How to Get Rid of Toxic People

Show them the Door

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What is a Toxic Person?

There are many different types of toxic people who may enter your life at one point or another. Toxic people generate toxic relationships. The one commonality of all of your toxic relationships is that you are always putting a lot more into the relationships than you are getting out of the relationship.

Here are some characteristics of toxic people and toxic relationships:

  • make you feel bad after spending time together; they are just simply emotionally draining
  • hurt your feelings
  • are never there for you
  • always ask you to drop everything to do something for them
  • criticize and berate you
  • put you down to make themselves look good
  • take advantage of others
  • abuse you mentally and even physically
  • nothing you do is good enough to please them
  • blame you for negative situations
  • don't accept responsibility for their own actions.

There are many other examples of toxic behavioral patterns and relationships. This list provides just a sample of some of these characteristics.

The Challenge

The task to rid toxic people from your life can be quite a challenge. Once the relationship dynamic has been established between you and a toxic person, the toxic person is not going to want to break this relationship pattern. The toxic person receives all the benefits from the relationship ~ your attention, concern, aid and affection without offering very much in return. As a result, he or she will want to continue this relationship at all costs.

Though the toxic people in your life will lie, make promises to change, cry, beg, pled and otherwise talk you into continuing this relationship, you must stand firm. There is very little chance that the toxic people in your life will really understand that they are toxic or want or have the will to change their behavior just because you make the request. You can't change another person. They have to want to change, and they have to start this change within themselves and on their own. It is not your responsibility, so you need to let go of this burden.

While you may not be able to rid yourself of all toxic people as some of them may be relatives that you can't avoid running into from time to time or co-workers who you must converse with about joint projects or just to keep the office environment pleasant, you can limit their space and importance in your life.

Tips for Reducing Contact with Toxic People:

  • Establish Emotional Boundaries: Keep your distance. Don't tell them about your feelings or anything of particular importance to your life. Make your conversation with them as superficial and fluffy as possible. No bonding or creation of an emotional life or providing ammunition to be used for manipulation at a later date.
  • Become Unavailable: Get busy. All of a sudden be too busy at work or with your obligations to spend time with toxic people. Set up appointments, errands, projects and hobbies that prevent you from spending time with the toxics. They just might have to move on to focus on people who are more available to meet their needs ~ and that is good thing.
  • Ask instead of Give: Ask the toxic people in your life for favors. Nothing gets rid of the users and abusers in your life faster than becoming needy. These toxic people like to be the ones doing all the asking. Suddenly, if you are always asking them for a ride, to help move furniture or help on a difficult task, they will be coming around a whole lot less.
  • Don't Give. Whatever it is that the toxic people in your life need, be sure not to give it to them. You have run out of money, have no food at your house, your car is broke down or your AC needs repair. Deprivation = toxic people abandon ship.
  • Get to Know Some Non-Toxics: Hangout with non-toxics. Develop some non-toxic relationships so that you don't feel lonely and revert back to the familiarity and comfort of your toxic relationships.

Most of these ideas involve indirectly cutting the toxic people from your life. The reason for these strategies is that it stops the toxic people from arguing and manipulating you when you directly tell them you are cutting them out of your life. There is no reason to engage in a pointless conversation. You can make the change to have healthier relationships for yourself and if others want to follow they will.

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Comments 36 comments

Rhonda_M profile image

Rhonda_M 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Thanks. These are good. Toxic people take your 'well-meaning' intent, corrupt the emotional software, and invade it like a virus. It's important to kick them out, and keep reiterating, that you are not available, that you are busy, or even better still not pick up the phone. Sometimes, as you say, you have to do this indirectly, by not engaging, by keeping the conversation bland. I got rid of one person that way. These people are needy, and looking for an emotional well to drink from and you need to give them the message that the well is dry. Eventually they get the message, choose the path of least resistance and find someone else who is more readily willing and available to participate in the 'game'


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Thanks for stopping by @Rhonda_M. I agree. Sometimes no contact is the only way to get people out of your life.


Julie DeNeen profile image

Julie DeNeen 4 years ago from Clinton CT

Toxic people are so draining. The thing is, it is often difficult to notice right away. Good job on this hub!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

You made a great point @ Julie DeNeen. Thanks.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is great. I think we all have had toxic people in our lives from time to time. I have learned to do the things you suggest, and found a better relationship with that person. Thank you for a well written article..


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I am so glad I caught this before heading to bed. I am presently having to detox a relationship that is very negative. I do feel sorry for this person, but after several attempts to help them look at things positively, it is not working. Great advice and voted up.


starstream profile image

starstream 4 years ago from Northern California

Yes, being very busy with other plans really helps to distance yourself in a toxic relationship. They will just take all your time and energy.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

@always exploring, i am glad that a better relationship was the result.

Sorry you are going through this situation and hope everything works out @teaches12345.

That's what i think @starsteam!


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

An extremely helpful and sensible hub! In the not-so-distant past, I found it difficult to get out of few toxic friendships and gradually, thanks to my mom's advice and also your sensible hubs I read before, I left toxic friends. I indulged in some useful hobbies, spent time with genuinely good-natured friends and relatives and all. Yes, you are very right about such people not accepting responsibility for their own actions. A profound hub with the wise suggestions! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 4 years ago from Central United States

In business I have had to deal with toxic personalities. In business it is hard to turn off the coffee pot because it deprives others of their social time. We actually had to do exactly that. The people who are toxic generally move on quickly with they are deprived.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

@ishwaryaa22 thanks for the vote up. It is hard to get rid of toxics.

Good idea to turn off that coffee pot @wheelinallover.


eyeswideOPEN 4 years ago

I think we are all aware of toxic parents subciously, then we go on in our lives and choose friends and love partners that are not suited for us.

We dont know any different. I at age 54, am learning. I may have to stay alone, and I am disabled, but better than being with people who really dont like you, or are just using you.

Like one of my drs said, there are two kinds of people, people who give a Shit and others who dont. He said we all have to live in this world together, and we would have many less wars that way. We live in a me, me society.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I wish I had read this article when I was a lot younger. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way about toxic people. I really appreciate what you say about not being able to change a person. "They have to want to change, and they have to start this change within themselves and on their own. It is not your responsibility, so you need to let go of this burden." Your suggestions for reducing contact with such people are right on. Thanks! Voted up and shared.


ElleBee 3 years ago

Very interesting, getting toxic people out of your life can definitely be important. I have definitely gotten away from some toxic people in the past. The only person left in my life who I could consider "toxic" is a relative, so I have a feeling we will always be in one another's lives, though to what degree who knows.


mours sshields 3 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

Very true! I think we all know people like this.

Marcia Ours


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Thanks very much for the comments. It is very hard to get rid of the toxic people. All we can do is slowly fade them out of our lives and not get bonded up with them.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

I wonder if hanging out with toxic people is like an addiction. You just can't move away. You think that you can argue with them and they will listen, and care what you think. I like your suggestion of just being too busy. Don't explain, don't drag it out, just end it.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Yeah, I think it goes both ways. You get wrapped up in trying to change them and they like the negative attention of you getting upset.


Careermommy profile image

Careermommy 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Truthfornow, you offer some great tips. I was thinking about some very negative people that I work with and how to distance myself. So, your article was very timely for me.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Negative people at work are the worse, good luck to you @Careermommy.


shin_rocka04 profile image

shin_rocka04 3 years ago from Maryland

It sucks when you have to deal with toxic people so close or at home, but you have to learn how to deal with it and not let it ruin your mood or your day. In one ear and out the other sometimes, you know? Good post.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Ignoring and not taking them seriously is the best motto . . . thanks shin_rocka04.


Express10 profile image

Express10 3 years ago from East Coast

These are very important things to note. Some toxic people can bring both mental and physical harm to others. Listening to your B.S. radar is just as important. I often and correctly avoid these people at the very first or second interaction and a far number are fended off before they even get a chance to speak to me.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

It is best to head them off at the beginning rather than getting caught up into them being in your life. It is true about mental and physical harm. Thanks Express10.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

Toxic people at work, kindly advise them to look for another job to end their misery (and yours). Sad, but true, there are a lot of toxic people in the world. They take the easy way out. It's just too easy to complain daily and to be hurtful; it makes up for their shortcomings--you don't even need to think to smile, however. Thanks for your hub on a subject many people can learn from. Thumbs up.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

It is true that toxic people do take the easy way out. Thanks for stopping by ytsenoh.


MrsBrownsParlour profile image

MrsBrownsParlour 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

Great topic and so important. Many of us fall into these situations and need support to recognize that setting strong boundaries is okay...we can still be "nice" people without having to suffer the negativity of toxic people. You make great points. Thank you for writing this!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

So useful--we all know people like this---thank you!!


ALUR profile image

ALUR 3 years ago from USA

It is a hard step to take but awareness and literally steering away fr/toxic people is the best approach. I enter a space with a metal shield of protection (sounds inane) so that those I must interact with cannot interfere with my aura. I am sensitive to energy and the one thing that will always try to infiltrate is jealousy,envy and toxicity


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

I had never thought of turning the tables on these people - you're right - the users and self-centered toxics in life will just . . . fade away . . . 'poof!'

Great tips - thank you! I will be using some of these!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Thanks for the comments and hope that we can all stay away from toxics.


DrivingPeace profile image

DrivingPeace 3 years ago from Montana

"Ask instead of Give: Ask the toxic people in your life for favors. Nothing gets rid of the users and abusers in your life faster than becoming needy."

Oh SO true! Toxic abusers ALWAYS want a free ride. Most toxic people are moral cowards - weak people who cover up their failures by blaming and using others. They are there to use you up. Once they can no longer do that, they've lost any further use for you and will move on to their next victim.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

Thanks for your comment DrivingPeace. It is always interesting how you can get rid of the Toxics so quick when you stop doing for them.


portables profile image

portables 3 years ago

there is a line in The desiderata "Avoid loud and aggressive persons;

they are vexatious to the spirit." and that just about sums it up for me!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA Author

I like that portables!


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

These are very good ideas to get rid of toxic people. I have some experience with those people and it was so hard to get rid of them until I kept on asking favors(my trick) from them and it worked. I was glad about that. Thanks for sharing.

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