5 Ways To Tell If Someone Is Toxic

Relationships are arguably the most influential force in our lives, which means the people we choose to place around us are instrumental to our overall well-being.

By Keelia Clarkson2 min read
5 things toxic people say

We’ve all most likely had a toxic person in our lives at some point or another. We might be tangled up in the web of one right now—maybe we’ve even been one. We can find toxic people in every walk of life, whether it be a coworker, family member, significant other, or even a best friend.

Demonstrating toxic behavior doesn’t make someone the devil incarnate, but it’s certainly indicative of an unhealthy person who is likely dealing with trauma or self-esteem issues. And despite what this type of person may tell us, recognizing toxicity in someone doesn’t make us an intolerant person. Surrounding ourselves with healthy, contented people is necessary as we strive to become our best selves. But how do we know for sure if we’ve got a toxic person on our hands?

Recognizing toxicity in someone doesn’t make us an intolerant person.

Here are 5 unmistakably toxic phrases:

1. “You have to accept me the way I am.”

Here’s the thing: this is true in particular circumstances. We’re all created with different interests, and one of the first things we learn growing up is to respect those differences in one another. But when someone is behaving in a manner that’s hurtful to us, we have a right to tell them.

The response we hope to hear after expressing our hurt is, “I’m so sorry I hurt you like that. Let’s talk about it so I can better understand.” But too often, we’re faced with someone who’s set in their ways, places blame, and refuses to acknowledge that maybe they’re in the wrong here.

2. “If you really loved me, you’d…”

It’s safe to say we’re being manipulated anytime we hear this phrase being uttered. It’s perfectly normal to go out of our way to make someone we love happy, but there comes a point where boundaries must be drawn—and if they’re not, toxic people will take advantage of that.

There comes a point where boundaries must be drawn and if they’re not, toxic people will take advantage of that.

Reserving the right to express our appreciation, fondness, and respect in ways that are comfortable for us is a must for our well-being. Allowing others to choose the ways which are acceptable for us to show our love will ultimately hurt us in the long run.

3. “You’ve changed.”

Personal growth and improvement is something that will make harmful people uncomfortable because they haven’t developed the necessary tools to do the same. They tend to thrive on control—so when they see us in an unfamiliar light, they’ll disdainfully let us know we’re not the people we used to be. What they may not realize is that’s a huge compliment; staying stagnant is nothing to be proud of. So upon hearing this, maybe a simple “thank you” is all that person needs to hear.

4. “I’m not going to apologize for that.”

Admitting our wrongdoings is no one’s favorite pastime, but toxic people take this a step further. They’ll often justify their unsavory actions by insisting their buttons were pushed or we did something to offend them first. Or they might try to convince us they didn’t even do anything wrong in the first place.

Toxic people often don’t believe they’re responsible for apologizing, and may even think themselves above the law in a sense.

Toxic people often don’t believe they’re responsible for apologizing, and may even think themselves “above the law” in a sense. Knowing how and when to say you’re sorry is a sign of a mature and considerate person. If it seems that someone is incapable of apologizing, that’s a huge red flag.

5. Nothing at all.

More often than not, destructive people will rely upon the silent treatment to get their point across while still maintaining the upper hand. Healthy people understand that the best way to work out issues is through communication, though we’re not always perfect with how we choose to communicate.

If we find ourselves being ignored by a friend for three months straight over an argument, chances are they have a lot of their own issues to work out, and it’s best to take a step back from the relationship until they can connect with us in a healthy way.

Closing Thoughts

We are inevitably influenced by the people who surround us, so it’s critical that we’re intentional, thoughtful, and careful with whom we allow to be close to us.