How to Recognize a Toxic Person in Your Life

Unfortunately, most of us can say that at one point or another we have had someone unpleasant in our lives. In this case, the word “toxic” does not mean someone that has occasional selfish or argumentative tendencies. A toxic person is a constant drain on your emotional resources. This person usually has persistent negative attributes that include: extreme selfishness, quick defensiveness, control issues, constant manipulation and victimization. Because of this you may feel like you have become a person that you are unsatisfied with. Let’s discuss how to truly know if you have a harmful person in your life and how to safely rid yourself of this person.

How to spot a “toxic” person in your life

  • Selfishness – When was the last time this person asked how you were doing? If you can’t seem to think of the last time this person (without direction) asked about your life, then you might be dealing with someone who is truly poisonous. When was the last time they asked for your opinion on a matter and actually took your advice? An unhealthy person may ask for constant validation in the form of compliments or advice, but they will never be satisfied.
  • Defensiveness - When asking a friend about their thought process behind a decision or idea, the normal reaction is not to become defensive. Most people are happy to explain their thoughts and feelings with you. Someone who could be toxic will often respond in one of the two below manners in order to take the heat of of themselves for what they have done.
  • Victimization – Classic “toxic” person syndrome is to feel that they are always justified in their actions. When they are cornered and made to feel wrong, they are always the victim of anything and everything. Think about your person and ask yourself “Does this person ever take responsibility for their actions?” If the answer is no, then sadly this person may not ever feel that they have to.
  • Lies & Dramatization – When destructive people cannot justify their actions, they lie or exaggerate. Toxic people need to be the center of attention. As such, they will jump to heightened states of crisis just to get your attention. In addition, a friend who constantly lies to their other loved ones and tells you about it is probably lying to you too. Within this same spectrum is a loss of confidentiality. Someone who cannot keep your secrets safe is not someone that should be trusted.
  • Control & Manipulation - These two points really do go hand-in-hand. A toxic individual will trap friends and family members into a constant state of crisis. Because this person many feel out of control themselves, they may go to great lengths in order to make sure you are always on their side. This means making their victims feel lesser about themselves. If someone’s confidence is shot they won’t have the energy or willpower to fight back against bullying or hurtful comments.
  • Anger - Sometimes unhealthy people will result to a fierce rage in order to get what they want. If you are scared or nervous of how they might act every time you say something or hang out with another person, this relationship is not a healthy one. These individuals will say every hurtful and nasty remark in order to get what they want. Breaking a person down so they feel unworthy of any other treatment is their ultimate goal. In many cases they will apologize, say it will never happen again and state why they had to be so cruel, but they will ultimately go bigger and badder the next time.
  • Lack of Respect - Toxic people don’t care if you have set clear boundaries with them in the past. They will ignore these requests at all costs. So, if the other side of the bargain isn’t held up, they will continue to push those limits. Also, if this person judges, undermines, criticizes or simply never acknowledges anything you do instead of helping you achieve your goals, you’ve got a seriously damaging person.

How to remove a “toxic” person from your life

First, a serious point to note is that people who are unhappy with their lives do not want others to be happy. Recognizing that this person will never be happy no matter what you do is the first crucial step. This person might have some deep-rooted issues they absolutely need to deal with before they can have a healthy life. Just because a person is sick right now, does not mean they will be sick forever. However, no one has to endure their actions forever. Chances are if they have someone that will put up with their behavior, then they don’t have a reason to change. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I cannot have you in my life right now.”

  • Set Boundaries -Have a sit-down with yourself before you make any decisions and decide what kind of behavior would be ideal for your lifestyle. Write a list or a letter to yourself and clearly state what kinds of healthy boundaries are needed for you to be happy in the relationship. Once a relationship has become unhealthy (many times it started that way), there is usually no way to detoxify it. So, just keep in mind there is little to no chance of ridding a person of their hurtful behavior.
  • Do This on Your Terms -There are two ways to go about ending the actual relationship—telling the person or not. No one ever “deserves” face-to-face confrontation if that is something you are not comfortable with. If you feel that this person might lash out in a scary way, it might be best to avoid the situation and arm yourself with a good defense. Block this person from contacting you completely and tell your friends and family you do not wish to see this person just in case they come looking for you. Come up with a plan for all your loved ones to use if the person is snooping around. That way no one will be caught off-guard and accidentally leak information that you are uncomfortable sharing.
  • State Your Decision - The second way is to actually talk to the person in some form or another, and explain the  situation. Please keep in mind that you do not owe this person anything. You do not have to explain yourself as much as they might want you to. Sometimes if you delve too deep into the conversation, this person will trap you in one way or another—it’s what they’re good at. So, keeping it short and sweet is the best option. State your decision, make them understand that it is not negotiable and end the conversation.
  • Don’t Argue – Of course, not engaging with a person is much easier said than done. If there needs to be some sort of conversation, then make it short and do not argue about mundane details. Keep a list of key points if you need to and stick to those. If the conversation drifts too far away then just bring it back to your decision and the fact that it is not negotiable.

Cutting someone out of your life is never an easy choice to make, but every person deserves to have happiness. Remember that most people who bring toxicity to a relationship are on a path of chronic unhappiness. Until that person seeks real help in one way or another, they usually will not see the error of their ways. No matter whether it’s a family member or friend who is toxifying your life, just remember that you do have the power to be happy. Lastly, and this is very important, if a person ever makes you feel unsafe please seek help from trusted friends, family members and/or the police if necessary. No length is too extreme for your well-being.


Photo Credit: α is for äpΩL †


Maggie A.
Maggie D2 years ago

Very good article. No real need to make peace with a toxic person, they're not likely to change. Make peace with yourself and leave them behind.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jen B.
Jen B3 years ago


Amy Cajamarca
Amy C3 years ago


Charles M.
Charles M3 years ago

Hello ,
How are u doing today?Im new to this online stuff,while searching for all members profile,i saw ur profile and i would like to get to know you,i want to see if this online thing truly works out,Im Tom 56years old Good christian,i like reading watching and playing soccer,Im on this site to meet my real woman i mean someone who will make me happy all days of my life,not someone who will use me and dump me if u know are not the type that use and dump man,,i would like to get to know you feel free to send me an mail to my personal mail address.My mail address is I hope to read soon from you.

Monika A.
Monika A3 years ago

This is an excellent article with lots of good advice and the perfect description of toxicity. However in my opinion,there is no worse than to have a toxic parent as a child, you can not just close the doors to your life, before you are adult. And even if you are adult, going through the process of distancing yourself from toxic family , is also very difficult facing the emotion that arise during this process.

B.J. M.
DJ M3 years ago

This article was very affirming for me at this time. For years, I have had to set boundaries with a toxic family member. These are being tested at the moment, during a time of my mother's prolonged recovery from hip surgery. thanks!

tanzy t.
tanzy t3 years ago


Jessica K.
Jessica K3 years ago

Very interesting point that many toxic relationships are that way from the onset, good idea to recognize early signals so as not to get too entangled. Thanks.

holly masih
.3 years ago

Have to do this in my own life.