“Am I toxic?”
Are you asking yourself this question? Wondering whether or not you are problematic for the people around you?
Toxic is a word that’s thrown around a lot these days, but it can tough to figure out what it truly means and whether you are actually toxic.
So in this article, we’re going to explore 9 clear signs that you’re the toxic person in people’s lives.
But before we get stuck into those signs, let’s first define what being toxic means.
What does toxic mean?
A toxic person is someone who makes others feel bad with actions or words.
They bring others down more than up, and they leave people exhausted, emotionally drained, and negative.
Obviously, there are different levels of toxicity.
Some people are highly toxic, leaving everyone worse off with even brief meetings. Others cause harm over a longer period of time.
Are you a toxic person? Here are 9 signs
1. You’re excessively needy
Everyone can use a hand on occasion, but you require attention and help all the time.
You make every molehill a mountain, every bump in the road a boulder, and each crack of life a chasm as wide and long as the Grand Canyon.
Not only do you need constant support, but don’t learn and grow from their experiences. Instead, you see them as great excuses for why you can’t succeed at, much less even try, something.
While your relationships begin pleasantly and it looks like you just want to spend lots of time with your family and friends.
But as time goes on, though, your devouring need for attention isolates your loved ones from others.You only want them spending time with you, devoting their attention to you and you alone. As a result, your possessiveness makes them feel lonely.
Yet, you feel justified because you need their help, don’t you? Your life is one huge battle, right?
And when they don’t show up? When they dare to mention that they have other things and other people going on in their lives? You make them feel guilty for even having mentioned it.
The amount of effort they must devote to you exhausts and drains them physically and emotionally.
Also, it’s just a one-way street: all take and no give. The worst thing is that all their efforts are never sufficient.
You are never satisfied with all the attention they are paying you. In the end, if they don’t do enough, you will move on to someone else whom you feel will be a better source of what you need.
2. You only care about yourself
You don’t care about the feelings and opinions of others. Their joys are not important. They are only a reminder of your own (obviously better) achievements.
Same for the negatives. Whenever someone tries to share their unhappiness, hurt, or anger, you shut them down by “one-upping” them with a story of your own (obviously worse) tragedy.
And speaking of negatives… You turn those situations around.
Instead of taking ownership for your share of a negative event, you make it 100% their fault. They are the “guilty parties” for bringing up such an upsetting subject or being involved in such a thoughtless act.
Further, no matter how small the decision is, it’s your way or the highway. The end result is that you make people feel uncared for, unvalued, and unloved.
Around you, people feel alone. You are so “into” yourself that there is no interpersonal connection at all.
Others are just around for some use—increasing your self-esteem, paying for your night out, fixing something in your home, etc.
3. You’re incredibly manipulative
Manipulators are basically liars. They pretend to be a friend, but in reality, they are only using others for their own ends. So, there is nothing true about your relationships with others.n fact, to achieve your ends, you spend lots of time in detective work, finding out what your prey likes and what makes them tick.
This information helps you weave a more personal web for each victim, luring them more effectively.
Such cold consideration and attention to detail shows that you have no positive connection whatsoever with others.
You don’t care at all about their opinions and feelings. They are only there to serve your needs.
As a result of your cunning, people are confused. On the one hand, you “appear” to be their friend.
So, it may take them a long time to realize that they are trapped. Once they do, they are in so deep that it is very difficult for them to get free.
4. You badmouth other people behind their back
For you, nothing is better than a little gossip, especially if it is dirt on someone else.
The truth or falsity of the information doesn’t matter at all. If you’ve heard it, you pass it on.
Their main reason for spreading the word is the pleasure you get from people’s misfortunes.
It makes you feel better by comparison.
Basically, you are an envious person. You measure your accomplishments against those of others. The more that others look bad, the better you look in comparison.
When people spend time with you, they can look forward to a “news report” of negativity: who got fired, whose relationships are on the rocks, who should have listened to your advice but didn’t and it serves them right what happened. The list goes on.
Others cannot confide in you because their secrets become your next “news flash.”
And on the rare occasion that someone does, you’ll most likely hurt them further by telling them how the fault was theirs…and then making sure that others know their bad news.
5. You have a short fuse
Anything and everything causes you to explode into anger. Once your fuse is tripped, you turn off, often ignoring their “antagoniser” for days.
Your lack of control over your emotions means that people cannot have authentic relationships with you. As we know, every relationship has its ups and downs. The problem is, with you, the downs are disasters.
Others never know when you are going to fly off the handle into a rage.
On a good day, you might cope with a big disagreement in a reasonable manner. On a bad day, the slightest thing might set you off.
In addition, you blame your rages on others. It’s always their fault, isn’t it?
As a result, people are scared to argue with you—a form of intimidation that you use to “keep them in line.”
People in your life feel like they are “walking on eggshells” around you. This constant attention to keeping you happy takes a toll on their physical and emotional health.
The worst part is when the other person is your partner. People you meet don’t believe that you are a Short-fuser because outwardly, you appear to be pleasant, calm, and quite likable.
You save your destructive, toxic side for your partner in private.
6. You’re pessimistic
You consistently see the world as a “glass half full”. Being around you is a continuous repetition of what is wrong, what is bad, what is not working.
This form of brainwashing empties people of their positivity. The remaining emptiness is quickly filled by your diet of misery.
So, not only are you a negative thinker, research shows that you turn others into negative thinkers as well.
7. You belittle others
You try to control people by playing with their self-worth. Instead of supporting them and emphasizing their good points, you shine the spotlight on any faults they have, showing how silly and stupid they are.
If they don’t have enough faults, you invent some. Who cares, right?
You’re equally happy belittling them in private as well as in public, and it doesn’t matter who is watching.
Should they ask you to stop, you pass it off as “just a joke”, but it isn’t, is it?
It’s your sincere and attentive way to make them believe they are so pathetic that they are lucky to have wonderful you for a friend or a partner.
Too much time spent with you will leave people with such poor self-images that they cannot even think of ending the relationship. Who else would want them?
8. You enjoy controlling others
You use the technique of your choice to enslave people.
If you are a jealous/suspicious Controller, you go overboard, forcing the other person to prove their loyalty to you on a constant basis.
Either you are checking their phone or emails, or you are asking them where they were and who they were with every moment they are not in your presence.
You make others feel guilty for things they haven’t even done, causing them to be more and more isolated in an attempt to keep you happy.
When you bulldoze through boundaries, you are basically telling someone that they have no rights as an individual.
There are no “hands off” areas, both physically and emotionally. You create self-doubt in the other, causing them frustration.
Your choice to be either a passive or independent Controller is really two sides of the same coin. In both cases, you are making the other person responsible for every outcome.
In one case, they make the best decision they can, and you tear it down, “punishing” them with pouting and complaining or silence.
In the other, you seemingly make commitments but fail to keep them at the last moment—not your fault, of course. In some situations, your partner or friend will have to very inconveniently step in for you.
In others, they will be left hanging since you didn’t follow through with the plan. Either way, you make them feel that your relationship is unsafe, unsecure, and unreassuring.
9. You make people feel ashamed
You seek out reasons to make others know how “disappointed you are in them” and how “hurt the others have made you feel”.
It’s a never-ending cycle. There is always something to find fault with if you look hard enough, isn’t there?
Your unrealistic expectations pressure people into catering to your every desire. Whenever they do something you don’t like (or don’t do something you want), you play the “disappointed/hurt card”.
They feel guilty and try their best to fulfill your needs now (or make it up to you next time).
Yet, it is of little use. Each situation is stand alone. In other words, the fact that they came through for you 9 times does nothing to help them in situation #10.
They don’t get points for past “good behavior.” You make them feel just as bad as if they never paid any attention to your needs or requests at all.
Sometimes, you even agree with another’s decision just to have opportunities to make them feel guilty in the future.
For example, you might agree that your partner takes a ceramics class once a week, so you can tell them how “disappointed/hurt” you feel about them preferring to do ceramics than be with you.
The toxic checklist
Don’t recognize yourself in one of the 9 toxic traits above? Take a look at the descriptions below. You may find something more familiar.
How many of these apply to you?
1. When people are with you, they end up feeling worse about themselves because you make them feel guilty; belittle, humiliate and criticize them; and blame them for any problems you have.
2. You are a taker, not a giver. You are happy to enjoy the kindness of others but never offer any in return.
3. Sooner or later, everything becomes personal, and holding a grudge is one of your go-tos. You never apologize or compromise, and use threats to keep people on your good side.
4. You are not one to take ownership of your behavior but are very good at calling people out whenever they make a mistake, often with a snarky remark.
5. Celebrating others’ successes is a no-no in your book. Yet, you don’t support them during their misfortunes either, choosing to share their secrets whenever and wherever possible.
6. Others never know when you may blow your fuse. This is one way you manipulate them emotionally, controlling the relationship.
If you even fit just part of one of the above descriptions, chances are that people do their best to avoid you.
If that is not enough to get away from you, you may never see them again.
If you are truly upset about being a toxic person, the first step is to take responsibility for your past behavior. Own what you have done, even if you feel like the worst person ever.
Taking ownership of our actions is one of the keys to making long-lasting changes.
Next, seek help. Trusted family and friends could be one source. Counselors and psychologists are another group equipped to support you in your desire to change.
Although it may take some time, if you are sincerely committed, you will find that many of your family and friends will be quick to give you another chance. They will honor your serious decision with their support.
Written by Lachlan Brown