7 signs someone is actually not a good person, according to psychology

My dad used to say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Sure, it’s an old saying, but there’s a reason it’s been around for so long. It’s often hard to tell what people are genuinely like beneath their sociable facade.

Here’s the rub.

What if there were telltale signs that someone isn’t as good a person as they first appear? What if psychology could give us some insights?

Well, it turns out it can.

Now, I’m not suggesting we all morph into amateur psychologists, but understanding these signs can help us navigate our relationships more effectively.

1) They’re consistently self-centered

Have you ever met someone who seems to revolve the universe around themselves?

Every conversation, every decision, every action – it’s all about them. They seem to have an innate ability to turn the spotlight back onto themselves, no matter what the topic at hand is.

While it’s natural for us to be a little self-focused at times, consistently self-centered behavior can be a sign that someone isn’t a good person.

Psychology tells us that this trait is often associated with narcissism – a personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and a lack of empathy for others.

So, if you’re dealing with someone who can’t seem to step outside their own self-interest, you might want to tread carefully. You may be dealing with someone who isn’t as good-hearted as they seem on the surface.

2) They lack empathy

Ever had an encounter with someone who just didn’t seem to “get” your feelings?

I remember once sharing a heart-wrenching story about my dog being seriously ill with a friend. Rather than expressing any kind of sympathy, they immediately diverted the conversation towards their upcoming vacation. I felt unheard and dismissed.

Empathy, or the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a fundamental aspect of humanity. A lack of it can be a strong indicator that someone isn’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Psychology suggests that people who struggle with empathy often have difficulty forming meaningful connections with others. They’re often preoccupied with their own experiences and fail to understand others’ perspectives.

3) They’re a master of manipulation

Picture this.

You’re with someone who always manages to twist conversations, situations and even your feelings to suit their own agenda. Suddenly, you’re apologizing when you’re not even sure why, or you find yourself doing things you don’t want to do, just to keep the peace.

Manipulation is a tricky business. It’s subtle, it’s deceiving, and it’s often disguised as concern or love. But make no mistake about it – it’s far from either.

Psychology warns us about manipulative individuals. They can drain your emotional energy, leave you feeling confused and doubting yourself, and ultimately have a negative impact on your mental health.

After all, a good person respects others’ autonomy and doesn’t use manipulative tactics to control or influence them. 

4) They’re not accountable for their actions

Ever been around someone who never seems to take responsibility for their mistakes?

They always have an excuse at the ready, or worse, they find a way to shift the blame onto someone else. It’s never their fault.

Accountability is a significant aspect of character. It shows maturity, honesty, and the ability to self-reflect and grow from our mistakes.

Turns out that those who consistently avoid responsibility often have an underlying fear of failure or a deep-seated need to always appear perfect.

If you’re dealing with someone who can’t own up to their actions, it might be a glaring sign that they’re not as good a person as they present themselves to be.

5) They are constantly negative

Ever noticed how some people can find the cloud in every silver lining?

They’re always complaining, criticizing, or just generally spreading negativity. In their world, the glass isn’t just half empty; it’s shattered on the floor.

Interestingly, research in psychology has linked chronic negativity to lower life satisfaction and higher rates of depression. A positive outlook, on the other hand, is associated with better health, longer life, and happier relationships.

A constant Negative Nancy might not just be a downer; they might not be a good person at heart. It’s worth considering whether their persistent pessimism is just a bad habit or a sign of a deeper issue.

6) They are dismissive of your feelings

A good friend of mine once confided in me about her struggles with anxiety. Rather than offering support, the person she was dating at the time responded with, “Oh, everyone gets stressed. Just relax.”

Being dismissive of someone’s feelings, especially when they open up about their struggles, is a sign of a serious lack of empathy and compassion.

We all go through tough times and experience moments of vulnerability. In those times, what we need most is someone who listens, understands, and validates our feelings – not someone who brushes them off as if they don’t matter.

After all, dismissing another person’s feelings can cause emotional harm and damage relationships.

A good person is one who respects your feelings and offers a shoulder to lean on when times get tough. If someone can’t do that for you, they might not be as good as they seem.

7) They don’t respect boundaries

You’ve set your limits. You’ve made it clear what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not. Yet, this person keeps crossing the line, disrespecting your boundaries, and making you feel uneasy.

Boundary violations are a significant red flag. They indicate a lack of respect for your personal space and autonomy.

Psychology underscores that respecting boundaries is a fundamental aspect of healthy relationships. It shows consideration for others’ feelings, needs, and comfort levels.

If someone continually disregards your boundaries, it’s more than just annoying – it’s a sign they might not be a genuinely good person.

The takeaway

Recognizing these signs in someone can be unsettling. 

Understanding these behaviors not only helps you protect your emotional well-being but also guides you in making informed decisions about who you surround yourself with.

It’s important to remember that we all have the capacity for change. People can and do grow, but they must recognize the need for it themselves. It’s not your responsibility to fix or change anyone.

In dealing with such individuals, protect your boundaries, prioritize your mental health, and don’t be afraid to distance yourself when necessary.

Finally, keep in mind that we are all human. We have our strengths and weaknesses. Nobody is perfect. Look for the good in people, but also be aware of these red flags.

Because at the end of the day, real goodness comes from respect, empathy, and kindness – qualities that enrich our lives and the lives of others around us.

Picture of Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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