I am so glad we live in a world where people can help one another figure out the tricks these toxic people play upon others. For centuries, people were in the dark, and many did not survive. When I say survive, I mean that one toxic person can destroy many lives. Toxic people kill dreams, hopes, happiness, and living harmoniously and peacefully. Sadly, many of these toxic people might have been bright and shiny when they entered this world, but another toxic person covered them with toxic goo. Let me explain. Toxic people are like hoarders. Garbage and trash litter their path. Some toxic people will throw trash along your clean, healthy, and peaceful life path. But can you see the trash, or do you ignore, dismiss, or make excuses for the litter and trash? As I have said many times before, self-awareness is critical. We must learn to be self-aware to catch the tricks these toxic people play upon others. Therefore, in this blog post, I will talk about friendships and toxic friendships. Next time, I will discuss intimate relationships because there is much to cover.
Tricks these toxic people play upon others
A healthy relationship with another person is essential for peace of mind, stability, and overall well-being. We are born connected, and as human beings, we strive to find, develop and deepen those relationships with one another. Feeling loved and accepted is a wonderful feeling. We feel like we belong in this world and have a life purpose. Having a friend to share life with is a gift. The two of you are writing a story of shared joyful life experiences. The relationship grows and develops over time, strengthening and developing this healthy budding relationship. The problem is we all can feel and experience jealousy when our BFF (best friend forever) suddenly brings a new person into the friend zone and into your BFF’s inner circle of friendship. How do we handle this stranger when we are feeling jealous, insecure, vulnerable, and afraid? And trust me, toxic people enjoy making their friends jealous when they feel the friendship is becoming rocky. I bring this topic into the spotlight because even a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted person can become “temporarily” toxic. All those lower energy emotions are toxic to oneself and anyone around. We can act out when we feel jealous, unsure, afraid, and threatened. We can say things that we will regret later. Then we can start to play tricks to control, manipulate, and even destroy what we cherished in our friendship. And what if this stranger is toxic, and your BFF can’t notice the warning signs? How do you communicate your concerns without sounding jealous, insecure, or unstable? Will your BFF understand your concerns and be willing to forgive you, or will they push you away and cling more towards this new blossoming friendship?
Tricks these toxic people play upon others
When I look back at my friendships, I can see there were some toxic and healthy friendships. Therefore, I want to give you a list of toxic behaviors and warning signs that I have learned over my lifetime. Some of these behaviors and warning signs, I dismissed, excuses, and let slide. The problem is the only one hurting inside was me because I was too afraid to speak my truth, set healthy boundaries, and respect myself more. And yes, some of the things I list below did happen to me or people I know. Let’s see if you can relate to these 35 examples.
- Your friend makes plans with you and then ditches you for another person without inviting you or giving you a heads-up about changing plans.
- At times, is your toxic friend hot and cold towards you?
- Your friend keeps pushing you to take risks that could get you into serious trouble.
- Your friend shoplifts and when caught, puts the blame on you.
- Your female BFF is getting married and she doesn’t have you in her wedding. She picks women that come from wealthy families and are more socially acceptable then you.
- Your friend posts pictures of them having a great time without you, and they smear you on social media.
- Your BFF promises to take you to Europe with them. At the last minute, they break their promise because they want their new male lover instead.
- When you feel embarrassed, humiliated, or afraid, your friend makes fun of you publicly.
- Your friend is a two faced gossip.
- You tell your friend a secret, and they use it against you or for blackmail.
- Your friend uses guilt to get you to do things you don’t want to do.
- Your friend flirts and makes inappropriate comments to your intimate partner or someone you are interested in dating.
- Friend flirts with your parent and make you question their actions, words, and behaviors.
- Your friend drinks your parents alcohol and leaves you to figure out how to explain it.
- Friend keeps trying to get you do things that are illegal because you are under the age to drink.
- Pressures you to do drugs with them.
- Your friend inspects your private cell phone text messages and images without your permission or conscent.
- Your friend keeps borrowing money and never pays you back. All you get is empty promises.
- Your friend is constantly complaining. Nothing seems good enough.
- Your friend is extremely judgmental and critical of others.
- Your friend takes something of yours without asking and expects you to be fine with it when you are not.
- You ask your friend to be on their best behavior around your family, and they make a complete fool out of themselves, getting you in trouble.
- Your friend states that you must pick sides – either friends with them or someone else. You cannot be friends with both.
- Your friend is always interrupting you and talking over you as if what they have to say is important.
- Your Hispanic friend blames their culture and background as an excuse for why they should be allowed to be rude, in your face, loud, and disrespectful of others.
- Your friend does not respect your space, vehicle, personal processions, or boundaries.
- You have noticed your friend has an explosive temper.
- You will never go to heaven if you don’t become a Christian.
- You will burn in hell if you eat pork.
- You have not seen your toxic friend since high school, but they put you down as a character reference on their resume or rental application.
- Your friend constantly get you in trouble and your mom says, “Your father is rolling over in his grave because you disrespected his family honor”.
- Your friend does not show mutual respect to adults, authority figures, or other people.
- Your friend is cruel and abusive to their pets and animals.
- Your friend’s problems in life are more important than yours. The relationship seems one-sided.
- Your friend keeps borrowing your clothing or stuff and either does not return your stuff, takes forever to return, gives it to someone else to borrow, or damages it.
How to spot a toxic friendship
At times, it is best to observe people before allowing them into your inner circle. It can give you the time and space to explore if this new person is friendship material. There are times when we are feeling down in the dumps that we can attract another down in the dumps person into our lives. A trauma bonded friendship is formed, which at first seem perfect, but it is not. Let me explain. Both people are stuck in the lower energy vibrations like anger, disappointment, frustration, blame, bitterness, and despair. When we can relate to another person, it feels good. We can lift each other up just by communicating with one another. The problem is one person over time will want to grow, expand, and become a better person. The toxic person might not be ready to grow or become a better person. Conflict takes hold and the toxic person reacts. Making the friendship toxic, instead of relating on a common ground. And it is complicated because now you are invested in the friendship and wish your toxic friend would change for the sake of your relationship. Learning how to spot a toxic friendship take time, patience, and self awareness. The best way I have learned to spot a toxic friendship is to observe how this new person treats others. Here are fifty examples of observation.
- Do they treat the wait staff as if they are below them?
- How do they treat the person who makes their coffee at Starbucks?
- Are they disrespectful to their peers, parents, teachers, coworkers, or people in a position of authority?
- Do they always cut you off during a disagreement?
- Does this friend seem to have seasonal friends and no genuine long lasting friendships?
- Does it feel like your opinion no longer matters?
- During an argument, are you always being put in your place or treated like you are less than them?
- Do they constantly talk over you because their point or opinion matters more than yours?
- Do they make fun of people that are struggling in life?
- Do they insult or call complete strangers insulting names?
- Do they make you feel incompetent often?
- Do they make you feel shame or guilt often?
- Do they isolate you from your current friends and family members?
- Do they fill your mind with thoughts that nobody understands you like they do?
- Are they trying to turn your family or friends against you by degrading and fault finding?
- Do they make you believe that only they know what is right or best for your life?
- Do you ever feel you are being groomed to do something you don’t want to do?
- Does this person not respect your personal space, boundaries, and alone time?
- Does this friend try to make you jealous?
- Has your friend taken credit for your work, accomplishments, or ideas?
- Has your friend flirted with someone they knew you liked and then hooked up with them?
- Does this friend exaggerate often to make themselves look good?
- Does this friend often play the victim card?
- Does it feel like this friend is holding you back in life?
- Does this friend threaten to harm or hurt themselves if you try to end the friendship?
- Does this friend try to trigger you into reacting, instead of calmly responding?
- Does this friend like it when you are more unhappy and controllable?
- Does this friend try to drag you down and drain you when you are overly happy and joyful?
- Does this friend like to pick a fight when they cannot get their way?
- Is this person very influential and charming?
- Does it feel like this person is love-bombing you, and you are absolutely perfect?
- How does this person treat their friends in front of you? Are they respectful and show common decency or are they harsh, rude, and disrespectful?
- When your friend hurts your feelings, do they not apologize or say they are sorry?
- Have you been able to see the patterns of toxic abuse with their previous friendships or romantic relationships – love bombing, devalue, and discard?
- Does this person break their promises often?
- Does this person always have an excuse for everything?
- Have you noticed that someone else is always to blame and your friend always has an excuse?
- Does this person get enjoyment out of the pain and suffering of others?
- Does this person talk about revenge or is excited about destroying or hurting another person?
- Is this person good at fault finding?
- Does this person create a witch hunt to destroy a coworker so that they can take on their job position?
- Does this friend enjoy smearing and gossiping about decent people?
- Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells often?
- Does this friend act or think everyone is stupid and they are smarter than everyone else?
- Does this friend insult people that are less fashionable?
- Does this friend insult people that appear to have less than them in life?
- Does this friend dismiss people often?
- Are you afraid to end the friendship?
- Is this friend often irritated and annoyed by common people?
- Have you noticed their words never match their actions?
Why do people gaslight?
Next, I need to discuss gaslighting. This is a significant trick many people fall for. Some people suck at gaslighting, and others could get a Ph.D. in it. In my book, gaslighting is #1 for the tricks these toxic people play upon others. Because gaslighting is about covering up or clouding one’s certainty and filling your mind with confusion, self-doubt, uncertainty, and a false sense of self. Therefore, let me give you a twenty examples of gaslighting comments.
- No one will love you like I do.
- Only I can turn you into a success.
- Your family doesn’t love you.
- Your friends are just pretending to like you. Only I really care about you.
- No one will treat you as good as I do.
- You are so stupid.
- You told me to _____________ when you did not.
- It was all your ideas after all.
- You made me do it.
- You will never….
- I did it for you because you told me to do it.
- You will amount to nothing.
- Why can’t you see…
- Why can’t you accept…
- _______ knows you did it or _________ knows what you did.
- Nobody will respect you like I do.
- You cannot live without my financial support.
- Nobody can tolerate you. Only I understand you.
- Your career would be nothing if it were not for me.
- You can’t live without me.
- This is the best job you can get.
- This is the only job you can get.
- You’ll never be happy without me in your life.
- You will regret this.
- You gave me no other choice. I did it for you.
How to spot gaslighting
If you notice, the patterns are the same. It is about blame and projection. And some of those projections can be the toxic person’s perspective of themselves or their life experiences. The big lie always starts with comments like these…
- No one
- You did
- You didn’t
- They will never
- You will never
- You are
- Only I
- Only we
- Your family
- Your friends
- You made me
- I did it for you
- You told me
- ______ knows you did
When we hear these beginning statements, we must pause and step back. It’s a warning bell that something is not right, especially when the toxic person tries to use triangulation against you. Triangulation is when the toxic person plays the victim or needs someone to rescue them. And, like always, you are considered the abuser. Trust me; it can be challenging when someone gaslights you into believing a big lie and pretends that your dead mother knew all about it. In this case, you cannot fact-check. You are only left with confusion, embarrassment, regret, and shame. And this toxic person can communicate with the third person first, planting the seed that turns you into an abuser. All I can say is gaslighting is extremely damaging to anyone’s mental health because the toxic person comes across as wounded or self-righteous.
Why do toxic people gaslight?
Why do toxic people gaslight? If you recall, I did a podcast and blog post about shame and the shutdown response. Toxic people feel a great deal of shame and guilt. The last thing they want is to feel worse about themselves. So, they feel the need to protect themselves constantly. Blaming another person is an excellent escape tool. Not taking responsibility for one’s actions is the get-free-out-of-jail card. And gaslighting someone into believing anything that takes the spotlight and blames off the toxic person is critical. It is all about detours, coverups, escape, and false narratives that keep the toxic person from being exposed. The toxic person just has to find a fall guy or victim. Remember, there is always an excuse, and it is always someone else fault. It takes courage and strength to stand up and speak your truth when a toxic person is abusing you mentally, emotionally, verbally, or spiritually. And ironically, when I was working on this blog post, the cleaning lady gaslight me. Here’s a perfect story example.
Why do toxic people gaslight?
Every Monday, the cleaning lady comes for a few hours. One of her duties is to vacuum. Most people would assume to empty the vacuum canister into the trash can. Instead, she dumped the vacuum canister over the neighbor’s metal wire fence. I live in the woods, and it would be unlikely for my neighbor to see the trash, but I know it’s there because I can see it along the property line. And if I don’t say anything, soon there will be a large pile of dust, cat hair, and other junk the vacuum cleaner picked up. Today, I mentioned the pile of trash from the vacuum cleaner. I asked if they had done it again. Yup, she did it again. I explained that the trash was not on my property line and asked her to clean it up and never do it again. Her reply back was priceless. She angrily said, “You told me to do it.” Immediately I knew she was gaslighting me. I would never tell her to do that. I am an immaculate person. She did not want to get into trouble. I knew I could argue with her because she was lying, but I did not want to argue. I just shook my head and said, “don’t” Don’t do it again. Remember, everyone can display toxic behaviors and not be a toxic person. What matters most is how often and how often you see those toxic traits, behaviors, and actions being played upon you or another person.
When you know someone is trying to gaslight you and you catch them in the act, it can be rather interesting. It is like the bee stinger has been removed. One is no longer in the dark and they are no longer:
- Doubt yourself
- Question yourself
- Feel bad about yourself
- Feel guilt
- Get upset
- Feel shame or humiliation
- Become emotional
- Feel stupid
- Believe their lies about yourself
When the cleaning lady gaslighted me, I did get upset, but it was not extreme. I was more disappointed in the lie and shift of blame. It felt good to be able to spot the game she was playing.
Tricks these toxic people play upon others
Confusion and doubt are the tricks these toxic people play upon others. The toxic person wants to appear as if they are the one in the position of authority and you are naïve. How often are you put in this position or situation? Is it daily, weekly, or monthly? How often do you find yourself apologizing as if everything you do is wrong in the toxic person’s eyes? Your head is held down in shame and humiliation. The toxic person’s head is held high and they appear confident. Stop being fooled by a fool. Stop giving up your free will to a toxic person. You might be arguing with me saying to yourself that it’s not that easy, but there are many resources and support people out there. One just has to step out of the toxic person’s smoke cloud because the toxic person wants you to believe that there is no support, help, or other healthy options.
Tricks these toxic people play upon others
There are no road signs warn you about a toxic person 20 yards away. The only way one masters how to spot toxic people is to understand the words and meanings that best describe them. Then watch people communicate and interact with one another. I like to watch relationship reality shows. There are raw, deep, insightful, and can display human behaviors some people overlook. What I find interesting is when you watch these relationship reality shows, there is always someone there for the wrong reasons. The person is toxic, creates drama, has high conflict, makes fun of the other people, gossips to turn people against each other, and is possibly narcissistic. When you can observe how this toxic person treats others, you can start to notice how to spot toxic people. The magic unfolds before your eyes. Because there will be a double bind (a no-win situation where someone is manipulated into having to choose between two bad options), flying monkeys, love bombing, stonewalling, projection, rug sweeping, and smear campaign. When you learn to see it by observing others, it is easier to recognize when someone is doing those behaviors to you. If you still struggle with how to spot toxic people, think about your life in general. Is someone doing these toxic behaviors and tactics on you? If yes, could you write it down? Could you look at it? One might still love and care for this toxic person, but this toxic person is destroying your one life here on Earth. Who will win in the end – you or the toxic person? Why give that toxic person much power and control over your free will?
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post about tricks these toxic people play upon others in friendships. The next topic will be toxic romantic relationships, and I will end the series with toxic family members and parents. Have a fantastic week!