OF YOUR LIFE
When People Are Poison
Do you have a difficult relative? Here’s how to detoxify the relationship—
and know when to call it quits BY MARK GOULS TON PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN LAWTON
makes you tense.
They’re mean to
others, nice to you.
You fear them.
You worry they’ll
They’re easily upset
and hard to please.
You no longer
You don’t look forward to seeing them.
Friends tell you to get
away from them. —M.G.
OW DO I deal with
my mom?” my
me. “I’ve given her
and she always
knew the family’s
dynamic. In fact,
Sandra was humiliated. Though
she had learned to take her mother in
small doses, she still needed a strat-
egy for managing such outbursts. “Is
there any way to see her without her
driving me nuts?” she asked.
The answer is yes—maybe. Some
simple steps could help you change
the way a toxic person makes you feel.
There’s no psychiatric diagnosis
of “toxic personality.” A problematic
person could be narcissistic, paranoid, or just pathologically needy.
“Most toxic people are blaming, com-
PROP STYLIST: KARIN OLSEN. OPPOSITE: CHI BIRMINGHAM; LACK-OF-RELATIONSHIPS
SOURCE:“SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND MORTALITY RISK,”PLOS MEDICINE, JULY 2010
*Names have been changed for privacy.
66 AARP THE MAGAZINE