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Readers Respond: Tips for Dealing With Toxic People

Responses: 117


Updated October 25, 2010

From the article: Toxic People
You can now share your experiences with toxic people in more detail: Toxic People Stories.

Find someone to talk to.

Find someone to talk to about that toxic person or at least about that person's toxic behavior. That way you don't feel so alone in that situation. Also avoid the toxic person whenever possible and go to do something positive.

toxic people

There is no way to have a relationship with a toxic person--you can't win. Everything you say is twisted and turned back to be your fault. They are unable to admit any wrong doing. I tried for 14 yrs to be with a toxic person--love is indeed blind!! The only solution that works for me is, flee, flee, flee. Cut off all communication--don't see them, don't talk to them, don't even talk to their friends. I finally have my sanity and my life back!!
—Guest clyde

Get caller display on your telephone

The best thing I ever did was get the caller display facility on my home telephone. At least then I could decide if I was in the mood and could actually cope talking to the person or should I say listening to the person. Most of them just want to moan and depress you. Life is hard and we all encounter situations/obstacles we would rather not. Good luck everyone.

Taking Control of My Life

I finally decided to totally cut my mom and family out of my life. It was starting to affect my health. To my mom she always labeled me as a faulty, non-likeable, selfish and mean person. She always to to manipulate things to satisfy they way she wants them. After 30 years of dealing with this I decided to cut her out of my life. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. She was a very toxic mom. There is so much that has happened and I finally decided to have nothing to do with her. Unfortunately my siblings cut me out of their life based on me and my mom's relationship. So I am done with the entire family. It is not worth the stress and NO family is not all you have got especially when they are as toxic as mine. There is a lot of things that has happened that I cannot share publicly that are shocking but I have finally taken my life back :) I am also much happier inside.
—Guest Marie

Nip it in the bud

I have bipolar 1 and schizoaffective 1. Growing up there was yelling and fighting so I married as fast as I found a guy who loved me. That didn't work out after 7 years of his ignoring me and my codependent needs. I started going to what i thought was a prayer group. After 16.5 years i realized it was a cult. last 5 yrs bad, got lots of threats from leader. Escaped and lived in domestic violence shelter. A nurse from church seemed helpful in encouraging me, but she had her own problems and was jealous of the good things I was receiving---food stamps and goodies in the shelter. She lamented about some people she knew who were cheating the govt and had lots of $$. It wasn't fair. She would yell at me on the phone and I realized she was another abuser like the cult leader. I didn't need that and so used what I had learned in the shelter and the next time she yelled at me, I hung up on her. I won't speak to her again. I feel so very peaceful. Don't open the door to toxic people! Let 'em go
—Guest Michelle

toxic ex boyfriend and mother

absolutely best way is to be emotionally unavailable. it's self preservation. my mother told me to f@#$ off when she realised I was not going to participate in her chaos any more. my boyfriend just stole stuff, broke stuff and bad mouthed me to my friends. I survive due to my fantastic non-toxic supportive and fun friends which I hand pick and keep and nurture and, of course, my gorgeous children.
—Guest Jane

Good Listener

Since childhood I've been a good listener, perhaps too good. It partly has to do with being polite and not interrupting, though not anymore. Anyway, there was a woman who called on the phone to tell me of her "suicide-kit"plans. Everything I suggested she do to get relief or to get help, she negated. It turned out her therapist had told her the same things to help herself that I had. It was about then that I got very angry at her and told her that all she called up to do was dump on me; that she had no intentions of committing suicide; that I didn't appreciate her unloading on me the duration of the phone call--I almost never get headaches, but I had a bad one from listening to her for 2.5 hours and I told her so. I told her not to call me again. I saw her 2 years later: She was with her girlfriend and would not look at me directly. I hope she was happy. I hope she got over her anger, self-directed and misdirected.

Toxic People and How to Avoid Them

I chuckled when I read, Marcia, how you always told the TRUTH and that this made you more vulnerable to the toxicity. I, too, am very honest and truthful - to a fault, many times. I am now 64 years old and went on disability at age 46 due to chronic fatigue syndrome which I developed at age 28. I know the terrible stress that I'd been under for about six years in working and dealing with people was a major contributing factor to the cause of my illness. I was so naive in my social skills, having been raised by very naive, reclusive and dysfunctional parents, who, of course, could not teach me what they didn't know, themselves. I used to get so upset at people who would tell me that they would do something - then didn't. I began to think everyone was a liar and dishonest. Now, after years of therapy, learning and experience, I realize that those people were the smart ones; they knew how to survive in a crazy world. If only I had not been quite so "truthful," sometimes.


There were several responses suggesting to get rid of toxic people in their life or that people in their life were toxic or negative or difficult. Only 1 response suggested a more compassionate reason for people's behavior. What if "toxic" was replaced with "bipolar", would people respond the same way? I believe anytime we label anyone we increase stigma and create a We vs Them attitude toward others instead of reaching out to try to find alternatives to difficult situations. I also believe that we ALL at one time or another could be labeled "toxic" , "negative", or "difficult" to live with. Does that mean we ALL should run away from each other? Does that mean we ALL should cut each other out of our lives? I certainly can understand self-preservation but at what cost not only to others but ourselves? What do we teach our children about difficult situations by cutting others off or running away or labeling? Is increasing our happiness more important than compassion towards others?
—Guest petinasmomma

tired of even living

I have always been so fun and rather easy going. People were always just drawn to my magnetism and enthusiasm. Now, in hind sight, I see that everyone just drew life from me. It was as though I blew life into rather boring, or depressed people... and now I, too, am down and boring. I fear I let others just suck me dry! And in the end, they all got some joy and rejuevination from my fun-loving and carefree attitude... and I am now emotionally bankrupt and have no one to pump me back up. I feel better that I have dropped a lot of these people from my life, but fear it's too late. I just want to be alone all the time. I feel I need time to heal from all the taking, but I don't seem to really want to be in any more relationships with people. I really love my new little puppy, but even HE seems to take advantage of me. I might just be exhausted from all these toxic relationships and will be able to rejoin society at some point, but I'm 49 years old and am perfectly happy enjoying life alone
—Guest rbs

Stuck with a toxic M-IN-L

I was raised in a toxic family and I never felt like I belonged there. As a child I rebelled like a typical child would but I grew out of it fast. I married an amazing man who sees my family as toxic. I've been married to him for several years now and we have always known his mother was off so we just felt bad for her and did what we could. Things only got worse, she constantly complains of EVERYTHING it's some headache or her feet are swollen ( from walking less than an avg person does a day) or her day was just awful, she is always the victim no matter what has happened and situations are always overreacted to an extreme and she expects others to do the fighting for her. It recently came to light that she hated me, no matter how hard I tried to please her she still thinks so poorly of me. My husband and I discussed it and from the situation at hand he let his feelings free. Although he hates his mother and despises the toxins she releases it's still his mother, we have just decided to have very little contact, our children will have very little contact and when we do have to speak it's meaningless convo about ... mail or weather. It's easier said than done because naturally I'm the family enemy now but we are hopeful that one day they will see thru her toxins and not miss out on a good healthy relationship. Meanwhile we have moved far away and have started trying to start our own little family. Some toxic people you just can't get rid of physically but detaching is a god send.
—Guest Jelz


Toxic people are like emotional sponges which suck the life out of you. I learned they're controlling and love to hear themselves. I'd screen their calls and ignore them. I have a friend whom i am dealing with in this manner. the constant calling about her problems,jealous of my other friends, upset because I never share intimate details of my marriage and twisted things around prove to me to much to bear. life has been peaceful not listening to her. She called all hours . I'd feel sorry for her and am a good listener. I felt my compassion was seen as a weakness. But this people don't understand bounderies and don't care , you have a life and family too.At times even family need to be loved from afar to get a peace a mind . Life is too short . We can only change ourselves and make our own solutions for our unique situtions. My ears are resting and in recovery now.lol
—Guest fingers in my ears

Forgot to mention...

I almost forgot to mention something about my former "toxic friend". Well, being that she is a toxic person, she tends to have extremely volatile relationships with men, because she has anger management issues. She is also the type of person that whenever she would break up with a guy, she would insist that I would have to call the guy up and tell "him off" on her behalf? Who does that kind of thing? When I refused to do that she would email the guy nasty letters allegedly from me as she was trying to be me?! I felt quite violated! I actually found out that I was the only friend she had which was hardly surprising as she didn't like females. The sad part is that this woman has had illnesses her entire life, from many cancers to leukemia. I was a very good compassionate friend, but you certainly can't be friends with someone if you just feel sorry for them, and if they continuously take advantage of you and drain you.

Run as fast as you can!

If you are a toxic person, you shouldn't be surprised if people don't want to be around you. Why should they? You make people miserable to be around. As far as I'm concerned, life is too short to put up with toxic people. I recently ended a friendship with someone who was too toxic to be around. While she was a very nice person, she was extremely negative, controlling, obsessive, always felt sorry for herself and would constantly dump all her problems on me! If that wasn't enough, I could never get a word in, as she would constantly interrupt, was too loud and basically monopolized the conversation. It came to the point that whenever I saw her I had to take anxiety medication as she always managed to stress me out and I'd get agitated and basically felt drained around her. Out of desperation I told her that I was leaving the country. When she found out I was back and wanted to get together I finally had to avoid all her phone calls.

Intelli--Toxic People

Perhaps the worst kind of Toxic People are the educated, intelligent, and semi-self-reflective/self-aware types who still exhibit the typical negative, narcissitic tendencies of all other toxic people. I have had a best friend for the past 12 years who fits this category. She has five college degrees and one is an M.A. composition and rhetoric and the other is a BA in Sociology. She has the self-reflection down, but she has still managed to find ways to blame every one else for everything that has gone wrong in her life. In fact, she seems so hip to self-awareness at times, she half-way admits her guilt, but then in a gesture of sociopathy does not care because she feels entitled to being selfish. She is so intelligent and convincing that I found myself making excuses for her and her toxicity in my life for the past 12 years. To be sure--i would never have let anyone else do this to me for as long as she did. I have finally had enough and have cut her off without any warning. Peace!!!
—Guest guest TC

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