While it’s easy to say that one should always stay away from toxic people, toxic behavior can be difficult to identify, especially when it’s present in those we care about — or even in ourselves. It’s important to recognize it, however, because staying in a toxic relationship can be damaging to one’s emotional and mental well-being.
There are certain behaviors that are telltale signs of a toxic individual, and by identifying these behaviors, you can protect yourself by avoiding or putting down boundaries with this person. If you notice that you yourself display any of these behaviors, working on stopping them and seeking out better coping mechanisms would do wonders for your own self-esteem and the health of your relationships.
Giving unsolicited advice
Unless someone specifically asks for it, giving out advice can be patronizing and interfering. Toxic people are especially prone to do so when it’s inappropriate or even when the other person has made clear it’s unwelcome; it may offer them a feeling of superiority and control.
The most toxic thing someone can do is to bring others down. Toxic people will often explicitly insult others, as well as subtly do so in the form of jokes and backhanded compliments. This causes others to feel hurt and self-doubt that can be quite lasting.
Toxic people have a habit of focusing on others rather than doing their own introspection. They take information, or even make up lies, about other people and spread gossip in an effort to hurt the other person’s reputation and perhaps even hurt their credibility should they speak out about the toxic person’s behavior.
Gossip is just one way that toxic people engage in relational aggression, a type of aggression in which one causes harm to another by damaging their relationships or social status.
Toxic people enjoy pitting others against each other, and they often outright do so by excluding people or encouraging the social ostracism of those they feel threatened by or envious of.
Such social exclusion can be very damaging to a person, often having psychological effects.
Constantly talk about themselves
A big indication that someone is bad news is their lack of interest in others. Some toxic people talk about themselves constantly and show very little regard for other people, turning the conversation back to themselves whenever possible.
Giving the silent treatment
Unless you’re putting down boundaries with someone with whom you know communication is futile, giving another person the silent treatment is an extremely toxic behavior.
Not only does this make the other person feel rejected and undesirable, but it also helps the toxic person avoid any confrontation about their behavior.