How to Spot a Toxic Person

Have you ever wondered how to spot a toxic person?

Perhaps you’ve noticed the signs of toxic people already without even realizing it.  Do you have a person, or people, in your life that causes you untold worlds of stress?   Draining, non-supportive people who bring chaos in to your world?  These people can be quite difficult to deal with because they defy logic.  They are blissfully unaware of the negative impact they have on others.

Toxic people create unnecessary complexity, strife, chaos, and worst of all – stress.  Stress can have a long lasting and negative impact on the brain, emotional  and physical health, and not to mention on your relationships, too.  Read more about how stress affects your relationships here.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friederich Schiller University in Germany found that when you expose a subject’s brain to stimuli that causes strong negative emotions it caused the subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response – such as the same kind of response you have when dealing with toxic people.

Conclusion – toxic people create a stress response in your brain that should be avoided at all costs.

signs toxic person

Signs of a Toxic Person

Pessimists.  They spread negativity everywhere.  Example:  A work colleague that constantly complains without offering a solution.

Drama!  No matter who they are with or where they go the drama follows them everywhere.  Once you solve one problem another one crops up.  And all problems, whether big or small, are catastrophic in nature.  All problems require maximum coddling from others.  Oh and woe betide anyone who tries to offer a solution…..

They have a problem for every solution!

Someone who cheerfully upsets those around them while they seem quite happy to have done so.

Complainers and Blamers.  They turn things around so that the wrong they have done is suddenly YOUR fault and not theirs.

Energy suckers.  You spend a lot of time and emotional strength trying to cheer them up.

They force relationships upon you.  Often you’ll notice that a toxic person will exaggerate an existing relationship or force feelings.    Let’s say they make a positive connection with someone – suddenly this person is their soul mate or their BFF.  You’ll find evidence of the relationship everywhere because it validates them.   You know that girl you just met last night at your friend’s dinner party, the one you had a superficial 10 minute conversation with about red wine?  Yeah, her.  She changed her Facebook status to “In a relationship” and is currently looking on Pinterest for wedding ideas.  See what I mean?

They talk more than they listen.  Toxic individuals often have narcissistic tendencies so they are more comfortable talking about themselves rather than listening to you.

Liars – self explanatory, right?   Compulsive liars benefit in some way from their lies, always.  They will often lie when it’s easier to tell the truth.

Controlling behavior.  Toxic individuals like to control the conversation, their environment, and even their partners.  They will exert pressure upon you or require you act or feel a certain way.  And sometimes they withhold something you need, like love, in order to force you to fall in line with their control.

Gossip.  Toxic people love to talk about others because it brings them down while elevating the toxic person’s image.  This demonstrates the poor self esteem common among toxic individuals.

signs of a toxic person

You know you’ve dealt with a toxic person because after dealing with them you feel mentally and emotionally drained and tired or sad/blue/depressed because you are now the proud owner of all of their negativity and toxicity.

Not all toxic individuals will exhibit all of these signs but if you see someone with more than a couple of these traits you might want to reevaluate your friendship.

Got toxic people in your life?  Book a relationship coaching session today to learn how to deal with them!

JoyWork Suggestion:  Journal about these toxic signs and see if anyone in your life is exhibiting this behavior.  Let me know how you’re doing on the Accelerated JoyWorks Facebook page or in the comments below.

Leave me a comment below if you have any thoughts or questions.  You can also let me know if you have a subject you would like me to address in the next article.  Feel free to share this article with your friends and family or anyone whom you think might benefit.

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20 thoughts on “How to Spot a Toxic Person

  1. I was always aware that I had toxic people in my life, but I was stubborn and did not want to let them go or distance myself from them. I’m a very sentimental person and I think I get attached to things easily. I had friendships that I knew were toxic for me but I refused to let them go because I thought “well, they are my friends” or “I have known them since I was a child, I can’t let them go”. But the funny thing is, the universe has it’s own way. Eventually, these people abandoned me instead. Nowadays, I have learnt to let go when friendships or relationships no longer serve me. There is no point forcing it in the end, right?

    • Right you are Jojo. You should never need to force love. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with toxic people in your life. It sounds like you’ve got a handle on things now, though. I’m so glad.

  2. I’ve gone through a lot of ‘friends’ in my life time that act like my friend but they start drama or use me in a way and I have to get rid of them. But as I’ve gotten older I can since if a person is toxic the moment that I first meet them.

    • I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through that, Luci. It’s a good thing though that you’ve learned to recognize the toxic behavior.

  3. I was just talking about this with a friend on Facebook! There are a few toxic people in my life, unfortunately, one is a family member, that I really need to cut out of my life. I’m noticing just how having them around me is affecting my life negatively.

    • I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this right now. Have you considered setting boundaries with this family member?

  4. This is exactly what I needed. I tend to make excuses for people, but I definitely need to be careful not to surround myself with these personalities. It can be so draining and depressing. You perfectly captured the traits of these individuals and gave me a few new ones to think about.

    • I’m so glad to be of assistance, Kate. We do very often make excuses for toxic people because it’s easier than setting boundaries and continuously reinforcing the boundary every time it’s crossed. Have you tried setting some boundaries?

  5. I’ve dealt with too many toxic people in my life, and even married one! I learned the hard way unfortunately..and now I try to stay far away from them.

  6. Yes! My friend and i are only in our 20s and we have deleted numbers in our phones. She deleted fb. I deleted fb friends. We gave gotton sick of other moms bringing drama when kids are enough drama in our lives. When we do play dates we want to leave encouraged not drained.

    • I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with such toxicity; however, it’s wonderful that you were able to handle it in such a decisive and positive way.

  7. Hmm… what is difficult is if the toxic people are your relatives! I’ve had to get rid of a few toxic people in my life, never regretted it, but when they are in your family it is so hard to deal with. Especially the constant negativity, its exhausting.

    • That truly is exhausting Annie! The thing that I’ve found that works with family is continually setting and reinforcing boundaries. Everyone has boundaries, big and small, so setting them and reinforcing them sends a quiet but powerful message. Have you read the article on Setting Boundaries in Relationships? I’ll link it here for you.

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