57 thoughts on “7 Toxic Behaviors You Should Never Tolerate

  • February 23, 2018 at 2:14 pm


    • February 23, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks. I didn’t see it and neither did 10,000 readers in the last few days. Fixed. A true typo I missed.

    • June 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Your article resonated in so many areas of my life. I had a truly abusive mother- ragealcoholic, severe physical abuse pratically every day. Constant put downs as I got older– ” no one will ever want to live with you” “I wish you 10 children just as bad as you.” My hand once slipped through the glass storm door and I had a bad gash and she was yelling “Don’t get it on my new carpet.” I was a extremely creative and artistic child, she wanted me to be a typist so I could snag a rich husband. I am gay. My father was an alcoholic, episodic, but kinder and he lived through hell. My mother married him on the rebound and made no secret of it- that she never loved him and never would. In spite of all of this, he never cheated and when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer– he stood by her lovingly. I worked with a therapist for 13 years on child abuse. I am recently out of a 28 relationship with my partner. Actually 30 years, we were friends first. One day I cam home to our home and she said “I am not in love with you anymore. I love you like a friend.” I had been ill. Misdiagnosed case of severe shingles which turned into a chronic case of severe nerve damage. (Post Herpetic Neuraglia). I took Lyrica for pain and gained 40 lbs. My partner constantly used my weight gain against me.
      She walked ahead of me, if I went to kiss her on the cheek, she turned away, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, we had to stay in contact for a long time because we owned a house togther. Despite the last 5 years, I loved her and our life in the country. She destroyed everything I loved, was diagnosed by 5 psycharists as bi-polar and would not take medication.
      I moved to Florida with her so her parents could go into assisted living (they were both ready for a nursing home}. We now have no contact at all but live within 15 minutes of each other. I am trying to let go but after 28 years, it is extremely hard. I am alone a lot. I feel depressed most of the time. I sleep late bc my day will be shorter. I am heartbroken because 25 years of our relationship were loving and good. I have tried to break this behavior of mine but not being successful at it. I am sober in AA for 8 years but having moved to Florida, I lost my AA group in Sag Harbor where I used to live. Somedays all I can do is get up, get to a meeting and that’s it. I will buy your book. Thank you for your insights.

      • March 6, 2019 at 6:00 am

        It sounds to me like you are still grieving everything and that that would be perfectly normal and understandable. No need to think badly of yourself but practice compassion for yourself while your grieve and come to terms with everything. Maybe some expression of anger also through writing perhaps. Life sure can be tough sometimes, but you are still here. Good Luck with your future

      • September 16, 2019 at 6:11 pm

        It is very easy for young adults to blame their parents for everything and parents take the blame because we love our children so much. But middle aged adults say it over and over and I hear it in my practice. “We don’t need them. “ That is true even though we love our children and we need them. So parents we need to accept that most of us are on our own. Our children only want our estates if you have one to leave. So this is a different generation. Those adult children cannot help themselves. They do not have free will. They simply are who they are and it is evolution.

      • January 28, 2020 at 3:34 am

        You just described my life right now. I have really made a mess of my life. And it’s tough right now to say the least I think my girlfriend was a narcissist. I have my fat, but my second date though father. I put my faith in God. I think I’m going to be used by my siblings as well I live with my older brother and it’s constant criticism and it has been for years and years how did I get here. I hope you found your way can you possibly say just hang in there fun love again you won’t grow old alone. But if it don’t happen for me spiritually I will get through with God.

    • November 12, 2018 at 8:09 pm

      Loved this article! Brought a lot of behaviors I’ve seen into perspective. My question is can the person change their behavior?

  • February 23, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    All things you pointed out is how high ranking managers in both the private and public sectors treated their employees.

    • February 24, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      Oh come on. That’s a broad overstatement.

      • February 24, 2018 at 2:49 pm

        Sorry, but it is true when you look at how the USA has one of the worst labor rights in the world and here is a link regarding sociopaths running American companies: ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZUIQr4K-rY

      • February 24, 2018 at 2:58 pm

        I’m a research-based writer. Show me some peer-reviewed research that supports that claim about sociopaths and I’d be happy to listen.

  • February 24, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Or how teenagers behave.

    • February 24, 2018 at 12:44 pm

      That’s simply not true. Did you bother reading the piece? Just asking…

  • February 26, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Your article is enlightening but lack a solution or outcome. How do we change a toxic relationship? We are both from dysfunctional upbrings.

    • February 26, 2018 at 2:37 pm

      Fixing a toxic relationship falls outside of the realm of self-help and is a therapeutic issue. It’s very complicated. Talking to a therapist jointly or separately would be a first and important step. Best, Peg

  • March 1, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I wish I had read this article 20 years ago. I didn’t recognize these behaviors as toxic. I was told by my spouse, family, friends and counselors that these were ‘normal’ marital issues. The truth is the person who uses these toxic behaviors will not give them up. I don’t understand how this wasn’t recognized in marital therapy.

    • May 16, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      That your counselor didn’t recognize these behaviors as toxic is odd. John Gotteman’s work has been around for decades, in fact.

      • April 27, 2019 at 10:50 am

        It is not odd that a counselor didn’t recognize the toxic behaviors. It happens all the time that professionals miss the signs of narcissism, and themselves get reeled into the behavior. It can be hard to find a therapist who sees through this and does a proper assessment of what’s going on. Additionally, those impacted by the behavior don’t always know how to lay out these behaviors for the therapist to see since they are still trying to make sense of it, thus those assessment skills are key.

      • September 16, 2019 at 6:20 pm

        I agree that therapists don’t see a lot. Most are not professionally educated and therefore align with one person over the other. Very dangerous to go into couples therapy. Be careful.

  • May 16, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    So much of this is sitcom or TV fodder. I feel like we are nearly immersed in the normalization of many of these types of behaviors. Do you find this to be true? I see couples treating each other in many of these ways and others laughing it off as normal and/or amusing.

    • May 16, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      I haven’t seen that, in fact. People don’t laugh this kind of treatment off in truth; sooner or later, they either break up or divorce.

      • May 20, 2018 at 8:30 am

        True. I think this article is an eye opener.

  • May 21, 2018 at 4:10 am

    You appear to have described my former marriage.I think I got so used to being the “lesser one”
    in it that my perceptions were blunted, and I had become a wee timorous cowering beastie.
    Then one day I realised that a piece of my life history had created this ridiculous amenability, so when the mighty one came out with some more demeaning shit, I threw it back which caused nuke fission aka divorce.
    Seemed like the pedestal created by that super ego was very fragile indeed.
    Oh well bloody lovely now not having to walk on eggshells round the royal moi-ness…
    Or anyone else like that..Got my perceptions back and in good working order…as are my feet.

    • December 26, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      I love this comment. Good for you!

  • May 23, 2018 at 4:32 am

    Ho wI needed this advice in 1970! My life was ruined by my marriage to a man 14 years older than I, who was so controlling and cruel and who did all seven of these intolerable things. My deep fear now I am nearly 70 is that my daughters’ childhoods were not protected from him as I thought at the time. They think he was a good father. They seem to hate me. There are signs in them of being very like him. For example I am disabled and in constant pain but that criticise me all the time without regard to my pain and how it stops me from leading an active life.

    • May 15, 2019 at 9:13 am

      I’m going through the same thing. My daughter was my life and we had the best time until I could take no more emotional abuse from her father. He never took an interest in her until we separated. Then he began using the same tactics on her and used the sympathy card. Now, in spite of me never saying a bad word about him, she and I are not close. We only see each other on holidays and she won’t even friend me on Facebook yet she is all over his. I wish I’d done things differently. He’s 20 years older and I had no control at all in the marriage. I’m still glad I left and I still hope my 20 year old comes around one day. Oh, I’m disabled as well.

  • May 29, 2018 at 1:28 am

    Does it make me a bad person because I stonewall someone who I believe has been abusive and violent towards me? I also show contempt towards him, usually as I am defending myself against his onslaught of slurs, not as a general rule… I’m struggling severely with this, he continually calls me a narcissist, and I’m really trying to question the fact of if I’m that person, but reading the articles and really looking at myself I don’t feel as if I relate to many of the things that are a part of that personality type. I feel massive amounts of empathy for people I meet, I love animals and little kids, I don’t feel any desire to use people or play to win. I ask my kids to do their best, no matter what, and if they do that I will still be proud that they tried their best, and that they should be proud too because they put in the effort they should have. I hate seeing anyone hurt, all the murders and school shootings make me cry. I don’t do anything like that for praise or to have all the attention. I do feel as if I have been gaslighted, and have actually proved my abuser wrong with a video that was recorded where he tried to gaslight me, and had I not watched the video again would have thought I made it all up… Could someone help me with this?!?

    • May 30, 2018 at 8:20 am

      This person is being verbally abusive from what you have described. I would sit down with this person and say that that is how you see it and that you need it to stop. Don’t stonewall or be contemptuous for a while and see if that helps.

      • June 1, 2018 at 12:15 am

        The stonewalling and contempt were my last resort as I had continually explained to him how he made me feel as a person, when he was downgrading and treating me certain ways. I always explained my feelings, and it always got worse whenever I did. He would laugh at me and belittle my feelings on how he handled his anger towards me, telling me how I deserve it in one way or another, and I would always end up apologizing to him for feeling that way… Today is my first day without him, I finally got the nerve after 9 years, to walk away from the next apology, the next promise, all of them on how he promises he will change and things will be better and he can control his anger… I couldn’t take the next argument, the next insult, the next shove or glob of spit in my face, the broken things (like the only door that locks in the house) and busted walls… Cleaning only to have pop slung all over me and the house. So instead of participating and allowing myself to react the wrong way I shut down a lot at the end… I was losing myself in the chaos, and allowed myself to act a way I would have never considered appropriate, and I didn’t like myself for it. I don’t feel like this made me a bad person, but I’m pretty lost at the moment…

      • June 17, 2018 at 6:31 pm

        Amber, it looks to me like you were provoked over and over by very real events, and did what you call stonewalling to defend yourself. Doing this to defend yourself and doing this to gain power and control over another person are not the same. Abusers will often provoke their target in many ways and then use the target’s frustrated reactions to make them feel like they are the one who is in the wrong. If this is not the way you normally respond to others who are not provoking you, that is a clue. I hope you begin a brighter and better future soon, without this kind of thing in your life.

      • October 9, 2018 at 2:33 am

        Hi Grace:) I read your story and could feel your pain. It not only amazes me but also very telling is the guilt and worry you felt when you thought you might be exhibiting some of the negatives behaviors mentioned in the article. I completely understand. After years of abuse, especially from the well equipped narcissist , his skill in reading weakness, manipulation , making threats , taking your autonomy, getting you to a place of complete helplessness , exactly where he wants you , and no
        Amount of pleading for understanding or validation , or basic human rights, will avail.The narcissist will not only not give you empathy, a sense of compassion, etc… he thrives on knowing his manipulative scheme is working and he’s oh so proud and thinks that the fact that you still hang around is proof that he really is something to behold! He believes his ability to bring you to acting like a school girl with a crush, with all his fake flattery, and then watch you descend to your knees in a destraught and bewildered state , or leaving you like road kill, your guts hanging out , then whipping right back around , reeling you back in with his gushy manipulative fettered speech , makes him the most powerful, most desired , most ingenious man on the planet! And this cycle repeats itself over and over and over, until the you that you knew is lost in a sea of utter confusion and pain, and helplessness… And Tired… oh so tired…And we let them do it.. Enslaved by madness, by a two year old, spiked rotten child in a grown man’s body with a sense of entitlement that knows no end and you are have become his personal slave, obey and you might survive, or be destroyed if you don’t…Why? Why when we even envision him vearing off the highway, and the whole nightmare coming to an end… I know your pain and pray you find yourself again, laugh with your kids and friends again , hope again, love again, live again. God bless you honey:)

      • January 21, 2019 at 2:12 pm

        Ty for clarification. I too have used stonewalling as a last attempt and defending myself. Good to know the difference in defending yourself versus using it for manipulation.

      • October 9, 2019 at 2:10 pm

        I have done the same as well. I know a conversation will just be a self defeating argument. Sadly, you must fight fire with fire. Sometimes you have to “out manipulate” the narcissist.

    • June 4, 2018 at 11:28 am

      You’re not a narcissist, the very fact that you thought you might be proves that you’re not. Don’t let it enter your head again. If you’re still in this relationship I would strongly advise you to get out of it. It will only get worse.

      • June 27, 2018 at 12:06 am

        I left about a month ago, I’ve moved in with family until I get back on my feet. I’m slowly but surely trying to put my life back together, doing things again, and feeling generally better about life, myself, and my decision to walk away. It was hard to do, we had been together for 9 years, and while I’m mourning for what could have been, and who I had been, and the pain that has been dealt, I knew I couldn’t go on like that. I couldn’t allow my children to see what was going on anymore. I didn’t like who I was becoming, or how I was reacting, and I wanted and needed to not feel that much pain anymore. Thank you for your comment, I appreciate the confidence that it instills in my mind. I went to a family reunion last weekend, and my aunt came with me. As we talked I told her a very small portion of the things he had been saying and doing, and she was utterly appalled. As I finished with the little bit I told her she begged me to never go back… That in itself made me realize, and answer with I would rather die than to go back to him… He has made me feel that badly, that I would rather not live if I had to live with him. Knowing and feeling that way hurts me. I don’t want to feel so angry or upset with him. I just want to be happy. I want to get back to being as close to who I was when I met him as I can…

      • September 27, 2018 at 8:03 pm

        Keep your chin up, you’re on the right road, that is, unfortunately riddled with users and abusers.

        From one who’s been there, done that.

        Best to you!

  • June 23, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Great insights – thank you. This is so applicable to my situation as a child/teen. Currently, I’m gathering all information I can to better understand and cope with my husband’s cognitive decline after a stroke 18 months ago and then diagnosed with minor neurocognitive disorder. He will begin treatment in one month for cognitive behavioral therapy. The behaviors mentioned in this article are spot on for his recent behavioral changes. Trying to cope!

  • July 8, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    next article: how to recover from these 7 things Please!!! Also how to get out of a relationship with someone who is doing these 7 things. Usually you don’t recognize these things until you are already in a relationship and the Real Person comes out with this type of behavior.

    • July 8, 2018 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Dee, Can’t do that in an article, alas. But you may want to look at my book DAUGHTER DETOX which explains it all. Only at Amazon. Best. Peg

      • July 25, 2018 at 1:47 pm

        Don’t you mean to refer her to therapy and not your book!?!

      • July 25, 2018 at 6:46 pm

        I assume you are referring to my answer to Dee. If someone comments on a problem they are having, I do recommend a therapist since I’m neither a psychologist nor a therapist. When someone asks me to address an issue and to write a blog post and it’s not a subject I can cover adequately in a post, I do recommend my book.

  • July 10, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    My “family” are dysfunctional beyond reason. There’s a lot of child sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal/emotional abuse that I finally escaped from when i was in my 20s. I’m pretty sure the person who is my biological “sister” (I disowned her years ago) is a sociopath and a child molester. I can’t prove the last but I think it’s a logical assumption based on her past behavior.

    When we were kids she violently molested me and called me deluded when I confronted her about it as an adult. She displays all the classic symptoms of malignant narcissism and antisocial personality disorder.

    That’s fine, whatever, but she surrounds herself with vulnerable children so it’s not like she isn’t in a place to do serious harm to someone else. She’s a child daycare worker. Plus her biological children are displaying behaviors that are reminiscent of her f***d up dysfunctions: manipulative, verbally/emotionally abusive, lying, self-centered, etc.

    This blog and others like it are like a calming oasis of sanity because I still have a lot of hatred and resentment toward my biological “family”. As far as I’m concerned they are nothing more than abusive trash/garbage and I can’t get far enough away from them. In fact, I tell people I have no family and that my family died when my parents died (dad was an addict and ran the car into a telephone pole killing himself and mom so it’s mostly true).

  • August 8, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    This opens my awareness. Sometimes I feel like my friend is doing this to me. But I also wonder if I have done some of these to my other friends.

    I am just thankful that I read this article. This serves as my guide.

  • September 4, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I have currently been in a relationship with this exact thing. I was so confused as to why he was saying the things he said. At first it was really great, but then immediately changed and I was yelled at for my past, made to feel like a horrible person for having had sex with anyone in my past. I was belittled, insulted, had words put in my mouth all the time. Told I was settling in life, then told I was amazing, he couldn’t live without me, I made him a better person, he asked me to marry him every other day, told me he would put me on a pedestal and have me want for nothing. Then would call me a Cunt, tell me I was a bitch and that I always knew how to push his buttons, when I only asked a question. One time I asked if he would be able to catch an earlier flight home from a business trip and he said I was giving him shit for being away. That I was harassing him and making him feel bad for putting up expectations. It was all so bizarre and I have no idea why I put up with it for so long. I honestly could go on for novel time to explain the amount of crap I dealt with.

  • September 5, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    I’m not complaining, but all of the 7-points directs a conclusion that toxic behaviours are always coming from men in a [majority of heterosexual] relationships. (Again, I’m not complaining, because I can see how my hypothesis can be a fact by statistics, and these “toxic behaviour” is somewhat related to excessive adrenaline and testosterone).

    • September 5, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      This is a blog devoted largely to women’s experiences. My conclusions are drawn from research; they have nothing to do with testosterone.

  • December 3, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    My sister fits the narcissist. Our mother was this way as well. My sister says she does not want to be like our mother, but she is exactly like her. I realize I just can’t talk to her, she will not see what’s wrong. Is it possible to have a relationship with her? I’ve caught her in several lies, when I try to address the issue she screams at me that it didn’t happen, she never said that. I love my sister but just can’t be around her and be emotionally healthy right now. Will I ever?

  • December 25, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Married 50 years bipolar 1 rapid cycling severe depression. My husband says if I get upset it is because I didn’t take my pills. My granddaughter lies, steals, disrespects and takes advantage of anyone, everyone who falls for eye batting, I need a favor, my baby NEEDS….and I HAVE NO $$$ but too lazy to get a job. Today Christmas. I was tired of her “all knowing attitude”. I’ve been cooking for 50 years, but bc everyone uses my condition as an excuse I don’t do things right they dismiss my opinion and take over. I get angry at her disrespect. Today I tried several times to put oven on a different temp for warming dinner things in oven. She gets a disgusted tone changes it back. Cuts me off in midsentence. Then she came up to me “I guess I better ask or you’ll get angry”. “Why would I get angry?” I asked. “You always get made if it isn’t done your way.” I asked her to tell me what she wanted, no, “I’m not eating. I’m leaving. ” she walked out picking up her 3 mo old, she’s 18. I asked her why she wanted to ruin her daughter’s 1st Christmas. She said it wasn’t ruined she got all her presents. I said you stay I’ll go. I spent 5 hours away from everyone. She doesn’t work, sometimes goes to school and moochers off us and anyone who falls for her damsel in distress routine. Makes me sick and I get angry. She lies to my face. She changed the babys dirty diaper they both stay with us. I asked her to put dirty diapers inside a plastic shopping bag in the trash in laundry room not kitchen. She told me she wrapped it and into kitchen. I looked poopy diaper no bag in kitchen. Another lie. Disrespect and I can’t say anything wo husband saying I am being too harsh and I am always getting angry for such little things that really don’t matter. Am I WRONG???? I AM PISSED!!!

  • January 26, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Good lord the comments people leave! They don’t even stay within the topic, Peg!. I can’t possibly cover here all that transpired between my mother and I this past Christmas. But, she is 82 and I’m 61 and the expense and lengths she went through to try to “get back” at me for a comment I made, by visiting and then screwing up Christmas plans, was enough to tip the balance for me. I have finally said enough is enough of her abuse and manipulations. I disown her. I divorce her. I refuse to be yelled and screamed at like I’m still her child. I refuse to be belittled with her verbal assaults​ into my self esteem and brainwashed into thinking I am not good enough to live. I worked my way through college all by myself and had a darn good career in a major Telecom corporation. I don’t anyone talk to me that way. I’m done with her and her hateful nonsense. I just wish your book was written 40 years ago. It has validated me and freed me.

    • October 18, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      Thank you for this comment- you are describing my life – I had to refuse contact with my 93 years old mother at the age of 65 – first time in my life I stood up to be respected as a person; the article of Peg Streep confirms what I have not been able to see during decades; it is so important to talk about this!

  • September 19, 2019 at 4:38 am

    Excellent article.

    I am glad that I do not have to tolerate all that disdain and being laughed at…

    However – when it comes from people who represent some institutions – and when formal/infornal complaint does not help…

    …does it mean that I actually have to tolerate this sort of behaviour?

    What sort of “defense” shall I develop? I have tried – but so far my writing skills have not reached sarcastic humor of Swift’s Modest Proposal – so I feel voiceless.

  • December 27, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    My husband’s sister stonewalls us. This is a long-standing issue as she decides who will host holidays, where people sit at the table at dinner, what food is to be make, how much is to be spent on Xmas exchanges, etc. etc. A few years ago I got fed up taking ‘mom’ for Xmas for 15 years in a row and we went out of town and she had to take her mother for Xmas. Three years later I told her we would be gone and unable to take mom at Xmas, we actually ended up dropping mom at her house on Xmas eve after a holiday dinner as I refused to be forced into taking mom. Since then, she voluntarily took the mother at Xmas two years ago. I’ve resumed taking mom as this is getting ridiculous.
    Their mom is 92 and I believe she will need in-home caregiver or assisted living within 3 years. I have tried to engage his sister a bit concerning this and she will not even acknowledge that a discussion is in order. At this point I’m bowing out.
    What’s interesting about all this is her son and daughter-in-law were doing eyerolls on Xmas eve over his mom’s behavior. So the contempt is wearing off on her own son.

  • May 30, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    He does all these things to me then blames me for getting him “frustrated” I’m Unempathetic towards home
    I’m an asshole
    I never help
    I literally asked him a question about his daughters homework and he blew up at me saying I’m fighting with him and continuing our argument from last night cause I’m mad at him
    But I’m not
    I’ve been nothing but kind to him all
    Cooked him brunch, cleaned, did laundry, asked if he wanted to watch a show
    But he is dealing with his ex and custody issues so apparently everything is Made worse by me even speaking!!

    • May 30, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      And you are there why?
      If I wrote you this, what would you say?
      Please talk to a therapist and good luck.

  • June 7, 2020 at 7:56 am

    “Relational aggression by proxy” is an example of toxic behaviors to be wary of. Malicious gossip. Smear campaigns. etc.

    • July 9, 2020 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Dan,
      Your comment is part of what I’m living through at work. Searching for solutions for how to reach a common ground brought me here.
      Does it ever stop and how?
      Any solutions?
      Mobbing with flying monkeys doing the bidding?

  • July 7, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Dang! Thank you for your words because they are meaningful and needed. I have been “on my own” since I was a kid really. Just always a loner. I never have been married, but I am now engaged for 2 years. I am afraid because if I used your scale of measure, my relationship is toxic for sure. My problem is that I have 42 years of ingrained independence and fight in me that makes me believe that absolutely anything in my life that is bad is my fault. It sure is heartbreaking to see it for what it is. That this person I have committed to doesn’t see me as special or needed, doesn’t really respect my thoughts or feelings, probably never has or never would see me as a partner. I’m not an ignorant person. How did I ever let this person do it to me? When I try and look for an answer as to why, I just see how blessed I am and how I should have been able to do more with what I have been given. So it seems like the bottom line (from my POV) is always that it’s always my fault.


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