15 Common Traits of Toxic People, According to Psychologists

toxic people traits

You already know that getting rid of toxic people in your life is the key to happiness.

That much is clear.

But how do you know who’s really toxic and who isn’t?

Is your friend who always tries to one-up you toxic? Or are they just competitive?

It can be tough to figure out, but there’s no need to worry. There are some common negative personality traits. Today we’re going to through the 15 most common traits of toxic people.

Because over the last few days I’ve been reading up on these soul-sucking vampires and I want to share with you everything I learned.

Here we go…

1) They Never Take Responsibility

traits of toxic people

If they’re feeling angry about something, this will always be projected onto you and your life. They will make it about you and how their emotions are present because of something you’ve done.

For example, they might be mad about something at work but are going to take it out on you.

They will never accept this as reality and will continue to rage. In fact, they will be ready to defend their perspective to the end if that is what it takes.

It is important to note this and not get into a war of words.

It is better to separate yourselves and notice this immediately.

2) They Are Manipulative

traits of toxic people

Toxic people always have a goal in mind and that is going to occur regardless of your opinion. In fact, they might not even ask you about it. They will try to force you into doing something that favors their life.

You will never get anything in return while in this relationship. They could care less about what you wish for.

I know that the pain of being alone often pushes us into toxic relationships.

However, if there are people trying to manipulate you, it’s essential to learn how to stand up for yourself.

Because you do have a choice to end this cycle of pain and misery.

Ideapod has recently created an extremely powerful free masterclass on love and intimacy. In it, world-renowned shaman Rude lande helps you distinguish between the kind of relationships that are healthy and toxic ones so you can be empowered to make a change.

Rudá Iandê isn’t your typical shaman.

He’s spent a lot of time with indigenous tribes in the Amazon. He even sings shamanic songs and bangs his drums on occasion.

But he’s different in an important way. Rudá Iandê has made shamanism relevant for modern-day society. He has interpreted and communicated it for people like me and you.

People living regular lives.

In this love and intimacy masterclass, Ruda will teach you a powerful framework to free yourself from toxic relationships.

Thousands of Ideapod readers have let us know that this masterclass has had a deep impact on their personal relationships. They have learned to break free from toxic relationships by focusing on the most important relationship of all — the one they have with themselves.

Here’s a link to the free masterclass again.

3) They Never Apologize

toxic people traits

Why would they apologize if it’s never their fault? This is what races through their mind, and it becomes impossible to have a coherent conversation with a person in such a state of mind. They will refuse to acknowledge their mistakes, and if you bring them up, they will blame you for wasting their time or are going to accuse you for the problems.

It will never get to the state where an apology makes its way through. This can be a disconcerting feeling but one a toxic person is going to ensure you feel at one stage or another.

[Buddhism can teach us an incredible amount about healthy relationships. In my new eBook, I unpack iconic Buddhist teachings to provide practical suggestions for everyday living. Check it out here].

4) They Are Judgmental

toxic people traits

They will judge you every step of the way. Whether it’s your career, love life, clothes, or the food you’re eating, they will be there to criticize. The attention will never move towards their choices because they’ll be busy with putting you down. This becomes a common occurrence as they feed off of your perceived failures.

Check out the video below where Justin Brown shares his realization that he’s a toxic person. One of the signs of being a toxic person for Justin is being judgemental.

5) They’ll Make You Defend Yourself

traits of toxic people

They will always deflect to you. This means if you are having a debate with them, they will start to pick on things you have done. This could be something as simple as the tone of your voice.

They will state, “Why are you shouting so much?” because that is an excellent way of deflecting the attention.

You will be taken aback and might even defend your tone because you’re not a toxic person. This is what they require, and they will continue to press on this point until you forget what the main argument was about. It is an excellent way of manipulating you to weasel out of a terrible situation.

6) They Never Support You

toxic people traits

This is a common reality as they’re so lost in their toxic ways. They will refuse to encourage, support, or care for those around them. They would rather discourage as it brings satisfaction to them.

If they notice you are making progress, they will try to bring you down by picking out faults.

It is important to note each relationship is unique and people can have these qualities without being “toxic.” It has to be a combination of these traits for you to become worried about the person and what they mean to you. Never sell yourself short and keep an eye out for those who spend a lot of time with you.

If you’re doubtful, start to weigh the pros and cons to see if this is a relationship worth fighting for.

7) They Are Inconsistent

toxic people traits

It’s difficult to work out who you’re with when you’re with a toxic person. They can change their opinions and life narrative in an instant if it suits them. It all depends on what they need to accomplish and what they want to happen. Honesty means nothing to them.

This post is meant as a general overview of what a toxic person is like. Relationships are complex and it may not be easy to deal with toxic people until you have learned from previous interactions.

But the bottom line is this:

If you feel bad about yourself as a result of a relationship with someone, it’s time to take step back and assess the situation.

They might never change, but you can. You can limit the time you’ve had with this person and never look back.

8) They Judge. A lot.

You know you’ve got a toxic person in your life if they are constantly complaining about other people or judging other people.

They will make no effort to hide their discontent and they’ll try to drag you into their pit of despair, except they won’t even realize that they are the source of the discontent and not the person they are complaining about.

Here’s one piece of counter-intuitive advice if toxic people are judging you: get angry about it.

Let me explain why getting angry can actually be an incredibly powerful way to deal with toxic people.

Do you feel guilty for being angry? Do you try to repress your anger so it goes away?

If you’re like most people, then you probably do.

And it’s understandable. We’ve been conditioned to hide our anger for our entire lives. In fact, the whole personal development industry is built around not being angry and instead to always “think positively”.

Yet I think this way of approaching anger is dead wrong.

Being angry at toxic people can actually be a powerful force for good in your life — as long as you harness it properly.

To learn how to do this watch our free masterclass on turning anger into your ally.

Hosted by world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, you’ll learn how to build a powerful relationship with your inner beast.

The result:

Your natural feelings of anger will become a powerful force that enhances your personal power, rather than making you feel weak in life.

You can view the free masterclass here.

Rudá’s breakthrough teachings will help you identify what you should be angry about in your own life and how to make this anger a productive force for good.

Being angry isn’t about blaming others or becoming a victim. It’s about using the energy of anger to build constructive solutions to your problems and making positive changes to your own life.

Here’s a link to the masterclass again. It’s 100% free and there are no strings attached.

9) They Can’t Listen to You

It doesn’t matter if you were telling the best story in the world, a toxic person doesn’t have the wherewithal to listen to you, no matter how hard they try.

They are too busy thinking about themselves and how they can get something out of the interaction instead of thinking about how they can add something to it.

10) They Interrupt You. A lot.

During the telling of your best story in the world, you can be sure that a toxic person is going to interrupt you on more than one occasion. It’s kind of like their calling card. It doesn’t matter what you say, they’ll have something to say about it, and you can bet that they don’t have good things to say about whatever topic you are discussing. Toxic people find the negative in everything they do and say.

11) They Will Never Admit Defeat

From time to time you might find that you’ve outdone a toxic person, but it won’t matter because there is no way in Hell that a toxic person is going to admit when they are wrong about something.

In fact, you can’t even remember a time when they seemed remotely sorry for being wrong about something. They’ve never retracted a statement or bothered to take any responsibility for their actions or words, ever.

12) They Will Never Go Out of Their Way for You

We all want people in our lives that are willing to help us out when we are in a jam. If you have a toxic person in your life, you’ll never be able to count on that person to help you – with anything.

They’ll be sure to ask you for lots of help, of course, and you’ll feel obligated because toxic people also like to play the victim in life and they use that mentality and poor-me syndrome to get others to help them. They ride the coattails of so many people at once it’s no wonder they don’t fall over.

13) Toxic People Always Need to Have All Eyes on Them

You’ll know that you have a toxic person in your life because they’ll constantly be trying to take the attention away from anyone around them and focus it on themselves. If you have won an award, they’ll give a speech about themselves. If someone goes on a vacation, they’ll tell everyone about why that vacation location is terrible. They just need to be the centre of attention no matter what the reason. Of course, while they try to build themselves up to be something of a wonder, this usually just ends up making them look selfish and stupid to other people. Too bad they don’t realize that.

14) Toxic People Can’t Get Out of Their Own Way

Even if you were to go out of your way to help someone who is toxic, they would never, ever go out of their way to help you. And you can take that to the bank. Unless – unless! – they can get something out of the transaction.

They may help you get a job because they need you to help them make a connection with your previous employer, or whatever it is that they have concocted in their brains for wanting to help you.

Be aware of sudden offerings of help from people who have never bothered to even ask you how your day was until now.

15) Toxic People Are Mean

Here’s the thing you need to know about toxic people: they are mean. There’s just no way around it. They are mean and don’t care about other people. They’ll suck the soul out of you if you let them because it makes them feel better.

What’s your best bet for dealing with a toxic person? Steer clear.

NOW READ: 9 things toxic people always do (and what to do about it)

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Picture of Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.