The traits of toxic people are far reaching in each case the trait can likely be explained in normal life, but toxic people take it to the extreme. The toxic people will enhance the trait for their own personal gain. In some cases they use these traits to get you to let down your guard, they use these traits to keep you totally off balance or they use these traits to finally destroy their intended target.
I am only discussing 5 of the 30 or 40 plus traits there are so many and this writing would be a book not a blog. If you are interested in going real deep on toxic personalities I would suggest Dr. Robert Hare he is a premier expert in this field and created the testing the FBI uses on serial killers and psychopaths. Two of his books on the subject and two of my favourites are “Without Conscience” and “Snakes in Suits when Psychopaths go to Work”. A third book I have recently read is called “Psychopath Free” written by Jackson Mackenzie he is writing from the prospective of how he survived a relationship with a psychopath. The book is well written, informative and has what Jackson did to recover from the relationship. When you have been impacted walking away is just the first step, healing and recovery are key in stopping it from happening again.
Here are 5 traits and how to avoid the behaviour. Please add to the comments any traits you think that were missed or that you would like me to do further writing on. Stay tuned for next week’s blog on the three phases of a toxic persons relationship.
- You Complete Me: Not only is this not just a line from a movie it seems to be a societal belief that “we are not whole on our own”. This belief that someone can “complete” someone else is where toxic people find their foothold in your life. Toxic personalities use this societal belief that we need people to complete us and manipulate you right from the start. They create a sense of belonging that is so deep and so quick that you quickly forget that you are a person without them. I have found this to be true in other relationships as well.
Friendships: you feel or have been made to feel that this person is some form of a saviour; they constantly point out where they have bailed you out. They will hold you close then accuse you of misrepresenting their feelings. This push and pull in a relationship will be just as confusing as if you were dating or married to them.
How to avoid this behaviour: First and foremost understand that if you feel that someone else is your reason for being, or the only reason for your success, the problem is not them it’s you, your past wounds are coming out. To avoid being sucked in by a toxic personality, know that the only person who can complete you is you. If you feel lacking in anyway then seek out guidance to work through that/those wound(s). The most amazing defense to toxic people is to truly and authentically loving yourself. If the words “you complete me” are used it’s a warning sign. Healthy, successful relationships would have this phrase: “You compliment me, I was a whole person before we met and should we part it will be painful but I will be a whole person still.” Also if a friendship feels push and pull ask yourself what benefit are they getting from it. Likely financial will be on possible benefit but so will be a position in their fan club.
- Past Relationship Failures are Everyone Else’s Fault: When in conversations it’s ok to have some pain towards an “ex” lover, friend or even an estranged family member, but if the toxic persons stories has everyone else was to blame, watch out! Toxic people will blame everyone else for everything. People who fall into the antisocial behavioural spectrum will use words like my ex’s were “crazy, bi-polar, psychopath” etc, and they had zero accountability in the relationship break-up. The issue is they hope you will jump on that blaming train, this is another way that they can gain your trust and confidence. If you have had a bad break-up they will show you how wronged you were and how you had zero accountability in the break-up or destruction of the relationship. I had a client once come to the realization after being in a relationship with one of these toxic people. They did say that they ignored all the gut feelings, all the red flags they took accountability for choosing the person and then staying for so long. The healing occurred for them when they forgave themselves for not protecting themselves from this destructive partner. They said: “I wanted to save them, I thought if they could just see how good I was they would change.”
How to avoid this behaviour: Look for key words in their history of relationships, name calling, demoralizing, wanting revenge. Especially wanting revenge people who are toxic plot revenge (venting about a bad break up to a friend or friends over a glass of wine is normal. But living in that pain and seeking to destroy someone is not.) If there are kids in a past relationship and they have pulled away from the kids and blame the other person for blocking their access. There are laws that work 99% of the time to make sure people have access to their kids. (Before you right in remember I said 99%) If they talk badly about the other person in front of the kids, unless the kids were adopted then 50% of your ex-partner is in those children. Not only is it not at all healthy for the kids they are basically saying I hate 50% of who the child is.
Just remember how they speak about all there ex’s because if this relationship does not work out you will be next on their list. Also their friendships seem to have no loyalty they are always talking behind someone else’s back, but when the person they are talking about is present they are put on the highest of pedestals.
- They Believe People asked for it: This one is a variation of a few others. I was listening to a supposed therapist give a talk and they tried to make the case that we asked for everything to happen as a way to make sense of acts committed against us. A woman was expressing some childhood trauma that she endured. The therapist explained that a way to look at it was that she asked for that to happen. That she was in this place and time because she wanted to be there. This woman did not ask nor make a previous life agreement to have someone violate her boundaries. With toxic people they can always prove why the person deserved what happened especially if they themselves committed the act.
How to avoid this behaviour: In short “RUN and RUN FAST!” This behaviour is a total lack of compassion, empathy, and understanding for starters. The issue here is that a toxic person will start with small things, they will start with things that society has strong stigmas attached. As an example; they will hear a story of an addict who overdoses and blame the addict. Words like it serves them right, or on less person that the government has to support.
They will try and convince you that their behaviour in a past relationship was totally warranted and whatever they did the person had it coming. A great example is in society today with the #MeToo campaign. “What was she expecting going to a hotel room, she put herself in that position and got what she deserved. It was her own stupidity that got her there.” Any form of victim blaming is Toxic.
- Living on the Edge: They are easily bored, weather they are constantly surrounded by their adoring fan club or they are skipping plans for something better, they are always moving and doing it with an audience. When they don’t have an audience they are posting how great they are on social media. They set up parties to celebrate themselves, and even if someone else looks like they are setting it up the Toxic person is pulling the strings in the background. They make their lives seem exciting and share openly about all the money they are making (likely not true) how spiritual they are, how successful they are.If they are in a relationship they will post or speak about how their partner did something horrific to get sympathy and support. In this case they are likely looking for their next target and at the same time discredit the current target/partner so the fan club stays unaware of who is actually the problem.
Caveat: There are people who have such low self-esteem that they need gratification from external sources; they need to show that their life is in control and amazing. This is not healthy for them and usually annoying to many as we see through the ruse, but they are not doing it with malicious intent. (Psychopaths only show low self-esteem if it serves them)
How to avoid this behaviour: There is a saying if someone or something is to good to be true it likely is. Weather they are talking about finances, relationships or even their own spiritual growth they not only have it all, they have all the answers. And if you would just do exactly as they say then you can have it too. We all want short cuts we want happiness and wealth (financial or emotional) and we want it easily or in a pill. Guess what? Life is not designed that way some things are easy and some things are hard and that’s ok when we work on hard things they can become easier. But, if you find yourself putting someone on a pedestal or being totally enraptured by them unable to see that they are human or a person with faults and insecurities just like the rest of us, likely they have done their work at creating a co-dependency. A clear sign of a toxic person is when you question them or dispute what they are saying; they will lash out and discredit you, this lashing out takes many forms.
- Suggestions for Making the Relationship Better Always Seem to Fall at your Feet (Zero Self Awareness): Toxic personalities seem to feel that everything that must change in a relationship is up to you. Toxic people will even get outside opinions from people to show how you are the one at fault. They will present that their therapist, friends or any number of other people feel you are to blame. Once they are comfortable that they have you where they want you (meaning you won’t run from the abuse) this feedback will start to include traits they said they once loved. This is their way to gain control, this can also be done in a form of gas lighting.
How to avoid this behaviour: This is one where you really need to have instincts and trust in yourself. Two key feelings my clients have told me is “they start to feel like they are crazy”, “Like they are the most horrible person in the world”. They pick all the books you will read or the therapists that you will go to. Everything is on you! When you ask them what they did they state if you only did this they would not have done that. Just know if you are in a relationship with a toxic person you will never be good enough. Any changes you make will be met with scorn or they will tell you that it is still wrong. If you have these feelings seek support outside of the relationship, therapists, support groups, and friends that did not come with the toxic person if you have any left.
Keep Chasing Those Cars…..
With Love, Respect and Admiration
Stay tuned for my next Blog on “The Three Relationship Phases of a Toxic Person” there will be more traits and more warning signs.
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