A toxic person is a drain on your emotional energy. We all have a specific amount of emotional energy that gets us through our day, no matter what kind of lifestyle we have. However, with toxic people, your reserves are suddenly drained very quickly and you find yourself empty and cold and alone right in the middle of the day… precisely when you need your reserves the most. Let’s look at some ways in which you can get rid of a toxic person in your life without having to face them in a big, fancy showdown.
1. The Lost Art of Ghosting Nicely
We all know about ghosting. Someone acts like your friend or like they want to date you and then they suddenly and inexplicably drop off the face of the planet. Ghosting like this is more likely to bring your toxic person back to your world, demanding an explanation.
Here’s what you do: Ghosting nicely involves talking to them, little by little, in an offhand manner as if you are distracted or tired. Toxic people will tolerate distractions but not blatant cutoffs. Reply to them, but only after a few days. Use monosyllabic words and “textese” so that you don’t sound that in touch with them or like you’re paying that much attention. Over time, reply to them after a week. Then, eventually, drop off for good. According to Forbes, if you want to remove toxic people in your life, don’t engage them. Use subtlety and limited communication.
2. Inviting Them to an Event You Know They’ll Decline
If your toxic person keeps hounding you to get together with them, you can soften the effect of your absence by inviting them to an event you know they will hate. As much as toxic people love to win, they will not go out of their way just to help you out. It must be something that they absolutely would never do, not something that they might do if they were in the right mood. You don’t want to endanger your plan by middle-roading this.
By doing this, you have accomplished another task. You have also given yourself future cushion from them if they try blaming you for the two of you never getting together again. You can say, “Well, I invited you to such-and-such. You didn’t want to go!” This is a great way to defend yourself when they try to blame you during their attack. However, as soon as you say this, you must quickly find a way out of the room or off the phone. The next thing they might do is offer another suggestion for hanging out. Get out while you can. To remove toxic people from your life, you must not allow them to gain any kind of foothold into your world.
3. Act Like They’re Inviting You to Something Splendid As You Turn Them Down
They will offer you an event or an invite to their home to do something “special”. Often, toxic people couch their energy-sucking behavior in something that is specifically designed to reel you back in. If you love watching movies, they might suggest that the two of you go see a highly-anticipated premier together. If you’re a foodie, they might offer to take you to a fancy restaurant to try this delectable new feast. Just remember that during all of this, they are still toxic. Chances are, sometime during the meal, they will find some way to blame you for something so that they can get angry and leave you holding the bill for both of your plates.
Here’s what you do: Act excited and surprised by their “wonderful” invitation. Say that that sounds so amazing and that you’d love to go! Oh no, you can’t! You have an extra project for work all week! Oh no, your cousin is flying in from out of town to visit you for a couple of weeks! Oh, that sounds lovely but you’re going to be gone all next month!
Notice how we gave you a time range, not declining a specific day. It is so easy for a toxic person to simply change the date and offer the same invitation. This exposes you to either go out with them or reveal that you truly are rejecting them, thus releasing a whole bunch of toxic abuse down on your head. If you give them a time range, then you are exempting yourself from being around them for the next two weeks to a month. Then, don’t answer their calls during this time range to both really sell it and to get some much-needed relief from their absence.
When you remove toxic people, you are setting yourself up for further abuse down the road unless you have a specific plan to negate any new idea that they come up with. During your planning, you should account for all the little tricks and moves they make to suck you in and have some universals “outs” such as the following: Oh, you must go to the store. Oh, you must hurry and call someone you meant to call back today. Oh, you forgot that you had something in the oven. Get off the phone and get off quickly.
4. Deflect an Argument or Rant Off to the Side
One of the ways in which a toxic person feels powerful and manipulative is that they are able to rant without interruption of their heavily bigoted ideas because no one wants to go up against them and no one wants to point out how insane and crazy they sound.
If you learn how to “neutralize” or deflect a rant or argument off to the side, your toxic person does not feel their usual satisfaction at flexing their abusive muscles. This lack of “good feeling” from their abusiveness means that they won’t find you “satisfying” to be around. Therefore, this is a really useful element to learn for whenever you are around toxic people or people who seem toxic but you’re not sure if they are or not.
Here’s what you do: Pick any part of the subject they are talking about. If a woman who is in their gardening club ticks them off, go on and on about how much you love this new flower you saw and describe it in detail with enthusiasm. If they are ranting about how your brother wouldn’t come and pick them up when they wanted a ride immediately, “suddenly remember” this amazing car you saw the other day and tell them about how amazing it was and what it looked like. Take some small part of what they are saying and suddenly emphasize that, making it the topic of conversation rather than their abusive behavior and ranting complaints.
Note: Even if they are doing this about you and against you, you can still use this technique.
Once you have mastered this little art of “sudden, delighted distraction” whenever they go off on a tangent, you are in business. Now, toxic people are often narcissistic. They want to be the center of attention, no matter what. So, when you take your attention off of them, they will feel bad and they will want to punish you for this. An article from Oprah.com says that you must do whatever it takes to keep the people in your life from draining you, even if they are very close family members. If you have to remove toxic people from your world entirely, so be it. You must draw boundaries and force people to respect them. If they don’t, you need to eliminate them completely from your life. They won’t be able to handle this but at least you’ll be at peace now.