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Readers Respond: Tips for Dealing With Toxic People

Responses: 117


Updated October 25, 2010

Leave Them Alone

It's difficult when toxic people are close friends or relatives. I have a friend with an addition who avoids any serious talk, yet cries to me when his life is upside down (which is most of the time due to his addiction). I'm happy to be his best female friend but his refusal to want to change (for the better) is becoming increasingly irritating. Same thing goes for a family member who is a compulsive hoarder who wants me to be a part of helping to get more organized, yet creates the same mess afterwards. I am learning that because others turn them away, they take more advantage of my caring nature and just take for granted that I want to be a part of their chaos. The best thing to do is leave them alone.
—Guest UC Her


What I have found is toxic people come in all shapes and forms as they know no boundaries. Realize that until you stop allowing a toxic person to hurt you and your life, they will continue to do so. The most important thing to remember is that you have the power to stop a toxic person. You do this by controlling your own actions and reactions. As you probably already know, you cannot control the actions of other people. But the good thing is you can control yourself and your life. You have the power to walk away from a toxic person and not allow them into your life anymore. Freedom is a wonderful and liberating experience. Begin detachment by repeating affirmations. Affirmations are powerful because over time, the mind believes what we program into it. The following are some good examples to help you, but feel free to make your own that speak to you personally. I do not care about ____ . I will not allow ____ to hurt me anymore! Detaching from ____ will help me to be heal.
—Guest J.T.

toxic people

Aren't we all a little toxic? Being human seems to lend itself to toxicity in one form or another. Whether its trashing the streets or one another I feel we are exposed to it. Anger and powerlessness are a fearful combination in people and that is what I am experiencing with a neighbor. One minute he is throwing things around his upstairs apartment or deck and the next crying and cursing. I am taking the appropriate actions with the property damage and noise by getting the landlord involved and then letting it go. I am breathing and taking care of myself knowing his behavior has nothing to do with me. Still, it seems there is no ability in him to respect the others who live in this very small complex of five apartments. Its a process as with everything. However, the effect others actually have on our lives is a good wake up call for me to be more autonomous and to choose carefully the people or groups I participate or socialize with only allowing those who are self aware closer.

I'll Miss Her

I've had a friend for the past five years that has been there for me in crisis. Hanging with me through bipolar swings can't be easy for anyone, and I've been grateful for her. Problem is, she's a passive-aggressive control freak. She would inconsistently answer her phone when I called...not bothering to let me know if she just needed 'space' ...and I simply got tired of being ignored when she was on a whim. I do appreciate the good times we shared. Having the self respect to end a relationship that became demeaning and made me feel like a nuisance, or worse, has been empowering for me. I know it couldn't be easy to be my friend, but intentionally causing discord or pain is different than having a chemical imbalance that causes regrettable irrational behavior. I love myself enough to no longer tolerate superficial game-playing, and believe that I'm making room in my life for happier friendships. I have a lot to offer and life is too short for head games and unnecessary drama.
—Guest Kathy

to knee deep in....

I know what you are saying completely...if you grow up in a toxic family you too are toxic until the light comes on...I have been in a toxic family and it is a battle fighting this toxicity and becoming whole. It is a constant battle. I have removed many family members from my life and will continue until I am strong enough to let them back in my life...that may be years or never, I don't know. I have caught myself being toxic and try to change it...I am tired of feeling drained of life and I know I will be judged by family because of my choice but it is my life.


I have lived in a family of blood suckers for years. Finally the light bulb went on and I saw how my sisters and a brother were actually wearing me down and sucking the life out of me. I ended those relationships. I always thought, "We are family, you have to talk and be around them." No more. Also I have this problem with my oldest daughter who blames me and her sister for all of her choices. After this past episode I know in my heart that I CAN NOT be around her until she gets help, because no matter what I do she still points the finger, accuses me of things that are not true, says she wishes I had adopted her out when she was born (sometimes I wish I had), and carries hurts and throws them in your face when you're not accepting it. She will not take responsibility for her own actions, but blames everyone else. This year there are big changes in my life and I WILL cut off the excess fat. It scares me but I have finally had it.

14 years old with a biolar father

I have seen my dad explode before and I will say I think I am bipolar as well. The way I helped my dad and myself was to spend time together we would go to the guitar store or go and get a hamburger and when ever we were having fun "happy juice" kept flowing and niether one of us snapped like I know so many of your spouses and husbands do. It's painful yes but I noticed when we were in our favorite enviorment (being together) we had fun and never had one "episode". And if your loved one ever snapps and tells you to leave the house, leave the house, it shocks them after they calm down. We don't know what is going on when we are in that mode because when we do calm down we won't remember one thing that just happened. Also keep in mind if they are willing to get help do every in you power to get them that help. If young children are involved in a bipolar household then it's a big problem. If you ever need help bad pick up a bible you're answer will be on that page you first flip to.
—Guest Cody

I can't do it any more...

I am a hairdresser, and have a lot of family as clients. I enjoy seeing them, and even giving them a discount. But, recently I wrote a card to my sister in law, tellling her I would no longer be able her stylist. She is very demanding, and of course on short notice, and she usually finds something about her hair she doesn't like... I have done hair for years... and I aim to please, but have realized this is not my problem. She is unhappy with everything, and I don't need to enable her. We have exchanged phone messages, but really - I don't want to talk about it. My brother said she thinks she can just smooth it over. I told you, point blank! How much more direct can I be? It has been a challenge to break off relationships with friends/family that are toxic, but my hear feels like I have done the right thing for me. My mother would continue relationships like this, so that's what I thought I had to do... but I DON'T! And, I am setting the standard for my children.
—Guest firefly

what to do?

I have been going out with my High school girl friends for years now sometimes it's dinner, drinks or our children's birthday party's. I love getting together with everyone. And look forward to it. But lately I am noticing that one of the girls that we hang out with is giving dirty looks to the group when I speak or I am telling a funny story about my husband or kids! And I Just don't know how to handle this! I know that we all do a little talking behind peoples backs but, I think my friend C is telling my friend L that I am making comments about her and her children, when in fact it's not me making the comments. it's my friend C making the comments, She calls me and talks about everybody! I think she's telling L (how she really feels) but she is using my name!! I want to know how to handle this, And I also want to know why the hell do people still act this way when they are in their late 30's? I welcome everyone's feed back and advice on this one.

scapegoat of ultra toxic family

I livestates away fromfamily-I had been taught to accept abuse and that people had the right to cross personal boundaries & that I was the problem when bullied and abused. I do not want to let god and family down but I am constantly drained with any contact with mom/sisters/aunts.Though I believe I am the most considerate person in family have been labelled the black sheep (they deny). I have been successful at work but my mom/sisyell/demean me when I visit-create reasons to yell. Sis would complain about my regular gifts but sisters inconsistent/lie about reciprocating/etc- mom supports them& even told me to give more.(Mom called me troublemaker when tried to talk/denies truth. Family opposite of supportive-criticize my visits and meanintheir homeswith me. I quit visiting-nowget phone abuse-sister said I had no redeemablequality as person.Mom didnot like limit when temp. stop phone calls so mom/sis sent nastyemail.I cant stop upset feelingwithconstantcontact-shutupandtake it Im tol

help me

I am in an organization where I am a leader of a few people, this is my first major leadership position. I have a great relationship with some of my coworkers and know that I need some leadership work myself, but one of my coworkers deems it necessary to get explosive when she feels I am not doing things "right" or her way. I have read that dealing with difficult people is a great way to make yourself a better person, but I feel completely drained of energy and oftentimes irritable after speaking to her. I really feel that the office is toxic due to her and I don't know if I should fire her? What do you think?
—Guest Leader of Toxic

to Sosa

That's the way. It's going to be MY year too.I have healed in my heart and can't wait to sell this house and get him out of my space.I took off the wedding ring and even put myself out on internet dating (companship only). I think he is scared now but I DON"T CARE for I am going to enjoy my life at last. What I couldn't understand for such a long time was how I was popular and well liked by most people I met BUT "the husband" always found fault with me.Loser on his secret power trip to control me. Well I'm the one laughing now and chomping at the bit to get back to a life with friends yet to be made and a whole lot of bad memories shoved out of my everyday life.Oh they are there but I have developed new strength to just accept that I can't undo the past But I can and will have a life on my own terms. Roll on 2010. Change is in the making.
—Guest viburnum

toxic people

Iv been in a relationship with toxic person for 10 years and this is the year. Its over and I'm gonna start living .
—Guest sosa


Have been a victim of bullying by family members ongoing from ex husband and also father.
—Guest harriet

YOU choose

Having been in a marriage for over 30 years to a Toxic. I would say plan your life and pick your time but DO get away from them. I have let too many years go by putting up with a covert aggressive.It is partly genetic but I NOW understand that is no excuse and that they ARE AWARE of what they choose to inflict on you. I used to kid myself that he was just anxious or depressed.Played me for a fool alright. Well my heart got broken from seeing him again picking on our adult daughter so I tried to suicide. I lived to tell this tale and have ditched All his family and my eldest daughter who is narcisstic along with my only sister. WELL I feel Good.Once this house is sold I will at last be free to live my life in peace without him. No more being with a person who hides their real feelings and pretends to care about me or our children. The real motive is to get their needs met and YOU are the dummy who plays along.Well my heart has healed and I'm using my head now.

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