I will be the first to admit that no human being on this planet is 100% perfect. Least of all me—I have things I need to work on like everyone else out there.
But there is a difference between being imperfect and being toxic.
I am a very empathetic person, and as such, I attract a lot of toxic people into my life. There was even a point in time where I was actually drawn to toxic people with the mindset that I could fix them (which is beyond unhealthy and toxic in its own right). But now that I’m a little bit older and wiser, I can recognize when any partner, friend, or family member is being toxic and when it’s time to cut the cord. So whether you clicked on this out of curiosity or you were thinking of someone in particular, here’s ways that I personally can tell if a person’s behavior is toxic and not good for you.
1. They rely too heavily on you.
You absolutely dread getting a call or a text from this person. Because the second you open it or answer it, they’re demanding your time and attention. It feels like everything they’re asking you for is an immediate emergency when it truly isn’t. And maybe it’s not something you can help them with for a number of reasons, but the second you do, they go on a guilt trip and do their best to make you feel terrible so that you end up saying yes anyways.
2. They’re constantly trying to “fix” you.
A toxic friend doesn’t see you as a person but as a project. They are consistently nitpicking, finding every little thing that they think is wrong with you, and demanding that you fix it right away. And as humans, we tend to slip up and make a mistake or two. It’s a part of life! But if you make one little slip up, a toxic friend will jump down your throat with a chorus of “How dare you?” and “Do you even care?” And to top it all off, they constantly make you feel as if you need them more than they need you, and that certainly doesn’t make it a relationship of equals. I have been a serious offender of this one, I will admit, but I’ve realized that a true friend both wants the best for you and will give you the space needed to let you live your life.
3. They’re always right, even when they aren’t.
Their word is law. Even if they are misinformed about the subject at hand, if they have an opinion, they treat it as fact and no one can be convinced otherwise. If you have a valid argument against them, they won’t counter it with facts but with insults as to how stupid and ridiculous you’re being. They aren’t willing to change their opinion for any reason whatsoever.
4. You feel like you can’t tell them anything.
You’re afraid that if you disclose a secret to this person that they’ll turn around and tell someone else anyway. You don’t want to tell them any good news, because they’ll undermine your achievements and make it seem like it isn’t that big of a deal. And you don’t want to come to them with your problems, because you know for a fact you won’t be getting any kind of sympathy or constructive advice from them.
5. They’re constantly talking shit about your mutual friends.
Going back to the nitpicking issue, they are constantly disclosing secrets about your friends or other people they know, pointing out their flaws and calling them names. And all of it is happening behind their backs. And if they’re talking shit about them, chances are they’re talking shit about you too.
6. They bring out the worst in you.
Even now as I look back on those relationships, I can feel myself getting irritated and turning into a green-eyed monster. My fuse grows even shorter when I’m around a toxic person, and it’s already short enough. And I start to feel jealous and wish them the worst and… that isn’t how I normally am. Toxic people bring out a side to me that makes me want to hide under the covers until I’m ready to face the world again. I like to think I’m compassionate and that I want the best for others, but when I’m around a truly toxic person, I start to question if I really am like that. And that’s not good for anyone. You need to be around people who not only bring out the best in you, but who will help make you a better person.
7. You dread spending time with them.
If you know you’re going to see this person and you start to feel your heart race and your stomach turn into knots, maybe it’s time to ask yourself why. Some people just suck the energy out of the room with their negativity and are determined to make others unhappy just because they are unhappy themselves. And you don’t need that negativity in your life.
8. Everything feels like a competition.
You had a terrible day? They’ll tell you all about how their day was 10 times worse. You had a great day? They’ll try their best to top it. Any achievement isn’t as great as theirs and any hardship isn’t worse than what they’re going through. And it isn’t just that—they are constantly trying to one-up you in everything possible. If you’re an amazing singer, they will sing louder than you to prove they’re better. They will constantly flaunt their knowledge in something that you have no knowledge or interest in, and if you tell them about something you’re interested in, they will do their best to prove your facts wrong and look defeated when you’ve been proven right. It’s exhausting.
9. You feel like they’re always putting you under a microscope.
They are extremely judgmental of your choices, especially if it’s different from theirs. They are always trying to change your mind and question why you’re doing things this particular way instead of supporting you. They look at everything you do and wonder why you do it or they tell you outright that it’s wrong.
Now, if you’re looking at this and thinking, “Oh shit, it is them!” it’s time to start thinking about the best course of action here. I’d simply just go and talk to them face to face about the way they’re behaving. If they continue to act the way that they do and they clearly aren’t ready to change, then it’s time to let that relationship go.