There are thousands of well-written articles on the internet about toxic people and how to recognize the traits of a toxic person.
However, what tends to go under the radar is why some get subconsciously drawn to a toxic individual.
Toxic relationships often get based on one-way transactions between the toxic person and another party.
Unlike healthy relationships, toxicity gets based on interactions where boundaries are unclear and when friends, co-workers, spouses or family members’ behaviours get viewed as demanding, challenging and belligerent.
How toxic people impact others.
Studies into toxic behaviour postulate that toxicity and toxic relationships do not get fueled by mutual care, love and support but usually get twisted to accommodate the other person’s needs and wants.
Nevertheless, these toxic encounters leave people feeling frustrated, off-kilter, and emotionally wiped.
The people in your life are crucial to your happiness, mental health and self-esteem.
Those who manipulate people to get what they want are usually the most toxic people to deal with since most of their behaviour gets skewed towards making others feel guilty and hurt.
Dealing with toxic people
Difficult people will say and do anything to ensure their demands get met. For example, they will go to great lengths to prove that you are wrong in an argument or twist things to make you look bad.
Toxic people never take responsibility for their bad behaviour and instead will make other people look or feel bad.
Toxicity manifests in many ways; often, the people that appear kind and friendly on the outside are known to be the most toxic behind closed doors.
Most people would be shocked to learn that the sweet neighbour who always brings them freshly baked cookies can say or do bad things, but it does happen!
Researchers call this the ”five faces of toxic relationships” which include:
- The passive-aggressor
- The critic
- The stonewaller
- The narcissist
- The antisocial personality
#1. The passive-aggressive face
Passive-aggressive behaviour is subtle and is an indirect expression of anger.
Instead of saying hurtful things outright, a best friend, family member or any other people in your life may say or do nasty things indirectly.
For example, you agree to meet your best friend at a restaurant, but she arrives an hour late or constantly keeps you waiting, knowing that you have a pile of other things to do.
If you ever feel that you are walking on eggshells, you are likely dealing with a toxic person. A toxic individual may also:
- Be sarcastic
- Give back-handed compliments
- Make you feel off-kilter
- Deny their feelings
#2. The critical face
Being in a relationship with someone who constantly criticizes your every move can get exhausting after a while.
If you’ve ever encountered criticism in a relationship, you are likely to feel judged no matter what you do. Even when you are doing the best you can, a toxic person will likely accuse you of making excuses and make you feel as if everything is your fault.
No room for a bad day
Often, when we feel constantly ridiculed, we are more prone to making mistakes or not showing up as our best selves, whether it’s being late into the office or saying the wrong thing at a family function.
Essentially, we are all human, and we all have our kinks to iron out. However, when a partner, friend or family member constantly points out our shortfalls, it is likely to result in anxiety and other negative feelings.
A critical individual can bring a lot of toxicity into a partnership. For example, a toxic person may not necessarily call you names, however, they often put down others beliefs, appearances, and life choices.
All this usually happens because the toxic person suffers from low self-esteem and projects this trait onto others instead of admitting their flaws.
#3. The stonewaller’s face
Stonewalling is a technique used by many toxic people where they refuse to communicate or deal with conflict.
The toxic person may refuse to communicate or admit that there is a problem at all.
However, it is evident to anyone within a close radius that there is an issue!
Family life and social circle
Stonewalling often occurs in toxic relationships, particularly between family members, best friends, partners and many relationships.
In the instance where there may have been a huge fight or another conflict, rather than discussing the issue or how both parties went wrong, the stonewaller will appear cold and refuse to communicate.
All this creates tension and difficulty in relationships, all of which prevents a partnership from reaching its potential.
Suppose conflict gets prohibited within a partnership or intimate relationship. In that case, it makes it impossible to discuss feelings and emotions as people spend time walking on eggshells and avoiding anything that might upset the apple cart.
When feelings do not get discussed, and the other half of a relationship opts for stonewalling, it can result in resentment and guilt. Essentially, conflict is normal in relationships, and communication is critical for any dynamic to survive.
#4. The narcissist’s face
According to research, most toxic people adopt traits observed in personality disorders, such as narcissist personality disorder.
Most of us know a narcissist’s typical traits, such as an inflated sense of self-importance and lack of empathy, among many others!
Decent people tend not to possess these qualities, at least not to a narcissist’s extent.
Most narcissist’s find joy in manipulating others, and as much as this type of interaction can be unpleasant, the love-bombing phase that many narcissist’s take their victims through can make it seem like they are fun to be around!
Of course, when people realize they are getting manipulated, this is often a time when the narcissist’s mask slips.
#5. The antisocial face
An antisocial personality disorder gets defined within the DSM-5 as including the traits of sociopathy, a condition that often results from adverse childhood experiences such as child abuse.
The condition is characterized by violent and explosive behaviour. However, the person with the disorder still can experience empathy and remorse.
Psychopaths, on the other hand, do not have the capacity for empathy and often take advantage of others legally and are often involved in white-collar crimes such as fraud.
So, how are toxic people more fun?
A toxic person’s modus operandi is to get what they want through manipulation.
Often, a conversation can turn toxic very quickly where the manipulator twists the other person’s words, making them feel confused, hurt, and as if their feelings and needs don’t matter.
Another idea is that although often unpleasant to be around, toxic people can also be fun in some situations.
Suppose we were to think about the kind neighbour that brings warm cookies to your door when you’re feeling unwell or that seemingly friendly narcissistic family member.
In that case, you’ll likely see a pattern, particularly in the love-bombing phase, where to unsuspecting victims, being around such people can seem like fun!
Before the mask of a toxic person has the chance to slip, they are often full of compliments and praise to the point where it can sometimes feel over the top.
However, after spending time with a toxic person, you may begin to notice inconsistencies in the stories they tell, and it’s not long before the cracks begin to show.
Toxic people rarely consider anyone else’s feelings which can make interactions with these people seem challenging.
They may exclude one person from the group or say an awful thing about another, and you’ll likely feel anxious, depressed and emotionally wiped after spending time with a toxic person.
Don’t be afraid to break away.
To deal with toxic individuals effectively, you mustn’t be afraid to set boundaries or completely stop talking to them if things get out of hand.
The worst thing you can do is hang around for this type of treatment since it will likely begin to affect your mental health.
Because of the charming traits associated with some personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder, it can be hard to spot the toxic person straight away.
Due to their unique nature, many narcissists can be fun to be around but do not get fooled.
If you experience any of the above red flags, such as feeling off-balance around someone or walking on eggshells, you are likely dealing with a toxic person.
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If you need help in leaving a toxic relationship behind, make sure you get in touch with one of our specialists you can help.