How To Spot A Toxic Person Immediately

Toxic friends don’t always come off as bad people. Sometimes it’s difficult to spot their negative traits, but once you realize they are disrupting your peace you need to act — and fast. 

It never occurred to me that my friend was toxic but I could not understand why I felt my belly tighten when I noticed she was calling me. It could have been the stressful finals week, but I was reluctant to spend any time with her lately.

That’s when it hit me: my friend’s toxic nature was at times unbearable.

I had never used that word for her in my head. In fact, I did not realize her toxicity until I took a step back to analyze my strong reactions to her name appearing on my phone. But once my brain came upon that word, I could not unsee the whole series of toxic behaviors. There were numerous occasions she was unkind to people and many times when she would say horrible things about total strangers.

Then there were the times when she would say things to subtly devalue me and my accomplishments. Oh, and she never liked my other friends. She always thought I was betraying her by spending time with other people.

It was always her versus everyone else.

This kind of behavior is toxic and made me understand why we must do something about the toxic people in our life. Sometimes it might shock you to realize that you have inadvertently let in a toxic friend into your life. In fact, you might notice all these symptoms and still not consider them toxic because it is never easy to see that a so-called friend is toxic!

I mean, relatives, whom we don’t get to choose, can be toxic and still be present in our lives due to unavoidable circumstances. Family reunions, anyone? But how can we be stupid enough to allow a friend, whom we get to choose, in our lives and keep them there when they are no good for us?

The answer is that we can’t tell who is or isn’t toxic just by looking at them. We need to spend a considerable amount of time with them before we can gain that kind of knowledge about someone. But you become aware your “friend” is toxic, what steps do you take to ensure you don’t end up in a dark place because of your association with them?

Here is what you should do if your friend is toxic:

1. Understand why they are like this.

Most of the time, a toxic person is deeply wounded in some kind of way and does not know or is unwilling to change his or her toxic behavior patterns. Toxic people usually do not seek help and can be extremely defensive if you bring their problem to attention. 

2. Understand your role in the interaction.

Unfortunately, some relationships are toxic even if the individuals in it are not necessarily so. For some reason, both people in the relationship could have a hand in the unhealthy interaction. For instance, if there is mutual distrust or blame, that friendship can turn extremely toxic while both people involved are not individually toxic. Understanding what you contribute to your friendships can help you put an end to any toxicity that is present.

3. Set some boundaries.

One of the key ways toxic friends can be recognized is how they have an absolute disregard for the other person’s boundaries. Your toxic friend probably routinely crosses lines and does not even feel the need to apologize. It’s up to you to be clear about and stick to your boundaries in order to maintain them.

4. Be assertive.

Don’t like how they treat you? Politely tell them so. Do not react when they become passive-aggressive. Instead, look them straight in the eyes the next time they say something negative and say, “Wow, that was an awful thing to say. Try to do better next time.” You need to let them know their toxic behavior is not OK.

But what if they don’t change?

5. Dump them.

Do you feel like your self-esteem is dwindling? Do you lose your temper a lot around them? Do you absolutely dread spending time with them? You might be caught in an unhealthy and destructive cycle that you can’t escape. Sometimes it’s essential to do dump your toxic friend. If your friendship has reached this point, it might be best for you to let them go.

Originally written by Mehruba Chowdhury on YourTango

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


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