The world contains many good people – and quite a few toxic ones. Their relationship with you isn’t equal. It’s about them demanding more and making you feel you never give enough. If it’s a romantic relationship, you’ll always feel insecure and unhappy. If it’s a relationship with a friend or family member, you’ll always feel upset and guilty. When you have to diminish yourself to please them, that’s not being loyal - it’s being submissive. Give yourself permission to walk away without guilt. The door can always be left open for when the toxic person is able to interact with you in a decent way. Here are nine common tactics used by toxic people
1. Their affection is fickle
One day they’ll shower you with compliments, the next, they’ll ignore you. This sends you into a tailspin while you try and figure out what you’ve done wrong. It’s all done to keep you on your toes. Not only do they enjoy pulling the strings, they also enjoy watching you try to make up for a problem that never existed! That’s because toxic people have big egos. So if you find yourself being given the cold shoulder for no reason, have a look at the big picture.
2. They manipulate
Toxic people are experts at getting you to do all the work. Meeting for lunch? It must be near their place. Want to catch up? Your proposed time will always be ‘unsuitable’. They make you chase them, then act as if they’re doing you a favour by gracing you with their presence. If you’re the only one contributing to the relationship, get out.
3. They will demand you prove yourself
Toxic people love to place you in a position where you have to choose between them and something else. The harder the choice, the better. They use emotional blackmail eg ‘If you really cared about me you would….’ They’re not happy until they’re affecting your career and family relationships. And when your relatives and friends have had enough, don’t count on the toxic person to be a shoulder to cry on.
4. They project their feelings
If they’re angry with you, they’ll accuse you of being angry with them. If you find yourself always having to fend off unprovoked attacks, you’re being projected on. Remind yourself that it’s their issue.
5. They love your troubles and ignore your success
Whilst a toxic person will listen avidly to your troubles (it makes them feel superior) they will either ignore your good news or put a dampener on it. Got a new job? ‘A shame the office is so far away from your home!’ Expecting a baby? ‘Imagine the weight you’ll put on!’ If this rings a bell regarding a ‘friend’ of yours, distance yourself.
6. They rehash the past in arguments
When having a disagreement with a toxic person, they’ll throw everything you ever did (real or imaginary), often going back years, into the argument. And it always comes down to what a ‘horrible’ person you’ve been to them. Try and keep on track and if you can’t, walk away. You won’t win.
7. They’ll distract you with details
They will try anything to get themselves off the hook. They will even dodge the issue by making it about the way you said something, rather than what you said. So while you are busy defending your tone, the issue gets left behind. Don’t get drawn in.
8. They leave a trail of destroyed relationships
Look to their past. Have they ever sustained a long-term relationship? Do they have few friends? They will most likely be surrounded by wrecked relationships and broken hearts but the blame will always be laid firmly at someone else’s door. That’s a big clue.
9. They will always blame you
When they hurt you a toxic person won’t acknowledge your pain. Instead they’ll tell you that THEY are hurting. They’ll dismiss any hurtful actions they’ve done and tell you you’re too sensitive, insecure, or not up to their own lofty standards. You will end up feeling confused and hurt. Stop exposing yourself to that. Let them have a tantrum on their own. Show them that people won’t put up with their bad behaviour.
Originally published in that's life! Issue 23, 2016