We have all been toxic at some point in our lives. So, this isn’t a holier than thou. However, some people are defined by toxicity. It’s one thing to be selfish or to lie from time to time. Then, at what point do people become so toxic that you need to avoid them or else limit your time around them?
My answer is that a toxic person is defined not just by having any number of these traits but by how often they demonstrate these traits. In other words, it’s one thing to lie. It’s quite another to lie to the point that people have learned not to trust that person. We might become a drama queen/king from time to time, but what about the person who is defined by being a drama queen/king. When you see this person coming, your butt cheeks clinch.
For toxic people, these traits are not just a flaw they demonstrated from time to time. These traits become the very core of their personality.
So let’s take a look at some of the main characteristics of a toxic person.
Again, we’ve all been guilty of this one. However, what about the people who are defined by their selfishness? These are the people who take and hardly ever give back. If they do, there is usually an ulterior motive.
They drain you emotionally with their incessant neediness.
Toxic people that are selfish think only about themselves, hence why they are selfish. They don’t care about your life and your priorities. Their primary concern and focus is on having their environment revolve around them, with very little regard for how it impacts on those around them.
2. Mean to other people
There are times when we don’t handle a situation well which paints us in a negative light. However, some people are just downright mean-spirited.
Watch out for people who are like that to cashiers, waiters/waitresses, and other people in service positions. They get their jollies from goading people who are not in a position to fight back. This is a real problem and one that only tends to get worse in the long term.
You want to be around people who treat you with respect and decency. This is why, if you see someone who is deliberately mean to people, you may want to avoid all of that.
At the end of the day, being nice can create meaningful relationships, and it also shows your true human nature. If you see that someone is continually mean, you might want to consider what they bring to your life and avoid them as much as possible.
3. Addicted to drama
Wow, can I drone on about this one! My first “real” job was with the federal government. I had no idea what I was getting into.
Long story short, I learned the hard way that some people just don’t care about solutions. That’s no fun. It’s more fun to instigate and agitate a problem. The smaller the problem, the more fun it is to blow it out of proportion. Needless to say, I left this job. I get into more detail in the Toxic People Detox Podcast.
Drama queens/kings thrive on negativity and drama. The primary strength of toxic people comes from bringing trouble into the life of other people. They see it all around them, they focus on this negativity, and they bring it with them everywhere they go.
They won’t offer you any help or appreciation, they’ll most likely be one of the first people to diminish who you are and point out the negatives in the situation.
4. Don’t appreciate others
It’s nice to be around people who appreciate you and appreciate the things you do for others. Some toxic people, on the other hand, want to demolish and to destroy a person. They don’t have the capability to appreciate other people. Appreciating other people magnifies the toxic person’s flaws. God forbid! We can’t acknoledge that someone can bring something into our lives that we can’t bring in ourselves. That’s crazy talk!
If you’re around someone who is constantly diminishing what you do and who you are, instead of appreciating you for who you are, then it’s time to start looking at how you can reduce your exposure to them. The emotional cost of having them around oftentimes far outweighs any benefits they might bring.
5. See themselves as the victim
Sure, bad things will happen during our life, and we have to deal with them. But going through these difficult times, and playing the victim in every situation, are two different things.
Toxic people tend to victimize themselves more often than not. Even if it’s not true at all times, they bring up things in their life and play that victim card as if the entire world is against them. Since they tend to feel like the victim, they are more focused on what is meaningful to them, and they don’t care about anything else.
This is the type of person you want to limit your exposure to. After all, eventually they will find a way to point the finger at you for their ills.
6. Constantly lying
Do you have a feeling with certain people that they might not be telling you the truth? Not just with a few things here and there, but with most things they tell you? You just have that feeling like you don’t really believe them, and that they’re probably lying. Well, then there’s a good chance you’re dealing with the perpetual liar.
They are always focused on the idea that they can quickly alter the truth in order to make things better for themselves. But they don’t just alter the truth a little bit. Instead, they do a good job at reinventing the truth, pursuing ideas that they feel are true even if they are a lie. They don’t see the flaws within their personality either, instead, they focus on discrediting others, and that can be a very bad thing for you if you’re associating with them.
Do you notice how some people are always in the middle of everything? Even if it has nothing to do with them, they want to get involved and get into the middle of the situation.
They are a lot like drama queens/kings. There are definitely some share traits. So, what’s the difference? Not all drama queens/kings want to be the center of attention. Many of them are content to quietly sit on the sidelines enjoying the chaos they cause.
Attention-seekers may or may not necessarily want chaos. They just want all eyes on them. They just want to be the center of attention. They crave it. They thrive on it. They don’t have much regard for how they can help others or what they can do for others in those situations, they just want everybody to pour their attention onto them.
This is not an exhaustive list of trait of course. This is a foundation for seeing people’s toxicity before they dig their hooks into you.
What about people you genuinely love who are toxic to you?
I will address that in “Dealing With Toxic People…Family Ties.”