15 Traits of a Toxic Person & How To Deal with Them

Do you feel emotionally drained after interacting with someone in particular? Maybe a coworker, a family member or even your best friend?

If yes, you could be dealing with a toxic person.

toxic person arguing

Identifying toxic people and toxic personality traits can be challenging, however, noticing this harmful behavior is the first step to supporting yourself

In today’s post, you’ll learn what exactly a toxic person is, how to identify them, and how to deal with them in order to avoid being a victim of their destructive behaviors.

What is a toxic person?

A toxic person is one capable of causing conflicts in your life and affecting it in a negative way.

If you feel stress, discomfort and even emotional pain when interacting with a particular person, it’s most likely that you’re in the presence of a toxic person.

Although psychology doesn’t consider toxic behavior as a mental illness, sometimes, people can exhibit negative behaviors due to other existing mental health issues.

When there is no mental illness involved, it’s normal for a toxic person not to be able to face his/her own traumas and stress, which reinforces harmful behaviors.

How toxic people can Affect you

If you have toxic people in your life you’ll know that feelings of stress, anxiety and emotional pain can be very present.

If a toxic person is a close family member or someone you have to see on a regular basis you can be deeply affected which can lead to depression and other mental health issues.

In general toxic people can cause a lot of upset to your life which can make ex

15 traits of toxic people

How To Deal with Toxic People plus 15 Traits

Psychology makes a clear distinction between personality traits and behaviors, but there is a thin line between these two concepts:

Personality traits are innate characteristics, while behaviors are patterns learned along life.

For example, there are people who, due to genetic causes, tend to get stressed easily, which makes them irritable (a personality trait). But if these people learn techniques to manage stress – such as mindfulness – they can manage to develop a less irritable behavior.

To simplify things, we’ll walk through some of the common signs of a toxic person, even subtle ways their behavior can be problematic.

Take note and see if any of these toxic patterns are present in any of your relationships.

1. Toxic Positivity

When someone has toxic positivity, at first they may seem like they’re being positive, but in fact, their communication can make you feel bad.

Why is this?

Well, this so-called positive message is completely negative – you just may not notice this at first.

Medical News Today describes toxic positivity as…

“…an obsession with positive thinking. It is the belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences, even those that are profoundly tragic.”

Let me share a couple of examples.

  • Telling someone who’s suffered a tragic loss that “it could be worse”
  • Communicating that someone should look at the positive when they are grieving
  • Telling someone they should “put positivity out into the universe” instead of getting surgery for a cancer diagnosis (yep – this one has actually happened when I found out I had melanoma)

Being positive is important and I talk a lot about it in other articles on the blog, but there is a time to just be present with a situation so you can accept where you are and allow yourself to feel pain and grief.

This is part of the human experience and we don’t have to be positive all the time.

2. Toxic People Manipulate Others

A toxic person with manipulative traits may use other people to get what they want. This can include behaviors such as lying, distorting reality, exaggerating, verbal abuse and hiding important information.

Essentially this person manipulates a situation to benefit themselves.

3. They’re Eternally Pessimistic

A pessimistic person’s glass is always half empty. They look for the negative side of things always and don’t even realize they’re doing it. 

You’ll constantly see these people talking about how cruel and cold the world is. 

This personality trait can drain you and even wear off on you. 

4. They Aren’t Respectful

Toxic people can often be disrespectful which can be seen as rude and disingenuous. They can even take pleasure in touching people’s buttons in order to cause drama.

They often speak to others without displaying any kind of politeness. 

This may include:

  • Demanding things instead of politely asking
  • Continuously prying into conversations or situations without being invited
  • They don’t have the simple traits of a polite person

5. They’re Narcissistic

Narcissists only think about their own well-being and have a deep need for attention. They think their situations are more unique, more important and more deserving than others. 

They believe they’re always right and cannot stand the idea that other people contradict them. 

They’ll always try to give lessons on how to do things and disqualify those who don’t act as they want.

6. They Are Big Complainers

People who constantly complain tend to criticize everyone who crosses their path, always pointing out any negative aspects they see. 

In addition, even having the possibility of helping others, they don’t do it, but instead, criticize by promoting negativity.

7. They’re Envious

Envious people are very much focused on wanting what others have. They compare themselves and often feel inferior. 

This can result in judging others, never being happy for someone and often being happy when others struggle. 

8. A Toxic Person Loves To Gossip

Of course, people love to share news, however, when someone thrives on sharing other’s bad news and constantly gossiping about others this can be extremely toxic for anyone who has to listen.

You often have to remember too, that if someone is continuously gossiping about others, they are talking about you too. Make sure to steer clear and don’t share anything personal with them.

9. They Never Apologize

You might notice that the person who hurts you the most is also the person who never apologizes. They don’t apologize as they truly believe they are never wrong.

This can be hurtful and damaging to relationships, especially over time.

10. They Lack Empathy

By lacking empathy they never put themselves in someone else’s shoes to understand how a person might be feeling or dealing with a situation.

This can be a skill to hone and can be helpful in helping and loving others. 

11. They Never Ask How You Are

You know those friends or family members who know nothing about you? They only talk about themselves and never ask how you are doing. 

Well, this type of toxic person can be really damaging to any relationship.

We all want to feel loved, important, and special and if someone never shows interest in our lives this can hurt. 

12. They’re Verbally Abusive

From little digs that happen throughout the day to larger-scale verbal attacks, those who are verbally abusive can be just as toxic and demeaning as those who are physically abusive.

You might feel like you need to walk on eggshells around this person, yet no matter how hard you try they will always find something wrong with you.

Some examples: You didn’t make their coffee right, you spoke too loud, and you sneeze in a way that annoys them.

13. They Make You Feel Drained

You might not understand why but when you’re around certain people you feel completely drained of all energy.

If this is happening this is a definite sign that some toxic behavior is present.

This feeling of low energy can also leave you feeling anxious, and stressed and even a lead-up to seeing this person can feel heavy.

14. They Are Know It Alls

Some people are extremely smart and have deep life experience. I love to learn from these individuals and hear about these experiences. 

However, there are people out there who “know everything”, even about things they’ve never experienced.

Instead of listening to others’ experiences they’ll step in and communicate that they are correct (even when they aren’t).

15. They Hold Grudges

People who never forgive and hold onto grudges can be challenging to be around.

We aren’t all perfect and we make mistakes, but for someone to never forgive and hold onto the past can be harmful to any relationship.

How to Deal with Toxic People

woman looking worried

Even though having toxic people in your life is a huge personal challenge, the good news is there are solutions.

If you don’t have the necessary preparation or certain circumstances don’t allow it, dealing with a toxic person can be complicated. However, your own needs are imperative to looking after yourself.

If at this moment you find yourself in some type of toxic relationship, there are a few approaches you can take.

Watch out for red flags in advance

Making yourself aware in advance of someone’s behaviors can go a long way to helping you better manage future interactions.

It’s normal for people to express negative feelings at times, but this doesn’t mean they’re toxic people.

However, stay in tune with how this person makes you feel which could be a sign that they make be toxic for you.

Love Yourself First

Toxicity has levels and some people will be more toxic than others. Sometimes, you’ll meet people who, although they show toxic behaviors, could actually be manifesting some kind of emotional dependence on you.

When these people understand that they can get emotional stability from you – even if it’s hurting you – they will “stick” to you in any way possible. 

If you are a compassionate person and you want to help others, help them, but not at the risk of losing your own peace and emotional stability.

Avoid Unnecessary Conflict

Not all arguments are worth it, and while you may find it difficult to turn people down at times, think that dealing with a toxic person can be the equivalent of trying to reason with a toddler.

Ask yourself if you really want to get into an argument that you could very well avoid. If the problem is situational, it could be resolved over time without major complications.

Try to make it a habit of saying no to situations you don’t feel comfortable with, and you’ll see that this will help you feel better about yourself over time.

Set Boundaries

Consider what things you can and cannot tolerate, and set boundaries based on that. Once these limits are established, whenever you find yourself in a toxic interaction, clearly indicate what your limits are.

For example, you may not have a problem listening to complaints from people close to you, but you shouldn’t tolerate insults and obscene words.

Related: 10 Ways To Stop Being a People Pleaser

Encourage seeking professional help

If there is a toxic person in your life that is deeply affecting your happiness I encourage you to seek professional help. 

We can’t control how another person behaves, but we can have a level of control over how we act and react to them.

A professional (social worker or therapist) can give you the tools and support to help you deal with a toxic relationship.

Sometimes You Need To Let Go of Negative People

This is a hard one, but sometimes you just need to let go of toxic, negative people.

The negative impact they have on you just isn’t worth it.

You could very well have a hard time doing this and this is where speaking to a therapist can help, so you can remove or limit toxic friendships and people from your life.

The Bottom Line

Woman verbally abusing someone

Identifying toxic traits in people is the first step in avoiding their toxicity. However, sometimes, this can be difficult, depending on the type of relationship you have with them.

Avoiding doesn’t mean you should completely ignore them, but even if you want to be nice, never lower your own level, don’t give them too much space and don’t share confidences or too much of your time with them. 

It is impossible not to meet toxic people, but you can find ways to limit your communication with them.

The important thing to remember is looking after your own happiness is of utmost importance, especially if you’re going through a hard time.

What’s The Best Way You’ve Dealt With Toxic People?

Whether they’re toxic family members, close friends or in a romantic relationship if you feel comfortable, share in the comments below to share what worked with others.

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About Yolanda

Website Owner / Content Creator

I’m passionate about helping you live life to the fullest so you can choose to find happiness and purpose. Learn how to CREATE THE LIFE YOU LOVE with intentional living and discovery of the simple things life has to offer. Learn more…

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