9 classic signs of a toxic person, according to psychology

Navigating relationships can be tricky, especially when you encounter individuals who are less than beneficial to your mental health. The term for these people? Toxic.

A toxic person, according to psychology, is someone who makes you feel less than, drains your energy, and generally brings negativity into your life.

But how do you identify such a person?

Well, there are some classic signs that can help you spot a toxic individual. I’m going to share 9 of these with you.

Let’s get into the telltale signs of a toxic person.

1) They’re constantly negative

A key element in identifying a toxic person is their attitude.

Psychology suggests that if someone is consistently negative, they might be toxic. Negativity can take many forms, from complaining about every little thing to always seeing the worst in situations and people.

Toxic individuals have a knack for spreading their negativity, making those around them feel down or drained. If you find yourself feeling emotionally exhausted after interactions with a certain individual, you might be dealing with a toxic person.

It’s one thing to have a bad day or go through a rough patch – we all do. But when someone is persistently negative, it’s a classic sign of toxicity.

Pay attention to the overall mood and attitude of the people in your life. It could be the key to spotting a toxic person.

2) They’re master manipulators

Another clear sign of a toxic person is their tendency to manipulate others.

I’ve personally experienced this with a former friend. We’ll call him Mark. Mark had a way of twisting every situation to make it about him. If I ever brought up something that was bothering me, he would somehow turn it around, making himself the victim and me feeling guilty for even mentioning my issue.

This is a classic manipulation tactic. Toxic people are skilled at making others feel guilty or responsible for their own problems. They have a way of twisting words and situations to fit their narrative.

The key here is to be aware of this behavior. If someone consistently makes you question your own feelings or makes you feel guilty for expressing them, chances are you’re dealing with a manipulator, which is a classic sign of a toxic person.

It’s important to remember that your feelings are valid and you’re allowed to express them without guilt.

3) They are rarely accountable

Toxic people often demonstrate a distinct lack of accountability.

In psychology, accountability refers to an individual’s willingness to accept responsibility for their actions. However, toxic individuals have a tendency to deflect blame onto others, rather than owning up to their mistakes or shortcomings.

Individuals who display toxic behavior are less likely to take responsibility for their actions and more likely to blame others.

This behavior can be frustrating and damaging, especially in close relationships.

If you find someone in your life always passing the buck and never admitting when they’re wrong, it might be a sign of their toxic nature.

4) They’re often critical

A classic characteristic of toxic individuals is their tendency to be overly critical.

They seem to find fault in almost everything – from your choices and actions to the way you look or talk. This constant stream of criticism can be exhausting and can severely impact your self-esteem.

The thing to remember is that their criticism is more a reflection of them than it is of you. It’s their way to feel superior or to mask their own insecurities.

So, if there’s someone in your life who never misses an opportunity to point out your flaws or belittle your achievements, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a toxic person.

5) They make you feel uncomfortable

Toxic people have a peculiar way of making those around them feel uncomfortable. It could be through inappropriate comments, invading personal space, or simply by creating an atmosphere that makes you feel uneasy.

For instance, if you find yourself constantly on edge or anxious around a certain individual, it might not just be your nerves. This could be your instinct telling you that this person is toxic.

Being around people should generally make us feel good and uplifted. If someone consistently makes you feel uncomfortable or anxious, it’s a clear sign that their presence in your life might not be beneficial for your well-being.

6) They drain your energy

One of the most heart-wrenching signs of a toxic person is the emotional and mental drain they can cause.

We’ve all had those relationships or friendships that leave us feeling depleted. You pour your heart and soul into them, yet you never seem to feel fulfilled or appreciated. Instead, you feel exhausted, as if all your energy has been sucked out.

This is a hallmark of toxic people. They tend to be emotional vampires, feeding off your energy without giving anything positive back. They leave you feeling empty and drained, rather than uplifted and supported.

It’s painful to admit that someone you care about might be toxic. But it’s crucial for your own mental health to be aware of this sign and take steps to protect your wellbeing.

7) They’re not supportive

A huge red flag for a toxic person is a lack of support.

I remember when I got my first book deal. It was a dream come true, and I was over the moon with excitement. But when I shared the news with one particular friend, instead of sharing in my joy, she downplayed my achievement and quickly changed the subject.

This lack of support was hurtful and made me question our friendship. Support is a cornerstone of any healthy relationship. When someone can’t be happy for your achievements or support you in your endeavours, it’s often a sign of toxicity.

Take note if there’s someone in your life who struggles to be genuinely supportive or happy for you. It could be a sign that they’re not as invested in your well-being as they should be.

8) They’re possessive or controlling

Possessiveness and control are common traits of toxic individuals.

These people often feel the need to control those around them, dictating how they should behave, what they should do, or even who they should be friends with. This can be suffocating and is a clear infringement on personal boundaries.

Similarly, toxic individuals often exhibit possessive behavior, treating people as if they are objects that belong to them rather than independent individuals.

If you find someone in your life trying to control your actions or exhibiting possessive tendencies, it’s a strong indication that they might be toxic.

Everyone has the right to their own choices and freedom. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

9) They lack empathy

At the heart of most toxic behavior is a lack of empathy.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is crucial for healthy, positive relationships. Without it, a person is likely to be self-centered, indifferent to others’ feelings, and even cruel.

If you encounter someone who regularly dismisses your feelings, belittles your problems, or seems unmoved by your pain or distress, be wary. This lack of empathy is a critical sign of a toxic individual.

You deserve to be surrounded by people who respect your feelings and treat you with kindness. Don’t settle for less.

Final thoughts: Self-preservation is key

The complexities of human relationships are often intertwined with our emotional well-being and mental health.

Recognizing the classic signs of a toxic person isn’t about pointing fingers or labeling people. Rather, it’s about learning to identify negative behaviors and patterns that can hurt us.

In the realm of psychology, personal boundaries and self-care take precedence. If a relationship consistently brings you down, leaves you feeling drained, or impacts your self-esteem, it’s crucial to reassess its role in your life.

It’s not always easy to distance ourselves from toxic individuals, especially if they are close family or friends. However, remember that preserving your peace and mental health is paramount.

After all, as psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Learning to identify toxicity in our lives and making change when necessary is a key step towards self-preservation and personal growth.

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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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