7 odd traits that make you a magnet for toxic people

Do you always seem to attract self-absorbed narcissist-types in your romantic relationships?

Or maybe your “friend” circle is full of people who aren’t really there for you. More often than not, they tend to take advantage of your appeasing nature, your resources, or your connections, for example. 

While it’s certainly true that these people have their share of issues—there is one common denominator to the relationship dynamic. 

The common denominator is you. 

We’re not saying you’re a narcissist and is the kind of person who takes advantage of others. 

In fact, you’re most likely the exact opposite: you’re extremely giving; you’d do anything for the people you care about, and you’re ready to be there for them at the drop of a hat. 

Well, that could very well be the problem. 

You could be making yourself a magnet for toxic people. 

Here are ten ways to identify if you have the very traits that toxic people like to feed on—and what you can do to turn the tide on this pattern. 

1) You feel like you can “fix” your partner

While toxic partners can come in the form of any gender, experts say that many women tend to attract toxic men. 

This laundry list includes being in relationships with people who cheat on them, are commitment-phobic, emotionally unavailable, emotionally damaged, alcoholics, drug abusers, narcissists, and sociopaths.

Elyane Yousseff, an editor for lifestyle online blog site Elephant Journal says she has been in the vicious cycle of being in a toxic relationship.

“It’s like we are a magnet for men whose pieces are shattered all over the place. And for some reason, we feel compelled to put these pieces back together,” she says. “But I must admit, I have failed every single time.”

The problem is that people who think they need to fix their partners never question their own motives. 

Ask yourself: why do you feel compelled and obligated to fix and change someone else’s life? 

It is not your job to save them. As much as you might think differently, you can’t change a cheater into a loyal boyfriend or husband. You can’t help him overcome his fear of commitment. You can’t help him become financially independent. 

“We attract these men because we believe they need us. And to leave them would be selfish, insensitive and ruthless,” says Yousseff.

“The sad news is, we constantly blame ourselves when they don’t change. Every time they fail us, we think it’s because we failed them. Their hold on us becomes stronger; they keep us around knowing they have nothing to offer us.”

Hear this: it is okay for you to be selfish. Someone else’s happiness is not your responsibility, and you are not responsible for their issues. 

See the entanglement (because that’s what it is, rather a relationship) as a gift. It’s showing you the work that you need to do within yourself. 

When you do this work, you’ll begin to attract people who are whole—because that’s what you’ll be. 

2) You put your own needs on the back burner

This is similar to the first one, but we’ll look at it from a different angle. 

Adam Grant says that in the workplace, toxic cultures exploit generosity. We would say that happens in our personal lives, too. 

Because you push your own needs away, it is easy for a toxic person to psychologically tap into this trait and have you cater to all of their needs. 

This becomes your “love language,” as many psychologists say. You think that by not having any needs of your own and making it all about them, you are proving your worth to your partner and showing them how much you love them. 

Discarding your own needs makes you attractive to a toxic partner—but for all the wrong reasons. 

3) You focus on what you see is their “potential”

Maybe you realize that your partner has a lot of issues—more than you can handle. Maybe you even see that these problems are a long way from being fixed. 

But then you see flashes of improvement. 

Perhaps they seem to be getting a better handle on their addiction issues, for example. Or they’ve agreed to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or into rehab. 

You hope against hope that things will change.  

But then something inevitably happens and they fall off the wagon. 

You’re reluctant to leave because not only do they need you, but you see potential for change. You think that one day things will change for good. 

So you wait for that day even though deep down you know the cycle all too well. 

4) You think looking past their flaws makes you a good person 

guilt free ways to remove toxic people from your life 7 odd traits that make you a magnet for toxic people

We love that quote from Maya Angelou about when a person tells you who they are, believe them. 

This also applies to when they show you who they are. 

If your partner has a tendency to belittle you, and you ignore it, telling yourself that they really have a good heart. You overlook their behavior and dismiss your hurt feelings—this is not a healthy relationship. 

Putting up with any kind of abuse because they’ve shown you the better parts of their personality and character does not make you a good person. 

It makes you a martyr. 

You are choosing to sacrifice your feelings and really yourself for the sake of the relationship. 

5) You rationalize bad behavior

This one is similar to the above but takes it a step further. 

When a person is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, it’s very common for them to make excuses for their partner’s actions, says Shaneka Seals from JoinOneLove organization. 

“They are only mean sometimes; s/he’s really a good person, s/he doesn’t hit me (but s/he emotionally abuses me). We don’t argue (but s/he can be passive aggressive). I am to blame because I agitate him/her, I don’t do enough to help him/her, or I don’t do anything right.”

Seals says that if a person is making excuses for their partner, they are usually also taking the blame for their bad behavior. 

“A classic case of gaslighting is when you feel responsible for your partner’s bad behavior. Any given situation can be twisted around and the abused person will mistakenly see themselves as the cause of their own misfortune.”

Regardless of whether or not the abuser will ever admit when they’re wrong, it’s not up to you to be the one who takes the blame.

6) You don’t have firm boundaries 

In a Victoria’s Secret podcast VS Voices, supermodel Bella Hadid shared how she has broken a cycle of toxic and abusive relationships. 

She related that because she was such a people-pleaser, that all of the relationships in her life became unhealthy. 

Hadid says upon deep reflection, she believes that this trait came from growing up around men who made her feel that her “voice was less important than their voice.”

“I constantly went back to men—and also, women —that had abused me, and that’s where the people-pleasing came in,” she said. 

“I started to not have boundaries, not only sexually, physically, emotionally, but then it went into my work space.I began to be a people-pleaser with my job and it was everyone else’s opinion of me that mattered except for my own, because I essentially was putting my worth into the hands of everyone else and that was the detriment of it.”

To implement boundaries, it’s vital to get clear on who you are, what you want, as well as what your values and belief systems are. Always bring the focus to yourself and your own well-being.

7) Anyone can have access to you

Are you the friend that everyone calls with their latest drama at all hours of the day? 

Are you the employee who always agrees to the domineering boss’ demand to work an extra shift?

Oh, but it’s not an issue because you’re happy to drop whatever you’re doing because what you were doing wasn’t that important anyway.

Oh, but it is an issue.  

By allowing everyone access to you, you are enabling—even inviting—toxic people into your life.

It’s okay to put the phone on silent. It’s okay to phase certain “friends” out of your life or even cut them out altogether. It’s your life. You get to be the one to make the rules. 

Some ways to “detox” from toxic people and turn over a new leaf:

You are not alone. Developing boundaries and cutting out the toxic ties in your life is a work in progress. And the fact that you want to forge a new path is a huge first step.

Of course, if you are in an abusive relationship, the main thing is to get support. Talking to a counselor can help you take steps out of a toxic situation. They can also give you strategies on how to navigate new patterns and ultimately a new way of life. 

It’s also important to build a support system and reach out to family and friends who you know care. This might involve re-connection.

Seals also imparts advice that is easy to overlook: Ignore bad relationship advice.

“If your loved ones are telling you things like, “At least you have somebody,” or “S/he makes good money, you better hold on to him/her,” and a bunch of other bad advice that is not aligned with the way you feel as a result of being in the relationship, you should ignore them,” she says. 

“Sometimes well-meaning friends give us relationship advice that is not healthy or realistic. When this happens, gently offer them some of the healthy tips you’re learning on your own journey.”

Also keep a journal so that you can safely express your feelings without being censored. This can help you work out what your own feelings even are and can motivate and encourage you to take consistent steps that are for your higher good. 



Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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