More than likely you’ve had to deal with at least one toxic relationship, you may even currently be trudging through life with the anchor of a demanding, selfish, and exhausting friend latched onto you like a leach that just won’t budge. Quite often though, many of us don’t recognise a relationship as being toxic until we’re in too deep and feel like there’s no way out. The sooner you can spot the traits of a toxic person, the sooner you can start enjoying life the way you want to.
What’s A Toxic Person?
Traits of Toxic People:
- Manipulative: Manipulation is the biggest weapon in their arsenal of toxicity; they will use guilt and denial to twist the truth and make you feel like you are the person in the wrong even though they are the ones at fault.
- Demanding: They want you at their beck-and-call to taxi them around, lend them money, buy them dinner etc. but will make up every excuse they can to avoid returning the favour. Or they will just outright refuse.
- Critical: Not in the constructive, helpful sort of way but in a relentless, derogatory way and usually on a daily basis. Anything you do for them will never be enough in their eyes, nor will they see you as anything but being in the wrong.
- Emotionally unpredictable: You could have the best time with them one day, making you believe they may have changed their attitude, but then the next day they’ll be cold and distant or angry and dramatic without proper reason. This is another way they try to manipulate you into giving them your full attention.
- They won’t allow you to enjoy happiness: Toxic people are a self-serving breed, and their desire to have every ounce of your attention on them means they will often minimize any good news you get (like a promotion, engagement, or holiday) and either try to outdo your achievements or drag you into their misery with a new sob story.
- Unwilling to accept help: any time you offer them advice to help their situation, they will either refuse or make excuses, or there will suddenly be another issue they ‘need’ you for.
- Liars: They will exaggerate or lie about things going on in their lives in order to keep you invested in them, sometimes even they seem to believe their own convoluted stories, because they want you to feel sorry for them and be there for them but never do the same back.
- You don’t enjoy spending time with them: You feel physically and emotionally drained after spending time around them or even after a phone call with them due to their reluctance to take your advice or change their behaviour. No relationship should feel like a chore to be in.
Family Members can be Toxic People too
It can be bad enough dealing with a toxic friend or partner, but it feels even worse when it’s a member of your family, especially your parents. The idea that we have to love our Mum, Dad, siblings, cousins etc. is a ridiculous notion that stems from the obligation that we must remain loyal to the ones who share our blood; the older you get the more you realise that you can choose your family and if that means the toxic members don’t make the final cut, then that’s on them and not you (not that they’d accept being in the wrong)
Cutting ties with Toxic People
Just the idea of cutting ties with someone who’s been in your life for so long can be scary; we all have an innate fear of change and find it easier to stick with what we know rather than taking the risk and experiencing the unknown, even if it could offer us a chance at happiness. On top of that, the idea of confrontation can also be a scary one, so we tend to avoid that too.
Cutting ties with toxic people is more of a process than immediate action. I have broken down the process into three simple steps that could save your emotional and physical well-being.
Three Steps to cutting ties with toxic people
- Acceptance: The first step is to accept that this toxic person in your life will probably never change their ways, accept that they won’t understand your side of things, accept that you cannot ‘fix’ or ‘save’ them from themselves, and most of all, accept that it’s okay to think about yourself and your happiness for once.
- Choice: Deciding to cut ties with a toxic person is a choice you have to make in your own time else you’ll drive yourself crazy with anxiety because you feel like you have to get rid of them; there’s nothing wrong with trying to manage their behaviours in a healthier way that is less taxing on your wellbeing (set boundaries with them, disengage instead of arguing, see them when you want to see them and not just when they want you to etc.). If this proves too difficult to maintain then you can consider cutting them out of your life.
- Cutting Ties: Cutting them out could be as simple as deleting their contact details and social media, ignoring their calls or blocking them. Don’t worry yourself with how they’re doing without you in their life, focus your energy on something you love and that makes you happy (hobbies, pets, GOOD friends, new experiences etc.)
Getting out of a toxic relationship can be really tough, stressful and most likely painful but once you’re out you’ll be so happy you made the move and probably even wishing you’d done it sooner. Remember, darlings, you don’t owe them anything, especially if they’ve treated you poorly. Give your time and effort to the ones who appreciate you instead of wasting it on the ones who don’t.