Different people bring out different aspects of us. Everyone has the potential to be toxic pending on context. This explains why two people are better as friends, not lovers. Conversely, some people are all-round toxic. Seemingly, everyone has an issue with them.
Toxic people seep into your life with debris of their broken selves – broken by default or from other relationships. They come with baggage too heavy for you, no matter how strong you are. Digging their pincers into you, they drain you and leave you emotionally wiped out. They do not challenge you; they stress you. A challenging relationship will make you grow, learn more, and open you to different things pertinent to the actualisation of your dreams and full human potentials. A stressful relationship kills your morale, stunts your growth and glow.
Anton LaVey, founder of The Church of Satan, wrote about psychic vampires in his “Satanic Bible”. “Many people who walk the earth practice the fine art of making others feel responsible and even indebted to them, without cause. Psychic vampires are individuals who drain others of their vital energy. This type of person can be found in all avenues of society. They fill no useful purpose in our lives, and are neither love objects nor true friends. (…) A psychic vampire will always select a person who is relatively content and satisfied with his life to feed upon. Be wary of anyone who seems to have no real friends and no apparent interest in life (except you).”
Some of us mistake the heat of toxic relationships as that warmth we get from love. A sizable number of us often misconstrue obsession as affection. Some of us believe love has to hurt, because while growing up, we might have gotten the idea that “love is pain.” Based on Judith Voirst’s “Necessary Losses,” which explores abuse in the mother-daughter dynamics, Peg Streep came up with eight patterns of toxic relationships namely: Dismissive, combative, unreliable, unavailable, self-involved, enmeshed, role-reversed, and self-involved. The idea is that at least one of these must be present for us to state a relationship is poisonous.
Interestingly, people exude personality traits that give us the impression that they would infuse toxicity into whatever relationship they enter. Toxic people are:
For you to do their bidding, they induce guilt, fear, and obligation in you. They get passive-aggressive and let unresolved negative feelings fester into a wound your relationship might not heal from.
Manipulative and controlling
By dominance or inducement, these people are good at making you do what they want you to do.
These people are overly critical of everything.
As they are eager victims of every situation, you begin to wonder if anything good ever happens in their lives
All they do is take from you. When you do not give them what they want, they go around bad-mouthing you.
We must avoid romantic relationships with people who play hot and cold at the onset. There is nothing sexy about inconsistency. People like these will fiddle with your feelings like a dog does with a bone.
Robert Greene wrote about this in “The Art of Seduction.” They will crowd you out of your personal space. They are obsessed with the idea of you, not necessarily you.
As you put your relationship with them above your ego, you are compelled to apologise every time, even when they are wrong. Their uncompromising nature makes your relationship seem lopsided.
You find yourself tiptoeing around their feelings lest you say or do something to trigger them.
The way people talk about other people in their absence is the way they will talk about you in your absence. Imagine having a friend you can’t tell certain things because you are scared they will tattle to someone else or they would send screenshots to other people.
Superiority complex is a cry for help. People mask deep emotional issues and insecurities with an air of superiority. Because their egos are overinflated, a tiny prick bursts it. Everything is an affront to them. They would disguise their insecurities with toxic behaviour patterns such as narcissism, a need for dominance, and etcetera.
You do not feel anything positive when you are with them. They drain you. The dementors in J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” come to mind.
They kill your dreams and ideas the moment it tumbles out of your mouth. We do not need naysayers. We need people who can give us moral support and encourage us.
Based on your personal experiences, you can think of other harmful traits in people.
Toxic people come in several shades. The best we can do is to avoid people who make us feel bad by setting limits and boundaries. Avoidance is self-preservation, not cowardice. We have limited time here, and we should not waste more than sixty seconds with people who stress us. Like water, people will flow in and out of our lives. We will outgrow people; people will outgrow us. It is nothing personal. Some relationships were born to die naturally. They become stressful, toxic, when we try to stretch them beyond their limits.
P.S. Plot twist: Everyone has one or more toxic traits. I firmly recommend that we find the kind of toxic we can cope with. If you are narcissistic, you might want to be with a suffocator. You get smothered with all that “love” and affection.
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