This term gets thrown around a lot. But what exactly is a toxic relationship? And the best question of all is how to deal with toxic people? Dr. Lillian Glass, author of "Toxic People" has a some great advice.
"Most of us can come up with a list, as long as our arm, of people who've made us feel miserable - starting with teachers and bullies at school, moving on to brothers, boyfriends, bosses and so-called friends. Not forgetting arrogant doctors and road hogs.
But what makes a toxic person tick? "They're people whose feelings of insecurity and inadequacy make them jealous, envious and uncaring, so they end up sabotaging your projects, your relationships, your happiness-even your car journey!" explains Dr Glass.
It could be the temperamental boss who's never satisfied, the friend who knows where you're going wrong (and revels in telling you), or the critical parent who can't stop treating you like a naughty ten-year-old.
But whatever your own personal definition of a toxic person, one thing is certain - putting up with a toxic relationship can seriously damage your health. "Migraines, eye-twitches, skin rashes and eating disorders often have their roots in toxic relationship that have gone on for too long," explains Dr. Glass."
I do a lot of stress management coaching with my clients. There's a lot of decompression that happens during an hour session especially when people are using exercise to consciously deal with stress. The number one stressor that people talk about are the relationships people are having a hard time managing without getting pulled down into toxicity.
The tough part is knowing when relationships with bosses, partners, parents or friends have tipped into become toxic vs. just the normal amount of conflict and struggle present in any relationship. This is where I've struggled. At what point do we have to decide it's just too much crapola and decide a relationship is actually hurting our health. If you're someone who values compassion and forgiveness, the desire to reach buddha like enlightenment (kidding) might make you stick around too long.
Life coach Cheryl Richardson describes six types of toxic qualities in people.
The Blamer This person likes to hear his own voice. He constantly complains about what isn't working in his life and yet gets energy from complaining and dumping his frustrations on you.
The Drainer This is the needy person who calls to ask for your guidance, support, information, advice or whatever she needs to feel better in the moment. Because of her neediness, the conversation often revolves around her, and you can almost feel the life being sucked out of you during the conversation.
The Shamer This person can be hazardous to your health. The shamer may cut you off, put you down, reprimand you, or make fun of your or your ideas in front of others. He often ignores your boundaries and may try to convince you that his criticism is for you own good. The shamer is the kind of person who makes you question your own sanity before his.
The Discounter This is the person who discounts or challenges everything you say. Often, she has a strong need to be right and can find fault with any position. It can be exhausting to have a conversation with the discounter, so eventually you end up giving in and deciding to just listen.
The Gossip This person avoids intimacy by talking about other behind their backs. The gossip gets energy from relaying stories, opinions, and the latest "scoop." By gossiping about others, he creates a lack of safety in his relationships, whether he realizes it or not. After all, if he'll talk about someone else, he'll talk about you.
But nothing you can find online is really going to help you manage a toxic relationship effectively. I strongly believe in turning to experts who can help guide us through difficult relationships (i.e. psychotherapists).
But the first step is being aware that a relationship is potentially damaging your health, self-esteem and dragging you down consistently. Life is too short.