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Teagin Maddox: “I’d like to inspire a movement of CONDITIONAL love”

I’d like to inspire a movement of conditional love to counter the normalizing of toxicity for those who are being victimized by other’s personality disorders. Empaths need to practice conditional love most of all, for example, because they are prone to drawing in toxic people and relational harm by nature, and this would certainly help them. […]


I’d like to inspire a movement of conditional love to counter the normalizing of toxicity for those who are being victimized by other’s personality disorders. Empaths need to practice conditional love most of all, for example, because they are prone to drawing in toxic people and relational harm by nature, and this would certainly help them.

There is this idea that unconditional love is the only way to go and that we all need to be forgiving to be good people, but that isn’t true when it comes to toxicity, and it sets some up to be harmed.

By increasing awareness and understanding of personality disorders, how they impact victims and what realistically needs to be done to protect ourselves from them, we will see that it’s okay to be more selective with positivity, to forget forgiveness with some, and to curb the unconditional love thing if it means saving yourself — and do it without feeling guilty about it.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Teagin Maddox. Teaginis a Dating Safety and Success Coach helping women date differently after Mr. Wrong and unworkable relationships. Her programs show women how to avoid bad love, boundary crossers and toxic intensity — so they can attract better men.


Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! What is your backstory?

I was love-bombed by a psychopath and it nearly destroyed my life. There was a time when I couldn’t have been that bold about it because I blamed myself and I was ashamed about what I had been through — instead of being proud of how I put a stop to it and turned my life around.

I’ve learned a lot since then. Like I had been interacting with subtle psychopathy from across the spectrum my entire life, beginning with my family, who normalized toxicity, so it was no wonder the bad guys didn’t seem that bad at first, given that I was “trained” to accept toxicity and disregard from the outset.

I just never realized it until I stopped to absorb what had happened in my destructive marriage.

The same will be true for others who go through necessary break ups, and I hope they see that as the time to stop and figure all this out, before they start dating again, because there is a lack of awareness and a lot of misunderstanding about personality disorders, how they show up, and how destructive they really are to women and their children.

I knew I needed to date differently than women who don’t attract toxic men, because not all women get targeted or end up in harm’s way, only certain women do, and I was one of them.

There’s a reason these relationships happen and I became obsessed with finding what it was.

Some of the discoveries I made, however, got me so mad I think I started writing my first program before I even knew I could create a program at all.

Low self-esteem did not lead me into toxic relationships, despite what we are led to believe about that, it isn’t low for most of the women who get trapped, until after the toxic guy, so that wasn’t the cause.

Warning signs were there but I didn’t know to look for subtle signs, I was looking for big red flags, like most women do, and that’s a mistake, especially when bad guys are the default, and looking for red flags is bad for some women anyway, because it aligns them with destructive men.

See what I mean?

I had no idea how toxicity showed up in personality disorders, that it can be subtle and that even when it is, it’s just as damaging, especially when it occurs over a long period of time.

I never thought about what “personality disorder” really meant to be honest, so I never knew they are permanent, unchangeable, and probably not visible to the person himself, which means those guys aren’t going to gain any real insight and they aren’t going to sustain any changes.

Think about that for second, because when you don’t know that’s what you’re dealing with, when you don’t even consider it, you keep trying to make things work when they can’t.

You keep expecting change, improvement and normal partnership where there will never be any.

I knew none of that when I met my toxic guy, so I married the love-bombing bastard, left the country with him and started a family…

Then I spent the next 20 years of my life trying to undo the damage and confusion he caused, and trying to understand what had happened, why it happened, and how to make sure it never happened again.

There’s not much talk of sadists, Machiavellians, exploiters, social predators, or any combination thereof, and yet they share the same lack of empathy and the same callous, eerily calm nature of psychopaths, but far worse, and they are everywhere.

Like many, I thought those kinds only existed in movies and that they were always and only extreme, so they’d be easy to spot. Not so.

I had no idea how fast someone can get sucked in by narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, and guys with anti-social personality disorders and the like.

I also had no clue that they look for women like me…

Women who were conditioned to normalize toxicity and negotiate boundaries.

Women who are Empaths or Highly Sensitive.

Women who have learned to need the intensity of destructive men and the chaos of unworkable relationships.

We’ve all been too busy trying to profile them — that we haven’t been thinking of how they are profiling us.

That’s why I teach women about how they are being perceived, what these guys look for and how they might be giving the wrong guy the green light. It’s the missing link.

With the holiday season upon us, many people are visiting and connecting with relatives. While family is important, some of them can be incredibly challenging. How would you define the difference between a difficult dynamic and one that’s unhealthy?

It doesn’t really matter whether it’s difficult or unhealthy, what matters is how you’re being impacted and if you are expected to tolerate toxicity to be included. I’d get specific about what makes the family visits personally challenging, then I’d determine if the family normalizes toxicity and consistently misdirects compassion, empathy and support, instead of acknowledging mental illness.

When mental illness is somewhat invisible or undiagnosed, as is often the case with personality disorders, there can be a lot of misunderstood, ignored and misinterpreted symptoms. But whether it’s to keep the peace or to cope, when the problem isn’t addressed everyone is set up to be victimized, and that’s not okay.

Normalizing toxicity makes everyone expect normal things from toxic people, things like flexibility, awareness, growth, improvement, change, and remorse — but personality disorders are unchangeable mental illnesses thatimpair a person’s ability to relate normally. Don’t look for ways to accept some level of destructiveness.

When it comes to psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists and the like, their emotional range and capacity is limited and their communication is flawed, calculated and self-serving.

Their self-awareness is either low and fleeting, or non-existent, so they aren’t going to gain insight about themselves, their behavior, or the impact they have on you, and any acknowledgment, change or agreement will not be sustained because of that.

When people are expected to ignore all that, it degrades their quality of life and puts them in harm’s way, even during a short visit.

The negative impact carries through to everyone who isn’t toxic, and many will live with an intense subconscious need for validation, justice, and a strong desire to matter to someone in the familybecause no one ever protects them from the toxic’s emotional harm, the confusing head games, or how everyone turns a blind eye, and he runs the show.

It’s no wonder so many end up in toxic, unworkable relationships when tolerating and ignoring toxicity has been the expected and encouraged norm in so many families.

Not recognizing personality disorders as mental illness is where we are going very wrong. That’s why it’s wiser to forget about the label and focus on the impact you feel, so you can self-protect regardless.

When there is a consistent pattern of chaos, harm or disregard, that is toxic and it’s never okay to be okay with that, not even for a few hours once a year.

To be mentally strong you sometimes have to give things up. It’s self-preservation — and you should give it to yourself guilt free and without explanation when there is a question of toxicity.

Families have a large part to play in our overall mental health. While some members may be champions for wellness, others may trip triggers. In families where celebrating separately is not an option, what advice would you give about engaging both types of relatives?

Before you attend the family gathering, plan out what you will do or say if you get cornered or triggered so that you know how to handle yourself when emotion is stirring.

It’s also a good idea to keep your expectations and engagement low with anyone who has an established pattern of chaos or harm, even if it’s subtle, remembering that sometimes, no response is the best response.

In fact, being neutral with either type of relative can be the right way to go, and it’s especially good for reducing the intensity of triggers. You can “Go NOLO” — it stands for Neutral Observation and Labeling Only, and it’s done like this:

Be Neutral in every way, regardless of what the person does or says. Do not make eye contact. Have an expressionless face and carry that extreme neutrality through to your body language and your tone of voice, keeping it flat and uninspiring, with no inflection and a flat tone. Show zero emotion when in their presence.

Observe the person, their behaviors, how they interact and the way others react to them, but show no reaction of any kind, at any time. Just watch.

Then Label their behaviors every time they trigger you. Keep it simple, like this:

“Ah, look at that, she’s trying to get a reaction…” or “Hmmm, he just disregarded her…”

Be as uninteresting and as disengaged as you can be around them, bore the hell out of them.

If they’re the toxic-type, that won’t be hard because they need some kind of emotion to maintain interest in someone. If they can’t get anything out of you, they’ll lose interest, so if you do it right, the interaction won’t last long because they’ll go to someone else who does feed their intense need for emotional content of any kind.

If you do have to engage, say as little as possible and make them the talker by asking questions without building on their answers. If they ask you a question, use as few words as possible or answer them, or ask another question like, “Why do you ask…”

You don’t have to be nice. If that’s new to you, remember not to judge yourself for it and don’t feel guilty. No interaction and a low response disempowers toxic and draining people because it gives them nothing to work with, that’s all.

You aren’t doing anything wrong. When you stay focused on yourself and your response and Go NOLO, you will be able to manage your triggers instead of trying to manage a toxic, which isn’t possible anyway. It’s just good self-care.

We often hear about “toxic relationships.” Do you believe there is a difference between a toxic family and an unhealthy one? If so, how would you advise someone to handle a toxic family member?

This is such a problem, people believing that they can manage and handle pathology and destructiveness, but anyone who has been victimized will tell you not to think like this.

It’s no joke. Toxic people cause devastation, period. No exception.

If you’re trying to figure out how to cope with being around toxicity or you’re wondering how to manage or outmaneuver a toxic person, you are on the wrong track — because coping with toxicity is dangerous and harmful and managing it is an illusion.

Trying to figure them out will make you their victim.

Toxics appear to behave very normally at times. They have some relationships where they do not cause any problems at all. They can be attractive and conversant. They may have nice homes, fancy cars and successful careers. They may appear to love someone…but their intimate, personal relationships are always empty, their communication is always flawed, and they always cause harm.

Even when exposure to them is limited.

Your goal should never be to try harder with a toxic person or to figure out how to make things easier with them.

It is never possible to create a normal, genuine interaction with a toxic person the way you do with other people.

You cannot be safe in their presence no matter who you are, because they will outmaneuver you as soon as they need to.

They are always and only either grooming or attacking, even when it appears that they are not.

Toxic people don’t create the sort of problems that anyone needs to be understanding of.

You don’t have to tolerate toxicity ever, no matter who it’s coming from, and you certainly shouldn’t be “nice” or accommodating of it, just because it’s a holiday.

You also don’t need anyone to agree that someone is toxic to you. Call that shot on your own — and block it — no questions asked, no explanations needed.

Can you share about a time where you helped someone overcome a challenging family member?

One thing I never do is encourage someone to “fix” a relationship with someone who is toxic to them or when I suspect there is toxicity.

I do the opposite, I have them forget forgiveness because forgiveness with toxics only sets up those who were victimized — to be victimized again and it invalidates their experience, especially when their voice isn’t being heard about someone.

So I’d be more inclined to help someone come to terms with disconnecting and not trying to overcome a challenging family member, because that is often the healthiest move they could make, especially when their ability to deal with toxicity is making them highly tolerant at their own expense.

Self-forgiveness is what’s often missing, and it’s a lot more powerful.

The goal should always be to get rejected by toxics, no matter who they are, so trying to make a bad relationship tolerable is never worth it, it’s damaging. It’s not personal so don’t make it personal, even if others condemn you for drawing the line. Anticipate that may happen and decide how to feel about it and how to respond before you talk to anyone.

Managing mental health in high stress situations is challenging and although holiday gatherings are only a few days a year, they can make a major impact on overall wellness. What 5 strategies do you suggest using to maintain mental health when faced with an unhealthy family dynamic?

1. Practice Disappointing People

2. Conditional Love is Necessary for Blocking Toxic People

3. Where There is Toxicity — Forget Forgiveness to Protect Yourself from More Harm

4. Get Matched Effort from Others — or Give No Effort from You

5. Stop JADEing (Justifying, Arguing, Defending, Explaining) — It’s Bait for Toxics

What advice would you give to family members who are allies of someone struggling with mental illness at these gatherings? How can they support strong mental health without causing friction with other members of the family?

Mental illness is a family matter so it’s really important to stay out of denial about what’s going on and be honest with yourself about the impact it’s having on you and the entire family, not just how it’s impacting the person with the illness.

The person afflicted might be the only one receiving a wealth of care and support while other family members have none, so spread the compassion and support as wide as possible because mental illness changes the family, often leaving them with a sense of loss that is felt, but never expressed. Be sensitive to those unspoken, not so obvious needs.

When you acknowledge the effort and sacrifice it takes to care for someone with a mental illness, you bring much needed relief and validation, and that might be all it takes to refresh someone’s energy and spirit enough so they can continue doing what needs to be done.

What is your favorite mental health quote? Why do you find it so impactful?

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I love this quote because it reminds me of what happens when “normal” healthy people go through a struggle. It also reminds me to see the opportunity in struggle so I keep any resistance to change under wraps. The contrast is necessary, and once you see that for yourself, that overused saying that “nothing is happening to you, it’s all happening for you” suddenly feels true, instead of being annoying. 😉

If you could inspire a movement or a change in mental wellness, what would it be? How can people support you in this mission?

I’d like to inspire a movement of conditional love to counter the normalizing of toxicity for those who are being victimized by other’s personality disorders. Empaths need to practice conditional love most of all, for example, because they are prone to drawing in toxic people and relational harm by nature, and this would certainly help them.

There is this idea that unconditional love is the only way to go and that we all need to be forgiving to be good people, but that isn’t true when it comes to toxicity, and it sets some up to be harmed.

By increasing awareness and understanding of personality disorders, how they impact victims and what realistically needs to be done to protect ourselves from them, we will see that it’s okay to be more selective with positivity, to forget forgiveness with some, and to curb the unconditional love thing if it means saving yourself — and do it without feeling guilty about it.

I would love to hear from people who have been impacted by toxics or pathological relationships with narcissists, sociopaths and the like as I am collecting stories of their experiences with a view to host a blog and podcast on these topics.

The more of us who lose the embarrassment and shame and come forward with our stories, the sooner we can address this the right way.

What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?

Website:

http://www.teaginmaddox.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/teaginmaddox

Email:

[email protected]

To talk with me about this interview, text me on:

212–545–8177

Thank you this was so inspiring!

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