Toxic people can seem inescapable. Drama follows them everywhere, and the more players they can draw to their stage, the more satisfying it is to their ego. You dread working with or meeting them at social events. They never stop talking about either their issues or their accomplishments. They’re never happy, never satisfied, and always critical.
If you find that you feel emotionally drained, mentally exhausted, or see yourself as a complete failure, you may be in the dragnet of a toxic relationship. If you have made all the sacrifices to keep the peace or right the unrightable wrongs, all to no avail, it’s time to take an honest look at what’s motivating you and the unhappy object of your attention.
How can you recognize the influence of toxic people in your life? How can you know when it’s time to accept not only that you will never be able to meet this person’s demands, but that you are losing the best part of yourself in the effort? Here are some sure signs of a toxic personality.
1. Expert Manipulation
Toxic people know how to twist a conversation or situation until their thoughts and desires are the only ones that matter. They always force you to be on the defensive, needing to prove yourself to stay in their good graces.
Manipulators will keep you under their control by pointing out all your weaknesses and mistakes. They will make you a mental and emotional slave. You may begin to feel dependent on them for your own identity and worth. If someone immediately comes to mind when you read this, take every step possible to separate yourself. Remove toxic people and their influence for the sake of your own well being and future happiness.
2. They never stop talking…
Quick, dive into the first dark room or run the opposite direction. Because once this person starts talking, they will never stop. Never. They don’t want a conversation. If you start to say something, they will just interrupt you and carry on.
If you are by nature a good listener, they will call you their best friend, seek your company, and monopolize as much of your time as possible with a completely self-centered monologue. They will drain all your sympathy, empathy, and patience. They will expect you to be available at all times and lay a heavy burden of guilt on you if you’re not.
Don’t let them. At some point, you will need to set limits and enforce them, even at the risk of hurt feelings. Make sure they know you have other responsibilities and relationships to which you desire to give your attention. They may not take your advice seriously. They may speak negatively about you. But they must respect your space. Be nice, yet stick to your resolve. The truth will, eventually, speak for itself.
3. The No-Fault Clause
We all know at least one. No matter what happens, it’s not his or her fault. You may find yourself making excuses for this person’s rude, self-aggrandizing behavior. They will always be saying, “If he hadn’t done…” or “If she hadn’t said…” then everything would have gone as they thought it should.
If you are the one closest to this person, you can become the object of blame. You can quickly become the reason for every unacceptable outcome in this toxic person’s life. There does not need to be any logic in their reasoning. The no-fault clause allows them to argue with people in authority or blame any handy scapegoat (like you), even if you were nowhere around at the time.
It can be difficult, but you need to set boundaries with these toxic people. Try to keep evidence to support the truth, and have a witness when you confront this person. Protect yourself from verbal and emotional abuse by removing yourself from their influence.
4. The Jealous Judge
This toxic personality is often motivated by their own self-loathing. The only way to justify their own lack of self-worth is to destroy the self-worth of others. And so this person will often be the office gossip, the universal critic in any group.
This person never seems to receive the attention or loyalty they should. They always see people enjoying each other as proof of disapproval of themselves. They will demand caring and support, but they will never give it in return. Don’t expect this person to show any interest in what interests you.
Remove toxic people like this from influential places in your life. You may need to step back and remember that your value does not come from the attention or acceptance of just one person. Give your encouragement to the ones who will appreciate it and it will often be reciprocated.
5. The Eternal Victim
These toxic people have never been wrong, just misunderstood. They have the worst luck. If you’re sick, they’re sicker. If you’re tired, they’re exhausted. Trying to have a conversation with a self-proclaimed victim is a never-ending competition for the lowest place in life.
The eternal victim will always be unjustly treated and left out of the fun. They are always in pain and always depressed. Their issues are often common ones, but they’re handled with self-pity and blame-shifting. And the person who is closest to them often carries the greatest guilt.
If you know someone who blames you for every negative thing in their life, remember this: No one is always wrong or always right. A mixture of good and bad outcomes is a part of life. Don’t let anyone convince you to take the blame for all their ills. Life is often what we make it, and you have the power to remove toxic people and be happy.
6. The Pathological Liar
There are some people who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them on the lip, so to speak. They create their own reality, depending on whom they hope to influence or what they want to acquire. Just because you’re family or care about them doesn’t mean they won’t lie to you.
It can be devastating to discover that the person you gifted with your trust has lied to you or about you. You’ll need to remove yourself from the influence of this person before they draw you into a dangerous web of deception. It may not be possible to make this person accept the truth. Some liars can be very dangerous to your well-being. Do whatever is necessary to remove this person from your life.
7. Always Needy
This poor person just can’t seem to stand on their own two feet. They need someone to fix them, feel sorry for them, and support them in all their efforts. They need you to be their caretaker, parent figure, and cheerleader.
No matter how much you may try to encourage, teach, or challenge these toxic people, they never seem to have the emotional fortitude to make it on their own. They seem to thrive on drama and complain about every possible negative outcome.
Don’t be drawn into becoming this person’s sole support. You can become exhausted by trying to meet their needs. Set limits that will allow you to live your own life, not just help them live theirs.
8. Unyielding Pessimist
This person is lucky if their glass is even half full, and they have no trouble draining yours. They are only too glad to moan over all the worst possible outcomes. The more dire the future loss and mayhem, the more they seem to glory in it.
The person is like Winnie the Pooh’s friend, Eeyore. “It won’t work …” They are professional pity-mongers. They soak up sympathy and beg for more. Before long you’re ready to give in to the idea that life is hopeless. It may be a better idea to just say something nice and positive and then move on … quickly.
9. The Narcissist
These toxic people are superior to all others and must have complete control at all times. Everything, everyone, all actions, words, and even thoughts must be manipulated for their personal ends. They sometimes form a clique of like-minded people and enjoy tormenting anyone outside their influence.
A narcissistic personality will quickly squash any opposing ideas or suggestions. They are always right and you are always wrong. They love to argue every point until they have exhausted and vanquished the enemy. Obviously, this person is not capable of a normal relationship. Don’t let them define your value or your talents. You can be perfectly wonderful without them.
10. The Bully
Some of the above toxic people have the potential to become aggressive bullies. A bully will not hesitate to mentally, emotionally, and even physically abuse you in order to get their way. As soon as you recognize that you have become entangled in an abusive relationship, begin to take steps to separate yourself.
Don’t try to do it alone. You may need help from family, friends, and even legal authorities to free yourself. Remaining in a relationship with an abusive person is toxic both to yourself and those who care about you or are under your care.
It’s never too late to remove toxic people from your life and destiny. You can set boundaries, seek positive relationships, and refuse to stoop to their level. Don’t let rude, manipulative, and degrading people consume your time and energy. You can free yourself and find peace of mind and enjoyment with those who truly care about you. You can have a wonderful, wholesome, positive life.