11 red flags you’re dealing with a toxic person

All human relationships can be complicated at times. The truth is that no one is perfect.

This means that most of us are capable of behaving in slightly toxic ways from time to time.

This is especially true when we don’t get what we want, feel hurt, or feel threatened in some way.

But for other people, this behavior becomes very common.

How do you know you are dealing with a toxic person?

Here are red flags to watch out for…

1) They say harsh and cruel things
Most of us know by now that words can definitely hurt – a lot!

Verbal abuse is still a form of abuse. Because in many ways words can be really violent.

While we are all capable of being hurt by our words sometimes, pay attention if someone becomes a habit because of it.

If they are constantly attacking you, putting you down, or blaming you, this is unacceptable behavior.

Sometimes those comments or insults may be hidden.

For example, they may use humor as a mask. They could indicate that they are just joking or that you should be “less nervous.”

However, their mockery continues. And being made the butt of their jokes still hurts.

2) They fly off the handle a lot, and over the smallest things
This is a sign of anger issues.

Being easily upset and extending into aggression indicates that they are struggling to control their temper.

Instead of accepting and controlling their own feelings, they may seek to shift blame.

For example, it is almost always someone else who has “made them mad” or unfair circumstances or events that have “hurt” them.

Their reaction is often disproportionate to the stimulus.

It doesn’t need to be shouted either.

Frowning, ignoring someone, and giving the silent treatment are still forms of aggression, but they are more passive.

If someone feels moody or angry all the time, this is a sign of toxic behavior.

3) You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them
When someone seems prone to unreasonable behavior or temper tantrums, you may notice that you adjust your behavior to accommodate them.

It is impossible to be yourself.

Suddenly, you find yourself second guessing and overthinking everything you say and do.

You’re worried about upsetting them or alienating them.

You may avoid confronting them with problems and issues because it is not worth the repercussions.

This can create a lot of tension and stress. You feel like you are walking on eggshells.

4) They feel jealous, overprotective, or envious of you

Jealousy can manifest in different ways within different relationships.

In romantic relationships, this may manifest as habitual jealousy. Your partner seems very vigilant in “protecting” you from the attention of others.

We’re all capable of falling foul of the little green-eyed monster sometimes, but this is so much more than that. Doubt and mistrust eat away at your communication.

This may lead to overprotective, accusatory, or even controlling behavior.

In friendships, jealousy can also be present, but it may look a little different. They may envy you, whether it’s what you have or what you achieve.

This may lead to bitter behavior, or neglect in an attempt to appease their resentment.

5) They play mind games to gain power over you
Of course, another word for mind games is emotional manipulation.

The goal of the game is to try to use your emotions against you.

In this way, the other person seeks to subtly control you and make you behave the way he wants.

Mind games can include everything from the classic dating tactic of “playing hard to get” to more extreme forms of manipulation.

Things like:

  • Mind manipulation
  • Withholding certain things to try to punish you (such as affection or sex)
  • Trying to make you feel small or unimportant
  • Trying to make you jealous
  • Playing on your insecurities
  • Trying to make you feel guilty or make you feel bad

6) They are coercive and controlling
When toxic traits and mind games worsen, their intensity can increase.

When a toxic relationship turns into a very bad relationship, someone may seek to completely control you.

Along with emotional manipulation, they may try to take charge of certain aspects of your life.

For example, they may try to control your money, who you can and cannot see, or what you wear.

There may be explicit or implicit rules that you are expected to follow.

The consequences of breaking these things make you feel threatened.

Not necessarily violence, perhaps simply that the other person will leave your life if you do not adhere to their unreasonable terms.

7) They are very needy and clingy
Often times, we expect controlling behavior to appear aggressive. So when it doesn’t happen, it can fly under the radar.

Because in order to be in control, we mistakenly believe that someone needs to have the upper hand through force.

But the truth is that the victim can be as controlling and manipulative as angry or violent.

If someone is clingy and clingy, this is toxic behavior.

They may make you feel responsible for their entire well-being. This is a big burden to carry.

One of my ex-boyfriends had an ex-girlfriend who would threaten violence against herself as a way to maintain control over him.

And it worked.

Before breaking free from this toxic person, he had slowly isolated himself from friends and family and given up most of his own interests.

Her clinginess made him feel guilty about having any independence at all.

The moral of the story is that control and coercion come in many forms.

8) They are always looking for attention
Anyone who has been caught up in the endless drama of a toxic person will know how exhausting it can get.

We might wonder why anyone would intentionally create drama. But for a toxic person, drama and stress can also translate into excitement.

Sometimes people feed off of negative energy as much as positive energy.

In an attempt to create buzz and buzz around themselves, they may use a constant stream of attention-getting strategies:

  • Being deliberately provoked
  • Fishing for compliments and praise
  • Exaggerating or making things up
  • Always look for empathy and compassion

9) Everything is your fault and they are just the poor victim
When someone is stuck in the victim role, it is a sign that they are a toxic person.

They are unwilling or unable to evaluate their role in things, as well as their ability to change.

Unfortunately, this may mean that they have so little self-awareness that they are unable to take responsibility.

As the saying goes, it takes two to tango.

no one is perfect. So, if someone acts like they’ve never done anything wrong, that’s a big red flag.

No matter the conflict or disagreement, they are always 100% convinced that it is all your fault.

They never say sorry or apologize, but you have to do it consistently so they can get back into their good books.

10) You feel like you are talking to a brick wall
Often times, before I confront someone about something, I like to save myself some trouble by asking:

Will they be able to hear me?

What I mean by that is will they be able to absorb and think about what I’m telling them?

Because the unfortunate truth is that no matter how rational you are, how valid your point of view is, or how carefully you present it – some people just don’t seem to be able to listen.

Sure, they might hear the words. But it doesn’t sink.

In most cases, it’s not really about listening, it’s about being self-aware again.

Because when someone has zero self-awareness, talking to them about problems can feel like a waste of your breath.

It goes in one ear and out the other.

Their protective ego that seeks to defend them is so fragile, it is unable to receive any feedback at all, no matter how well-intentioned.

11) You feel bad about yourself when you’re around them

Here is the need:

No one is responsible for our feelings. They are ours and ours alone.

But there’s no denying that the company you keep can lift you up or drag you down.

Being in an ocean of constant negativity is a real drain on your energy reserves.

What’s more, if they regularly criticize or berate you, it’s no wonder it leaves you feeling frustrated.

Regardless of whether someone is completely toxic or not, we should pay attention to how we feel around them.

If spending time with someone makes you feel bad, it’s wise to look for ways to protect yourself.

Your gut is often a good guide to whether someone is a bit of a toxic person and you should stay away from them.