When I was younger, I had absolutely no boundaries in place. Anyone who came into my life was welcomed with open arms, and many amazing people entered through those imaginary doors.
Along with the good, many toxic people entered through those doors as well because you will inevitably get some bad apples when you let everyone in.
Whether it was a friend, roommate, co-worker, or romantic interest, there was a point in my life when toxic individuals seemed to be… everywhere.
It took years before I could look back and identify that I was attracting some of these people and situations.
I begin working through why I was being taken advantage of and was able to pinpoint the traits within myself that attracted toxic people.
#1. You aren’t listening to your intuition
The door opened, and a new colleague walked into the conference room. I remember looking up, seeing him for the first time, and a little voice in the back of my head whispered, “you need to stay away from him.”
Spoiler alert, I didn’t stay away from him and ended up in the most toxic relationship of my entire life because I completely ignored my initial gut feeling.
When reflecting on many perilous situations throughout my life, I can almost always identify a key moment when my intuition came through, and I chose to ignore it.
The tools that we need to protect ourselves are often already buried within; we just need to take the time to listen.
#2. You allow too many “second chances.”
During a summer when I was working at a camp as a counselor, I made a friend with a girl who ended up attaching herself to me very quickly. She had a strong personality and constantly stated her opinions around what I wore, dated, and my other friends.
When I confronted her, she swore that she didn’t know she had been upsetting me and that she would give me some space. Unfortunately, we went to the same college, so I was going to see her again inevitably. When we got back to campus, I agreed to have lunch with her, and immediately she latched on to me again. Within a few weeks, she began so threatened by my other friendships that she resorted to harassing me using a random phone number.
It was a moment too late when I realized that this girl had shown me her true colors very early on; I just hadn’t wanted to see them.
#3. You continually give to people who take and take and never receive anything in return
Doing acts of kindness for other people is an amazing thing to do and not one that always needs to be repaid.
Unfortunately, some people will seek out this kindness in generosity in other people and take full advantage.
For example, my older brother is quite self-centered and oblivious to social cues. Although he does not have malicious intentions, he will talk and talk without giving someone else a moment to get a word in edgewise and always shows up to his friend’s houses without bringing anything to contribute.
An old family friend recently told him that she couldn’t cook and clean after him and his wife every time they came to visit. They were insulted and weren’t able to look within to realize that they were taking and taking from their friend and giving nothing.
#4. You are successful, driven, and outgoing
A common question that I hear from my relationship coaching clients after their toxic relationship is, “what is so broken within me that attracted this person?”
There is a prevalent misconception that it is our weaknesses that make us attractive to toxic individuals. Most toxic people consider it more challenging to target someone successful and are actually drawn to traits of strength.
Difficult days transpired throughout my healing journey when I constantly reminded myself that I was not a weak person because of what had happened. The reality is that I was strong; my strength had attracted the wrong type of person
You have the ability to choose who you let into your life
I don’t care if it’s your friends, your family, or your partner. You deserve to be treated with respect.
Boundaries can be terrifying, but the reality is that they can make our relationships stronger because we are being true to ourselves and not letting people walk all over us.
It is never too late to start identifying why toxic people are coming into your life and to take action. Remember… your past behavior does not have to define your future.