Relationships are challenging and it’s not always easy to know when a relationship isn’t working. Even when you do suspect there are toxic people in your orbit, it can be hard to take the necessary steps towards removing them from your life without excessive drama.
What are signs of a toxic person?
There are several telltale signs you’re dealing with toxic personalities in your life. It’s important to recognize early warning signs in order to protect your own mental health and encourage healthy relationships moving forward.
Here are 9 warning signs you have someone in your life you should stay away from, plus strategies for ending unhealthy relationships.
9 Signs You Should Stay Away From Someone
1. They make you feel bad about yourself.
If someone constantly makes you feel bad about yourself, that is a warning sign you shouldn’t ignore. Toxic people will find ways to make you feel bad about yourself. It can come in the form of gaslighting, using intimidation tactics to get your way or underhanded compliments that make you question your value or integrity.
Master manipulators know how to get their way and control others without seeming like they’re doing anything at all. But our gut instincts will usually kick in to let us know that something isn’t right.
Use your intuition to sniff out toxic behavior in your relationships and trust your gut.
2. They see themselves as a victim.
We all get a little down on ourselves from time to time, but there are some people who make victimhood a lifestyle. This is another major sign that you may need to stay away from someone.
People who constantly see themselves as victims will pull you into their vortex. It is a type of emotional black hole that can quickly lead to a codependent relationship.
It can feel good to be there for someone in their moment of need, but if that was the entirety of your relationship is predicated upon, what are you getting from it? What is this person contributing to the relationship?
If you can’t easily answer that, It could be you’ve been swept up in someone’s dark personality. Perhaps you had good intentions and wanted to help this person, but eventually, you’ll have to cut ties for the sake of your own mental health.
3. They’re overly needy.
Let’s be honest – being needed feels good. It just does. Most of us like to feel as if we’re making a difference in the life of someone we care about. We want to be supportive, to listen, and help that person out during a rough patch.
But we don’t want to be the only support system they rely on. People with toxic personalities will latch onto you in unhealthy ways. Do they constantly text and expect a response back right away? Do they pop up unannounced?
Are you constantly expected to be a shoulder to cry on? If someone’s neediness is central to your relationship, it’s a major sign that you should not have this person in your life.
It’s often the case that needy, toxic people are conveniently not there for you in your times of need. Neediness is often a one-way street and, in many ways, a method for controlling and manipulating the other person.
4. There is constant drama.
Healthy people with healthy relationships are largely drama-free. Whereas drama can sometimes feel exciting or interesting, it’s actually a common sign that you’re dealing with a toxic person. Even if the drama is with other people, you should take note.
If they’re engaging in bad behavior with others, it is only a matter of time before that drama reaches your doorstep. People who constantly engage in drama often lack the capacity for self-reflection. They’ll profess to not know why drama follows them wherever they go. They may even play the victim in these situations.
But the bottom line here is that if you don’t want drama in your life, don’t allow toxic people who thrive in drama to stick around.
5. Their friend group is constantly shifting.
If you have someone in your life who is constantly jumping from clique to clique and lacks any significant long-term friendships, that is one of the surest signs you’re dealing with someone you should stay away from.
Many toxic people will seem charming and fun in the beginning, but if they’ve burned all their past bridges, proceed with caution. Sure, it’s possible they had issues in the past and have since turned their lives around. But it’s something you should definitely explore and think hard about before allowing someone to stay in your life.
6. They’re manipulative.
Some toxic people are experts at making you feel like you’re in the wrong, even if you’re not. They use psychological tricks and tactics to get what they want. Master manipulators employ a variety of tactics including:
- Using intense, emotional connections to force themselves into someone’s life (sometimes called “love bombing”).
- Lying and telling half-truths.
- Playing on someone’s insecurities.
- Weaponizing their affection and attention to get what they want.
- Passive aggression.
- Using “whataboutism” to change the subject when they are confronted.
If anyone makes you feel like you can’t trust your own judgment or memory, it’s time to cut ties. That is a sign of an abusive relationship you need to get away from immediately.
7. They’re flaky and inconsistent.
If someone is constantly ditching their commitments and letting you down, it’s a sign you should stay away from them. Are they your best friend one minute and then distant the next? In a romantic relationship, do they spend lots of time with you one week and then disappear the next?
This is a red flag. Toxic people who are inconsistent can make you feel like you’ve done something wrong when you haven’t. Their inconsistent behavior is stressful. You never know where you stand with them.
It’s important to note that their inconsistency is not personal. You didn’t cause it. It’s just the way they are and it’s not healthy for you to put up with.
8. They don’t respect boundaries.
Another sign you should stay away from someone is a lack of boundaries. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, it’s best to steer clear.
Does this person overshare deeply personal information? Do they expect you to do things you’re uncomfortable with? Or maybe they impose themselves on people or situations.
If you feel like you’re sacrificing your own comfort and peace of mind, it’s possible this person doesn’t respect your boundaries.
9. Your friends and family warn you about them.
Your close friends and family know and love you more than anybody else. It’s worth taking note if none of them are fans of a new friend or love interest. It’s hard to be honest with someone about toxic people. If someone you love has worked up the courage to talk to you about someone, don’t brush it off.
Sometimes others are able to see what we can’t in the beginning.
Letting Toxic People Go
If you’re experiencing signs you should stay away from someone, here are steps you can take towards getting some much-needed space.
Set clear boundaries.
Sit down with the person and be clear about your boundaries. Let them know what is and isn’t okay with you and make sure they understand that these are non-negotiable for you.
Learn to say NO.
Some of the best advice I’ve heard is, “No is a complete sentence.” If you suspect someone is a toxic fixture in your life, learn to say no. Say no to things you don’t want to do and behavior you will no longer condone.
Lay it all out. What toxic behaviors are you tired of engaging with? What needs to change for this relationship to continue? Can it?
Communicate your feelings and needs. If they’re receptive to hearing you, then perhaps the relationship can be salvaged. If not, then it’s time to cut ties.
Cut off contact.
If this person isn’t trying to change or hear you out, it’s time to cut ties. Cutting contact with a loved one is hard. Breaking up with friends and significant others, even family members is difficult. But it’s important to remember that your needs have to come first.
It’s okay to cut off contact, but only if you hold firm. Toxic people are not going to change unless they want to. The only thing we have the power to control is who we allow to remain in our lives.