18 Signs of Toxic People
No doubt there are some toxic people in your life that are causing needless drama, undermining your self-esteem or simply spreading their negativity into your life. We can’t live in a bubble, but knowing the signs of toxic people can help you to take appropriate steps to identify them and lessen their impact on your life.
Below are 18 signs of toxic people.
Remember, a person does not need to demonstrate all of these signs to be considered toxic. Rather, any single one of these signs, but especially multiple signs, could indicate a toxic person.
1. They often speak badly about other people.
If someone you know is regularly gossiping about others, this is a warning sign. Incessant gossiping is a warning sign of insecurity and a toxic personality. Likewise, you can be sure that if they’re gossiping about someone else, they will gossip about you too. Be careful with gossipers and remember that gossip is usually untrue anyway.
2. They’re negative.
A hallmark of a toxic person is being negative. This includes being judgmental, sarcastic, frequent complaining and the list goes on. This negativity can be draining and no fun but it is also a big warning that you’re with a toxic person.
3. They lack compassion.
One of the key elements to a relationship is the ability to show empathy and compassion towards others. If they are unable to show empathy, they might be toxic to you.
4. They take up an inordinate amount of your time.
They show up and take up too much of your time, disregarding you and your life. Relationships are a give and take. If you feel like they’re sucking up your time without providing much in return, it may be time to reassess this relationship.
5. They’re constantly involved in drama.
If they seem to always have crisis and conflict going on, this may indicate they are they cause more so than other people in their life.This is particularly true if they seem to thrive on or actually enjoy drama. The same is true if they seem to always have a big personal mess going on.
6. They lie to you.
In addition to straight out lies, make note of even slight variations on what they tell you and note the omission of critical facts as well. Often times, it is difficult to spot a direct lie, but rather, things just don’t add up. If someone is lying or bending the truth it is wise to question whether you can trust them in your life.
7. They criticize you.
It’s one thing to help a friend out if they have some food caught in their teeth. It’s another if someone is constantly criticizing you or offering their “advice” about you and your life. This is very true of the parent-child relationship. If you feel like you are always being corrected, it’s probably them and not you.
8. They talk way more than they listen.
A big red flag is when someone talks way more than they listen or if they don’t really listen at all.
9. They act like a victim.
If they frequently blame all their problems on someone else or some situation – or even if they blame their own mistakes on someone else or some situation – this is a red flag. A lack of personal responsibility is a sign of toxicity. Be careful, toxic people can be quite convincing.
10. They are hurtful.
If someone purposefully says hurtful thing to you or engages in hurtful actions against you or even just disregard your feelings, consider them toxic to you. The way we are treated is important. It matters and if someone hurts you regularly, they are not good for you.
11. They’re always stressed out.
Life is stressful for all of us. No one gets by without some stress. If someone magnifies their stress or compounds it through their choices, they might be toxic.
12. They lose their temper.
Being around someone with a temper problem can be excruciating and unnerving. If it seems like they need anger management, you can rest assured they are toxic to your life and you do not need to expose yourself to this.
13. They need to be right.
A sign of a toxic person is their need to be right. If they’re constantly trying to prove themselves or close off to the opinions of others, this is not good. Likewise, toxic people will often claim to be right even if they’re not. Conversation is not supposed to be a challenge that must be won. This is unhealthy.
14. They treat others poorly.
Have you ever noticed that someone can be kind to you and the people in your circle, but when you’re around other people, they treat them poorly. This includes other co-workers, service people (such as a waiter or waitress). This can be a tip off that the person is putting on a show when they’re with you, but you can see the real person in how they treat others.
15. They’re self-absorbed.
If they usually consider themselves first, have a need to talk about their own stuff and are not there for you when you need them, consider this a warning sign that they are either not a true friend or they are toxic. Also pay attention to whether they are looking to see what they can gain in a given situation versus what they can give.
16. They try to control you.
If someone tries to tell you what to do or say or how to act, this is a huge red flag. This can often show up as manipulative behaviors as well. If you feel like you’re being used as a puppet, it’s time to take a deeper look into the relationship.
17. They have unresolved addiction issues.
No question that being in a relationship with someone battling addiction can be one of the most difficult and painful things you could ever deal with. People in the throws of addiction will often exemplify many of these behaviors listed here – not because it is their true nature, but rather because of their addiction. Addiction is a serious issue. If you have a relationship with someone who is an addict, it is imperative to seek help for yourself.
18. You just have a bad vibe about them.
When in doubt, if you have a bad vibe, trust it. Your intuition is a valuable tool and is usually right. Even if you can’t put your finger on it, you should avoid or limit interaction with someone when your gut says to “look out!”
Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal with Them
We have all had toxic people dust us with their poison. Sometimes it’s more like a drenching.
Difficult people are drawn to the reasonable ones and all of us have likely had (or have) at least one person in our lives who have us bending around ourselves like barbed wire in endless attempts to please them – only to never really get there.
Their damage lies in their subtlety and the way they can engender that classic response, ‘It’s not them, it’s me.’ They can have you questioning your ‘over-reactiveness’, your ‘oversensitivity’, your ‘tendency to misinterpret’. If you’re the one who’s continually hurt, or the one who is constantly adjusting your own behaviour to avoid being hurt, then chances are that it’s not you and it’s very much them.
Being able to spot their harmful behaviour is the first step to minimising their impact. You might not be able to change what they do, but you can change what you do with it, and any idea that toxic somebody in your life might have that they can get away with it.
There are plenty of things toxic people do to manipulate people and situations to their advantage. Here are 12 of them. Knowing them will help you to avoid falling under the influence:
They’ll keep you guessing about which version of them you’re getting.
They’ll be completely lovely one day and the next you’ll be wondering what you’ve done to upset them. There often isn’t anything obvious that will explain the change of attitude – you just know something isn’t right. They might be prickly, sad, cold or cranky and when you ask if there’s something wrong, the answer will likely be ‘nothing’ – but they’ll give you just enough to let you know that there’s something. The ‘just enough’ might be a heaving sigh, a raised eyebrow, a cold shoulder. When this happens, you might find yourself making excuses for them or doing everything you can to make them happy. See why it works for them?
Stop trying to please them. Toxic people figured out a long time ago that decent people will go to extraordinary lengths to keep the people they care about happy. If your attempts to please aren’t working or aren’t lasting for very long, maybe it’s time to stop. Walk away and come back when the mood has shifted. You are not responsible for anybody else’s feelings. If you have done something unknowingly to hurt somebody, ask, talk about it and if need be, apologise. At any rate, you shouldn’t have to guess.
If you feel as though you’re the only one contributing to the relationship, you’re probably right. Toxic people have a way of sending out the vibe that you owe them something. They also have a way of taking from you or doing something that hurts you, then maintaining they were doing it all for you. This is particularly common in workplaces or relationships where the balance of power is out. ‘I’ve left that six months’ worth of filing for you. I thought you’d appreciate the experience and the opportunity to learn your way around the filing cabinets.’ Or, ‘I’m having a dinner party. Why don’t you bring dinner. For 10. It’ll give you a chance to show off those kitchen skills. K?’
You don’t owe anybody anything. If it doesn’t feel like a favour, it’s not.
They won’t own their feelings.
Rather than owning their own feelings, they’ll act as though the feelings are yours. It’s called projection, as in projecting their feelings and thoughts onto you. For example, someone who is angry but won’t take responsibility for it might accuse you of being angry with them. It might be as subtle as, ‘Are you okay with me?’ or a bit more pointed, ‘Why are you angry at me,’ or, ‘You’ve been in a bad mood all day.’
You’ll find yourself justifying and defending and often this will go around in circles – because it’s not about you. Be really clear on what’s yours and what’s theirs. If you feel as though you’re defending yourself too many times against accusations or questions that don’t fit, you might be being projected on to. You don’t have to explain, justify or defend yourself or deal with a misfired accusation. Remember that.
They’ll make you prove yourself to them.
They’ll regularly put you in a position where you have to choose between them and something else – and you’ll always feel obliged to choose them. Toxic people will wait until you have a commitment, then they’ll unfold the drama. ‘If you really cared about me you’d skip your exercise class and spend time with me.’ The problem with this is that enough will never be enough. Few things are fatal – unless it’s life or death, chances are it can wait.
5 .They never apologise.
They’ll lie before they ever apologise, so there’s no point arguing. They’ll twist the story, change the way it happened and retell it so convincingly that they’ll believe their own nonsense.
People don’t have to apologise to be wrong. And you don’t need an apology to move forward. Just move forward – without them. Don’t surrender your truth but don’t keep the argument going. There’s just no point. Some people want to be right more than they want to be happy and you have better things to do than to provide fodder for the right-fighters.
6. They’ll be there in a crisis but they’ll never ever share your joy.
They’ll find reasons your good news isn’t great news. The classics: About a promotion – ‘The money isn’t that great for the amount of work you’ll be doing.’ About a holiday at the beach – ‘Well it’s going to be very hot. Are you sure you want to go?’ About being made Queen of the Universe – ‘Well the Universe isn’t that big you know and I’m pretty sure you won’t get tea breaks.’ Get the idea? Don’t let them dampen you or shrink you down to their size. You don’t need their approval anyway – or anyone else’s for that matter.
7. They’ll leave a conversation unfinished – and then they’ll go offline.
They won’t pick up their phone. They won’t answer texts or emails. And in between rounds of their voicemail message, you might find yourself playing the conversation or argument over and over in your head, guessing about the status of the relationship, wondering what you’ve done to upset them, or whether they’re dead, alive or just ignoring you – which can sometimes all feel the same. People who care about you won’t let you go on feeling rubbish without attempting to sort it out. That doesn’t mean you’ll sort it out of course, but at least they’ll try. Take it as a sign of their investment in the relationship if they leave you ‘out there’ for lengthy sessions.
8. They’ll use non-toxic words with a toxic tone.
The message might be innocent enough but the tone conveys so much more. Something like, ‘What did you do today?’ can mean different things depending on the way it’s said. It could mean anything from ‘So I bet you did nothing – as usual,’ to ‘I’m sure your day was better than mine. Mine was awful. Just awful. And you didn’t even notice enough to ask.’ When you question the tone, they’ll come back with, ‘All I said was what did you do today,’ which is true, kind of, not really.
9. They’ll bring irrelevant detail into a conversation.
When you’re trying to resolve something important to you, toxic people will bring in irrelevant detail from five arguments ago. The problem with this is that before you know it, you’re arguing about something you did six months ago, still defending yourself, rather than dealing with the issue at hand. Somehow, it just always seems to end up about what you’ve done to them.
10. They’ll make it about the way you’re talking, rather than what you’re talking about.
You might be trying to resolve an issue or get clarification and before you know it, the conversation/ argument has moved away from the issue that was important to you and on to the manner in which you talked about it – whether there is any issue with your manner or not. You’ll find yourself defending your tone, your gestures, your choice of words or the way you belly moves when you breathe – it doesn’t even need to make sense. Meanwhile, your initial need is well gone on the pile of unfinished conversations that seems to grow bigger by the day.
11. They exaggerate.
‘You always …’ ‘You never …’ It’s hard to defend yourself against this form of manipulation. Toxic people have a way of drawing on the one time you didn’t or the one time you did as evidence of your shortcomings. Don’t buy into the argument. You won’t win. And you don’t need to.
12. They are judgemental.
We all get it wrong sometimes but toxic people will make sure you know it. They’ll judge you and take a swipe at your self-esteem suggesting that you’re less than because you made a mistake. We’re all allowed to get it wrong now and then, but unless we’ve done something that affects them nobody has the right to stand in judgement.
Knowing the favourite go-to’s for toxic people will sharpen your radar, making the manipulations easier to spot and easier to name. More importantly, if you know the characteristic signs of a toxic person, you’ll have a better chance of catching yourself before you tie yourself in double knots trying to please them.
Some people can’t be pleased and some people won’t be good for you – and many times that will have nothing to do with you. You can always say no to unnecessary crazy. Be confident and own your own faults, your quirks and the things that make you shine. You don’t need anyone’s approval but remember if someone is working hard to manipulate, it’s because probably because they need yours. You don’t always have to give it but if you do, don’t let the cost be too high.