First the good news: The world is full of honest, kindhearted, well-adjusted people.
Now the bad news: There are also plenty of people who are less than emotionally healthy, the kind who manipulate, lie, and cheat. Definitely the ones you want stay far away from.
You can avoid lots of trouble by knowing what to look for in a toxic person. Here are fifteen warning signs . . .
1. The person talks way too much and listens way too little. Dominating the conversation often signals insecurity, self-centeredness, or narcissism.
2. He/she always needs to be right. No matter how big or small the topic, the toxic individual doesn’t allow room for differing opinions and turns a discussion into a debate that must be won.
3. There’s constant drama. Some people attract, and maybe need, consistent episodes of crisis, conflict, and clamor. They seem to thrive on having a big personal mess to clean up and feel uncomfortable with a calm routine.
4. Truth-telling is not a high priority. Even slight variations on what you know to be the truth, or careful omission of facts, is enough to put the person on your watch list.
5. There are signs of addiction or dependency. If left unaddressed, compulsive behavior involving alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, and other issues is sure to damage many aspects of the individual’s life—including your relationship.
6. Desperation is in the air. Emotionally healthy people will be eager to get know you as an individual—not overeager to get into a relationship (any relationship) because of loneliness or neediness.
7. Conversation is salted with sarcasm. Derogatory comments and cutting humor, even if you aren’t the target, signal a lack of empathy or a need to prove superiority.
8. Straight answers are in short supply. To your direct questions, you get evasive responses, mixed messages, or contradictions. The person is cagey about where he was last night and how things are at work. If it seems like he’s hiding something, he probably is.
9. The person has a victim mentality. All of his/her problems are someone else’s fault—unreasonable boss, unloving parents, lousy roommate, the government. Constant blame-shifting usually demonstrates a lack of personal responsibility.
10. “Common folk” are treated poorly. Rude, insensitive behavior toward restaurant servers, dry-cleaners, and store clerks reveals an arrogant attitude.
11. The person likes to gossip. Rumormongering serves no purpose except to harm others’ reputations and an attempt to burnish one’s own.
12. He/she bashes the ex. Justified or not, no one wants to hear endless complaints about a former partner. There’s nothing healthy about staying stuck in the past. Move on already.
13. His/her stories seem grandiose. Exaggerations about accomplishments, acquaintances, and adventures demonstrates a need to brag, which demonstrates a shaky self-esteem.
14. The person tries to control you. If you feel pressure to act and think according to someone else’s wishes rather than your own, head for the nearest exit.
15. Your gut instinct screams, “Look out!” Trust your intuition—it’s usually a reliable guide.
What are other signs that you’re dealing with a toxic person?