All relationships have their ups and downs — whether they’re relationships with family members, friends, work colleagues or romantic partners. But what happens when these relationships are toxic? How do you even know if it’s toxic?
In this blog, we explain just what a toxic relationship is, the types of toxic people, how to recognise if your relationships are toxic, how they affect your weight and happiness, and what you can do about them.
What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is one that threatens your emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing.
Toxic relationships can make you feel unimportant, unsupported, demeaned, misunderstood, excluded, controlled, manipulated, drained, fearful, upset, angry or unsafe. Toxic relationships often bring out the worst in you, rather than your best. They don’t allow you to be your true, authentic self, or support you in your personal growth.
9 types of toxic people
There are different types of toxic people with each of them having its own set of characteristics.
A narcissist is someone only interested in themselves. They have no compassion or empathy and truly believe that they are better than everyone else and that the world should revolve around them. They tend to surround themselves with people who feed into their ego and build relationships to reinforce their big opinion of themselves. Often these people are initially very charming and charismatic, but the longer you know them the more aggressive and dominant they become. Narcissists like to be in control and won’t listen to other people’s opinions. They blame others for their circumstances as they are unable to take responsibility for themselves.
Just as their name suggests, controllers like to control everything. They like to make all the decisions and want to be in charge of what you do, say and think. If you disagree with them, they freak out as they have a strong need to be right and in control. They will try to convince you that you are wrong and they are right and will often make you feel as if you can’t do anything right. When they don’t feel in control, they lash out at others and will become defensive if questioned.
Drama queen (or king)
The drama queens or kings love drama. They are surrounded by drama which they often create themselves. It’s common for them to use drama as a way to bring attention to themselves or to get what they want. The only time drama queens are happy is when they are in the middle of a crisis whether it’s their own or someone else’s. If things are going smoothly, they’ll still find something to complain about, dramatising the most mundane situations. They feed off gossip, both listening to it and contributing to it. In fact, they are often the first people to spread rumours or scandalous news. Their daily life is often posted on their social media account in the form of trials and tribulations because no one’s problem is worse than theirs.
The green-eyed monster is a jealous type and resents other people’s success. They can never be happy for other people’s fortune or success, and will often belittle other people’s achievements as a way to feel better about themselves. They love to see other people fail and may even do things to sabotage their success. Green-eyed monsters will also give back-handed comments and exhibit passive-aggressive behaviours, such as belittling or undermining you in front of other people.
Compulsive liars do just that — lie all the time. Some lies are big, and some may be white lies. The lies may also have truthful elements to them. Compulsive liars love to tell stories and therefore cannot be trusted. They will lie to you about others and will lie to others about you. These people are the masters of manipulation and gaslighting, blatantly telling lies, never backing down or changing their stories, even when they are called out. They are so good at convincing you of their lie that you begin to second-guess yourself.
Vampires are those people who suck the life out of you. They are closely related to drama queens and often complain about their life. As well as dramatising their life, they tend to drain the emotional resources of the people they are close to, often using them to dump their problems onto. No matter how much you give them, they always need more. They very rarely ask about your life, but if they do, they often turn it around to make it about them. Vampires will leave you feeling drained and emotionally depleted.
Victims are self-absorbed people who are convinced that nothing is their fault because things happen to, or are done to them. Because they blame external circumstances, they cannot take responsibility for themselves. These are the people who believe that life happens to them rather than for them. They have lots of excuses for not taking action or for not being able to do something. Toxic people are also great at manipulating you into believing that you are the bad person who has wronged them in some way.
The saviour is there to save you! These people believe that there are things in you or your life that need fixing and that they are the ones to do it. In an effort to fix you, they may exhibit controlling behaviours, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. They may also seem to ‘check up on you’ all the time. They are quick to criticise or question anything you say, as they believe they know better than you. The saviour will make it very difficult for you to take action and learn from your mistakes, as they believe it’s their job to save you from difficult situations and pain.
At first glance, these people don’t appear to be toxic and you may consider them to be one of your biggest supporters. However, the enabler is a people-pleaser who will tell you anything to keep you happy and gain favour with you. The enabler hates conflict and so will do anything to keep the peace. If you ask them a question, they will tell you what they think you want to hear, instead of what you need to hear. The enabler is not able to have difficult conversations or to give tough love and so will help you stay stuck in unhelpful or self-sabotaging patterns.
How to recognise a toxic relationship
There are many hallmarks of toxic relationships. If any of the following rings true for you, you’re probably in a toxic relationship. You feel:
- like you have to prove yourself
- as if you are not good enough
- you’re not accepted for who you are
- emotionally drained of energy when you’re with them or after you’ve been with them
- you give more to the relationship than you get
- unsupported and not understood
- like an outsider
- unable to be your true self
- you’re not your best self when you’re around them
- devalued and worthless
- cut off or isolated from other people because the toxic person doesn’t want you to be around them
- like you’re constantly walking on eggshells
- like you need to constantly please them
- afraid of making them angry or getting them offside
- like you can’t trust them
- unsure where you stand with them
- emotionally or physically unsafe
- unsupported or uncelebrated
- as if your boundaries or personal needs are not respected
- manipulated or gaslighted
- like the other person’s needs and desires are more important than yours
- like you’re always caught up in drama
- your relationship is based on shallow gossip
- you are always wrong or at fault
- your achievements are not validated or as good as theirs
- you are controlled
- belittled or criticised or receive backhanded comments
- resentful of the other person
- stressed and anxious around them
- like your needs are never met
- hopeful they will change their ways
Why do people engage in toxic relationships?
People who continue to engage in and put up with toxic relationships are people who lack self-worth. People with low self-worth believe that they aren’t worthy to have good relationships. They doubt themselves and put other people’s needs before their own. You can read more about low self-worth in our blog How low self-worth affects your weight.
People with low self-worth also find their worth in relationships or the number of ‘friends’ they have and believe it is better to be with anyone, even the wrong people than to be by themselves. But being around the wrong people just because you’re lonely is a bit like drinking poison just because you’re thirsty. It might satisfy you initially, but it will cause a host of other problems down the track.
How toxic relationships affect you
Toxic relationships can affect you in several key ways.
Toxic relationships are riddled with stress — stress about keeping people happy, trying to fit in, walking on eggshells, not feeling supported, and second-guessing yourself. Stress negatively impacts our health in many ways and can lead to headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, chest pain, and sleep problems. It can also lead to depression, panic attacks and other forms of anxiety and worry and can worsen symptoms of other medical conditions. Chronic stress is also linked to heart disease, cancer, lung illnesses, accidents, liver disease and suicide.
However, a landmark study also showed that people in negative relationships indeed experience more stress and as a result, are at greater risk of developing heart problems, including dying from heart attacks and strokes, than people in healthy relationships.
Stress can also lead to weight gain, or an inability to lose weight. We explored this in our blog How stress and weight gain are linked.
In addition to the stress factor, toxic relationships impact your weight in other ways. Firstly, hanging out with toxic people means that they won’t support your weight loss goals and help you succeed. They will never celebrate your success and may even go out of their way to sabotage your efforts by enticing you to drink more than you should or eat foods that won’t help you reach your goals.
Other people will make you feel bad about putting your needs above theirs, and so you’ll end up pleasing them first and putting yourself last. This means you won’t make time for weekly meal prep, regular workouts or prioritise sleep — all of which are important for long-term weight loss. And of course, if you’re more concerned about keeping other people happy than yourself, you’ll find that you’ll always be too busy to focus on your weight loss.
Poor mental health
Toxic relationships can cause you to feel helpless, afraid, unsafe, anxious, depressed, insecure, paranoid, drained and worthless. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that these feelings are bad for your mental health. The people who should be in your circle are those who encourage and support you and inspire and motivate you. You can read more about mental health in our blog Habits to ditch if you want to improve your mental health.
Toxic people aren’t always bad people
It’s important to understand that not all toxic people are bad people. Many toxic people in our life have good intentions and love us dearly. Some of them may be family members or friends we’ve had for a long time. They’re not necessarily bad people, they are just people who have not healed from past traumas and so continue to re-enact their traumas and project them onto other people. We explain this in detail in our blog How trauma affects weight loss.
Toxic people are also unaware of how their trauma influences their habits and behaviour. Unfortunately, if they are unaware of their habits, they are unable to address them, which means they will continue to engage in their toxic behaviour, even if they genuinely want the best for you.
Letting go of nasty people is easy, but cutting ‘nice’ toxic people out of your life can be hard, especially if they are a family member or someone you’ve been friends with for a long time. However, continuing to surround yourself with the wrong people just because it’s too hard to let them go or have a difficult conversation with them is a form of self-sabotage. The truth is, if you want the body, confidence and life you’ve always desired, you have to say goodbye to toxic relationships. Because if nothing changes, nothing changes.
However, if you continue to work on yourself and your habits, you will end up pushing the wrong people away without having to cut them out yourself. The more you work on yourself, the more you will attract the right people, and the wrong people will naturally drop out of your life.
How to overcome toxic relationships
The reason people continue to engage in toxic relationships is that they suffer from low self-worth. So, the solution to overcoming toxic relationships is to build your self-worth. When you feel worthy, you will no longer feel the need to keep others happy and engage in people-pleasing. You will be able to put yourself first without worrying about what other people say or think of you. You will also be able to put some distance between yourself and toxic members of your family (who you may not be able to completely cut off) or be comfortable being on your own until you find the right people to let into your circle, instead of settling for toxicity. We explain how to do this in our blog How to build your self-worth so you can lose weight for good.
How DATSTM Program helps
The DATSTM Personal Coaching Program (habit, mindset, and weight loss) will help you identify and address the beliefs that have led you to develop low self-worth. It will help you build a new identity so you can build your self-worth and confidence. And once you feel worthy, you’ll stop engaging in toxic relationships. Once you address your self-worth, you will also attract healthy relationships and repel unhealthy relationships.
We work with you to develop a personalised action plan to help you build new habits and provide you with all the accountability and support you need to succeed. DATSTM gives you the knowledge, systems, tools, and skills to help you So, build your self-worth and ditch toxic relationships.
- All relationships have their ups and downs, but some relationships are toxic.
- A toxic relationship is one that threatens your emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing.
- People engage in toxic relationships because they lack self-worth.
- There are different types of toxic people — some may be controlling, others may try to sabotage you, make you feel bad about who you are, or even enable your self-sabotaging habits.
- Toxic relationships can affect your entire life, including your physical health, your weight and your mental health.
- You can put an end to toxic relationships by building your self-worth.
- Our DATSTM Personal Coaching Program will help you identify the habits that contribute to the diet mindset.
- It will give you the precise action steps you need to take to address these habits so you can drop the diet mindset and finally stay consistent with your weight loss program and lose weight and gain the confidence and lifestyle you desire.
- Our DATSTM Program gives you the knowledge, systems, tools and skills to help you lose weight and keep it off, even on your worst days.