just went through a similar nightmare as she unmasked and became the devil in disguise. People like these are dangerous (emotionally) and can never be dealt with reasonably. Give your time, love and energy to those in your life who are also kind in return. Move on, leave this toxic bitch in the dust and just be grateful for your own life, ‘true’ friends and the kind and decent person that you are. that’s just what I’ve done and now I see her as very insecure, cruel and pathetic. People like this are jealous and wish they could be like you and have the life you’ve earned, but they’re tormented by their own inner demons. sad


We were best friends for five years – she made the first approach, and kept telling me how I was her only friend. We met regularly and had good times. Then her husband retired, things were a bit difficult for them for a while so I gave her space while letting her know I was there any time to talk. However she pulled away and was always ” busy”. I kept trying to get together but it became hard and our contact dwindled. Finally she would not return emails or texts and when I finally asked her why, she told me that she had decided that I was cooling off!! Her ignoring me was turned round into me ignoring her, which was not the case. I emailed her detailing all I had done to try and keep things going but she has not replied. I think she is angry at life and needed someone to blame.


This sounds like someone who was very manipulative to me. I have never known anyone so jealous of me and my family, so self-centred and nasty. I was a total mess afterwards. She made me trust nobody for a while. I found out later even her neighbour, own brother and ex have a total dislike of her.


I have a toxic friend also the last straw was when we here in Florida looking at facing a hurricane she was mad about something I called for 2 days straight before the hurricane was to land would not answer phones in this serious situation 2 days when it had passed she called to say I would not longer be seeing her i don’t understand but I consider a blessing!!


I empathize! I have a sibling who never bothered to reach out to see how we, at ground zero fared after Storm Sandy wreacked its destruction. My then 92 year old mother ( in a different city from both my sibling and I) did reach out, persistently until we had phone service restored and she was able to get through. With no heat or electric it was all I could do to function and clear debris for the first two days and did not think my elderly mother was even cognizant of our situation. Obviously she was. My sibling never called even a month later. A real passive aggressive move. Probably feared we would ask for a helping hand which we had no intention of doing. The hurt drove a gulf between us I cannot lie.


Thank you for this post!
It helps with both sides of the spectrum. From time to time, I notice these tendencies in myself and try hard to make it better.


13 Version’s of toxic people, great article. I shared the article with my teenager and a few of her friends. Such a difficult time in a person life. Thank you.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Oh yes adolescence can be such a difficult time! Some hard lessons to learn about people and friendships but no experience is ever wasted – even the awful ones. The things she learns about people now will expand her emotional intelligence and people wisdom and will hold her strong for the rest of her life.


I SO needed to read this! I loved it! My step daughter is toxic! She plays games with our grand children and that’s just a simple description! If we don’t play her way, she keeps them from us. Matter fact, she did exactly that for over 2.5 years. She only would go with her dad if I didn’t go. She stopped coming to our house when she was 13 because I was there. Fact is, I’m the parent who cares scouts to correct her. Fast forward. Her dad signed for her to get married at 16 with a promise to not have children and finish school. The first thing she did was drop out of school and get pregnant. She had 2 kids, one special needs ego woke up in the middle of the night with a broken femur. She kept the kids from us until we got custody of them. We’d never met the 10 month old. Now we get them every other weekend, if she’s not mad and stops them from coming. She is not married to the dad anymore and is expecting kid 3 at age 22. Horrible mother! Very toxic but how can you get away from this person?!!!!!! She does everything she can to hurt us! I have bowed to leave her out of our will!! It’s not legal yet but it’s going to happen! Her kids go hungry. The sue isl needs kid still don’t talk. Wouldn’t walk if not fir me…. huge huge long story but she had no one to be her parent thus she continues her rein of fire …. through her children!!!


Hi Debbie,
It was a relief to read I am not alone. I am a step mother who has been and still lives in a nightmare. It will never end. So this is my life. I question my own sanity. I could write a book.

Debra Tyree

I could write extended chapters to your book with my nightmares. Thirteen years age 3, 5, 15 and mine were 12 and 14 and now 16 and 17 and it has turned from negative to very sickening.


I did not agree with this article. First of all, there are how many types of toxic people? 13? I think just about everyone fits into one of these 13 types of people. No one is perfect. If you cut people out of your life for being one of these toxic people, you will have no one left. Then, you will have to cut yourself out because you’ll realize that you’re one of these people too. I think this should be a list of ways people can be toxic. Labeling people as toxic is toxic also.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

As the article explains, we can all do some of these things some of the time. The difference between toxic people and the rest of us is that toxic people do these things characteristically. They don’t care who they hurt and they have no intention of changing. Nobody expects perfection, but most of us expect the people we are with not to consistently lie, cheat, abuse, belittle, manipulate. Toxic people are toxic because they contaminate the self-esteem and self-concept of those they target. They spread lies, rumours, make people doubt their self-worth, destroy relationships, and will often target people with generous, open hearts who will keep trying to make things right. Toxic behaviour can change the brain – there is plenty of research showing how toxic stress which is created by toxic people (ask anyone who grew up with a toxic parent, or anyone who is trying to co-parent with a toxic partner) can change the brain. It’s called toxic, because it’s toxic. Are you suggesting that those who call a bully a ‘bully’ are actually bullies themselves? Hope not. Let’s stop making excuses for the behaviour which breaks lives, people and relationships. This is the behaviour that is done deliberately, without remorse and without any regard to the damage it does.


Great response, I have been the victim of one of these emotional vampires and it is a horrible recovery.


I believe that anything is possible to overcome if you trust your will to change, stick to it no matter what, and recognize (not giving up!) that it will be harder before it gets better…but if you want to grow as a person, you can. Always. You are the one who holds that power to change.

We are all human. We are all struggling in something. No one is ever alone in that. Admitting to yourself that there is something you want or need to change is a brave first step.

We all deserve to love and be loved. Keep the faith.


This article is right on about toxic people. And some of them are so good at it, you get sucked in before you know what’s happening. They are so good that no one believes you when you try to talk about it either. They can turn that charm on and fool nearly anyone. I am married to him now but trying to get out of it somehow. I think he wants to end it because I started seeing through him and he can’t handle that at all. Only problem is he had me so convinced it was all my fault, I almost gave up everything I owned and was willing to leave my home and everything I knew so he could be happy. They are good, real good at it and they can cause so much self doubt in you, you feel totally worthless. This article has helped me a lot, it confirms how I feel isn’t wrong, and I’m not worthless. I owned this property before I met him, why should I be the one to walk away? I started a few months ago, thinking that I couldn’t keep going like I was and I gave him every opportunity to stop treating me so bad, but you’re right, he got worse, and it’s only the beginning I fear and I only hope I can hold up and not run. I’ve done that my whole life, I run when it gets too tough, and I”m tired of running. I’ve read every article you have about this or a lot of them and everything you say has hit me right in the gut, it’s like you can see what my life has been all about for the last 16 years. All I ever wished for was him to be happy, and to love me like a person deserves, and when it got bad, he could convince me every time that it was somehow my fault and i needed to change something about myself and I can’t even believe how hard I tried to be what he wanted. How crazy is that? Even now when it’s really over, I still almost wish he would come and say he was sorry…but he can’t, or won’t and I think even if he did, there is no going back this time for me. When you get hurt this bad, you finally say, enough. So thanks for giving me some mental tools here and for taking the time to share what you know so others can benefit. I still don’t feel like jumping for joy, but I feel a lot braver and much more empowered to deal with what’s going on in my life right now. Thank you so much.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Pam. You have a lot of wisdom and you sound so strong and clear. Stay empowered. Everything you need to deal with what’s happening in your life is already in you. All the best to you.


I see aspects of both me and my ex in here.

I think she was a 4, 5 and 10 (the second #10), and a bit of 1, 7, 9 and 11.

I am guilty of 7, 9 and the second number 8.

However, I don’t believe either of us are entirely deliberate about it, tho the Liar one is how she tells me she was raised.

I also see a lot of these coming from her own upbringing experience. There was a lot of meddling in and attempts to control our marriage from her family!

#9 is a hard one, as it can be simply a sign of both people trying again. I know we both did.

I think some of them we became as the bonds of our relationship broke apart.

But it’s chicken and the egg. Or who lit the fuse.

The Big E

Wow….I keep hoping I’m not being used but it certainly feels like it….there is always a need, a complaint, a crisis, relationship issue, work, health and money issues all I see and get exposed to is the negative. I get text “I’m in a bind can you help?” I’ve help and I know I will never see the money. I can remember we hadn’t seen each other for months and just wanted to hug my friend and afterwards I got it just felt awkward but there never seems to be any awkwardness asking for money! It hurts and I was just asked again if I could help. I avoided responding and just moved on like it was never aseed and now all I feel is guilt. I never get to enjoy the fun times those are for her kids and boyfriend….I just get the leftovers!


I am 24 i grow up in care and i am to soft and have a caring heart i have been bullied since school of the same person. One day i met my future partner i new he had a son it didnt bother me but a year later i got to meet his son and mother it was the same person who bullied me in school. She attacked me and called me names i didnt report it as she wouldnt let her son see his dad so i ignored her but the bullying never went away. 3 years later i had 2 beautiful children and things became worse she threatned to get men to kick the baby out of me and rape me wich left me upset but couldnt report it. It seems things were settling down after that till one day i heard shes saying a battered her son it was all over social media i went straight to the police and the worned her but i dont get why she hates me so much and wants me to hurt. I am so tired i want it to end.


Long time friends relationship is too much work the things you mentioned are all there she is not speaking to me at the moment I’ve done something she called to say that I would not longer be seeing her its blessing in disguise. Thank you for confirming what I already thought.


Beware Emotional Vampires! They suck the very life essence out of you and walk over what is left! They are empty, soulless people who feed off the energy of their victims!


I know a toxic person who fits almost every category here and she shared this article on Facebook because she has no idea the toxic person is actually her.

Marlo Shaw

I was in I thought a good relationship not once but 3 times in the space of 25 years. The first 15 my now ex husband his step mother was very toxic she couldn’t stand for anyone to not agree with her my ex slowly started to emulate her toxic behaviors so after enough I divorced him it’s took me several years to start getting back to how I was. Then I tried dating I guess I’m a toxic magnet because he was manipulative, lying and always tried to make me change to suit his idea of the ideal me hence I broke it off with him really quick. Then dated another guy for not quite 5 weeks he was very sly in his attempts at first but then it was like all at once I saw it all at once felt it heard it. Well, I ended it faster than my last guy and it’s been two years and I have found I am happier just being single I will admit to being deathly afraid of trusting any guy now so I am finding myself again not frantic or full of anxiety as I was and being happy doesn’t mean having to be in any sort of relationship so I am allot calmer and happier now and the last two years have been so nice for me I feel like I can sleep,eat and enjoy life whereas before i dreaded each day. I am very fortunate to have been able to shut those offensive types out of my life permanently and grateful for it as well.


I have a friend of 6 years that I’m not so sure about either.

I feel like she’s a combination of #8 and #11.

I don’t really like it that its always me who have to start the conversation or push the conversation. Its really annoying.

Sometimes I just want to tell her that I quit on this friendship (which I did once, and she just sulk for months how she wishes to die :/) because I can’t stand that she has nothing to offer me.

She never start conversation with me, its always me who starts the conversation.

She’s always mentally complaining how she is afraid to do activities with me, or that I’m gonna hate her complaining etc etc, yet she also states she knows nothing about me. ?? contradict much.

The only time she ever bothers to ask of my whereabouts is when I’ve gone missing for days without contact or when I’m sick.

I have a busy life as well, I work full time, and have busy schedule, and she only have college studies! Yet I still find time to spam text her or call her set up schedules for meet ups! But her??? Should I ever ask her what her schedule is like she always say things like she’s busy with exam or tests or studying and it eats all her time till dark.

I’m sorry but being busying doesn’t mean you’re productive!

It just frustrates me because I feel she cares more about her daily routine life more than mines as a friend.


Karen, I tend to wear my feelings on my sleeve and I despise the toxic person in our life who we’ve finally limited contact with it’s as little as once a year now.

This person is toxic to everyone but it appears as if the others in the room excluding my husband and daughter just think she’s the nicest person. I don’t even like watching my husband nor my daughter interacting with this person as if she has never caused enormous hurt in our lives. As a result I’m treated like the outsider by everyone.

I can’t seem to get over their hypocrisy when I’m witnessing it.

We have a gathering in a couple of weeks and our toxic person will be the hostess. Within the family dynamics I will be the object of exclusion. This is the family of my husbands compiled of his son, daughter-in-law (gag), grand-daughter who is 26 and 8 other people. I’ve watched her do and say covert manipulative things to them as well and I’m incredulous to see them just sit there and hang onto her every word.

Karen could you give me some advice on how to act better for those few hours I’m around her? I understand I should go into this with a smile on my face and be gracious but I don’t know how to get there. Thank-you.


I was dating this girl back in 2015. We met from an online dating site. She was very pretty and had a beautiful smile. She seemed very cheerful and was not shy. Anyways. We hit it off and I really thought she was a very nice girl. When we met her and I talked for a few hours and decided to meet up again. It was then we decided to have a first date. The one thing that always crept in the back of my mind was how she liked to post images of herself in a low cut tank top. You could see alot of her breasts. At first didn’t pay much mind. But it was her images she sent me before we met up of her saying that the pics were of her in that moment. Yet I saw different shirts hanging on her door knob or missing from it. After going on several dates she finally revealed to me how scared she was of her landlord. Telling me how he liked to drink alot and that sometimes she’d pretend to be asleep and see his shadow from underneath her bedroom door and he would stand there for awhile almost thinking about “doing something” to her. She had no door lock. So she balled her eyes out on a date one night and said she was actually afraid go back that night. She tried to beg me to see if she could come over and I told her I couldn’t as my parents don’t even know her yet. She cried more. As time went on I’d get late night texts saying that he is standing at her door again. She eventually got “kicked out” and I had to help her find a motel for a bit so she could find another place to live. Things started going downhill from there. Her coming onto me fast, always hinting for sex when I wasnt comfortable. We hadn’t even been dating a month. She talked me.into staying with her longer and longer and when she didn’t get her way she’d guilt trip me. Then she’d make threats by telling me if I didn’t stay longer that we were done for good. Always worked. Until one night I had enough. She threatened to jump into an oncoming bus. I didn’t fall for it but she called it off for us. She then started making lies all over Facebook. She even sent my mother images of her wearing an engagement ring that was from me. That was a lie. She then made profound insults to me and my whole family snapped on her and I had to calm some of my cousins down and stop my grandma from messaging her. Blocked her from everything, made my profile to private where no one could see my posts but family and friends only. She then proceeded to text me day and night, call my cell day and night till I had to Chanel’s my cell. She then phoned our home day and night. She was lucky my parents showed mercy. My dad being a retired police officer could have easily called his station to have them deal with her. She wasn’t worried about the harassment because she then moved to Alberta but then she stopped when she found out that my parents are best friends with top brass in RCMP. And he said if it continues that they’d track her down and charge her. Never heard from her again. Till recently. She emailed me begging to start over and that she has changed and not the same girl from before. I laughed. Said “no way in hell I Want you back here. Go away before you get in trouble” I found out later… I could block her emails. Which I did and haven’t turned back ever Since.


Mace Great Job! You were very smart! I wish my Son Was. He dated a girl in high school who did the same things you were mentioning. She guilt tripped him & spread lies about him in high school. She made his life so hard we had to get him psychological help to get him through those years. He got his life back together & was doing great after high school when he ran into her again. She wanted to go out as friends & talk. Within 1 month she had him in bed. Within that same month he was very miserable again & told her he didn’t want to see her anymore. That is when she told him she was pregnant & guilt tripped him into marry her. Long story short she has brought a lot of heart ache, damage & hurt into our family & his life. She controls him by with guilt & manipulation. She does everything to separate him from us. I don’t see my son or grandchildren much now. I’m glad you were strong & smart! Great job taking control of your life. It is nice to see someone with a happy ending! 🙂


Hi, I am 30 years old and have been in a relationship for 6 months now. At first things were great, I was very emotionally strong when i met him and confident. He is the type of person that will call you out on everything and even assume worst and fight. Sometimes ive just agreed because I know he will never truly believe me and i want to stop the fight. He is a great person, a good dad, friend, son, brother. He makes me very happy and things were going so great. I was in a very bad living situation and i called on him for help. He is letting me stay here and taking care of all the bills, which is very generous. But he is so hot and cold with me. I do feel that i have to watch what i say and cant speak freely because he takes things the wrong way or will asociate something i said with a past fight we had. He calls me the shady one. He thinks i am this dishonest manipulator and so I am constantly trying to prove him wrong. I stopped drinkin alcohol for him, which im fine with, because we would fight alot when i drank, really i think i just fought back more. but he would wake up in the morning after and have along list of things i said like everyone is better than him and everyone wants me. Alot of the time i remember the fight being completely different but i was intoxicated and he is convincing me that i fucked up so i just told him i wouldnt drink. I wanted to make him feel comfortable. Part of me did think he was trying to control me but i knew that when i drank sometimes i would fight with people in my family who i dont get along with at all even more so when i drank, so i just stopped. After that he would accuse me of cheating and lying about differen tthings. some i was guilty of like seeing my brother behind his back and lying about it, but i never cheated and he doesnt trust me. Its so hard because i do love him so much and i know he is a great person with a great heart. When i got arrested for a DUI recently when we broke up, i drank at a friends and came home and the cops were there because my phone had died and my mom was filing a missing persons report she was so worried. He was the one who bailed me out and let me stay at his house for a few. He hates when i drink, and he has lost someone in his past due to her drinking. Iknow it freaks him out and he also thinks that i am a slut when i drink which has never been the case. I have never cheated on him and turn guys down whenever they try with no problem. I would never even dream of cheating on him. My step dad tried to sexually assault me and i had to move in with him for a while, but he hasnt been easy. He tells me he will never be with me and i messed it all up. One moment hes sweet and the next hes kicking me out of bed from a bad dream. He tells me he wants to move on but he loves me, doesnt make me feel good. He says that he is ok to say these things because of all the things ove said to him, which was over 4 months ago and dont remember saying these things but have taken resposibiltiy for them anyways. i dont know what to do. hes very resposible and loves me and cancelssplans for me and makes dinner for me. I am so confused, he is the only one who is helping me get on my feet right now and i dont want to feel ungrateful, but he is mean sometimes i dont feel respected.




I think this blog post just described 99% percent of people.
No one is perfect. The writer can be classified as a toxic person as well and can easily be placed in the Judgmental Snowflake category.
Maintaining relationships with others is tough especially in a rough economy.
People should not be judged and ostracized because they made mistakes.
I rather be friends with open minded and compassionate individuals who have made mistakes versus being friends with cold, superficial, nitpicking and judgmental people.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Lily you are right – none of us are perfect, but our very human imperfections are NOT what toxic behaviour is referring to. We can all do some of these things some of the time, but toxic behaviour is consistently damaging, abusive, manipulative, hurtful behaviour. It is called toxic because it contaminates the self-esteem and self-concept of others. Toxic behaviour creates toxic stress which can change the physiology of people in harmful ways. Toxic behaviour is also not about ‘making mistakes’.

Destructive, abusive behaviour does not deserve compassion. The targets of that behaviour are the ones who deserve the compassion. If compassion and approval are important enough to a toxic person, it is for them to do what they need to do to change their behaviour, and to stop hurting the people who love them. One of the things that makes people toxic is that they see no fault in their behaviour. They see no problem with the way they destroy others, and in fact will generally blame those others in some way for being ‘too sensitive’, ‘too stupid’, ‘too weak’ etc. I’m not sure what you mean by a ‘judgemental snowflake’, but I’m assuming it’s someone who would ‘rather be friends with open minded and compassionate individuals who have made mistakes versus being friends with cold, superficial, nitpicking and judgmental people’. Interesting.

It’s time we stopped enabling abusive, manipulative, destructive behaviour in the name of ‘compassion’. It’s also time we stopped disempowering the targets of that behaviour, by the righteous suggestion that we should be tolerant of all people. Yes we should be kind, compassionate and empathic. We should also be courageous and fierce with our self-respect, and give ourselves (and others) the support, compassion and understanding they need to let go of toxic, harmful relationships.


This was an eye opener for me. I have been dealing with a toxic guy for 5 years now constant thinking “what am I doing wrong?” He encompasses every trait in this article and I am just amazed and can take a deep breath knowing it’s not me! I have been looking for ways to break the cycle and walk away, but everytime I try to, I get sucked back in. But I have realized (as well as other around me) that I don’t shine like I use to. I’m not as bubbly and positive as I use to be and I want that back. Thank you for this article….it really blessed me.


Don’t let that bubbly shine dim at ALL. Don’t let a toxic individual do this to you. It happened to me almost a year ago, and I almost died over it. (Medical issue with reaction to meds). The toxic person who I thought cared for me as my best friend (he is male btw), never even came to my bed side. I was out of work for awhile and the only time he would talk to me was when another friend of ours actually went and found him and brought him over. He claims it wasn’t because he didn’t care — well wth was it? He is currently trying to keep me in his back pocket for when he needs an ego stroke so when he is pissed and having issues, he will not text me. I could tell him I won 10,000 and he wouldn’t text back. He shuts down. It brings me down, so I recenter myself, and enjoy the silence. I don’t text him and actually fear that I will hear his text tone or see him in person. I have never told him that he most likely caused my lights and glitter to dim almost killing me, because honestly, would he care? Probably not. Now I work daily to not text and avoid him. It’s sad, because it doesn’t matter what I say to him, he just doesn’t get it. He assumes I’ll always be there. Time to get rid of Mr toxic from my circle of friends.


Wow, great article. I wish I could hand it to the person or post it to their fb page,but I’m pretty sure they would justake get mad and unfriend me rather than reflect on themselves…
Right now, they are more concerned that 2 of their friends have actually friended me on an old fb account that I reactivated. They have decided to block those friends if I am not going good delete them. This person is someone I communicate by text at least once a day and is in the baby boomer age group…I feel like texting grow up. We dated for about 4 years.

Thanks, eyeopener


“Oh yeah how well I do know all about these types of people! I have been with everyone of them at leased once? Thats not saying much, but unfortinately I have experienced the abuse from all! NO fun at all, but I survived it all! Now I am SINGLE and loving it!


I’m 48 years old, a successful professional and a single mother since the time of my divorce 2 years ago. The man I met a few months afterwards was “Mr. Nice Guy”. He provided friendship, emotional support and hope when my 5-year old son and I were recovering from the shock of my ex-husband’s affair with a woman 30 years his younger. There were plenty of red flags but I explained them away or ignored them because I was so lonely and he took us under his wing, becoming an almost father figure to my son. This man is charming and highly successful, but has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. It’s taken me two years to extricate myself from the situation, finally recognizing that he’s narcissistic if not full blown NPD. His emotional abuse has been insidious and damaging to both my physical and mental health. My gut feeling told me that something was “off” in the beginning. But I didn’t stop to listen to it thinking that it was just me. He certainly let me take all accountability and blame for his bad behavior and anger. Trust your instincts even if you’re feeling vulnerable and insecure. If it feels bad, something is amiss no matter how they spin it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Hey Sigmund on Instagram

Physical activity is the natural end to the fight or flight response (which is where the physical feelings of an anxiety attack come from). Walking will help to burn the adrenalin and neurochemicals that have surged the body to prepare it for flight or fight, and which are causing the physical symptoms (racy heart, feeling sick, sweaty, short breaths, dry mouth, trembly or tense in the limbs etc). As well as this, the rhythm of walking will help to calm their anxious amygdala. Brains love rhythm, and walking is a way to give them this. 
Try to help your young one access their steady breaths while walking, but it is very likely that they will only be able to do this if they’ve practised outside of an anxiety attack. During anxiety, the brain is too busy to try anything unfamiliar. Practising will help to create neural pathways that will make breathing an easier, more accessible response during anxiety. If they aren't able to access strong steady breaths, you might need to do it for them. This will be just as powerful - in the same way they can catch your anxiety, they will also be able to catch your calm. When you are able to assume a strong, calm, steady presence, this will clear the way for your brave ones to do the same.
The more your young one is able to verbalise what their anxiety feels like, the more capacity they will have to identify it, acknowledge it and act more deliberately in response to it. With this level of self-awareness comes an increased ability to manage the feeling when it happens, and less likelihood that the anxiety will hijack their behaviour. 

Now - let’s give their awareness some muscle. If they are experts at what their anxiety feels like, they are also experts at what it takes to be brave. They’ve felt anxiety and they’ve moved through it, maybe not every time - none of us do it every time - maybe not even most times, but enough times to know what it takes and how it feels when they do. Maybe it was that time they walked into school when everything in them was wanting to walk away. Maybe that time they went in for goal, or down the water slide, or did the presentation in front of the class. Maybe that time they spoke their own order at the restaurant, or did the driving test, or told you there would be alcohol at the party. Those times matter, because they show them they can move through anxiety towards brave. They might also taken for granted by your young one, or written off as not counting as brave - but they do count. They count for everything. They are evidence that they can do hard things, even when those things feel bigger than them. 

So let’s expand those times with them and for them. Let’s expand the wisdom that comes with that, and bring their brave into the light as well. ‘What helped you do that?’ ‘What was it like when you did?’ ‘I know everything in you wanted to walk away, but you didn’t. Being brave isn’t about doing things easily. It’s about doing those hard things even when they feel bigger than us. I see you doing that all the time. It doesn’t matter that you don’t do them every time -none of us are brave every time- but you have so much courage in you my love, even when anxiety is making you feel otherwise.’

Let them also know that you feel like this too sometimes. It will help them see that anxiety happens to all of us, and that even though it tells a deficiency story, it is just a story and one they can change the ending of.
During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."

 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens

Pin It on Pinterest