Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

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

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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.
    Them:
      Are you calling me a bad listener
    You:
      No, I’m just saying that you’ve taken what I said the wrong way.
    Them:
      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. 

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313 Comments

king

for me it’s different my friend kept worshipping other friend he is this he is that, made me super angry and upset, he never used to care about me every time I used to say something he used to take it as a joke now I blocked him, I did him a favor of bidding him well now I m feeling happy and calm really, I feel as if my mind and spirit is at peace this was last chance he wanted to prank me, he pranked me in past and he worships my other friend whose name starts with s like god like not as a man but as a god every time he is cool he is great he very awesome, whenever I was around others he used to make me feel belittle in front of them so yes I blocked him from every place, he was good in high school later he became toxic to me, So I m upset and angry i blocked him not returning any phone calls or messages no it’s not revenge, If he think it’s revenge it is for him only.

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Jimbo

I’ve been in a friendship for 9 years with someone who only recently became toxic, such as in the last few years. We aren’t together nor have ever been in a relationship as she’s always seen me as a friend. Lately or the past year, we’ve had more than a few fights, taken breaks then gone back to being friends. We play video games online together and I always try my best to do what I’m told to do otherwise it makes her pissed off and then she’ll blame it on me if I say she’s overreacting and its just a game. Game audio is typically high so I don’t hear her that much. She blames me for her mistakes, ie always expects me to apologize for her behaivour, never or rarely says “hey this was my fault, I’m sorry.” I rant a lot about my life to her and she used to be or is very trusting and she does the same though not as much as me. I try and be there for her to support her in things and in most cases its just a “I’m good thankyou”. She seems to be a mix of the manipluator and the abusive one. Like if I made the slightest mistake say not doing or trying hard enough in a video game and her getting annoyed at me for it and myself telling to stop overreacting which if I do tell her that by accident because I’ve had to become cautious of what happens, she’ll stop speaking to me for like a week and then expect me to apologise for my mishap as her excuse. Right now I’ve just said to her not ready to be friends, more along the lines of Aquaintances. I’m 18 and she’s 19, she does have short fuse but my other “friend” who has been trying to hit on her since I introduced them together, always takes her sides and never sees or understands my POV so I’m not sure what to do. I took a 12 days ignoring them both to figure out things in my head. Even with the screenshots and my explanation on thigns that happened, he always takes her side no matter what. They seem to be awfully close to someone who only known her since Feburary this year. Any advice would be great because if I tell her that I think she’s being abusive, she’ll attack me and say I am because I never listen to her, dont support her, and always talk about myself when clearly that’s not trye and then if she goes to her friend my friend that I introduced her to, he’ll side with her just to be and get in with her.

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Hannah

I need serious advice. Ive been divorced for 13 years. My ex wont let it go. Hes remarried now but while my kids were young he tried everything he could to have me seen as an unfit parent. False accusations, lies to the court, you name it, he did it. Now my kids are 18, one is disabled and im his legal guardian, which he also fought. He has now gone to contacting adult protective services trying to convince them that my son is not being cared for properly. Im afraid that hes never going to let this go. I don’t know what if anything i can do to stop him from continuing to destroy me and beat me down. Please help.

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Paul

Thank you very much for this very concise and clear article it really helped pin point what I was feeling.

The problem I am finding these days is so many friendships end up with some kind of toxicity these days. I don’t know what I am doing wrong but these traits you’ve listed here I’m finding a lot of—particularly the controller, the taker and manipulator and the abuser.

It is actually at the point where I wonder if it’s just human nature and most friendships run their course. Either that or it’s just that I always seem to eventually mess up friendships.

Im seeing more and more that people rather try and change you or manipulate you rather than change themselves and as I get older I have less openness or tolerance to that particular trait.

I spent a couple years deciding not to let people walk over me and now I have a lot of friendships that have gone away. That is sad but at the same time I don’t want to be around those people. I’m sure a lot of people go through this though because as we get older it’s harder to find people don’t want to be vulnerable by making new friends anymore.

Thanks for the article it does give me some peace.

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Thomas

I was told i was “toxi” twice in my five year realitionship. The first time was about three years ago when we broke up, and basically said I’m all these things on here that says in the definition of “toxic * says on here,we got back together and about three on so months later i went and got her a 3 and1/2 Diamond engagement ring and band set. Things were good for a little less that a year then i had to go off to basic training for a month correctional officer. She really was over this i had to on Sunday nights and check in stay till Friday then go home then repeat three mor weeks well that first week i enjoyed being there never went to college and this was as close as id ever get on the other she was loosing it after the second day and making it horrible calling all the time i could not on in classes so we could not Communicate Until around 12 when we should launch and then when I finish class between 3 to 4 hours later. So then sometimes after class me in some of the people from the class we go out and have a couple drinks she couldn’t stand that and just assumed that I would be out flirting with other women and having relations with them Which was Not happening at all So When it came time for me to go home for the weekend I did but when I went to the door and put my key in and turned it the locks have been changed So I went down to her cousin’s house which wasn’t too far away and stayed there for the night. Without going into any further detail I never went back to that house the whole time I was in school And told her That we were done. There is more to the story but I don’t know if anyone is even gonna read this or not 4/30/19 This is the 1st time I’ve ever put anything Like this on any blog or whatever this is before we Recently broke up again and one other time Prior to this And I was the one who made the decision to break up these times This time was the decision that she name and im confused Just seening what otherpeople have to say.

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Michelle

I am currently in a difficult situation. I am living with my ex fiancé. Know it’s only been five days since we broke the engagement. Prior to that canceled the wedding. He stays in the same house as I just a different room. The reason it ended was because he was drinking he had some built up anger toward me and felt when he was drunk express it. It was like a serious and he was so disrespectful to me. My 16 old I confided in. He is my skn not the ex’s . He wants me rid of this situation in slots ways I do to. It is hard when the ex is tryin to say things will change he will do better. Unfortunately things went south six months ago and similar thing happened and look it happen again. There is no trust, but why do I feel like I should work this out. 80 percent of the time we get long. Ugh.. At this point I feel pressured by my son to move in with my life and pressure from the ex to be with him and to put my sons feeling aside. I just want to lock myself in a room. Any advice?

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Claire P

Hey thanks for the great information i really like your blog and often times i visit your blog to see such interesting articles keep it up.

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Sue

I am a 66 yr old woman in a successful technical career. I am a college graduate, a mother, a widow, a divorcee and currently half of a toxic relationship. I’m old enough to know better; but, there is a situation in my current relationship that I don’t seem to be able to decipher for myself. I hope you fellow readers can provide me some clarity. Backstory: One and a half years after the death from cancer of my husband of 29 years, I entered into a relationship with a man 30 years younger than myself. We agreed it would be a non-permanent relationship – 6 months at most. We were both single and felt attracted to one another mentally and physically. It is now 3 years later and the relationship has become toxic. He insists I am the toxic one and accuses me often of refusing to look at and take responsibility for my actions. I made a lot of mistakes with him along the way, for sure. I walked away from a set of friendships that was 20 years in the making because he said they didn’t respect. It wasn’t enough – he said I did it too slow so therefore he knew I didn’t really agree with him about it. He says he can’t trust me with his friends and family because I am naive and unrefined and might corrupt them (his words.) He screams at me, calls me names, and throws large objects. He has never laid a hand on me and insists that that is all that counts. He insists he has every right to express himself however he feels to. He refuses to listen to my side of any issue, actually doing the “la la la la la la…” gambit to prevent my expression. He says that due to his high level of experience and discernment, he knows me better than I know myself (he actually says that!). He harangues me for hours on end about what he sees as my refusal to “admit my shadow.” For my part, I have enabled the situation in many and very clear ways. At Thankgiving, it went too far and I have begun to assert myself. We were invited to visit a couple of his friends – actually the only friends he has that I know of. They live a state away and we drove 12 hours to spend 3 days with them over Thanksgiving. They are one of the couples whom he believes I will corrupt with my naive ways. They and I hit it off and they asked that I continue to be in their lives. I was happy about and thought my bf would be, too, since we could share a mutual set of friends. He totally freaked and spent the next 10 hours on the drive home berating me for “ruining his friendship with them,” and predicting that I would take one scoundrel or another (imagined) on a trip to visit his friends and that would (this word again) corrupt them. He said he could never see them again because I had ruined it for him. Due to his deciding he could never trust me again, he refused to allow me to accompany him on the annual Christmas visit to his parents’ home. They and I get along well, too. While he was there, I had a daily call from him at bedtime, which was between 2 and 3 in the morning each day. I had no problem with that. This leads into the current dilemma. I waited until 1 in the morning to call him while I was out of town on a business trip. I was one of a team of 11 and was the only woman. I have worked with this company for 26 years and have a good professional relationship with this team. We worked hard at our project, went out together to dinner (I left my bf a message about that at 6 pm. He didn’t, he said later, because he was busy.) After dinner, we notice a western dance club as we passed it on our way to motel. We all decided it would be fun to stop in, have a drink and play some pool. I had 2 drinks, played 7 rounds of pool, and called the bf. I had left my phone and purse in the car so I wouldn’t lose them (66 yrs old!) and didn’t know bf had been calling me frantically to learn where I was and what I was doing. I called him before checking msgs. He’d called 22 times in 3 hours. I told him straight up that I’d been playing pool in a dance club and that I’d had 2 drinks. I didn’t dance, I didn’t flirt with anyone, I didn’t even converse beyond the shot calling and congrats/bemoans of a typical pool game. My bf is enraged and has decided for us both that although he won’t move out of my house, he can no longer trust me enough for intimacy. He says that the very fact that I walked through the door of that club without calling him first was a sex act and was cheating on him. Now my question: is he right? He is very convincing. I grew up in isolation and am a childhood sexual abuse survivor. It is quite possible I don’t have a “normal” perspective on such things. Please help me gain clarity on this. I’m angry and hurt at his accusations, which I consider unfounded and controlling. At the same time, I do not want to be the oblivious abuser that he says I am. Comments, please and thank you!

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G

Dear Sue,
Oh my goodness, I hope you have kicked that guy out. He sounds like a toxic narcissist, and possibly a leech. Calling you names, saying you will ‘corrupt’ his ‘friends’, obsessively calling you while on a work trip? No, going to a club to shoot pool is not a ‘sex act’. How ridiculous. He sounds like an immature little boy. You sound like an intelligent, successful woman. He’s living in your house? Why? Does he have problems supporting himself?
Sounds like you have many positive things going for you. He’s not one of them. So he’s younger, etc. Who cares? Please do not allow him to undermine your self esteem. You’ve lived a long time without this guy, don’t let him think you ‘need’ him. Sounds like the other way around!
Be strong, don’t let this douchebag push you around. Best of luck!

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Jane

What an unpleasant, controlling person, he does not love you and does not care for you and can guess he is most likely seeing other women behind your back, a user and abuser, taking you for granted and dossing in your home. Pack his bags throw him out, and make sure you have someone around you when you do, he will turn nasty. Change the locks. Move on you deserve better. No doubt he will find another vulnerable nice person like yourself most likely working on the next one and possibly has already.

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Jim

He’s lying and manipulating you and, from your description, has done it from the start. You really need to get out now. He’s not the right person at all.

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Mia V

Sue, I know this is coming in July and you wrote this in February but a resounding, HELL NO. Going into a bar to have a drink, shoot pool is a perfectly fine, legal, non-toxic, fun, non-sexual activity and you have every right to play pool without calling your B/F if you want to. You know this. You must know this is psychological and emotional abuse. I hope you have given yourself the greatest gift and that is help-counseling for you and an eviction/restraining order for him. Two Questions? Can you see this man becoming a better version of himself? I doubt it from your letter. Is this the man you can visualize taking care of you should you become sick? He sounds like the type of person who will get very resentful very quickly of being a caregiver and more likely than not, the abuse will escalate to physical. Please, say you’ve taken some steps to help yourself. If he’s still around hopefully the counseling you’ve gotten will help you break the pattern the two of you have with each other. I sincerely wish you all the best. You sound like a lovely, vivacious lady and one anyone would value in their life; I hope you can see yourself the same way.

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kgirl

Sue
this is horrendous.I am so sorry for your situation. You are 66 (still a young woman in tems of settling or life) and this man is 33? correct. I dont know what to suggest. Are yu feeling like you want to be with him or telling him to leave (make sure its safe if you do that)
He sounds like a nightmare. Its easy to comment and say “Girl leave there today or as its your home tell him to leave right away. If he doesnt leave have him evicted.
Your life is so short and do yu really want to spend the next 10 years being abused by this man. Cut him loose. Please

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Jacqueline

Recently divorced after 27 years of surviving every single trait you mentioned. He triangulated our children against one another and against me. He pulled young adult children into his web of lies and dysfunction. When i filed papers for a divorce, he vowed to destroy me. Every day, my mantra was you don’t define me, you don’t put value on me. The bolder my boundaries, the uglier his verbal and emotional violence became. I leave with 2 of our 4 young adult children. They see clearly the brainwashing of their siblings, the abuse cycles, the lies, etc. it is heartbreaking. But we refuse to view ourselves as victims. We are survivors.
Superbly written article. Thanks

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Alasqa

I may confess that I might be a toxic person. But sometimes i did’nt mean to say something that would ache people. I did’nt even apologise if i ever hurt them because sometimes i’d thought if i really hurt them. Sure i would buy them stuffs and text them when i need them. I’d also reply instantly to them if they need me …But am i really toxic? I do get hated, fought and rejected and blacklisted from my friends and families. I have mood swings. But i don’t really speak and blurt everything out if i hate them. I would just keep it to myself, stay silent and cold maybe so that they wont approach me. But i do want them to comfort me but i dont really like the idea but at the same time i want it . I would google everything about depression and being rejected from the society. Am i really toxic? Im repeating it. I’m in depress. I just want to be loved,cherished,cared,remembered by the people around me. Please help me. I have no one to talk to about this. Not even my parents, close families, or friends because they would accuse me more of being toxic but am i really toxic??

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Lavita

I’m now living this nightmare. I have lived away from home for 35 years. I broke out when I was 17. My sister passed away from cancer in feb and my mom started calling me everyday begging me to move home because she was all alone so I gave up everything to move home, my career my home everything except my fiance. He moved with me. Well no sooner did we get there the crap started .she didn’t like him. She didn’t want him there.she wanted him to leave. So we got an apartment and things were ok for awhile but she still tried poking holes in our relationship. She talked us into giving up our apartment and moving back in with her. She told me she was going to sign the house over to me and it would be mine. Well we started making aprovements to the house. TileD the floors.redid the kitchen and as soon as we were done she told me she didn’t want me there anymore. She wanted me out of her life. Well I should of known better. She has never changed. I see how toxic she really is. So now we are living back where we started across the country in a one room place until we can find a new place to live. I will never trust her again and if she is alone for the rest of her life she only has herself to blame.

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Georgie

Have you ever had a toxic family all attack you all because they know how their father is and they themselves say he is no good and I shouldn’t let him treat me like he does. However they play the same game he does. They turn out to be just like him. They themselves don’t care about me and they support his behaviors.

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Mark D

So, my fiance goes out every day or night it varies but we have two kids together and she doesn’t spend a lot of time with them, mostly puts them in their room and sits in the living room on her phone, I am a violent accident survivor and as a result I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder so I have extreme fits of anxiety and I don’t know how to talk about it at times so Idk if it’s my fault if I’m pushing her away or something. We end up fighting cause I want her to make an effort to hang out with me and the kids instead of her friends, I don’t mind her going out but it’s and every day thing, has been for a few months now, some times she doesn’t get back till 2 to 3am, and no I don’t think she’s cheating on me I just think she’s taking “her time” a little too far, Idk how to deal with it I don’t want to split the kids up but I can’t even mention it to her without inciting a fight likemail she says I’m trying to control her and no one can tell her what to do Idk what to do plz help I appreciate honesty. Thank you.

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zizi

OMG!!! i experienced all of them ONE BY ONE!!! really bad feeling i had with an asshole boyfriend. Finally i kicked him out!!
a jealous, Lier, cheater, controller, worsed one forever, sideways glancer…42 years man!! he did not let me go out of the relationship. all the time he said me: I love U!!! Now i am sure he never loved me at all!! he loved himself. he hurted me in all ways!! Broke my heart!! and some physical pain!!

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Naomi

I worked for someone for 8 years.We eventually were friends.
(we didn’t do things socially-I am married-this person has children )
But we were friends-liked his children.Husband and I were always encouraging to them.
I’d been going through a tough time with an elderly parent.
I came to work in a less than good mood. Something that had been bugging me -once again was there(to do with my job) So I brought it up politely with his female friend(who was doing this thing that affects my work) It got prickly because she got emotional and so I immediately tried to smoothe things out and we did.
However my male friend/employer yelled at ME and told ME the atmosphere was TOXIC. He refused to even listen to me and 3 weeks later terminated my employment. I was both angry and frustrated.Why Me??.I had listened to my friend and his girlfriend for years(been in the middle of things) and tried to be neutral.
I mean I work at this person’s home. But I guess I just wasn’t really his friend. ..Maybe it was a blessing is disguise.
But it makes me both sad and angry . I’m a decent person…and my husband and I really enjoyed their children who are both musical. It makes me hesitant to be friends with folks I work with.

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Clare

Need advice…daughter ended a relationship April 2016 on her own accord. Her girlfriend changed my daughters thought patterns and says she had BPD. All her closest friends say my daughter only changed when she was in the relationship. Recently this old girlfriend manipulated herself back into my daughters life. My daughter has a lovely new girlfriend for the last three months. I need this other woman out of my daughters life. She doesn’t know what I know, & today she threatened to take her life. What can I do?

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Brent

Lol, my ex-wife is 1, 2, 6, 7 and 13! This is one of the best articles ever! Thanks so much for writing it. It was very encouraging.

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Trish

Jo Jo, you could be me! I too have been married to someone with almost all the traits. He doesn’t care about me and never did. I see this now and he now has copd and some dementia which brings all the bad things out worse and he I sit taking care of him as no one else will. I go to a therapist once a week and she wants me to leave but he will not make it easy, threatens me with the house etc. I am also disabled and have been for 15 yrs so live on a very low income. I have a chroic pain disorder. Ane like you I don’t even care about showering either as often as before. I have been sleeping on the couch for 5 yrs ever since he tried to hav e sex with me two days after a cancer surgery I had, when I told him I did not feel like it e said as long as I was in this bed he could do what he wanted so I left that bed and never went back. I am just surviving, no love here.

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Louise

So I had this friend that would be really nice and we would hang out. Everything was cool but he started acting really weird. One time I came home for my aunt’s viewing but the same day of the viewing i got a shot at the doctors office that makes me feel sick the rest of the day. Needless to say on a previous day he had left his laundry detergent in my car. Well later on in the day of my aunt’s viewing my mom woke me up and wanted me to check something she was tagged in on Facebook cause she wasn’t able to. Said person text me complaining that I couldn’t bring them their laundry detergent but I could go on Facebook and than called me a bad friend. Most recently that same friend decided they didn’t want to pay for their car anymore or do repairs on it so they returned it to the dealership. I advised them not to do it. Than later on the person talked bad about me and called me a bad friend cause I wouldn’t give them a ride every where they needed to go. Don’t get me wrong this person was a good friend at first. They did nice things for me even when I didn’t ask them to and I returned the favor by being nice to them. It’s like they purposely sabotaged their own life to make people feel sorry for them and than talked bad about me when I didn’t jump to their every demand. Does this make me the bad person? I’m starting to think I should have just gave them my car and just went without myself just so I don’t have to be made out to be the bad person.

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Joe

The family of 5 I was born into has been fractured by dysfunction from the beginning of my first memories. I am the youngest of 3 children and the only son. My father came from a very dysfunctional family and my mother’s mom was an alcoholic/binge drinker. My father was extremely abusive in every way except sexually. Other than sexual abuse, you name it, I was subject to it. Until I became a young man of my own. At 18 I told him I would never allow him to treat me that way again. A few days later, when he tried to, I fought back, beat his a$$, moved out, and never looked back.

Over the years since then I have become very self reliant and successful. At times, one or both of my older sisters would viciously attack me personally. It took me a while to figure it all out because I thought, and they kept telling me, they were smarter/better than me & the family we grew up in and they were past/healed from all of that chaos we grew up being forced to endure. Well that was all obviously BS. I had cut off my father already, but in my mid 20’s I cut off all contact with the other 4 for 5 years. It was the first time in my life where I wasn’t being forced to try to manage any of their needless self serving day to day BS. I was happy, indepentent, dedicated, and the results spoke for themselves. In those 5 years I went from waiting tables to upper management in a Fortune 500 Co. Simply by focusing my efforts & energies on myself as opposed to them and their self manufactured toxic BS.

Over the years since then, my greatest accomplishments have always happened when I was able to seperate myself from all of their pointless drivel. Whether it was only one individual in my birth family, or more, if not all. Whenever I had to and could eliminate their completely useless BS from my life, everything for me soared sky high. I eventually was offered the opportunity to get out on my own. I have now been a successful small business owner for over 10 years.

Now, at 50 years old I feel I am fortunate to be where I am today. However, I won’t paint a fictitiously phony fable of how I got here. It was a ferocious uphill battle fought on a slippery slope full of landmines almost all of the way. Thank God, for myself, and the ones that really do matter, I never ever gave up.

Currently, I am a husband of 10+ years to a beautiful wife who comes from a family without the scorn or scars or cancer of dysfunction. Thank God for that. Smartest decision I ever made. I am grateful she stood by me and waited until I was personally & mentally ready to commit to her. We have 2 precious children who will never ever be exposed to all of that needless pointless self serving NPD dysfunctional BS. I will protect them from ever being vulnerable to any of that. And if doing so means they will never have any relationship with those left in my birth family who are too weak to let go of the demons in their empty self absorbed heads, then so be it. For the health and well being of my beloved family of 4, I truly do not give one rat’s a$$ how it makes any of my birth family feel. That is their problem, not mine. If they refuse to change for the better and improve their lives for themselves and their loved ones, then let them suffer and drown in bottomless miasma of their own self serving BS that they insist on continuously creating in their lives. I don’t want to be any part of that. And I certainly will never allow my healthy family of 4 to be dragged down into it.

If I am successful at breaking the cycle of deliberate behavioral dysfunction which has been bestowed upon me from invading into my family of 4, then by that accomplishment alone I feel my life will have been worth while. My legacy will not allow that cancer to live on in my truly loved ones.

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Rebecca D

you are amazing for sharing, Joe! Its a real issue that more people need to hear.

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JoJo

What if you married someone who has at one point or another done all 15 over 16 years together. The majority of these being consistent. I used to feel like if I just try a little harder or change a little more but am beginning to see unless I want to feel like this for the rest of my life I have got to walk away because if it hasn’t changed much since day 1 it will never. The honeymoon stage I guess is what always made me stay. And the feeling of thinking someone loved me so much and would do anything for me. But when you realize all he’s ever done is hurt you over and over and never really seems remorseful until he thinks “this time might be the time she really leaves” and he’ll be so nice for a week maybe two if you’re lucky. Then he’ll find something you’ve done wrong, not good enough, not perfect like him, expressed AN HONEST opinion or just disagreed with him. Any kind of honesty will make him run so fast and far. If this isn’t enough to leave for your own sake then do it for your kids sake. I’ve finally understood that my kids DESERVE the mom I set out to be. The one I pretended I’d be when I was just a little girl when I dreamed I married my prince and we lived happily ever after. My kids deserve to have a happy mom who does what SHE WANTS WHEN SHE WANTS WHERE SHE WANTS and isn’t afraid of the consequences that are sure to follow if she does. The silent treatment for days not being touched for weeks, months only once a month when you want to FU## And I say it that way because it really never was making love. No matter how I romanticized it it never truly was. Realizing you never loved me hurts so bad because I gave up everything to make sure you ALWAYS felt loved by me, but of course no matter how hard I tried you would never see it because you don’t understand what real LOVE means. You think if you just say it then the other person is supposed to just believe it but when there’s nothing there TO FEEL it’s not real. It can’t be. You never KNEW ME. The things you knew about me you changed once you had the chance once I became so majorly depressed and isolated that I became YOU. I literally forgot who I was and became you, and that’s when you wanted to divorce me every single time we argued. So I stopped arguing. I stopped having an opinion, I stopped living all together. And now I’m paying the price I’m regretting things I did that I never would have done without you pulling the puppet strings you loved it when I was small because it made you look so big you loved being the one that worked and pay the bills while I was depressed lazy one who couldn’t even keep a house clean or take care of her six kids I remember you screaming at me I was 8 months pregnant with #6 asking me “what do you do??!!” and you had so much hate and disgust in your eyes that’s not love and never was and it never will be I’ll always love you for giving me such beautiful children but I have to start giving myself credit where the credit is due; these kids are who they are because of me. hopefully one day something will click in you and you’ll you’ll understand that you’re not perfect that there are so many things about you that you have to change but I cannot continue to put myself on the back burner while you take your time to continue to figure that out because it’s been 16 years not only have we not made progress you’ve caused me in only five years to almost ruin everything I worked so hard by myself to get: my RN my driver’s license my good credit my good criminal record my driving record, everything. And I know I can’t completely blame you for everything because I made my choices I chose to be weak and let you take the wheel and now I realized you tried to change me when I was strong and independent constantly putting me down telling me I couldn’t have done any of it without you so now here I am I don’t even shower regularly because I don’t see a point nobody is close enough to me to care. But now I vow to myself and to my children that I am going to begin to love myself it’s going to be a hard process because it’s been a long time but I am a wonderful beautiful person and I deserve to be loved the way I want to be loved thank you so much for this article there’s so many things that you hit dead on for me and it really helped me see the light the hard part now putting together the plan and keeping that courage up cuz you know once they sense that you’re going to leave that’s when I need the strength the most. God bless you anyone who read all this most likely read it because it’s exactly what they’re going through. I just had to kind of vent I guess and maybe I put it out here where others can see to give me a sort of accountability for how I make this happen and not just words in my journal that take no action. Need as much support as I can get please!! Thanks so much you beautiful people best of luck to anyone fighting this battle

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Joe

The answer is simple, but it might not be what you want to hear. Prepare yourself and your loved ones, get your sh!t together, and get out. Leave him. For good. Forever. He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t respect you. And he never will. Take your time. You’ve already suffered enough at his hand. Endure just enough more in order to plan and set your exit strategy successfully into motion. When the timing is right. Don’t be emotional about it. Be strong. Strong for your yourself and strong for your children.

I am not a person who is giving you this advise for the wrong reasons. I was the only son of a father who appears exactly like the NPD person who you describe as your husband. I am now 50 years old with a wonderful and family of my own. However, my mother and 1 of my sisters still, to this day, at our age, suffer from the toxic exposure that my NPD father’s behavior bestowed upon them. In that type of dysfunctional situation, some people have the ability to recover, some do not. The consequences of not doing so successfully are dreadful. For everyone else involved.

So my advise is to remove your children from that toxic situation as soon as you are able. And don’t ever look back. The health, well being, and prosperity of your loved ones is well worth it more than any other form of sacrifice.

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PepperAnn

Pretty much everything you said. The 15/16 years , the no love, the constant put downs. You do everything to please this person, and they NEVER reciprocate. I also have no one close enough to support me, and I’m devastated, cos I always take him back. And the cycle goes on and on and on. And we separate, and I start to get my shit together, then he comes around again, and again, I take him back. Until he has a mood swing and willfully misinterprets what I say and/or doesn’t listen to anyone else’s opinion about anything, even when presented with logical facts.

To any asshole reading this: If your own child says to you of their own accord, “say sorry to mummy, please and you have to mean it.”, and you can’t even do that. You are a real piece of shit excuse for a human.

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shannon

This is like reading my own diary, except that i’ve only been in my current relationship for 3 years and i have no children. Every. single. thing. about your (ex) husband is identical to my fiancé. I don’t really call him that anymore because I know there’s no future in this relationship. i’ve been saying that for 2 out of 3 years, already. It’s sad and it hurts to realize that someone you once thought adored you, doesn’t give 2 sh*#$ about you.Ive always got one foot out the door and pretty much never unpack my things because he’s always telling me to pack my sh*t and get the F*#¿ out of his house. When i try to leave, tho, he flips the script and says “ oh, so your just gonna walk out on me and leave? Go ahead, it’s what u wanted anyway. You probably got somebody waiting for you somewhere.” 😡😭
Its so infuriating and exhausting and degrading and disrespectful, yet Where am I? WHY CANT I LEAVE? Suicide sounds easier and easier day by day…. But i will never give him that much power over me…. Will I?

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Quartknee

Wow this sounds ALMOST IDENTICAL to how my boyfriend would treat me just recently. They will NEVER change though. He was charged with a felony 2 years ago for stalking me and harassing me when I tried to leave him safely & peacefully. Now 2 years later he is acting just as bad or worse. He told me to get the fuck out for absolutely no reason then hunted me down a week later at the hotel I was staying at and broke into my car, threw my stuff all over the parking lot, left my doors wide open. Stole some of my stuff and flattened all my tires and stole the valve stems out of my tires also. He knows I have NOBODY else to help me. So he went back to jail and now he has 2 felonies. But he gets out and first thing he does is blame him going to jail ON ME…again. I’m sorry you and anyone else is LIVING IN THIS HELL ON EARTH SITUATION. It’s such a hard and fucked up thing to go through and it’s hard /impossible to find anyone who understands what you’re going through. Best wishes for you and anyone else who is stuck & being put through a never ending nightmare.

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Katy

Thank you for sharing, your story is my story. You are wise and courageous and I pray for your success and happiness and in helping others achieve the same!

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Virginia b

It’s as if my subconscious, or spirit, literally typed this up for me to read. Thank you . It’s so accurate to my life. 99 percent of it. So strange,. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with me today, it truly has helped,. I don’t know how much yet, but it has opened my eyes and my heart to at least consider what I need to do. And to get the help in doing it.

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Virginia

I also pray for you to have that love and happiness you also deserve. I pray for that strength to be there to one day. You have a beautiful gift in inspiring others. Thank you again.

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Hailey

My dad was the toxic parent and many parts of this article described what he did. Im definitely gonna save this and read it again. He doesnt care about anyone but himself and he made that pretty clear to me. So, I removed myself out of the family because his side of the family was very toxic as well. Its been 7 months since I have seen or spoken to any of them. I have had my weak moments here and there but I know Im better off without them. This article helped me.

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Richard Chadwell

I love the Phrase ‘ Self Entitlement” it describes the arrogance of narcissistic people.

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Richard Chadwell

Whenever I start to feel the anger, the hurt, the ‘how could you do that’ feeling, I re-read this article and it shows my why people do the things they do. I guess it still bothers me cause the abusers were my mom and my brother. they were a tag team on destroying me. or trying to destroy me. I turned out to be a really nice person in spite of all their efforts. they ended up not having any friends left on the entire planet. people like me for what I am.

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Hailey

It bothers me as well. Me and my dad were very close when I was younger. He has always been toxic and it didnt affect me until I was older. His true colors showed and it got very ugly. But, I did what was right for me and removed myself from them. Its honestly been the best 7 months of my life. It feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

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Jade

Congratulations to you, I bet you feel so liberated & healthy now. I have family members that have literally had me so down, I didn’t know how to get out. I finally removed them. I didn’t have the emotional capacity to try & keep them happy any longer. My children & husband paid the price entirely. Not anymore!!! Things are changing, best wishes!

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Lauren

I had a toxic friendship his name was Dominic he told me he was always going to be there but he lied of course he was there through text a lot but that’s about it he was only there in person for two times in two years sure he’s in a serious relationship and his attitude is why I no longer have respect for serious relationships he should know that yes friendship is selfish it takes lots of time and commitment of course I’m not his friend anymore because his girlfriend turned him into a giant jerk then I stupidly got into a casual friendship with him then I ended that now we aren’t on speaking terms anymore we haven’t been friends for a few years now and it’s going to stay that way unless he breaks up with his girlfriend I don’t trust him anymore and I have a hard time trusting men as friends and I will never be friends with a guy that’s in a serious relationship or married or engaged but that’s because I no longer trust that kind of man anymore even as a friend anyone who disagrees I hate you

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Liz

I was called toxic today for being petty. Is being petty really a toxic trait? All I did was wait exactly one hour to reply back to them because they had done the same to me while being online. Needless to say he blocked me on every social media and yet called me and said that he’s glad he got revenge on people like me. He asked me if I was crying I said no but he knew it was a lie because my voice was shaky. Idk now I’m so self conscious as to if I really am toxic or not.

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Kathleen

Liz,
WOW..First of all anyone that says they got ‘revenge on people like you’ needs some self help! Please do not give this person anymore of your time.. A significant other should compliment you. They should make you feel good about yourself. He did you a favor by blocking you…and hopefully he doesn’t unblock you to play more h eadgames! YOU are NOT the toxic one Liz.
Kathleen

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Anonymous

I am always blamed, so many selfish people in my life! I’m sick of it, I had to deal with everything solely whilst others abused my kind nature

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Bebe

Yes me too. Right now I feel not good about me. I have a home a studio and feel I am being used. Because this is my grandson by my deceased daughter. I thought this is weird. His father is his guardian custody. I let him come here after he said his father told him not to return to his home and so he takes his son no toys yet mentioned on this odd call to me. It’s been four years so I felt wow. He said he took his savings and went on a trip to first Rhode Island where grandson blurted out “we are going to live in Cranston.” Then he said, his daddy, that they went to New York and stay at hotel for $300.00 to be near Central Park. Took grandson to super Mario and spent $100 on toy. Where is the toy? Said he turned to Maine to camp at Bangor. Which was a disaster. For RVs tent area was up high Hill no one there dark. He stayed just two hours and left everything there everything.??? I live in Maine he had to by pass me!?!
Next he said he’s driving moose three and two years five hour drive to my apt. Funny is it really five hours? It is from where his father lives with new wife. He is upset later he revealed that new wife said to him,”when your father dies everything goes to her.”
Now he’s here rental car 200 a day. Yet homeless. When I asked him about signing up to get a bigger place here he seems to avoid it all. As last time he was to go to school here four years ago. Yet went another way. To my daughter’s place disaster there male thing with her live in Long term bf.
Drinks…hurt grandson so ends up with his father northern exposure end. Now here.
Grandson blurted out again Imiss April my other daughter in ri. Only thing is neither daughter will talk to me. Four years April sente picture of my grandson and her. From different father.

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Ugh

You should have texted him, “go f–k yourself”, so that he could not hear your voice!

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