by Cylon George
Wrong things happen when you trust, and give too much attention to, the wrong people.
Do you have toxic people in your life? Do they influence you in detrimental ways? Do they leave you feeling manipulated or bad about yourself after every encounter? If so, you’re probably wondering how things got to be this way. Despite your positive attitude and approach to life, you find yourself unexpectedly surrounded by negativity.
It might not occur to you that some of your strongest positive attributes may actually be attracting toxic people. These people may subconsciously feel threatened by your strengths, or they may just see you as an easy target. Either way, they will attempt to undermine or control you by limiting your peace of mind, happiness or success.
It’s important to understand that every character strength has what is commonly called a “shadow side.” When used too liberally, our strengths can become weaknesses and also make us more susceptible to toxic people.
I’ve experienced this in my own life. One of my character strengths is that I am extremely sincere and compassionate. But when pushed to its limit, my sincerity and compassion can become people pleasing. I’ve realized that I sometimes quickly appease people who are pushy or rude just so they will like me. By doing so, I inadvertently allow these people to enter my life and subject me to their toxic behavior.
I eventually learned to find my boundaries and say no, without losing myself in the process. I became aware of how people may try to use my character strengths to their advantage. This awareness has helped me ward off many toxic relationships.
The key is not to suppress your positive character strengths, but to educate yourself so toxic people can’t use them against you. If you feel like these people are drawn to you, here are seven surprising reasons why this may be happening, and some actionable tips to help you address it:
1. You are a great listener.
Let’s face it. With technological distractions stealing our attention all the time, great listeners are often hard to find. When you find one, it’s hard not to take advantage of the rare opportunity to be heard.
Toxic people, however, take things to the next level. They’ll talk to you for hours when they can get away with it. They’ll ignore every body language and verbal cue you throw at them. They’ll share unsolicited, negative details about their life every time they see you. And they’re certainly not interested in what you have to say — because they’re only interested in seeing and hearing things their way.
If you’re great at active or empathetic listening, you may find yourself unwittingly becoming the target of a conversational bully or narcissist.
When entering into a conversation, decide how much time you can, or wish to, spend with the other person. Limit your conversations with toxic people to no more than a few minutes.
Think ahead of time about some exit lines you can use when the time is up or when a lull in the conversation develops. Here are a few examples: “It was great catching up with you…” or, “I’ll talk to you again soon, but right now I must…” or, “I’ve got to get back to work.”
The key to deploying this strategy well is to not send mixed messages. Let your body language and your words match. Of course, this will feel harsh and awkward sometimes, but it’s a necessity for your own well being.
2. You are incredibly generous with your time.
Most people would agree that being generous is a desirable character trait. But beware; toxic people can be drawn to overly generous people.
They will cling to you if you’re willing to drop everything for them, answer all their calls, reply promptly to their emails, and fulfill their requests and demands every minute of the day.
As they consolidate their power by demanding more and more of your precious time, you may find yourself becoming increasingly resentful.
Generosity without boundaries is a recipe for toxic relationships. To establish healthy and reasonable boundaries, start by becoming aware of your feelings and needs. Note the times and circumstances when you’re resentful of fulfilling someone else’s needs. Gradually build boundaries by saying no to gratuitous requests that are likely to cause resentfulness in you.
Again, this will be hard at first because it will feel selfish. But if you’ve ever flown on a plane, you know that flight attendants instruct passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before tending to others, even their own children. Why? Because you cannot help others if you’re incapacitated.
In the long-term, establishing and enforcing boundaries will be one of the most charitable things you can do for yourself and those you care about. They will preserve the best of you so you can share yourself with many wonderful people – not just the toxic ones who try to keep you tied up.
3. You’re open, honest and trusting with your dreams.
Sadly, many people opt to settle in life. So if you’re striving for big dreams and goals, you’re bound to attract the attention of a toxic person or two.
If you freely share your dreams and goals with them, they may view you as aggressive, greedy, unrealistic, or selfish. Driven by the fear that you might actually succeed, they’ll be ready with a word of discouragement. They’ll try to plant seeds of fear and doubt. And as you begin to make progress, they’ll double down on their strategy.
Never share your deepest dreams and goals with people who have proven themselves to be toxic or close-minded, even if they ask you about them repetitively. Be especially wary of people who have lots of opinions but never challenge their own views, educate themselves, offer positive alternatives, or take action.
To counteract their negativity, surround yourself with people who are pursuing similar dreams and goals and have a track record of success. Engage with those who lift you higher. (Marc and Angel discuss this process in detail in the “Relationships” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
4. You’re really easygoing.
Most of us like being around easygoing people.
If you’re an easygoing person, you’re good at keeping your cool in tough situations and putting others at ease with a comforting word or witty quip. You’re also likely non-aggressive, patient and kind.
But the inner peace you exude is attractive to the toxic person who’s eager to disrupt the peace. They may misinterpret your apparent pacifism and conclude that you’re an easy target for their controlling ways. And in your weaker moments you may find yourself saying yes to them more often than you might realize.
Become aware of how a toxic person may try to take advantage of your easygoing ways. For instance, your polite words and gestures may be seen as an open invitation. Phrases such as “Sure, anytime you want,” or, “That’s no problem at all,” may be interpreted literally by a toxic person. They may respond by monopolizing your time for their own purposes.
Avoid the tendency to automatically commit to requests. Instead, make your default response: “Let me get back to you on that in ten minutes.” If you do say yes, be sure not to give the impression that your offer is open-ended. (Read Toxic People.)
5. Your sunny disposition is all-inclusive.
As the saying goes, opposites attract. Sometimes the positive light you shine attracts people who are craving the light themselves.
As a person with a sunny disposition, you’re often the one to strike up a conversation or light up a room with your infectious smile. These qualities make you a pleasure to be around but may also be attractive to certainly toxic people who ultimately want to hog everyone’s attention and make the conversation about “ME, ME, ME.” They are typically unhappy with themselves, and therefore look to others for validation. These people deserve respect, but you need to respect yourself too.
Understand that many unhappy people are unable to find joy within themselves – and they mistakenly believe that you can make them happy. They’re relatively easy to spot because they’ll go above and beyond to please you with flattery, gifts or idealization. They’ll be overly agreeable and willing to fulfill your requests or desires, as long as you give them a “yes” to everything.
These are warning signs that you may be in danger of falling under the obligations of a toxic person who will eventually expect you to pump up their ego 24/7. But the truth is, you can’t make them happy, even if you could oblige to their every need. And you’re almost certain to make yourself unhappy by doing so.
If you find yourself entering into a relationship with a person like this, ask yourself: Am I spending time with this person because they flatter me or because I genuinely want to be in this relationship? If your answer is the former, don’t be afraid to give yourself some breathing room.
6. You’re a great bridge builder.
If you’re a bridge builder, you can’t stand seeing disagreements and disputes go unresolved. If you’re one of the parties involved, you’ll move heaven and earth to find a compromise or resolve the problem.
While most people would likely respond to such overtures in kind ways, certain toxic people in your life may be more interested in destroying bridges rather than building them.
Some toxic people find their joy by creating drama and discord. Understand that some bridges are simply not worth building or maintaining. They’re bridges to nowhere.
How do you resist the urge to build or maintain bridges when you know it’s futile? Think about how often you’ve had to work on building or repairing bridges due to a toxic person’s behavior. If they’re constantly requiring you to resolve disputes, think about how they may be deriving pleasure at your expense. It may be a sign that you’ll need to cut funding to this hopeless venture so you can apply your resources of time and energy to more positive endeavors.
May the bridges you burn light your way.
7. Your view of human nature is super positive.
For most of us, our daily interactions with people affirm our basic assumptions that the average human being is kind and decent. But every so often, we unsuspectingly run into the darker sides of human nature in the people around us that may challenge these assumptions.
Do you struggle to accept the darker sides of human nature such as possessiveness, narcissism, greed, and deception? Do you hold on to friendships with such people because you believe they will change? Do you brush off their put downs and unkind deeds and spend lots of time with them anyway?
If so, you may have a relatively high tolerance for toxic people. You may find yourself enduring their negative and even abusive behavior. And you actually may not realize that you are in a relationship with a toxic person until the situation becomes dire.
Human beings are pretty good at sensing danger with their intuition – not just physical dangers but emotional dangers as well. If you’re in an emotionally negative or abusive situation, don’t second-guess the discomfort you feel inside. This may be difficult because your optimism about others may drown out uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety, shock, anger, or emotional withdrawal.
When warning signs appear in the form of emotional discomfort, instead of brushing them off or ignoring them, ask yourself these questions:
- What is causing this feeling in me when I’m with this person?
- What is this discomfort trying to protect me from?
- What positive actions can I take to relieve this discomfort?
Just like physical pain (as unpleasant as it is) protects you from further bodily harm, emotional discomfort, when embraced, can protect you from the damaging effects of a toxic environment. (Marc and Angel discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
The positivity and goodness you bring to the world truly are precious gifts. Protect these gifts from negative influences. Invest yourself in people and circumstances that will magnify your efforts rather than diminish them.
Even though your positive traits may inadvertently attract toxic people, do not let this stop you from being who you are. Just be aware of this reality so you can better spot danger when it arises and take positive, protective measures.
Also consider that your positive gifts have the power to indirectly transform negativity. Just as light will dispel darkness, your light can be a shining example to those who mean well but don’t realize their toxic tendencies. And even though you’ll need to limit your exposure to them, don’t underestimate the possibility that your example may influence them for the better, one way or the other, over the long run.
The floor is yours…
What are your experiences with toxic people? What have you done to cope with their behavior? What have you done to let your light shine anyway? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Author Bio: Cylon is a spiritual chaplain, musician, devoted husband, and busy dad of six. He blogs about practical spiritual tips for living well at Spiritual Living For Busy People – sign up and get his free guide 20 Little Tricks To Improve Your Mood Even If You Feel Like Punching Something (or Someone).
Photo by: Kim Carrier
All I can say is WOW! I never really put the two together…I have been so caught up in people pleasing” mode for so long that I created my own blinders. Really glad to have read this! Thank you.
Oh such a great read. So well analysed. I could reflect on most of them. Thanks a lot Angel for the article. Can I get the post delivered in my email so that I could keep this easy reference guide for future toxic encounters!!!!
Thanks for the post, it is about realizing that someone is surrounded by toxic people, then it’s his choice to be himself or to be a victim. Being assertive is very important knowing when to say no is a good start.
Very timely! This helped with an exploding toxic situation that happened two days ago and I have to see the person in a social situation today. Will use advice.
Marc and Angel, this article was designed and prepared just for me. I feel that is totally me and i have a lot of problems because its hard to find a partner because there are a lot men (toxic) disturbing me. after i read this email, i have learnt how to deal with them. especially that of being too generous with my time. i now have a solution. Being a listener was another major issue. people give me all sought of information of them being unhappy, having problems and think to myself maybe i am there for a reason and to help. After reading that article i have also known how to deal with such situations. I don’t know how to thank you Marc and Angel for this information you normally give to us freely. May God bless you as you help millions of people in need.
Hey! Really nice post this one. I don’t have this problem now, as far as I can think of. But I did have, so I did a lot of clean up some years ago. To much crap. So, like Cesar Milan I corrected, and later ditched them all.
But I see a lot of people around me, and my clients keep including this bad energy in their lives. And it’s much part of what I tell people during my life coaching and mentorship sessions. So, a good post to share. 🙂
I’ve nearly tuned my life letting toxic people attempt to drain me of my resources, my energy, my joy and my strengths because I just believed that everyone meant well deep down. It’s taken me nearly a decade to even start to learning how to spot a toxic person…all this after having children and trying to share my life with toxic people. I will make sure my children understand he concepts that I’ve had to learn the hard way.
Quinn Eurich says
Great job Cylon,
Too many people just say “you need better borders”. You describe not only what those weak borders look like, but how to do a great job at border patrol!
Laura J. Tong says
Such a positive, comprehensive set of strategies – thank you Cylon. #6 and #7 particularly spoke to me. This truly is a post to digest and come back to time and again.
Vickie G says
I understand all to well of the mistakes, No Toxic people who I’ve let take me, as an easy Target…. Well thank you for the Enlightened, of the Relearning to say “No in a Tactful way an mean it”.
(NO MEANS NO)
Very glad to have found this in my email inbox tonight! I am in the process of setting emotional boundaries so that people don’t always feel free to pus their problems on me. The only thing I continue to struggle with though, is that some people make it out to be that nobody could help them, so I subsequently feel guilty and let them anyways. This of course impedes my progress. Anyone have a suggestion?
Hey Chris, so glad you enjoyed the post and I applaud your choice to begin setting emotional boundaries. Regarding your question – the next time someone makes that argument to you, ask yourself “if ‘nobody’ can help them, will my helping them truly make any difference.” No one, not even you, has the power to help a toxic person if they are not first willing to help themselves. I wish you all the best on your journey and I hope this helps.
Last month, I ended a toxic relationship of 9 years. Your sentence in your reply to Chris said it all: “No one, not even you, has the power to help a toxic person if they are not first willing to help themselves.” I helped him because I loved him. He took advantage of that love and never tried to help himself out of his mess of a life. It took a lot talking to myself, to convince me that I wasn’t helping, but instead enabling him to continue his destructive patterns. He has to help himself now. I can’t and won’t allow him to do use me any longer. It’s been very hard, but I am letting go and feeling stronger each day that goes by.
Thank you so much! Great article! Of course with all your articles I look forward to the many takeaways to apply in day-to-day situations. . This one hits on so many levels – relational, professional, personal. Whether it’s a boss, family member or companion, can make for a very draining day! WOW…talk about difficult. I gave myself a 90day challenge to disconnect from toxic behaviors/people. It’s not easy to peel that toxicity off of you when in your heart you feel you were doing the right thing by listening or making yourself available because you initially enjoyed spending time with that individual but with a boss, that’s a whole different technique.. Your article was perfect timing. Thank you for including The Fix. I had an A-ha Moment with “What is this discomfort trying to protect me from?” That is so spot on and confirms that whole notion of “gut feeling”. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. Then it is a duck! This helped further pull the blinders back to see and hear better to protect my time, positivity and joy. I was becoming a cranky pants. That toxicity can really penetrate into your whole being! Grrrrrr! That’s unacceptable in my book!
Thank you both so much for what you do. I’ve been receiving your emails for a good while and have helped me through some very difficult times with absolutely positive results! God has blessed you two with a great gift to your readers and bond that I one day pray to receive.
I haven’t read this whole post yet, but it definitely rings true so far. Unfortunately, I deal with some toxic people in my life and while I love them, it can be difficult. Sometimes, as you mention, sharing too much or being too kind to the wrong people can be a bad idea because they seem to take advantage of the fact. I think one has to find a way to be kind, but also stand up for themselves. This really is a great post, thank you for writing it!
Holy Cow! I have gotten some super toxic energy from people lately and couldnt figure out why people would try to entice me with the most selfish offers I’ve ever heard, or call me out of the blue just to wallow in self pity. I figured it’s because I’m easy going but this really clarified things. Thanks!
As I was reading about numbers 7 and 3, another type of toxic person came to mind. The ones that are there to nourish our dreams and they act all super supportive, but in reality they want to be in charge of your success so they can take a piece of the pie. You say “I want to be a famous movie star (or musician or inventor) “, so the friend starts supporting you in terms of “we”. ” we can be famous “,” we can move to Hollywood “, ” We can go to all those award shows”. Your dream is no longer about you; it has become about the friend who wants to live vicariously through your dreams. This can go very wrong when those dreams take longer than you realize,or it doesn’t come at all, or if you decide to take another course. Then the friend who supported you gets upset, as if you’re smashing their dreams and either become hostile or ignore you.
Yep, I used to do that. I have no limit, and I always use my advice to help others, but I have been emotionally abused in the past and have been stuck in a situation where i’m pouring out my heart to someone who seemed to be wanting to control/ manipulate me or make me unhappy. He was full of resentment, anger, aggressiveness and even though I understood I was the victim, he made me doubt in myself calling me things I believed to be true. Possibly using my weaknesses against me, playing mind games with me. Anyway.. hell I suffered and kept on suffering even when he wasn’t around, because I was ruminating on the damage done, and unfortunately ‘sharing’ it with him, possibly hoping I could ‘change’ him. My bad, I was very wrong there, but I lost myself completely over the course of 1 year.. towards the end I could feel I just didn’t deserve this and forgave & forgot him for good. He possibly profited a lot, and maybe changed his behaviour at the end, but I gave too much of myself in that, and I wasn’t realizing he was doing me so much harm, costing me time, energy..etc. because I couldn’t see beyond his criticism. Low self-esteem & loss of confidence & bad attachment habit of ‘people pleasing’ got me into that… now I know, not to drain my energy for people who only think to profit & exploit others like that. I must think of, and respect myself more. Thanks for the great article!
Hi Marc and Angel,
This is my first time to leave a comment here and I must say all of your written articles are very helpful and inspiring. Hope you would continue to inspire us.
I want to thank you a lot for touching so much of my life!
God Bless 🙂
My experience with toxic people is my mother, who is negative beyond measure… I lived away (I have moved to the other side of the world!) for few years and grow to be a positive person. Our relationship during those years improved. Now I’m back. I love her and I want to have a relationship with her, but I’m starting to notice that every time she opens her mouth a complaint, criticism or something along these lines comes out. I know she has a huge negative impact on me, because otherwise I wouldn’t even notice these things. They bother me a lot. I’m trying to put my life together, and this is not helpful. I guess my coping mechanism would be to move away again.
christine sharland says
I was raised by my eldest sister after my Mum died (then my Dad died 2 years later i was 13 and 15) My sister seemed toi be always criticising me,
I moved away, to be near my son and grandkids but I often feel guilty as Ive recently shut down the contact after one too many nasty or judgemental comments……. but shes 79 and Im 63 and feel a bit guilty at times and that I should talk with her again……………But its so very hard isnt it? because Ive become much more confident now, after nearly 5 years living away, I did visit and chat on the phone until five months ago…………………But there is always something with her, shes judged me, taken contact away…Shes cut up a card i sent her and sent it back to me…….and tells me im not confident driving when Im giving her lifts!! So I dont feel loved for who I am when with her…………Thats never a good feeling………..I am thinking of writing a well thought out letter but merely to say why im not speaking this time; as Im pretty sure she wont change now.!
I’m currently in a toxic relationship with a woman I met in group therapy.
Things have really deteriorated over the last few years. I’ve tried encouraging her to get out & make more friends, so I could get off the hook, but she didn’t. Now she’s a virtual invalid. She has no family or friends left.
Because she has no one, she recently made me her health proxy. If she’s too ill to make decisions, she wants me to make them for her.
At first, I was only supposed to drive her to the doctor if she had an appointment where she needed someone to drive her home. It’s now become, any doctor appointment, whether she’s able to drive or not.
She blames her need for me to drive her, to an accident she had 3 yrs ago crossing a bridge to a doctor appointment.
I’ve shown her a safer way to get to her appointments, but she still would have to cross a bridge (not the same one she had the accident on). She cancelled an appointment because I couldn’t drive her.
I want to get out of this relationship, but I don’t know how, other than to be totally cruel & tell her point blank to “get out of my life!”
that person is just a controlling person and trying to make you feel bad .
Yolande, You are so kind to help your friend. Being a person who has health problems, I thought I may shed some light on this situation. I don’t think it is as simple as someone suggested. I don’t think she is simply attempting to control you. When a person is sick, they do not feel like getting out and making friends. We tend to become isolated, not at all by choice. One way you could help your friend and yourself is to find people who are willing to help “care give” your friend by taking her to appointments and providing genuine friendship and support. They could be your therapy group or a church or some organization or community group. The catch is, it will be a little work for you to help her actually set the new plan in place. Once a person needs this much help for what ever the reason is, they are usually unable to perform executive functions of making these types of arrangements. Sometimes we are subtly losing brain function or we are taking medications which have changed our confidence and abilities. It is extremely overwhelming to the sick person to find and set up the help they need. It is overwhelming to have to depend upon others for help. It is overwhelming to have to make phone calls and reach out for the kind of support it sounds like your friend needs. You can help her enormously by finding people to bring into your friend’s life. There are very few people with the goodness of heart to help someone the way you are doing. The way to help yourself is to dedicate a bit of time to getting other people involved with your friend. I know it is difficult for a well person to see or understand all the changes that happen when a person is ill. We need to maintain being treated respectfully, without being judged for the areas that are failing us. We need loving help, people willing to step into our world with us just long enough to help us set up GOOD helpers. Setting up good helpers is NOT giving a sick person a list of phone numbers to call. It is asking your friends permission to call for her, on her behalf. Or if it will not violate your friend’s privacy, you can reach out and then tell your friend you have found some people who can help. Your friend will adjust to having other’s help her to appointments. I hope you find a way to take care of yourself and your sick friend. I promise that most of us who are sick are in no way enjoying the fact that we need help. We are not attempting to control other people. And truth be told, we RARELY actually ask for all of the help we really need. Best of luck to you, Yolande.
I do agree with Rosie that kindness and compassion should always be shown when a “sick” person depends on the others in order to live their day to day routines.
However, the person Yolande is speaking of does not sound “sick” – not in the manner I believe you are referring to.
She doesn’t sound as though she’s broken her arm, or that her eyesight is failing, or that she is in some way physically unable to help herself.
Yolande’s friend is more than likely suffering from some type of mental illness. Mental illness is just as real and debilitating as any physical injury, and just as likely to prevent a person from being able to care for themselves.
Mental illness presents in so many different, and extremely complex forms. It’s also not uncommon for a person to suffer from more than one mental disorder, making it almost impossible for a person with no psychological training to even recognize a mental problem exists, much less have any idea How to help them.
By continuing to come to the rescue of her friend, Yolande may actually be enabling further co-dependency issues, though she’s just trying to be a decent human being.
Yolande has every right to her own personal happiness. If that happiness does not include playing chauffeur or taking responsibility for her friend’s medical well-being, then it is time to make an exit plan.
If you encounter a situation where a friend or loved one develops or shows signs of mental problems, do everything you can to encourage them to seek medical advice. But if things are getting worse, The best thing you may be able to do for your friend is to ask the authorities to step in and enact an involuntary hold for evaluation/ Baker Act.
It sounds like a terrible thing to do to a friend or loved one, but being properly diagnosed and medicated can actually give them their life back. Allowing mental illness to go untreated can make the problem worse.
After begging my best friend for 6 years to seek a therapist for her extreme highs/ lows, manic and irrational behavior and finally her paranoid accusations – I saw my friend deteriorate in front of my face.
BI-polar and schizophrenia surfaced and I saw my best friend become someone I didn’t know. This happened as she came for an overnight visit with her 1 year old, whom she didn’t know or want to associate with one moment and welcomed him back into her arms the next.
Get help, if you need it. Get someone else help if they need it.
They should be treated with compassion, not as I don’t believe that
Well, it would seem I’m married to one of these folks!
He’s a great actor cause before we got married, he was sweet, charming and “seemed” attentive & caring. But once we got married he became the toxic person that is described here…..To counteract his “ugliness”, I play music and walk and talk to a great counselor in order to grow my character and leave his ugly characteristics alone so that they will eventually DIE.
OMG this was dead on! I have a very good intuition however after the passing of my mother I guess I let my guard down. I let a toxic person in my life and after a series of crying sessions and other madness I have taken a stand. I will be honest I fell in love with him. Never thought I would be manipulated but he got me. However as of today I have pulled away. Just because you love someone or something does not mean you are meant to be. I began to see the pattern in his ways and really looked at all I lost while enter twined with him smh. He distracted me for the bigger picture. Thankfully I am stronger then I knew. Mentally and emotionally. I see that experience as one I was suppose to go through to prepare me. My eyes and senses are definitely more open. If I feel off when I encounter someone I keep it moving.
Then there are my children. I have a 20 yo daughter and a 18 yo son. Sad to say they can be toxic to me at times! This was the hardest for me to realize and take action with. Because of a mothers love. However knowing how loving and supportive I am I had to step back and stand up. I told them yes I love you but I will not let you make me feel bad for your circumstances because of your choices. I will not over extend myself to you by putting you wants before my needs, because you are both young adults and its time to grow up for real. Work, get your own car and handle your responsibilities like I did and do!
Thank you for this awesome article! I will share so others can be blessed to find the strength to stand up for themselves and choose their happiness overall. Blessed be!
Marie Maass says
This article could not have come at a better time in my life – I am truly grateful that I took the time to read it, as it will help me with a couple of toxic situations that have arisen recently.
I have also learned, as I have gotten older (and this comes from something I read also recently) I am very careful who has The Pleasure To Sit At My Table.
Oh wow! I have all the above traits and now I realize why I have quite a few toxics in my life. It’s time to clean house, move away from these people who just seem to suck the life out of others. I will never stop being the happy, positive, outgoing person I was born to be, that’s just who I am! I will however, be very careful about who allow into my life because I definitely deserve better!
Kim Willis says
What a thought provoking post this is! I guess at some time we all attract toxic people. But I ever really thought why one person tends to attract more of them than another.
Toxic people gain their power when they think they can have dominance over another.
Thanks Angel – I will share this one!
Wow! Very insightful. I feel that this post is particularly relevant to me, especially points 1-4. I’ve only recently started learning to identify and cut ties with toxic individuals and it’s made a huge difference.
Thank you for this great article! I’m new to your website, and I must say, you guys post such well-written and helpful content.
Faye riley says
Cylon, this is an extremely important article! You have courageously said things that are true and given the answer. Thank you so much. I have encountered individuals and situations like this recently as I move into being more positive and successful. Because I try to look at the bright side, it’s a challenge to set boundaries. Just knowing that someone else has gone through it and handled it well created hope and encouragement to be aware, firm and calm when dealing with people who do not encourage. Very insightful.
Now I know why I kept this in my inbox until I had a chance to really read! I have made this my life- to surround myself with those that educate, enlighten, and bring joy to my days. However, I have found myself in a relationship for 3 years, that is dealing with an exwife that is a narcissist and a boyfriend that doesn’t have boundaries…”because of the kids”. I am trying to respect that, but at the same time find myself resentful. He is treated poorly, until she needs something, to which he promptly agrees to (usually involving more time with his kids- as they are the tool) and the cycle is like a hamster wheel that I am about ready to jump off of. Any suggestions?
Awe man – where were you 50 years ago? I’ve been to hell in back, with my siblings, mother, husband, in-laws & community members. I swear it’s epidemic! This is spot on for me. I’m a very good-hearted person and will give most anyone the benefit of the doubt. I can remember being 4-5 years old and my sister used to have “pinching” contests – kinda like chicken. She would pinch me so hard & I just didn’t have the “heart” to hurt my family in the same manner. I’d start to pinch her back and – just no, I won’t do it. I had personal convictions and couldn’t inflict pain on “someone I loved”. My family tied me up to a high chair and tormented me, pretending there were spiders going to get me. Even at a young age of 4-5 years old, I kept asking myself – who are these people? They’re “supposed” to be my family & why are they treating me like this if they “love” me so much?!* They’d trip me, throw me to the ground, taunt & additionally was raped. I didn’t like my family and didn’t want to be like them and opted to leave as soon as I turned 21 years old.
I moved and hooked up with the first person I met, just to escape a dysfunctional family. Needless to say, my husband was very controlling and narcissistic…his family I discovered were all hate filled people too. I’m autistic, so…never fit in anywhere and have never had any type of social network. We stayed together for 30 years and he died in 2009. My mother left me her home and I’ve since moved back to my home state in 2014. Someone accused me of being narcissistic – that’s the only reason I started researching & have identified all of these characteristics everywhere. Our family have real estate and when my husband was dying of cancer & I was looking for help from my family – they accused me of being “greedy”. All I wanted is for my husband to live! Of course, when your stressed with no resources, you began to ruminate & call, call, call – my sister’s. They label me as “trouble maker and greedy”. Far be it from me to be greedy. That’s not me….but, because they are — they automatically accuse me of being just like them. I’ve always known that I’m different & have been the scape-goat of the family. They’ve been very greedy, selfish and clannish.
Yes, it took me 59 years to learn that it’s not me after all – it’s all of them! I don’t trust anyone, but this helps me to understand that I am a walking target for these kind of people, because I do listen, I do empathize, I understand what it is to be scapegoated, I’ve survived drug abuse, survived my heart being ripped out by people I love – over and over again, who’ll spit in your eye, at every chance to maintain their conquered territory. I need to memorize these scripts – lol…otherwise, become a recluse – which would be very easy for me to do. I’ve already put blinds up all over my house and don’t even look out the window. My next of kin are my two dogs and a cat & I’m learning some hobbies. Hopefully, I’ll get my crafts up and running to donate to charity (lol). What’s worse, I’ve “learned” their ways and am guilty of “borrowing” their language – even if it runs against the grain…sometimes, positively and other times, in heated arguments. The difference, I feel very guilty for standing up for myself.
Thank you. This post removed any trace of guilt I harbored for changing my ways.
I could have been the poster child for your article until last May when finally, I had had enough. Having all the traits mentioned, I was a magnet for toxic people-family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, even strangers! It was non-stop and endless until I had an idea:
I told everyone I was starting a business as a personal consultant, had business cards made, noted my fee ($50 per hour) and services (focused listening, relationship and financial guidance, and physical assistance). I provided a card and a new-business announcement to everyone (all toxic) I knew. They all disappeared. Yay. I have never been happier.
P.S. I always have cards with me and if a new toxic person begins, I pull out a card and ask if would like to make an appointment They practically run from me. 🙂
omg… this is awesome!!! hahaha. good idea!
Doing this! Thank you! 🙂
thank you for this. gratitude.
I am also a magnet for toxic people (professional/ personal/ romantic). I def think that my family dynamic growing up contributed. A couple members of my family are very vocal and willful. I was often left with the choice to bend to their interests to keep the peace and be involved, or to be by myself and outside. As an adult I have seen this pattern in either friendships that are toxic/ become toxic or in relationships where I am often used and discarded.
Its hard out there and I have been better about drawing boundaries (more work to do of course). My challenge is that I find that I am by myself now most of the time and that is hard. It can feel like the choice is between toxic people or being alone sometimes. I hope that with time and effort that wont be the case and I will be able to have healthier relationships.
Ray Flemming says
I have had the situation with relative where the person has and still tries to invite themselves alone along with us. This happens when after being asked or if we mistakenly have mentioned that we are going to somewhere or went to an activity. This compromises what should be happy telephone or family visits. It is stressful as we do not have much news when this person asks continually so what did you do on the weekend or what are your plans for the day. We had to set a boundary of family activities altogether every two weeks. Ideally we would prefer for this person to stop asking and putting us on the spot. I was brought up to believe this type of behavior is rude and although there have been times when I might want to do that I would not impose. I have also been taught that it can be rude to point out to someonelse that they are being rude. This person is sensitive and controlling and we do not want to make her mad. She never gives without expecting in return although we do other things as we feel led without expectation in return. We try to never accept anything either that may put us in that position where we owe them anything. By the same token this person is widowed with a heart condition and raised one of us instead of a parent that died early.
My tears doesn’t stop from falling from my eyes while I’m reading this. My positivism is destroying me because I failed to protect myself. Thanks for reminding me my worth. This is what I need at this very moment.
Thank you for this. I started walking once, sometimes twice a week, with a friend, always walking where she wanted to walk due to her health problems. It is now at the point where she wants to walk everyday and seems to rope me in somehow. I like to explore a walk different places and I have a dog who likes to be off leash at times and run on the beach. Just today I told her that my dog needed to go to the beach and I could not walk with her and she got angry with me. She says she has loose joints and cannot walk on the beach. I started to realize it was hard for me to break away from her and do what I wanted to do. This article made me see things more clearly. I will continue and to enjoy walking with her but on my terms. I have had several friends lately that I have had to put at ‘arm’s length’ as instead of making me feel better they made me feel worse. It seems friendships start out well and evolve into me being a kicking bag for their problems. This article has certainly made me see things more clearly.
Amber Stewart says
I found this to be very helpful, I’m in a season of my life of cutting off toxic relationships of all kinds, and I thought I was doing a good job until I kept attracting this type of person and I was seriously confused as to why. It didn’t make sense, I thought if I were “cleansing” and “letting go” and “about positivity” then WHY was I STILL attracting this kind of person,……I thought this article broke down the why really well and supplied the remedy to these haunting situations
Well done and thank you!