What are the signs of a toxic personality?

This blog post will address the question, “What are the signs of a toxic personality”, and also cover other areas like who is a toxic person, what research says, red flags to look out for, types of toxic personality, and how to cut ties with someone with a toxic personality. 

What are the signs of a toxic personality?

The major signs of a toxic personality include traits like making others feel unworthy, making others feel low, toxic personalities don’t care about others’ feelings and emotions, toxic personalities are so selfish that they cannot see beyond themselves, they don’t respect boundaries, they don’t apologize or express gratitude.

We will explore all the signs of a toxic personality with a brief explanation in the further sections. 

Who is a toxic person?

A toxic person refers to an individual who is selfish, manipulative, controlling, and needy. Such people usually have low self-esteem. Their behavior can be a result of childhood traumas, narcissistic personality disorder, or other deep-rooted personal problems. 

However, just because you understand the cause of their behavior, it does not mean that you have to put up with it. These people often feed off your emotions and leave you feeling frustrated, irritated, and hurt.

What does the research say about toxic personality?

In research conducted at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany, it was discovered that subjects’ brains had a significant stress reaction after being exposed to stimuli that trigger intense negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with toxic people. 

Toxic people push your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs, whether it’s negativity, cruelty, victim syndrome, or just plain insanity.

Stress has been demonstrated in studies to have a long-term negative impact on the brain. Even a few days of stress reduces the function of neurons in the hippocampus, a critical brain area involved in reasoning and memory. 

Stress causes reversible damage to brain cells after a few weeks, and months of stress can kill them permanently. Toxic people aren’t only unpleasant to be around; they’re also detrimental to your mental health.

 Your capacity to control your emotions and remain cool under stress is directly related to your performance. 

According to TalentSmart’s research with over a million people, it was found that 90 percent of top performers are competent at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain cool and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to recognize and avoid toxic people.

What are the red flags or toxic traits to look out for in a person?

Some of the signs of toxic personality include:

  • You’ll never know their real self

These people will make you feel at the top of the world one day and will pull down the other. There won’t be any reason for the sudden shift in their attitude. 

They will never clearly communicate what’s wrong even if you keep on asking them. They will deliberately leave you looking for answers on your own while completely shutting off themselves.

  • You’ll have to prove your worth

Even if you walk the moon for them, they will be like but I didn’t ask you to. You’ll always be forced to make a choice between them and some other thing. For eg- “ if you really loved me you would spend time with me and not with your friends”.

  • No sorry’s, no thankyou’s

A common phrase used in healthy friendships and often misused by toxic people. They will never be grateful for your efforts and will take you for granted. They will never apologize for their mistakes. 

They will also try to turn the tables and put the blame on you. For them being right is more important than their relationships.

  • It’s not me, it’s you

These people will often gaslight you and make you question your own sanity. You will feel as if you’re the one overreacting. 

They will try to minimize your feelings and thoughts. They can also use loving words like “ you know how much you mean to me, I’d never intentionally hurt you”, but all this is a facade to lure you into staying with them.

  • Deliberate distraction

These people will deliberately distract you when you are trying to talk about something important. They will keep bringing irrelevant details into the conversation. 

You might be talking about something awful they did and they will point out one of your mistakes from six months ago. In the end, it’ll be you who’ll be apologizing and the original point of the conversation will just get lost along the way.

  • The tone of the conversation

Sometimes sentences that seem innocent on the surface of the conversation have hidden doubts and meaning behind them. 

“Oh, so you went out with your friend today?” can mean anything ranging from ‘it’s nice that you enjoyed’ to  ‘I know you’ll always prefer her before me because I don’t matter to you’. 

This difference becomes evident from the tone with which the person addresses you. Therefore, it becomes important to carefully observe the tone of the conversation,

  • They are judgemental

Toxic people will never forget to remind you of your mistakes. They will always judge you for shortcomings and will take a hit on your self-esteem. No matter what, you will never be good enough for them.

  • Shutting themselves off

Toxic people are experts at leaving the conversations unfinished. They will switch off their phones and won’t reply to your texts. You will keep overthinking about what you’ve done to upset them. Why aren’t they talking to you? Are they in some trouble? Are they dead, alive, or just simply ignoring you? 

  • No respect for your boundaries

If you’ve drawn a line between what you like and what you don’t, toxic people will have no regard for it. They will keep on invading your personal space by being needy and clingy.


Types of toxic personalities

  • The narcissist

At the first glance, the narcissist will look your prince charming but soon your fairytale becomes too good to be true. Such people will continuously manipulate and lie to you. At the end of the day, you’ll be left feeling helpless and hurt.

  • Emotional parasites

These people will drink from your pool of emotions leaving you parched. They apply the concept of ‘use and throw’ to humans. You’ll never know if you actually have them for real because as soon as they get assurance and validation from you, they’ll leave.

  • The victim

These people often tend to guilt-trip you by playing the victim card. According to them, they are never at fault because they’ve always been the victims of the unfairness of life. 

While it’s natural to have some sympathy for them, you should keep in mind if the person is actually in distress or simply looking for a way out of the situation. Do not drown yourself in their fake tears.

  • The falsifier

These people can lie their way out of any situation. They won’t even hesitate to lie to their closest friends and family. They tend to be very good at covering up their tracks and becomes very difficult to know that you are actually being deceived.

  • Temperamental

Temperamental people are like volcanoes that can burst at any time. They have no hold over their emotions. They will often direct their anger towards you and will blame you for their problems. These people are difficult to leave because you fear that they might cause self-harm if you leave them.

  • The dementors

Dementors are characters of the famous J.K Rowling series of Harry Potter. They are known to suck out people’s souls, leaving them empty. Toxic people share this quality of dementors. They are filled with negativity and always tend to look at things with the glass-half-empty approach. They suck the life out of every room they enter by draining the energy of the people with their pessimism.

How to cut ties with someone with a toxic personality?

Once you remove the rose-tinted glasses and notice the red flags, the next step is to cut ties off with these people.

  • Learn to say no

Setting boundaries and saying no can be a difficult thing to do, especially when you really love the other person. It might come with loads of guilt but it will also help you to move forward. When you say no to the other person, you regain control of your own life and decisions.

  • Good communication

Sometimes people themselves are not aware of their toxic traits. If you feel that your friend, parents, or partner is being toxic then let them know. Encourage them to seek the help of a mental health professional to cope up with their issues.

  • It’s not your fault

It is very difficult to not feel hurt when someone you love constantly blames you for everything. Remember that this hurt is just a projection of the other person’s fears and insecurities and you’re not to blame.

  • Avoid the drama

A very common trait of toxic people is to pull you into the drama in their lives. While it’s natural to care bout the people we love and ask them about their problems, toxic people often misuse this goodness. 

They will make you their dumping ground and will put the burden of all their problems on you. So sometimes it’s just better to control your curiosity so that the le between their problems and yours doesn’t get blurred.

  • Make yourself a priority

Pay attention to your own feelings and emotions when you’re around such individuals. Remember that a healthy relationship involves a 50-50 give and take relationship. Respect yourself enough to walk away from people who drain your energy at the end of the day.

  • You’re not responsible for their betterment

The harsh truth is that your love can’t make people change. People only change when they want to and when they are willing to put in efforts to do so. You can offer compassion to these people but remember that it’s not your responsibility to fix them.

7. Say goodbye on time

Knowing when the conversation is getting toxic and having an exit strategy can help you a lot. Many of us don’t want to sound impolite when leaving a conversation. In such cases, you can use phrases like “ I am sorry but I have to address to an urgent work right now, I’ll catch up with you later’’.

8. Don’t get personal

It is best to keep a one-arm distance from toxic people. But when these people are a part of your close-knitted group it becomes difficult to completely avoid them. In such cases, you can minimize the quality and quantity of personal details of your life you share with them. You can keep the conversations light and avoid sharing stuff that they can use to provoke reactions.


This blog addressed the question, “What are the signs of a toxic personality”, and also covered other topics around toxic personality like who is a toxic person, what research says, red flags to look out for, types of toxic personality, and how to cut ties with someone with a toxic personality. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What are the signs of a toxic personality?

What are the signs of a toxic person?

The signs of a toxic person are mentioned below:

  • They leave you emotionally drained
  • They intimidate you
  • They get jealous very easily
  • They often portray themselves as a victim
  • They get defensive
  • They don’t respect your boundaries
  • They manipulate and control you
  • They try to always be right.

Can a nice person also be toxic in nature?

Yes, a person who seems very nice can be toxic and you can check out the signs of a toxic person mentioned in this blog to understand if you are surrounded by a partner, parent, sibling, friend, or a relative who might seem very nice on the outside but can be very toxic in nature.

How to talk to a toxic person?

You should try to avoid getting involved in their narrative of reality, be attentive to your feeling and intuitions around them, set your boundaries, put yourself first, do not try to fix them, do not apologize for being yourself, don’t hesitate to say no and walk away from them.

How do I become less toxic?

You can try to not talk about the bodies of others, give genuine compliments, work n yourself in therapy, respect people and their boundaries, don’t indulge in gossip, and try to educate yourself.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it. 

How do you know someone is toxic?

They make you feel emotionally and mentally exhausted, they intimidate you, they invalidate your feelings, they try to control/manipulate you, they constantly victimize themselves and blame others, they depict defensiveness, and they also make you feel responsible for their actions.

What is the most toxic personality trait?

The most toxic personality trait is the controlling nature. A toxic person often tries to control everything and everyone around them. They try to control who you interact with, what you do, what you eat, what you wear, how much money you spend, etc. to try to restrict you and keep you dependent on them which is extremely difficult to navigate through for a person.


Raypole (2019) Do’s and Don’ts for Dealing with Toxic Behavior. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-deal-with-toxic-people#dont-try-to-fix-them

Bradberry (2015). 10 Toxic people to avoid. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2015/11/10/10-toxic-people-you-should-avoid-at-all-costs/?sh=48843b4461db

Drake (2021). What’s a Toxic Person and How to Deal with Them https://psychcentral.com/blog/whats-a-toxic-person-how-do-you-deal-with-one#signs

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