20 Signs You're An Extremely Toxic Person & Are Difficult To Be Around

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toxic woman

There is nothing worse than being forced to deal with a toxic person against your will. When you think about the word "toxic," associated words like "poison" can come up.

Toxic people are harmful to everyone they are around and the places they frequent. The mere presence of a toxic person in your life can be devastating!

What does it mean to be toxic?

A person that has been labeled as "toxic" exhibits bad behaviors that hurt others or impact them negatively. They are good at manipulating people for their own self-interests.

Many people who behave in a toxic way have experienced trauma themselves or been exposed to a toxic relationship. Instead of addressing their issues in a healthy manner, they start showing toxic traits.

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Toxic people don’t know how to deal with the internal stress in a normal and functional way, so they become unpleasant, inflicting the pain they have been subjected to onto others.

You will know when you’ve encountered a toxic person because you will leave feeling worse than you did upon arrival. But there is a difference between being toxic and having toxic behaviors.

Toxic people in your life, such as family members and friends, can do extreme damage to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Spending time in long-term relationships with them can cause you to act out the same behaviors.

20 Signs You’re A Toxic Person

Sometimes, you might not realize that you, yourself, are a toxic person. But just because you are toxic now doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.

Recognizing the signs of a toxic personality can help you overcome your own pitfalls and have healthy relationships.

1. You make people feel bad.

If you tend to leave people worse off than you found them, you might be toxic. If your actions frequently make others feel bad, the common denominator is you.

2. People avoid you at all costs.

No one wants to be around a person they cannot stand. If family and friends always make excuses when you invite them to places, you may be the problem.

3. You have a superiority complex.

If you believe you are the smartest person in every room you enter, you are likely toxic. People who are toxic have a need to be better than everyone else and carry a superiority complex everywhere they go.

4. You're controlling.

You see others are pawns, there to bend to your will. You believe you know what is best for everyone and are unwilling to hear any alternatives.

5. You're emotionally manipulative.

You like to use emotional blackmail to get your way. You might threaten to harm yourself or go away in an attempt to spur action from other people. This is toxicity at its finest.

6. You lack accountability.

You can be caught in the act of doing something absolutely egregious. Instead of admitting fault and apologizing, you play the blame game and deflect.

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7. You're passive-aggressive.

Passive-aggressiveness is a flashing neon sign when it comes to toxic people. You never say what you mean or mean what you say. It’s hard for people to know where they stand with you because you are two-faced.

8. You take no responsibility.

Everything in your life that goes wrong is blamed on an external force. You never take responsibility for your actions or learn from the mistakes of your past. Instead, you see life as unfair and yourself as the victim.

9. You talk behind people’s backs.

If you’ve ever heard someone say, “a listening ear is near a running mouth,” no doubt they have been exposed to the wrath of a toxic person. With no loyalty to anyone, toxic folks have no problem sharing your secrets with whoever will listen to them, no matter how damaging.

10. You exploit people’s vulnerability.

With toxic people, instead of showing genuine concern for those who are struggling, you look for ways to benefit from their pain. You might give a homeless person a dollar and post it on social media for likes.

11. You see kindness as weakness.

When dealing with a toxic person, no good deed goes unpunished. People’s kindness is taken as an indication of their lack of strength, and you will eagerly try and take advantage if an opportunity presents itself.

12. You enjoy embarrassing people.

Rather than pull someone aside for a private conversation, you discuss humiliating topics out in the open with the intent of looking good in front of an audience.

You might pretend to be joking, but hurting someone in public is no laughing matter. People see it for exactly what it is: toxic behavior.

13. You hold grudges forever.

When most people have disagreements, they can discuss it, come to an understanding, forgive and forget. But not you. Instead, you want the person who did you wrong to know you have no intentions of letting it go.

14. You take things personally.

You see everything as a personal attack on you. No one can give you constructive criticism for fear of the repercussions. When you feel slighted, you go on the attack, and nothing is off limits.

15. You're a hater.

Instead of celebrating the wins of people around you, you experience an intense jealousy. You downplay their successes of others to make them seem insignificant.

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16. You threaten people.

You make it extremely clear that anyone who crosses you will pay a steep price. You have no qualms about threatening anyone who gets in your way.

17. You're unwilling to compromise.

You run your life like a dictatorship where whatever you say goes. This should not be surprising as it coincides with your superiority complex and desire to control everything and everyone around you.

18. You're untrustworthy.

Disclosing things that are not yours to tell isn’t your only untrustworthy behavior. You bend with the wind, turning on people who thought you had their backs. You will throw anyone under the bus to save yourself.

19. You're super moody.

It’s hard to know how you will feel from one moment to the next. People may have playfully called you "bipolar" or said you are “all over the place” due to your lack of consistency in your behavior.

20. You love drama.

While others get emotionally drained from drama, it gives you energy. You love to whip up a tornado of anxiety and tension because that’s what you need to make your life exciting.

How to Stop Being Toxic

So, you’ve assessed yourself and decided that, much to your discontentment, you are toxic and need to do something about it. This is the most important part of overcoming toxicity, and there are steps you can take to change your ways.

First, understand that behavior can be adjusted. Simply being toxic doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means you need to be aware and take actions to do better.

Next, because you now understand exactly what actions make you toxic, practice new behaviors until they become a habit. It might be helpful to track interactions in a journal so you can reflect later.

Ask for the opinions of people you trust and accept their answers. They are the ones experiencing you and are best equipped to give feedback. Make sure you do not threaten or punish them for their transparency.

If you are still struggling to be a better person, reach out to a licensed mental health professional to get tools that can help you build beautiful relationships.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and the author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.