It’s often difficult to identify a toxic person despite the fact that you may observe some of the telling signs of their difficult and unhealthy character. Most of the manipulation tactics toxic people employ are quite insidious and for good reason: the goal of such people is to attach to you like a shadow and draw you into such manipulative deceit that they end up controlling what you do, think and feel about yourself, how others see you and interact with you. And all of this to somehow profit off of you or your good name, drain you of your energy and simply wear you out or discredit you.
Over time, having a toxic person in your life can change you, and for the better. The constant manipulation from a person who does not have your best interest at heart or, even worse, is looking to put you down can produce long-lasting damage to your morale, self-esteem and relations with friends, family or colleagues, career path and even mental health. This is why it is important to learn to spot a toxic person and defend yourself from their intrigues. And the first step to removing a toxic person from you life is identifying them.
Here are 11 classic signs of a toxic person:
1) Narcissistic. The simplest way to identify this type of toxic person is during a conversation. A narcissist will not stop talking, usually about themselves. When in a conversation, they will talk on and on, for hours even and in all that time, there won’t be room for you to talk too. If they ever ask a question, it’s usually rhetorical and they will resume talking before you can utter one word. If you somehow interrupt or change the subject politely, they will become bothered and irritated with you.
Some narcissistic toxic people will even accuse you of not being interested enough, even though you have listened quietly to their rant for over an hour. They might feign hurt feelings or become upset with you. All of this although they haven’t even acknowledged you during the conversation or allowed you to take part in it except for listening to them. This type of behavior is mentally and emotionally draining and can cause mental fatigue.
2) Always selfish. Toxic people are selfish and will always try to somehow profit off of you. A close friend might ask you to babysit all the time even though it is inconvenient to you. Selfish people will ask you to help them out with their homework, projects at work, study, renovations, errands, although you might not always have time, or come to you with all sort of problems for you to help them solve, even when you yourself need to focus on your own problems. Asking for money, your old clothes or new ones you haven’t yet had the chance to wear, letting you pay for dinner all the time are common selfish behaviors.
3) Disrespectful and borderline insulting. A toxic person is not only a bad listener that interrupts all the time and reverts the conversation to themselves, but will also do so in a disrespectful manner. For example, if you talk for more than 10 minutes, they might bluntly accuse you of talking too much or say you’ve bored them, they already know that and want you to stop talking. Actually, if you think about it well, everything some people do is disrespectful, if not insulting.
The way they ask for things, the faces and comments they make when you are taking your time doing something or, god forbid, make a mistake, how they feel about changes to your physical appearance, the rude criticism they give you when you ask them to do something for you they don’t want to, laughing at your insecurities are all classic behaviors of toxic people and can be emotionally draining and affect your mental health.
4) They are always right and never apologize, deflecting blame. You now a toxic person by their inability to assume their mistakes, failures and flaws. Such people never acknowledge blame, feel they are always right, so they never apologize. They don’t take responsibility for what they say, do or how they make you feel and if someone accuses them of being wrong or doing something bad, they deflect blame. In an argument, they will be the ones upset at your accusations, often bring out your past mistakes to make you look bad or state their innocence, then leave not wanting to even listen to you.
5) They are judgmental and always criticizing. Toxic people are always judgmental and critical of everyone and everything because they see only themselves as being capable, see others as their inferiors (ego) and are jealous and envious of other people’s appearance, achievements, career, personal life, usually the happy and healthy relationships they maintain. The goal of their criticism is to put others down, undermine their self-esteem, confidence, ruin their careers, sabotage their relationships, discredit their good name, everything to make themselves look good and others bad.
6) Controlling. A controlling person is the embodiment of a toxic person. The role of control is to better manipulate others into serving the toxic person’s own interests or stroking their ego. Control can manifest in many ways: not being allowed to go out alone or with certain people, having to report everything you do, making you feel like a bad person for deviating from your regular schedule, not allowing you to do things you like, entertain friends etc. Toxic people often resort to verbal and emotional abuse, such as saying certain words in ways that make you feel bad, blaming you for not trying enough or sabotaging a relationship etc. In order to be more effective, the control goes from abuse to being charming and lovely and back around.
7) Set on negativity and exaggeration. Negativity is the epitome of the toxic person. Most of the time, negative toxic people will complain about their life, people, events and everything related or not to them. And everything is exaggerated so they have a reason to complain. This type of person is draining and spending time with them can affect you emotionally and cause mental fatigue, with negative effects on your productivity and self-esteem. If perpetuated, this behavior can catch on which is why it is so important to avoid such people.
8) Always play the victim, clingy. Toxic people are melodramatic. Everyone has something against them, is insulting, hurting, mocking them, you name it. They are always a victim in all circumstances and need a shoulder to cry on as well as constant reassurance. If you are a kind person, empathetic and generous with your time and energy, this person will cling to you forever. It’s one of the most energy draining types because they will paralyze your life telling you their misfortunes.
9) They like drama, gossip and lie. Some people have a penchant for gossip and drama and will straight up lie to stir up things. It can be a family member that criticizes you for nothing, trying to pick fights or a coworker who is always talking about other people behind their backs or anyone really. The idea is such people will gossip incessantly, lie straight to your face and be the biggest drama queens just so they can spice up their boring lives or compensate for their dysfunctional relationships.
10) Evasive and impatient. You know you are dealing with a toxic person if that person is vague about themselves, their work, family life, friends and relationships, deceitful and misleading. At the same time, some toxic people, despite being evasive, are impatient to know you and want to find out everything they can about you in as little time as possible. They will show great interest in your secrets, insecurities, unpleasant past experiences, plans for the future, all revealing information about you. The purpose is to either profit off of you somehow, learn to best manipulate you or deceive you into thinking they are a better person they they really are.
11) They are relentless and unforgiving. Here are some examples of relentless and unforgiving behaviors in a toxic person: they will never completely forgive you for anything, they will bring up past mistakes in an argument, they will ruin something you like just to make you experience the same grief they have at one point if they feel you have wronged them in some way in the past, given the opportunity, they will make you feel guilty or ashamed.
Anyone can be a toxic person and the closer they are to you, the harder it is for you to detach yourself from them. Even worse, the closer someone is to you, the more difficult it is for you to identify these toxic behaviors and character traits and defend yourself because you are set on the idea that by being close to you they are automatically doing what they do to help you. In fact, no one behaving like this towards you is doing you any favors. On the contrary, they are undermining you as a person and looking to hurt you in one way or another.
And the sad truth is that toxic people often know their faults, some very well, but do nothing to change and be kinder people. And it’s this that makes them toxic, the fact that they are conscious they are not helping others or worse, intentionally putting them down, yet continue and often rejoice in their actions. So if you know someone close to you is such a person, the best thing you can do for yourself is walk away.