Toxic Relationships


Recognizing & Knowing When to Dump Them


animated beakers as 4 toxic relationshipsThey dump toxic waste materials don’t they? Hazardous waste is stored in a special container with a tight lid, prior to disposal.

We won’t literally stuff people into a receptacle , yet toxic relationships can be as hazardous to our health and well-being as toxic waste materials.

Recognizing toxic relationships and knowing when to dump them, begins our series on Toxic Relationships. But, before we get busy with it, let’s be clear that abusive relationships, while toxic, in and of themselves, do not merit attempts to save. We have two words for you, if you are an adult who is consciously involved in a physically or sexually abusive relationship – GET OUT.

Of course, toxic relationships generally contain some aspect of emotional abuse. We’ll leave it to you to decide what you can emotionally tolerate and what you can’t. Chances are, you’ll have a change of heart about staying after working through our series on toxic relationships.

TIP: A journal makes a great companion for this journey. As you write out your concerns and thoughts, insights will come.

Toxic Relationships: What are Characteristics of Toxic People?

Toxic people are everywhere. Basically, these are tremendously insecure, highly negative, selfish, manipulative people with an entitlement mentality. Once you learn to recognize their characteristics, you’ll know how to spot them in your family of origin, in-laws, friends, romantic partners, colleagues, bosses and so on.

When you are in a close relationship with a toxic person, you may experience stomachaches, headaches and other physical symptoms. Naturally, stress is magnified in toxic relationships and may lead to chronic anxiety, insomnia and serious depression.

Now, let’s explore common traits of toxic individuals.

Controllers And Dominators

First and likely worst, toxic offenders are the Controllers. They want to control every little thing about you. These are the “my way or highway” people. It will serve your highest good to hit the road and don’t look back when seriously involved with Controllers.

Typically, Controllers are master manipulators who employ intimidation to make you see everything their way. Yet, we must give them credit for subtly, as they go about destroying your self-esteem and ramping up your guilt-factor.

Controllers can manipulate you into isolation, where you become dependent upon them for everything. A for instance is distancing you from your friends and family by continually dropping negative observations about them. When you listen to them long enough, you’ll begin to believe they are right. You will start avoiding your friends until they quit calling. This is where the toxic person wants you to be.


A dominator will disagree about everything. They know it all, including that everybody else is wrong. This type toxic person refuses to consider your point of view since their point of view is always right. So, save your breath.


Being around liars is confusing. Because lying is so ingrained in their psyche, they actually believe they are telling the truth. They will lie to you about other people and turn around and lie to other people about you. Since they want to impress, they’ll promise you the “moon” and a 3-story house. Don’t believe them. It’s just another lie.


Leeches and parasites live off other people. They never have money to pay for a meal or drinks. They are always down on their luck and staying on this friend or that one’s sofa. Don’t let this type of toxic person glom onto you or you’ll end up supporting their expensive, selfish habits. Just dump them into your imaginary red can until you can dump them.


Addicts can charm the socks right off your feet. Only don’t turn your back, they are liable to steal all your possessions. Addicts think of one thing and only one thing – how to get their next fix of alcohol, drugs or whatever their substance of choice. It can be dangerous to confront this type toxic person, as they tend to have angry rages.

Addicts can be found in your family of origin, your romantic relationships, your friends, just about everywhere you go. Here is a true example:

Debra was a paralegal, who made good money, drove a new car and lived in a lovely condo. She met her ‘dream lover’ online and on the surface, everything was ideal. She didn’t think too much about the amount of alcohol he consumed when they went out.

It also never occurred to Debra to question why he hovered behind her when she made a withdrawal at the ATM. A couple of months into the relationship, she received a substantial bonus.

That weekend, Debra wrote checks to pay off the gold watch and diamond earring she had bought him. When she pulled up her bank account online, the balance was nine dollars. Only then did she realize he had memorized her PIN number. Whether she ever admitted the guy was an alcoholic was never a topic of discussion.

Fortunately for Debra, he was one of those charming alcoholics, fun to be with and always smiling. So, she did not suffer bodily harm.



 Knowing When to Dump Toxic People


First, wrap your mind around this – toxic people are all about themselves. You owe them nothing. Life is about making responsible choices. Toxic people assume no responsibility. But, they’ve got the gift of manipulating you, until you believe they are right and somehow their troubles become your fault.

When you learn to recognize the signs of toxic behavior, you can take your personal power back. Understand that toxic people act the way they do because there are no consequences, as long as you dance to their music. Once you quit allowing them to harm you and interfere with your happiness, you will realize it’s time to dump them.

To get your life back into balance, you must make some difficult decisions about your present relationships. But ultimately, you are the decider about who you permit into your sacred space.

Knowing it’s time to end a toxic relationship and actually dumping the person are two different ‘animals’. For example, leaving a toxic marriage may require some pre-planning. Will you leave the home, or will they? Do you have enough money to get another place? Are you afraid of confronting the person? Is there someone you trust to give you guidance?

Or, do you have a toxic friend you want to dump? These are the friends that put their needs above yours. A small problem is magnified. They want to capture you on the telephone for hours, while they whine and complain. A bad day for this friend is a trauma. You are expected rush to their aid and provide comfort.

When the two of you go out to dinner, don’t even think about sharing your problems. If you are able to get in a few words, this friend will just say something like, “Life’s a bummer…” and keep talking about the important person, which is her/him.

Even when you know in your bones it’s time to dump a toxic person, don’t think it will be easy. The Good Men Project ( says, “You can’t fix a toxic relationship.”

Their advice is to make a ‘respectful exit’. This doesn’t mean you respect the toxic person,’ but you must respect yourself’.

Ideally, relationships grow and change. But toxic relationships are static. Women tend to stay stuck in a relationship that is going nowhere. It is hard to leave a toxic man.

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