How to recognize not-so-obvious toxic relationships

In all of our guided journals, we allow the journaler to gain the answers for themselves. We do this by prompting journal entries related to how we react and feel with the result, self-empowerment. In a previous post The Energy Meter, we discovered how to measure our energy in any given circumstance. We will apply this same technique when it comes to deciding if a relationship is toxic or not. Some toxic people are very obvious in their behaviour and it’s easy to spot them in a crowd, constant negativity, jealousy, overbearing insecurities, manipulation and so forth. These traits will likely become evident quickly, however, much like the different types of narcissists, there are also “covert” or “not-so-obvious” toxic people.

One of the most important life lessons is to learn how to control our reactions and to respond from a grounded and calm place. We can do so if we understand ourselves and know where our boundaries are. What other people do or say are not ours to dictate, the only power we have is over our happiness and bliss.


Whenever you are with this person or group, you play a part. You can never truly be yourself for a perceived judgement or fear of rejection. What mask do you have to put on to be acceptable to them? Take a moment and think about which persona you are portraying when you are with them. Are you truly your genuine self or do you have to pretend to be someone they expect you to be?

Mental Preparation

Before you interact with them, you mentally prepare yourself and not in a good way. Contrast this energy with when you are excited to see someone. How much energy do you have to put into calming your thoughts and emotions? When relationships work well in a symbiotic manner, both parties gain from the experience. Having to mentally and sometimes spiritually prepare for a meetup is draining and can even cause physical symptoms. Do you make excuses not to see them or postpone replies? Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the relationship.


From childhood, we learn how to put up guards to protect ourselves. From physically building forts in the living room with pillows to mental walls and barriers when we are teenagers. Constant influences of toxic energies and people can create barriers in our minds that are tough to break. Once you’ve had distance from these people, you feel free. The moment you are back in their presence, the guards come back up. This is not a healthy state to be in. Anxiety, fear or even anger and resentment are just some of the emotions that could flare-up.

No Support

In this category, there are two types of supportive toxic people. Those who, despite having all the resources and networks available to them refuse to support you even though it would not cost them more than an introduction, referral or phone call. We are not talking about getting rich quick schemes here either. For example, if you’re having trouble with your taxes and they work at an accounting firm that does pro bono. They could easily help you out by just getting you in touch with someone that could help you out. Regardless of the outcome, the support would be loving and open.

The second support is to give and take. They will support you ONLY if it is advantages to them. They can also trick you into thinking that they do care because that one time you needed help they were there for you. If we think about those toxic relationships in terms of a math equation, they added two but subtracted four so you’re still down two. How helping you are advantages to them can be material gain or boasting about what a great friend they are for helping you out. See how it’s not about you here?


Too busy, too late, too complicated, too much … Too many excuses! This is a prime covert way toxic people use to deflect any responsibility away from themselves. Even if you muster up the courage to confront them about their behaviours or lack of action they’ll find a plausible excuse. It might not seem like much at first, but this trend can bring unease in the relationship. Instead of getting upset about their reluctance and constant excuses remind yourself that they see your potential and know that they, cannot reach that level.

Of course, it is in every person’s grasp to become empowered, but that takes action and letting go of toxicities within ourselves and willingness to journal through them. Another undercover toxic behaviour is that we keep making excuses for their behaviour. We somehow feel bad, to tell the truth, or to face exactly what the toxic relationship is. Using excuses and trying to make the actions of the toxic person less intense than they are, or making up a reason why they act a certain way.


After interacting with toxic people, there is a lack of energy and you feel drained. If you are an empath, it could take weeks to clear up all the residual energies. You might feel more moody, irritable, depressed or just down. This could negatively impact your immune system, especially if we are exposed to this toxicity for a long time. Parasitic systems like these are detrimental to your health in all aspects: body, mind and spirit.

How can we protect ourselves from toxic people?


Setting strong, clear and consistent boundaries. Understand that we can support people, but we don’t have to rescue them. Especially when it comes to making excuses for their behaviours.

Know the signs of manipulation.

Journal frequently to ensure that your life is the way you envisioned it to be. Use mantras and empowerment resources to gain inner strength and self-compassion. In life, we cannot always avoid toxic people, but we know what to look for, we can make a swift decision to decide if they are contributing to your life positively or negatively.

Keep Journaling, Keep Growing.

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