No one is exempt from dealing with toxic people in life. You’ve probably had your share of dodging poisonous darts from them. Often, these toxic personalities project anger on others and make you feel like you’re in a war zone.
For some strange reason, people who have difficult personalities are often drawn to more level-headed folks. While it may not be their intention, they often seek kind, patient, and a bit passive individuals. Have you ever had someone in your life that kept you on edge all the time, and you could never please them?
The Classic Blame Game
Somewhere down the line, difficult personalities have learned what personality types will give into their tyranny. According to an article published by StatPearls, narcissistic personalities will often exploit others for their own gain. They lack empathy and often try to shift the blame to other folks.
If you’re in a toxic relationship with a friend, relative, or lover, do they project anger on you? Instead of owning up to their mistakes and shortcomings, they mask their feelings and shift the blame to you. You may hear, “You’re the one with the problem,” or “I can’t say anything because you always take it the wrong way.”
Consequently, you’re constantly walking on eggshells and repressing your feelings to avoid more abuse. When you discover how these toxic people tick, you realize that “they” are the problem, not you. You’re not “taking it the wrong way” when you confront them for using abusive words and actions.
Seven Ways To Recognize Toxic Behaviors
Narcissistic personalities have many subtle tactics they use to manipulate and project anger on people they supposedly love. Knowing their game plan in advance can minimize your risk of being tangled in their web and abuse. Here are seven red flags for you to observe.
1. They’re Master Manipulators
The old saying is that it takes two to tango, but why do you feel like dancing alone? Maybe your toxic mate acts as if they are doing you a favor by just being with you. The whole time they are abusing and taking advantage of you, but they want you to believe they have your best interest at heart.
Is your partner or one of your coworkers constantly pushing things off on you? For example: “I decided to put the checking account in my name only because I know you hate bookwork,” or “The boss asked if I wanted to work this weekend, but I suggested you because you might need the extra money.”
See how the subtle wording makes them look like the generous ones? It’s as if you owe them for their twisted kindness. Regardless, if it’s a personal or professional relationship, you don’t owe anyone for their selfishness.
2. Will the Real Partner Please Stand?
We all have those crummy days where you wish you would have stayed in bed. Sickness, exhaustion, or frustration can dampen your moods quickly, and you may snap at your partner. However, most people recognize their grumpiness and apologize.
You have general expectations that your partner or coworker’s personality will be level from day to day. If you never know what personality you’ll encounter, your relationship may be toxic. It’s stressful to be around someone on an emotional roller coaster, who is loving one moment and hateful the next.
These “guess who I am today” games are another way of manipulating people. Toxic people often have repressed emotions, so they often project anger on others. Anger is one of the easiest emotions to show, and it can mask fear and self-loathing.
3. They Won’t Apologize
Since narcissistic personalities often have skewed perceptions, they won’t own their mistakes and shortcomings. Not only is apologizing beneath their dignity, but they chronically blame others for problems in their life. If you have one of these people in your life, you’ll always see the finger pointed your way.
Someone who loves you and cares for your well-being will admit to their faults and apologize. They are abusive when they are constantly throwing you under the bus. You don’t have to be anybody’s scapegoat.
4. What They Say and What They Mean are Opposite
How you say, something is just as important in what you say. Your brain learns at an early age how to catch subtle cues and nuances in spoken words. The words in your partner’s sentences may be benign, but how it’s said may signal a darker nuance.
For example, “Did you have fun going to the movies with your friends?” It sounds innocent enough. However, facial expressions and sarcasm in the voice mean, “I don’t like you going out with your friends, and you should never have fun without me.”
These thinly veiled comments often project anger and are a sign of passive aggression. According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, passive-aggressive people usually mask their true feelings by being hostile, cynical, or surly.
Occasionally, these difficult personalities may offer you a compliment, but it will only be the backhanded kind. “Your hair looks great today! Those gray roots were probably driving you crazy, “or “You did an amazing job on that report. I didn’t think you could do it.” What may have started as a compliment ended up as a verbal slap in the face.
They can also play the martyr and twist your words as if you’re insulting them. For example, you may say, “You look nice today,” and may get a retort of, “What are you saying that I usually don’t look good?” They’re using their insecurities against you.
If a personal or professional relationship is healthy, then both people can express happiness for the other. They won’t be petty, jealous, or hostile, as those are the attributes of a toxic relationship.
Perhaps you hear this phrase all too often in conversations with a toxic person: “Yeah, but…” No matter the good news or how thrilled you’re, they dump the wet blanket on you. Here are some examples:
•“I passed my exams!” “Yeah, but you have more to pass.”
•“I got a raise today at work!” “Yeah, but you still don’t make enough money.”
It’s hard to be positive when someone always has a negative retort. If your person can’t share in your joy, it may be time to make your exit. It’s better to be joyfully single than in a miserable relationship.
6. They’re A Classic Gaslighter
In a classic Hollywood film, an abusive husband attempted to make his wife doubt her sanity. He turned on the gaslights in the house to make her believe that she forgot them. So, the whole twisted tactic of manipulating someone into doubting themselves is named for the film “Gaslight.”
Perhaps your toxic person doesn’t go to those extremes but getting you to doubt yourself is still gaslighting. After they shift blame to you for something, do they fake concern about your mentality and abilities? Maybe they do it in front of people to make themselves appear as the doting partner and you the unstable one.
Anybody who claims to love you would try to build you up instead of making you feel inadequate. They should be the rock you lean on, not the boulder that flattens your self-esteem. This narcissistic personality may project anger and their own insecurities on you.
7. They Keep Score
Since nobody is perfect, you’re bound to make your share of mistakes. It can be things you did or should have done. Sometimes, you will make mistakes that you didn’t realize until somebody brings them to your attention.
Either way, everyone messes up sometimes and needs to apologize. A narcissistic personality thrives on hearing you say you’re sorry, even if it’s not your fault. They may pretend to forgive, but they keep score and store these incidents up for ammunition.
Remember that anything can and will be held against you at the abuser’s convenience. They are especially fond of bringing up past transgressions when you call them out on theirs. They will often exaggerate one of your mistakes so much that you end up apologizing again.
After this clever switch, your toxic mate is out of the hot seat, and you remain the guilty party. This emotional blackmail is not only unfair, but it’s abuse. Keeping score is just another way narcissistic personalities abuse people in their lives.
Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t give your partner the right to use you as a dartboard. Verbal and emotional abuse is just as serious and hurtful as physical cruelty. When you’re familiar with these red flags, you may identify these people before starting an abusive relationship.