We hear about toxic personalities all the time. Never calling or checking in on you or refusing to apologize are often some of the common traits we attribute to these kinds of people. But toxicity can be so much more than that. Their behavior can be subtle, and the behavior can come from anyone, from lovers to friends to those you grew up with. If someone you know exhibits these eight behaviors, it might be better to leave them in the past, because unless they seek help (or you change the way you interact with them), they probably don’t deserve a spot in your future.
1. They fail to recognize what hurt you.
We often confuse apologies for understanding, when in reality, they couldn’t be further apart. When someone apologizes, they should do so because they feel genuine remorse, and that can only come from understanding the other person’s point of view. Understanding why something you said or did hurt someone is a crucial element to not making the same mistake moving forward. If someone continually apologizes without changing their behavior, it’s a major red flag about how little they value your relationship with them.
2. They gaslight you.
Gaslighting can make you feel crazy—and it’s meant to. This is a form of manipulation that tries to cast doubt on someone’s personal account of an event. An example of gaslighting is when you confront someone and they say, “That didn’t happen.” Someone who gaslights will deny their words and actions. They will also lie and rally people against you because it makes them look more favorable to those around them. This will make them appear as a victim. A gaslighter is all about appearance, which is why they’ll do anything to discredit your thoughts, feelings, and perception. Remember, there are always two sides to every story. Sometimes both parties are wrong and sometimes both parties are right, but in different ways; if you’re constantly the one apologizing or justifying your actions even though you’re not to blame, it’s time to walk away. You’ll never be able to have a genuine relationship with them because they’re unable to grow.
3. They’re not supportive (in the way you need them).
Support looks different for everyone. For some, it’s financial. For others, it’s physical and emotional. And in other cases, support can be as simple as an acknowledgement of your situation. Sometimes all someone wants is an acknowledgement that they’re going through a tough time. They don’t want a lecture or advice. They don’t want platitudes that better days are headed to them. Sometimes, all it takes is saying to someone you love, “Hey, I know you’ve got a lot going on right now, but I’m here for you. What do you need?” We can combat this toxic behavior by telling someone we love at the onset what we need from them but it only becomes toxic when they fail to listen or fail to engage. We all deserve kindness, not to be kicked down when we’re at our lowest. When someone does that, it just reinforces that they don’t really care about you. It’s instead all about them.
4. When they expect you to make them a priority when it’s not appropriate.
You might not hear from a toxic person for weeks or months on end, but the second you fill them in on a struggle you have, they will chime in about what you need to do for them as well. Toxic personalities tend to be narcissistic at their core, and this kind of behavior can be confusing and overwhelming to deal with because it makes you feel like that person has to be a priority in your life even though they don’t make you a priority in theirs.
5. They will claim it’s not what you said, but how you said it.
This is one of the most ironic statements on the list because a toxic person can intently make a derogatory comment and gaslight you when they’re confronted but you’re never given the same opportunity. This manipulative tactic will constantly have you thinking about what you say, and sometimes you’ll even struggle to type up a text message, wondering how your innocent words will get misconstrued and lead to an argument. This means that you’ll never be able to have a genuine conversation with them because they will be more concerned with your approach to the words rather than the weight they carry.
6. They hold a victim mentality.
Listen, we all have shit we need to deal with, but there is such a thing as having personal accountability. While we’re all entitled to have a bad day here and there, this behavior can become incredibly toxic if the other person is unable to view themselves as anything but a victim in every situation. If they refuse to analyze their own words and actions and are constantly blaming others for their unhappiness, it’s kind of a lost cause until they seek therapy. It’s easy to treat, but they have to want the help. Otherwise, this relationship will become incredibly draining, because you’re always going to be the one taking ownership for someone’s misery, and newsflash, you’re not responsible for that. Ever.
7. They don’t respect your boundaries.
Boundaries look different to everyone, so what might work for one person may be a huge problem for someone else. You can’t expect someone to understand all of your personal boundaries unless you say something, so when they continue to disrespect the boundaries you put up, it’s a sign that they do not respect you as long as their own personal needs are met.
8. They’re manipulative.
Toxic people always have an ulterior motive, which makes having healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with them quite difficult. For example, you invite your friend and her spouse over for dinner. It’s an innocent invite, motivated in seeing that person and catching up with how they’ve been. For a toxic person, however, every invite has a subtext. When you turn down the invitation, a toxic person may appear to have accepted the answer, but in reality, they’re angry, waiting to unleash it on you the next time they try to get together. Manipulative people will do whatever they can to get you on their side and to have their needs met. They will withhold honesty, act passive aggressively toward you, and use whatever other tactics they have packed away in their arsenal. This is the worst kind of behavior, and once you recognize the pattern, it’s a red flag that the relationship will never be anything more than surface level.