Thursday, February 13, 2020

Toxic People are Sometimes Delicious (Part 2)

This morning I was thinking about how life would be so much easier if toxic people were toxic 100% of the time.  With no ambiguity, it would much easier to just keep them out of our lives.

Then I thought about how I wrote this post in June 2018.  When writing it, I had similar thoughts to what I did this morning.

Back then I compared toxic people to junk food. Some are like Cheetos—very obviously not healthy, but yum. And others are like the high-sugar or high-fat foods that are promoted as being all-natural and healthy. 

Today I came up with another way of dividing up toxic people. This one deals with the reasons behind their part-time or partial toxicity.  I've come up with three categories based on myself and the people who play a big part in my life.


Category A-The ignorant ones. These people act in toxic ways, because they do not know their behaviors are toxic. They've never come across the book, blog post, talk show, or Twitter post that would tell them otherwise. For example, there might be a well-meaning person who simply doesn't understand that saying, I'm sorry if you were hurt by what I said does not really count as a sincere apology.

Now these people might have certain personality traits (such as self-centeredness and self-preservation) that makes it more likely for them to act in toxic ways. BUT if they are self-reflective and open to learning, they will make attempts to get rid of their toxic behaviors.

Category B-These people are educated about what is toxic and what is not. They don't like toxic behavior.


I think I'm going to divide these people even further.

The first would be people who are educated about toxic behavior, understand it, and don't like it. But they are lacking in self-reflection. So they'll see the behavior in others. They'll call out the behaviors. Yet they won't recognize it in themselves.

The second are people who are self-reflective. They understand that they sometimes use toxic behaviors. They make attempts to avoid the behaviors, but in their weak moments, they fall back to using the behaviors.

I think there are also people who are combinations of the two.  And, of course, people in the first category can educate themselves and then become the people in the second category.

Category C-These people may or may not be educated about toxic behaviors. But it doesn't matter. They don't have any problem using them. They like to see people in emotional pain. They like to see people confused, hurt, anxious, or angry.  They like to get a rise out of people. They like to push buttons.

They're not toxic full-time, though, because then people would just permanently walk away from them.

People might TEMPORARILY walk away, and then the toxic person will do what is called hoovering in pop psychology.

The toxic person will pull their target back in with kindness, attention, sympathy, gifts, charm, etc. 

I think the reasons might vary behind the hoovering.

For some, the reasons might be more benign. They simply might be lonely and miss you. Yeah, they like to see you in pain sometimes. But they also enjoy your company. 

For others, it might be about needing to keep up a reputation. They have a need to look good to society and having you as an enemy, or simply not at their side, is a bad look for them. 

Then for others, it might be more of a game. They draw you back in not because they miss your company or they need you as an accessory or ally but because they have a sadistic desire to play with your emotions. They like to rebuild your trust and then start jabbing you with little covert insults. They're usually quite clever when it comes to cognitive empathy, so they'll know how to stab you where it hurts the most. 

Again, though, the hoovers might be a combination of two or three of the above. They might miss you and also be sadistic, or they might need you for their reputation and also be sadistic. Etc, etc. 

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