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10 Signs of Toxic People (and Why It's Important to be Aware!)


Do you ever feel like some people in your life are always giving off negative vibes? Perhaps, you can’t put your finger on what exactly puts you off. And if you don’t look close enough, you may even catch yourself asking, “Am I the problem?”

At this point, you should take a moment to reflect and examine their behavior. If you’re starting to think that they’re being self-centered or manipulative, then chances are they’re actually toxic people.

Being “toxic” means causing distress to others through selfish or controlling actions. In this article, we’ll delve further on how you can spot toxic people in your life.

How toxic people affect you

There are many ways we can experience toxic behavior from other people.

In childhood, we may have grown up in a home where we felt neglected or even abused by our caregivers. Growing up in a toxic household can have negative implications that we can carry through adulthood.

According to experts, people are likely to develop psychological disorders and be more prone to abuse when they experienced toxic stress as a child.

As adults, we can also encounter toxic people in the workplace. A study explored the relationship between toxicity and productivity and found that toxic workers are less likely to produce quality work. This means that if you have a toxic colleague, it’s possible that they’re not just testing your patience level but also affecting your entire team’s performance!

In more intimate relationships, having a toxic friend or partner can also affect you mentally and emotionally.

When you have toxic people in your life, you may feel:

  • Confusion and self-doubt.
  • Guilty of things you’re not supposed to.
  • Unsupported and undervalued.
  • Taken advantage of.
  • Controlled and manipulated.

In more serious cases, being with someone who is toxic can also lead to different forms of violence and abuse.

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Characteristics of toxic people

For these reasons, it’s important to recognize the “red flags” in your interactions and relationships.

Here are 10 signs that someone in your life is toxic.

1. They are self-centered

The first tell-tale sign that someone is toxic is when everything seems to revolve around them. In your conversations, they may be more interested in talking about themselves than actually getting to know you.

They may also sound like they're constantly bragging or fishing for compliments.

If you meet someone who exhibits self-centeredness from the get-go, it’s likely that you will only have a one-sided relationship with them, so be cautious!

2. They see the worst in people and situations

Ever had a co-worker who always complains and brings the team spirit down? How about a parent who always points out your flaws and never recognizes your achievements? When people only see the worst in you, it can surely make you feel upset and discouraged. 

If they’re not giving constructive criticism and simply throwing negativity at you, then they’re not worth having in your life. Remember that the right people will always uplift you and boost your confidence!

3. They are self-serving

If you have a “friend” who only reaches out to you when they need something and then ignores you when it’s your turn to ask for a favor, then it’s safe to write them off as toxic. This type of person may only make you feel exploited in the long run. 

In genuine relationships, it’s always important to find balance between “giving” and “taking.” So make sure to cut ties with those who only use you for their own benefit.

4. They’re insensitive

People who are toxic don’t realize that the things they say or do can have an impact on others. For example, a friend who’s always late to your meet-ups can make the whole group wait and miss a dinner reservation.

Being insensitive can be a form of disrespect and must not be perpetuated. It’s important to call them out on these situations so that they’re aware of how their behavior is affecting other people, too.

5. They manipulate you

Imagine this: your partner is asking you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. When you refuse, they continue to urge you by saying, “But you love me, right? If you don’t do this, I will feel hurt.”

This is a clear example of being manipulative.

A toxic person will make you accomplish something in their favor by targeting your emotions and using consequences against you. You may not notice it at first, so always be mindful of their words so you won’t fall into their trap.

6. They gaslight you

One of the most common ways of gaslighting is when someone tells you that “you’re crazy” after calling them out on something that they have done.

Toxic people are good at covering up their wrongdoings by lying and discrediting you.

This may lead to feelings of inadequacy, difficulty in making decisions, and distrusting oneself. When this happens, be firm about what you know to be true and set hard boundaries.

If it persists, you should consider ending the relationship and seeking support from people you can genuinely trust.

7. They don’t own up to their faults

Did you ever feel hurt by someone and never received an apology you think you deserved? What’s worse is that they made you feel like it’s your fault and not theirs. 

In mature relationships, it’s important to own up to our mistakes and ask for a sincere apology. But if you feel like you’re always getting the short end of the stick when conflicts happen, you’re likely dealing with a toxic person who’s too childish to take responsibility.

If this is something you struggle with, here's our article on how to take responsibility.

8. They never change

Have you ever given someone a second chance, only to end up experiencing the same old problem all over again?

If you keep letting toxic people in your life, chances are you’ll get stuck in a cycle that will only feed their negative energy.

It’s okay to forgive, but never forget the wrongs that they’ve done so you can identify whether they’re making an effort to do better or not. Remember that committing to change for the better is key in healthy relationships!

9. They feel superior to others

Kindness and humility are essential traits to have, regardless of who we are or what we’ve accomplished in life. However, there are some people who constantly look down on others and think that they’re better than the rest of us.

People who have an inflated ego are simply annoying to deal with. So if you ever meet the "superior folks" of the world, don’t be affected by their sense of entitlement.

10. They abuse power

Ever had a manager who always demands you to work beyond your job description? And when you complain, you’re told that you don’t have the right mentality? Yep, sounds like my previous boss!

If you’re in a toxic environment where “power tripping” is part of the culture, it can take a toll on your mental health and sense of self-worth.

Remember that you’re allowed to set hard limits, and no one (not even your boss) can make you feel obligated to do otherwise.

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Wrapping up

Having toxic people in your professional and personal relationships can be hurtful, exhausting, and even detrimental to your wellbeing. It’s important to spot traits such as self-centeredness, manipulation, and unwillingness to do better. It’s not your job to fix them and you shouldn’t let yourself be trapped in that cycle. Most of the time, we are better off without them anyway.

How do you spot toxic people around you? What's a clear sign you've seen recently? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Madel

Madel Asuncion

Writer

Writer and advocate for young people's mental health. Firm believer of validating one’s feelings, prioritizing the inner-self, and finding happiness in a plate of chicken curry.

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