The word “toxic” gets banded about a lot, especially since we really started addressing emotional abuse. Toxic means what it has always meant; a poisonous substance that damages and destroys anything that consumes it. Toxic people have the same effect.
Through their belittling behaviors and dramatic tendencies, they are a danger to our mental and physical health. That being said, it isn’t always easy to identify them.
Hiding behind pleasant masks and helpful demeanors, toxic people can do as they please without detection. But if we know what to look for, we can keep toxic people where they belong: in our pasts.
They can’t apologize
Saying sorry and accepting when we’re wrong is one of the most important things we can do in a relationship. Accepting responsibility for mistakes we make that affects others is a selfless, empathetic offering that our loved ones deserve. But when they hurt us, we deserve it too.
Toxic people either cannot or will not apologise for their actions, acting as though they have done nothing wrong or that we are overreacting. Their pride and insecurities won’t allow them to concede they were wrong. To toxic people, nothing and nobody is more important than their pride and apologising is not an option. If that wasn’t enough of a reason, apologising would mean acknowledging their behaviour was hurtful. For anyone who wants to continue behaving badly without consequence, saying sorry isn’t recommended.
If someone hurts us and either refuses to apologise or expects you to write it off as normal, something isn’t right. We deserve better.
They tear down your confidence
For toxic people to feel good about themselves, they need others to feel awful. Toxic people are the most insecure, and with their pride and image which is their most important things in their lives, they will do anything to protect it. In order to do that, the people closest to them suffer, because toxic people have to have a leverage on everyone.. Self-assurance, security, self-respect. The list goes on.
Attacking the confidence of the people around them is a fun game for toxic people, but it serves a greater purpose: to ensure they feel better about themselves than everyone else. Relationships can be put under strain by anything, but intentional sabotage is a big red flag. If our confidence is constantly under attack by someone who is supposed to love us, we need to cast them out of our lives. They won’t save us, so we have to.
They enjoy your struggles
While on the surface, toxic people may come across as sympathetic, they are secretly enjoying every hardship we endure. If things aren’t going well for the people around them, they feel better about their own lives in comparison, and it would be such a shame if that ego-boost was taken away from them.
This red flag isn’t that easy to detect because of the apparent sympathy these toxic people express, but they are likely to suggest solutions which actually make things worse for us. If we suspect sabotage, we need to wave goodbye to these people in our rearview mirror.
They cannot empathize
By the time we’re adults, we either have empathy or we don’t. Toxic people tend to have little to no experience of empathy, and even in our darkest moments when we are desperate for help, they might look on us with an indulgent smile instead of offering their hands. Unable and/or unwilling to share in the important emotions of those closest to them, toxic people are often incapable of love.
This lack of empathy not only makes forming a relationship with toxic people difficult, but also dangerous to our mental health. Like it or not, we need our feelings validated from time to time by those closest to us, and without empathy a toxic person cannot or will not allow us to do this. Sometimes because they are incapable, and other times because our misery serves a purpose to them.
A lack of empathy is a big indicator of a toxic individual and a problematic one for those closest to them. Without empathy, a toxic person has no reason not to hurt us or care if they do. For our own mental health and self-care, these people are best avoided.
As difficult as it can be, some people belong in our past. Those that damage us intentionally or fail to care have no place in our lives. The kindest things we can do for ourselves is to cut out toxic people from our lives and surround ourselves with people who don’t wish us harm.