How to Avoid Toxic People.  Should You Dump Your Toxic Friend?  Five Tell-Tale Reasons You are Drawn to Toxic People.  Are You a Toxic Person? Should You Dump Yourself?  What You Should Do if a Toxic Person Vomits Up Acid All Over Your Nice New Persian Rug.

Ten Ways to Spot a Toxic Person.

Here’s what a typical toxic person might look like.

Ugh, toxic people.  Aren’t they a drain?  We all have that miserable friend who lost their job and wife and house and just caught crabs off a dinnerlady from Merthyr and can’t stop fucking moaning about everything.  I’m an empath, ya know?  I take in everyone’s energy and if I’m surrounded by negative energy then I suck it up like a sponge and it upsets my aura.  I’m too darn sensitive and empathetic.  I’m basically too nice not to banish those dour cocksuckers from my life.

Why do people have to be so negative?  Ya know?

Jokes aside, sometimes you really do have to dump a toxic friend.  If they’re feeding off your soul and are a threat to your mental, emotional and spiritual health, sure, have yourself a detox.  But I wonder, during this current obsession with toxicity, if some people are mistaking a toxic personality with having a negative outlook or a few character flaws.

Full definition of ‘toxic’ according to Merriam-Webster: 1.  Containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation. 2.  Exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis.  3. Extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful.  4. Relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market.

So you see, the word has some serious implications.  Your old pal Shirley who often talks over you and always brings the conversation back to herself isn’t toxic, she’s self-centred.  Your mate Kevin who takes you for granted and makes jokes about your fat wife isn’t toxic – he’s just a bad friend and quite possibly a closeted chubby chaser.  Negative Nora from accounts isn’t toxic – she just sees life through a melancholic lens because she’s had four miscarriages and it rains too much in Britain.

That’s the thing.  Maybe your toxic friends are just plain old arseholes or maybe they’re mentally ill. Or both.

You slap this label, toxic, on them and it becomes this big thing, as if you’ve just diagnosed them with sociopathy.  ‘Oh, he’s a toxic person,’ you tell someone.  ‘Enough said,’ that someone replies.  Because that one word paints a very clear picture.

If you are a toxic person you are a bad person.  You don’t hear anything good about a toxic person.  You don’t hear, ‘She’s a toxic energy-vampire, sure, but maybe you just need to get to know her.’  Or, ‘Well, since we’re sharing, I should probably tell you that I lied on my profile about wanting children and also I’ve been described as toxic by all of my exes.  I hope that’s not a deal breaker for you.’

An arsehole though?

‘He can be a real arsehole sometimes but deep down he has a heart of gold.’

‘She’s a total arsehole but she’s kind of a lovable arsehole, ya know?’

And what about the broader implications of this mass toxic dumping?  What does it say about us Westerners that we are striving toward eradicating flawed people so that we can live in cosy, insulated echo chambers where everyone is fucking perfect?

It’s saying we’re a bunch of pussies, is what it’s saying.

We are living in very interesting times.  Now is not the time to be a pussy.

So by all means, dump those toxic fuckers, it might be necessary and there is a strong argument to be made for not hanging around with shitty people.  Just think it through first and make sure you’ve exhausted all your other options (setting up boundaries for example).  Being dumped by a friend is a terrible rejection and dumping a friend is a terrible responsibility (I have been both the dumper and the dumped).  So maybe don’t do it just because tons of online lists are making it fashionable.

You’re meant to dump rubbish and people are worth more than rubbish.

Except this chappie:

Nigel Farage doing a shit-eating grin
“Why bother getting rid of toxic people when you could instead focus your energies on getting rid of brown people?”


Your Toxic Squatter

woman meditating cross-legged on beach in beautiful sunset
“Pick it, lick it, roll it, flick it.”

The western obsession with positive thinking has come about around the same time as its fixation with mindfulness, harem pants and kale.  I’m not knocking any of these things, and changing my mindset from negative to positive was, alongside SSRIs, responsible for bringing me out of a bitter, misanthropic depression a few years ago.

But can you take it too far?

What happens when you are so determined to see the positive in everything that any negative thought is instantly blocked and banished?  When having a bitchy thought makes you question your spiritual health?  When you’re trying to see the good in everything and you’re standing up for some obnoxious dickhead because they probably feel vulnerable and isolated right now and maybe they just have a low self-esteem bla de bla….

And you wonder: is this really me?

Have you just taken your inner bitch, your toxic squatter, and stuffed her in the attic, and she’s just there saying, ‘You can close that door but I’ll always be here, you hippy cunt,’ and at night you can hear her scratching the walls and crushing beer cans on her head, and for a few days every month exactly one week before your period she busts out and starts trashing the place and rubbing her fanny all over the furniture?

All this niceness – are you lying to yourself?

Does everyone around you see this?  Are they just waiting for the day you snap and shout evil bloody murder in some idiot’s face so they can go, ‘Oh, look who’s back.’

Essentially, what I’m thinking is that one day the apocalypse will come in some devastating form with its explosions and looting and millions of corpses, and me and all the other philosophical, mindful, patchouli-scented lentil-eaters are going to drop all that positive shit like a sack of spanners and go all Lord of the Flies.

We’re going to let out our toxic squatter and she’s going to say, ‘Oh, so now you need me, huh?’ and you’ll say, ‘Damn bloody right I need you, get to work,’ and she’ll be like, ‘Well for a start, let’s take a machete to that old lady and steal all her water.’

The I Don’t Like It Book

Dani Gunn

A year ago today Dani Gunn died.  I was asked to read something out at his funeral.  What could I possibly say?  He was the father of my child and one of my oldest, bestest and worstest friends (we had both dumped each other many times).  He was a brilliant, big-hearted human, a true original and a pain in the arse and I loved him very much.  What to say?  There was too much to say.

A few days after his death I’d come into possession of all his diaries (we’d both made a pact many years before that if one of us died, the other would retrieve the diaries so that our mothers couldn’t read them).  Along with the diaries was the ‘I Don’t Like It’ book, a small notebook in which he’d spent years listing his many dislikes and grievances.  I decided to do a reading from this little book at his funeral.  I wasn’t brave enough to write something heartfelt, as his brothers did, but it went down well and captured his spirit and it felt right.

Dani had always liked lists.  He had lists of his favourite music and films and one of all the men he fancied (with Kevin Webster in top place).  He wrote them on pieces of paper and kept them folded up in his wallet. A few years ago he started an ‘I Like It’ book, thinking, like everyone else in the western world, that positive thinking was the way to go (which it is, within reason).  But the ‘I Don’t Like It’ book was far longer and funnier.

We are drawn toward the negative things in life.  The News, bunch of manipulative shit that it is, would not have many viewers if it only told nice stories.  We can usually find more things wrong with ourselves than right with ourselves.  We can all fill up our ‘I Don’t Like It’ books a lot quicker than our ‘I like It’ books.

We can send out our positive zen vibes until our eyes bleed, but that toxic squatter is still up in our attic, drawing moustaches and penises on all the photos in our dusty family albums. I think kind thoughts because there is plenty of kindness in me, it’s no act or delusion.  But I also think nasty thoughts because there is nastiness in me.  And that’s OK – everything fine in moderation.

Have a bitch now and again.

Have yourself a little judge even.  Treat yourself.

Fill up your ‘I Don’t Like It’ books.

Your toxic squatter isn’t going anywhere, so feed that shithead scraps and maybe she’ll stay where she is for the time being, satiated, just about, and content to bide her time.

And when the apocalypse comes, unlock those chains, take her hand and go knife a bitch together.

The I Don’t Like It Book – an extract

by Daniel Roderick Gunn

The American accent; Children; Subtitles; Whispering; Children’s TV presenters; Bisexuals; Massages; Any living creature smaller than a cat; “At the end of the day”; Pot-heads; Drama students; Hippies; Gwen Stefani; Jokes; Hot weather; Ice cream; Pineapple as a pizza topping; “LOL”; Student wackyness; Elvis impersonators; Claire Sweeney; Piercings with average clothes; Empty filter packets; Didjereedoos; Ladettes; Jeremy Kyle; Dog’s nipples; Song titles with brackets; People using ash trays as bins; Dozy people; Straight men who think they can turn lesbians; Disco music; Peas; Ian Beale; Breaded ham; Poppers; British people who sing in an American accent; Men who kiss their biceps; Fern and Phil’s fake giggling; Greasy spoon sausage knob-ends; Goodbyes; Food snobs; Wine experts; The circus; School choirs; Assumptions; Christmas cards; waiting for food to cool down; Drunk people trying to act sober; Dips; Non-smokers; Mike Baldwin’s acting; Little vinegar sachets; Slow walkers; The voice that football fans sing in; Rehab speak; Triangular sandwiches; Sonya and Martin Fowler’s awful onscreen “chemistry”; Bland modern indie music; Being tapped on the shoulder; Pointless tattoos; “Think yourself thin”; Green hair; Ready salted crisps…..

“I don’t like it.”

Fake laughs; Offal; Being patronised; Noisy eaters; “It’s all good”; Richard and Judy laughing at their own competition questions; Custard; How fragile DVDs are; Ann Summers; Feet touching feet; American therapists; Bad acting; People who treat hot curries like some kind of contest; The way John Torode eats; Charlotte Church’s pop career; Being bored; Badly dressed goths; Tobacco tins with big pictures of ganja leaves; T-shirts with wacky slogans; People who don’t like animals; People who think Jeremy Kyle is good at what he does; Americans; Being told what to do; Big hoops in the top of the ear; Hair that looks like it has no product on it; Putting my duvet cover on; Being accused of being jealous when you complain about something; Shaun Ryder; People who always ask for fags; Crap tattoo artists; Crap abstract paintings; Too many people in a swimming pool; People just eating whatever is lying around; Thin crust pizzas…..

‘Still don’t like it.”

Tyra Banks; Gail Platt acting horny; Mousey coloured hair; Being around someone who has a cough; People quoting Little Britain jokes; Pete Doherty’s constant boring courtcases; small bananas; British child soap actors; People taking half a pill; Meeting people’s parents; False Modesty; Loose Women without Carol McGiffin in it; Smug parents who think that people without kids don’t have any responsibilities; Party games; The fact that sport is considered as news; the term “alternative” to describe guitar music; Being proved wrong; Shaking hands; “End of”; Caramac; Metal bands trying to look hard in photos (Trivium); “What are you into?”; Having really frustrating conversations about music with people who don’t know what they’re talking about; Comedy Eastenders episodes; Farting around others; Eating breakfast with other people; People tutting; Seagulls; People saying “empathetic”; Straight people referring to their spouse as their “partner”; Apple skin; Potato skin; American self-pity; Religion.

“I literally don’t like it.”

Some relevant blogs: