Toxic Relationships: Why Do You Stay Connected with Emotionally Unhealthy, High-Maintenance Demanding People!?

Robert Terson

In the two years and four months since came online, I’ve connected to over 4,000 people, spoken to, quite literally, hundreds of them, and have established friendships with more than I can count. It’s been quite a ride; I’m having the time of my life. It’s the retirement career I envisioned for myself.

But you don’t interact with that many people without coming across a number of what I call “One-Way Charlies,” people who are so self-absorbed that they’re only interested in what you can do for them; they care not a twit about what they can do for you. It’s all about them—period. When you talk to them the conversation is almost always directed towards them. If you start to say something about yourself, they usually say, “Yeah, it’s like…” and you’re right back to focusing on them. They’ll accept every bit of help you can toss their way, but never think twice about reciprocating. If you’ve ever wondered why some of the guest bloggers here at are gone after a while, it’s often because they proved themselves to be One-Way Charlies.

I once spent two hours in a restaurant with a salesman who’s based here in Chicago, and the entire time was focused on him. In effect, he received a free coaching session. He was so pleased with the time we spent together that he said he wanted me to coach him on a regular basis. We made arrangements to talk again—twice. After he cancelled and asked to reschedule both times, I let him know that he needed to pick a definite set time that I could rely on, that I couldn’t keep accommodating his appointment changes—when I set my precious time aside for someone, I expect them to respect my time as much as their own. Without so much as a word, he stopped following on Twitter and I never heard from him again. It was all about him and he didn’t give a damn about my time or me. If I wasn’t going to be there at his beck and call, forget it. How outrageous of me to not appreciate how important he is, and that I should be honored to serve him whenever he was available. And the two hours I had given him? Hey, why should he appreciate that, right…?

We’ve all run into people like this. In many cases, they’re so toxic we get a headache, or stomachache, when we’re with them, or afterwards when we’re playing back the interaction. Which begs the question, Why do you put up with these people and their toxic selfish behavior? Why indeed? You do it because there’s an unhealthy codependency going on that provides a goodie for you. Imagine someone who has a Mother-Teresa martyr-complex and wants to “save” everyone she comes in contact with. She needs toxic people so she can practice her complex.

Emotionally healthy people don’t put up with emotionally unhealthy, high-maintenance demanding people. That’s the bottom line; that’s the point of this blog. If you’re doing it, time to assess why and put a stop to it. Time to send them packing, let them use, take advantage of, someone else. Believe me, they’ll find plenty of takers.


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