Why Do I Attract Toxic People? 7 REAL Reasons Why

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I recently made a new friend at the hiking club. I really thought we hit it off and that maybe she’d become a best friend. Turns out I was wrong, and she’s one of those toxic people [insert eye roll].

She was worse than a control freak – wanting to control everything in her life AND mine! Can you believe it? I couldn’t have a different opinion, I had to start drinking coffee, and I had to do what she wanted when she wanted. 

I started wondering, “why do I attract toxic people?” She isn’t the only ‘bad apple’ in my life. It seemed this was becoming a pattern with me, but why?

Sound familiar? Do you have toxic people in your life? Are you attracting them? If you want to know why you are attracting toxic people, stay with me. I’ve got everything you need to know about toxic people and the real reasons they are attracted to you.

What Is a Toxic Person? 

Everyone may define toxicity differently, but in general, a toxic person is someone who is difficult to deal with and they cause a lot of conflict in your life. A person who is toxic is self-centered, controlling, needy, or manipulative (either outwardly or subtly). Dealing with a toxic person (or energy vampire) causes stress, negativity, emotional pain, and general unpleasantness for you.

No one person can be wholly good or bad, and instead, people are either safe for you to be around or they are unsafe. A toxic person falls in the unsafe category because their actions make you question your reality (and sanity) and bring out the worst in you. 

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A person who is toxic is self-centered, controlling, needy, or manipulative (either outwardly or subtly).

The term “toxic person” has become a buzzword in recent years. While the idea that there are many toxic people in your life is quite seductive (because it’s easy to label any person who doesn’t gel with you as toxic), it’s important to not be fatalistic about it. 

You have a responsibility to teach people how to treat you and not to blame others for your distress. It’s easier to blame external factors, like so-called toxic people or energy vampires, than it is to take responsibility for your own actions

That being said, some people can be toxic to you and your life, but that doesn’t make them bad people. Rather, you should look inward and reflect: What is it about you or what you do that “attracts” these kinds of people, and what can you do about it? 

What Makes a Person “Toxic”? 

Some toxic people are overtly toxic, and if you don’t see this kind of toxicity, you are blind, live in denial, or believe ignorance is bliss. You choose not to see their negative impact on your life, making excuses for their toxic acts instead of taking responsibility to set boundaries.

On the other hand, toxicity may also be subtle. These kinds of toxic people have you wrapped around their finger and eating out of the palm of their hand. They are nice and seem genuine, and everything is your fault. 

You are so subtly manipulated that you don’t even know what this person is doing to you – unless you wake up to reality, or you have a trusted loved one who points out the toxicity. Even then, you may not easily believe the person you trust when they point out the manipulation

Here are the most common signs that a toxic person is toxic

  • They are inconsistent, and their behavior is erratic. 
  • They always need you – it’s always give, give, give on your part and take, take, take on theirs. 
  • It’s just drama all the way. They want your support, empathy, and sympathy, but never advice or suggestions. 
  • They don’t respect boundaries
  • They use manipulation to get what they want. 
  • They abuse themselves, others, and/or substances. 
  • They don’t apologize. Ever. (It’s always your fault if something does go wrong, and it always does.)
  • They judge you and everyone else. 
  • They are controlling
  • They love their own voice and talking about themselves. (#memyselfandI)
  • They are negative about everything and ungrateful. Or they are the opposite and positively toxic
  • They lie, fib, and exaggerate. 
  • They are narcissistic or gaslight you.
  • They never take responsibility
  • They isolate you from your family and friends. 

Reasons Why a Person May Be Toxic? 

There are various reasons why a person may be toxic. Reasons include: 

  • Dealing with their own trauma, hurt, and stresses 
  • Their childhood 
  • A cry for attention 
  • Their personality (they may fall in one of the Dark Triad personalities
  • Genetics (studies show it may be passed down) 
  • A mental health condition (like PTSD, a bipolar disorder, or personality disorders) 
  • Substance abuse 

7 Reasons Why You Attract Toxic People 

Here are the top 7 reasons why you attract toxic people into your life (sorry to be the bearer of bad news): 

1. You Want to Fix or Save People 

If you have a savior complex, toxic people will be attracted to you like moths to a flame. You want to fix or save people, so you’ll do anything you can to help them. Toxic people like to take advantage of your good nature. 

They like that you want to solve all of their problems (and possibly even take responsibility for them). You believe you are helping them and will ultimately fix or save them (#awhiteknight). 

When you have fixer mindset, you will: 

  • Always be communicating with your toxic friend or family member, trying to solve their many issues 
  • Fall in love with a gaslighter or narcissist 
  • Have friends who only think of their needs and wants 
  • Be surrounded by liars and those who attract (or cause) drama 

You can help people, but not at the expense of neglecting your own needs. It isn’t healthy for you or the other (toxic) person if you constantly try to save them

2. You Are a People-Pleaser

People-pleasing can tie in with being a fixer, but it goes further. When you people-please, your value is tied to doing for others. You believe that you aren’t good enough if you don’t make others happy and do for them. 

Toxic people are highly attracted to people-pleasers. You’ll do anything for them because if they like you, you feel valued. What’s worse is when toxic people manipulate you into doing for them, all the while undermining your value. 

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A toxic person abuse themselves, others, and/or substances.

Like a puppy, you’ll endure being kicked – actually or proverbially – just to make someone else happy. And you won’t stand up for yourself or confront them because that will make them unhappy and make you feel like you aren’t good enough. Quite the toxic cycle, right? 

You never (or rarely) say no when you are a people-pleaser, and energy vampires love those who always say yes and do their bidding. It makes them feel powerful.

3. You Lack Self-Respect and Don’t Set Boundaries

If you don’t respect yourself and know what you value in life, you won’t have any boundaries in place. This lets toxic people walk all over you like a doormat, and it’s like a big invitation sign for them to take advantage of you. 

You may never have set and enforced boundaries because you don’t know how to effectively and healthily handle when someone does something you do not like. Or, you have tried to set boundaries in the past, only to never enforce them because how do you effectively deal with people who violate your boundaries? 

If you lack self-respect and don’t enforce boundaries, you’ll tolerate toxic behavior. 

4. You Suffer from Imposter Syndrome 

If you suffer from imposter syndrome, you likely have low self-esteem. You feel like a fraud with inner shame and guilt that you don’t deserve what you have accomplished. You try to be the smartest and prove you are good enough, yet toxic people recognize that you feel like an imposter and use your insecurities to their advantage

Toxic people prey on your insecurities – they’ll make you feel good about yourself while also pulling you down, so they can feel good about themselves. This helps them control you – the constant praising you and then criticizing you helps them brainwash you, so you never know which way is up. 

For example, they’ll comment about how lucky you are to have met them and have them in your life, while also commenting that you don’t deserve other good things in life. The toxic person hopes that you won’t notice that you deserve a better life (where they aren’t in the picture).

5. You Are a Perfectionist 

If you are a perfectionist, a toxic person will be attracted to you. When you do everything in your power to ensure things are as perfect as they can be, you’ll do anything and everything to prevent letting someone down

A toxic person will recognize your penchant for being a perfectionist and manipulate you into doing things for them in the name of perfection

6. You Are Living in the Past

If you grew up with toxic parents, toxicity is what you know. Since you are used to toxicity in your life, you’ll attract toxic people. While it’s unhealthy to have toxic people in your life, the toxicity is comfortable and familiar

You might also believe that you don’t deserve better. Or, you may not know what is healthier than having toxic people who use and manipulate you. 

Like people who don’t want to leave their comfort bubble and try something new, you don’t want to leave the toxicity bubble and foster healthy relationships with emotionally mature people who are safe for you.

7. You Want People to Like You 

Lastly, you attract toxic people because you care about being liked. And like people-pleasing, if you are liked, you feel valued and good enough

You’ll do anything for someone to be liked, and that includes going an extra 10 miles for them. There are no limits to how far you’ll go to try to impress the toxic person with your empathy, compassion, and good heart. 

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Learn to say no (without always explaining why). 

You’ll keep on giving and giving in the hopes that they’ll like you more. 

Sure, putting up with someone’s toxic behavior will make you both feel good, but it’ll give the toxic person a hold over you.

Tips to Stop Yourself from Attracting Toxic People 

Now that you know why you are attracting toxic people, it’s time to do something about it. 

What can and should you do? 

Here are the best tips to stop attracting toxicity

  • Set boundaries and enforce them. 
  • Learn to say no (without always explaining why). 
  • Avoid becoming part of the drama or tolerating it. 
  • Talk to the person about their toxic behavior; they may not even know how they are acting. Or encourage them to see a mental health professional if the cause for their toxicity is an underlying personality disorder or some other cause. 
  • Avoid trying to fix things or the toxic person. You aren’t their savior. 
  • Disengage and limit how much time you spend with and around them. If possible, cut them out of your life. (#burnthatbridge)
  • Heal and deal with your emotional baggage
  • Stop people-pleasing
  • Don’t trust at first sight. Trust needs to be earned. 
  • Deal with your insecurities and low self-esteem. 
  • Be you, authentically. 
  • Cherish your values and be loyal to yourself. 
  • Remember you aren’t to blame, but if you are attracting toxic people, take responsibility

Final Thoughts on Why Do I Attract Toxic People 

Much like putting on and losing weight… attracting toxic people is easy, but ending the cycle is hard. You’ll have to dig deep to find out why you are attracting energy vampires and what they are gaining by being in your life. Then you’ll need to take responsibility, set and enforce boundaries, limit or cut contact, and learn to put yourself first

Do you need more support dealing with toxic people in your life? There’s no shame in that. It is challenging to effectively deal with toxicity in a healthy way. If you do need more help or ideas for dealing with toxic people, check out our guides on how to deal with a toxic mother or how to leave a toxic work environment.

Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.

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