Are some of the people in your life like rat poison but for your mental health? You probably blame yourself and question, “why do I attract toxic people?”
Because you’re a decent person, you probably might not like to label someone as toxic. So, these people are not always easy to spot. If you want clues, they are usually the ones that bring you the most stress and emotional pain. The majority of people add positively to our lives. However, these guys just seem to take and bring our mood down.
Often, it’s not their fault. They’re dealing with their own emotional trauma and don’t know how to handle it appropriately. As a result, toxic people find someone they have built a bond with and unload their toxicity.
Signs that the person is toxic
The signs of a toxic person include:
- You feel like you are being manipulated to do and behave in a certain way.
- While their spotlight of negativity will occasionally be on them, it will often shine on you and others.
- You will either need to defend yourself or ignore many of the hurtful comments they say.
- When a toxic person is in the wrong, they will never apologise. And the only way to get an apology is to ask directly for one.
- You can’t understand the person’s actions or predict what they will do next as sometimes their behaviour is so random.
- Spending time with them isn’t pleasurable. In fact, it’s a chore.
So why do you attract toxic people?
- Firstly, you probably give everyone the benefit of your time and love. We teach children to be kind, and you were taught it too. However, we are never taught about the sort of person we should share our love with. I’ve wasted plenty of time on negative people who despise others for working hard. Learning which people to share our lives with is difficult, especially if you are learning it as an adult.
- Secondly, you are a people-pleaser. People-pleasers do anything and everything to make another person happy. They tend to have low self-esteem and haven’t had much experience in positive, mutually respectful relationships. Signs that you are a people pleaser could be your inability to say no when someone asks for something. Toxic people take advantage of people-pleasers because they can ask without the fear of crossing the usual social boundaries. If you think you are being taken advantage of, practise saying no. True friends won’t hold the occasional no against you.
- Thirdly, you enjoy trying to help others. You love to be useful, and you might even think there is a link between helpfulness and others liking you. You’re almost like a saviour. This desire to help will attract toxic people like terrified people to a toilet roll during a pandemic. They want someone to help them, and you are gladly offering your services.
- You have a lack of self-respect. Others treat you poorly because you don’t yet know your own worth. You probably had a difficult childhood where you never learnt what it means to respect yourself. Some signs of a lack of self-respect include negative self-talk, such as saying mean things about yourself in your head. You might re-live some of your past failures and still beat yourself up. Another sign of low self-respect is a near-constant comparison to other people. Such as how they behave, the things they have and the way they look.
- You are compassionate. Compassionate people care about others and are empathetic to their pain. You may even share and feel their pain, treating it as if it were your own. Toxic people need sympathetic people like you because it makes them feel slightly better about themselves. They need someone who will say positive things to them and try and boost their morale.
- You know how to listen (and listen and listen). You probably know everything going on in their life because a toxic person favourite subject is themselves. However, they are far less likely to want to hear about what’s going on with you.
- You don’t like confrontation. The thought of an argument worries you because you don’t like upsetting anyone. You might even accept criticism far too quickly. You just want to get along with people and find arguing a complete waste of time. Toxic people want friends who avoid confrontation because when they step over the mark, they know they won’t be reprimanded for it
- You’re generous and share what you can. Toxic people need someone who will give them time, money and things. So the more you are willing to offer, the more they will gladly take. The things they value in you are the thing you have and not the person you are.
- You are loyal. You are not the kind of person to end any relationship, regardless of how damaging it is. Toxic people will exploit this for their own advantage, and they don’t deserve your loyalty.
Dealing with toxic people
Now you know why you attract toxic people in your life. It’s time to do something about it.
An excellent place to start is building up your self-respect and confidence. Make a list of the things you will no longer accept and sign it as a promise to yourself. If someone breaks one of those rules, warn them they are overstepping the mark on what you think is acceptable.
The first time you stand up for yourself is hard, but it will also be a revelation. You’ll soon realise that you are so much stronger than you think you are. If you want further help, you could also look into hiring a life coach to develop skills in handling conflicts, building confidence and developing self-respects.