We all do our best to avoid toxic people, but sometimes they worm their way into our lives without us noticing it. We ignore or choose to overlook the warning signs and red flags and keep them in our lives. If you’re worried someone in your life might be toxic, here are eight red flags to be on the lookout for.
8 Signs There Is a Toxic Person in Your Life
1. They Always Play the Victim
Even if they’ve done something wrong, toxic individuals always play the victim. No matter what happens, they try to spin it so it’s someone else’s fault. Even if it’s something innocent, like being late for work, they’ll blame it on traffic, a flat tire or some other excuse — it will never be their fault.
In arguments, they will often try to reframe circumstances to make you into the bad guy, even if the situation had nothing to do with you. They’re not late, you’re just early, and so on. Keep an eye out for this repetitive theme in your disagreements.
2. They Demand Attention
It’s typical that you can’t pay attention to anything or anyone else when you’re around a toxic person. They’ll often try to find a way to bring your attention back to them, regardless of the situation. If you’re talking to someone else, even if the topic doesn’t involve them, they’ll find some way to insert themselves into the conversation and spin it so you’re talking about them now.
Many people, especially nowadays with the rise of social media and its inherent narcissistic aspect, do struggle with the ability to focus on anything besides their immediate sphere of interest — namely, themselves (1). So, this trait isn’t necessarily always a sign of abuse, but sometimes of a simple lack of emotional maturity.
Either way, it can be very difficult to build an emotionally fulfilling relationship with a person like this, so you may want to reconsider how much of your time you give them.
3. They’re Clearly Abusive
Toxic individuals tend to be abusive as part of their personality — they will be verbally abusive if they don’t get their way and will try to manipulate the people around them to make sure their plans work out.
Toxic people aren’t necessarily physically abusive. Emotional abuse and manipulation can be just as dangerous as physical abuse, but it is much subtler and more difficult to recover from. In extreme cases, they may also resort to physical violence and abuse.
You often see emotionally abusive relationships when dealing with people who exhibit addictive behavior. This is because addicts often seek a codependent to take all their emotional baggage off them (2). If you become a codependent to someone, you will begin to feel constantly emotionally drained while getting nothing but abuse in return. These relationships are some of the most mentally toxic kinds and should be avoided or at least worked through with the help of a professional.
4. They’re Judgmental
Do you have someone in your life who is always judging you, your choices and even your appearance, regardless of what you do to change? This kind of judgment is a big red flag and could indicate this so-called friend is toxic (3).
Judgmental people are one thing — everyone is a little judgmental now and then — but someone who makes it a point to use their judgment to manipulate you should be avoided.
5. They’re Never Wrong
If you tell someone they’re wrong about something — especially if you can back it up with research or facts — most people will admit their mistake and apologize.
Toxic people are incapable of recognizing they’ve been wrong about something. They will redirect, try to make it someone else’s fault or even outright lie to save face. The worst of these kinds of people are pathological liars (4). These are people who will fabricate pretty much any story needed to fit the narrative in their head. They are oftentimes so convinced of their own lies that they don’t even realize how often they’re constructing narratives based in falsehoods.
6. They Disrespect You and Others
We’ve been taught from childhood to be respectful of others, even if you don’t like or agree with them. Toxic individuals have chosen to leave that lesson behind with their other childish things, and are always disrespectful of other people.
They often have no manners, and common niceties like “please” and “thank you” are foreign terms to them. You should never put up with being blatantly disrespected by someone you call a friend, partner or family member.
7. They Can’t Take Responsibility
We’ve already talked about how toxic people are never wrong and how they tend to play the victim. Those two traits go hand in hand with this one — they never take responsibility for their actions. Even if they do something wrong, it doesn’t appear wrong to them, and as such, it must be someone else’s fault.
8. They Don’t Listen
Toxic individuals might be prone to interrupting others, but they also don’t listen — ever. Even if you’re talking directly to them, you’ll find they tune out what you’re saying. They’ll interrupt or wait until you’re finished talking to continue talking about themselves or whatever catches their interest at the time.
Most frighteningly, toxic individuals tend to lack compassion and empathy for those around them. They don’t recognize what their behavior does to others, or if they do, they don’t care. If you recognize any of these traits in a friend or someone else you spend time with, it might be time to reconsider your relationship. You don’t need to feel bad for cutting toxic people out of your life. You will be better for it in the long run.