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Toxic Behavior Warning Signs

If you’ve ever lived, then at some point or another you’ve run into a person who is exhibiting toxic behavior. Toxic relationships can often be the cause for our lack of fulfillment in our relationships, so it is VERY important to be able to recognize toxic behavior in ourselves and others.

toxic behavior
Though this can seem to be a “hot topic” in the realm of self-help, co-dependency, and relationships, I also feel that it is a very touchy subject. The topic itself can lead to a rise of many negative emotions — and, coincidentally, influence we ourselves to habitually express toxic behavior. For this reason, I really don’t enjoy bringing up because by bringing up the subject, rather than to actually stop the toxic behavior, people habitually start the blaming game, which influences even more individual toxic behavior… that is, if we are not mindful in the process of discussing it.

So why am I bringing up the topic? Because it is EXTREMELY important to be aware of if you want to have fulfilling relationships. If you can’t clearly recognize a person’s toxic behavior then you don’t know when to set boundaries in the relationship or to simply leave or keep your distance.

Please also note, that I am using the term “toxic behavior” rather than toxic people or toxic relationships, which are more popular terms. My reason for this is because I feel that by saying “toxic people” or “toxic relationship” it implies that the people themselves are toxic and therefore cannot grow or change, which is very far from the truth. I see it as more so as traits that we express when at various stages in our development, depending on a variety of factors.

We have all crossed paths with someone who exhibited toxic behavior at some point or another. However, we also have to keep in mind that the chances are equally as good that we ourselves have also expressed toxic behavior at some point. So as you read through this list, I encourage you to focus on behavior patterns that YOU have or had and THEN look at the people in your life.


Here are various of toxic behavior patterns

– Mostly negative about other people and things.

– Always needs to be right – can’t ever be wrong. Has trouble apologizing and admitting wrongs.

– Everything has to be their way. There is no room for other people to influence the decision. No compromising

– Idealizes you and/or others (a sign of possible Narcissistic Personality Disorder)

– Sporadic outbursts of blame.  Family members, friends or co-workers may never quite know what’s coming next.  Unpredictable.

 – Chaotic emotional life. Emotional outbursts. Temper-tantrums.

– Manipulative and exploitative. Needs to feel in control of other people.

– Expects more from other people than they themselves are willing to give.

– Passive-aggressive. Has trouble expressing anger, so it is internalized and they express it passively.

– Judgmental of others in order to make themselves feel better.

– Has trouble accepting and respecting other people’s decisions and may use guilt to try to influence others to change their decision.

– Never satisfied with what other people give. Satisfaction from what was given may only last for a very short while or what was given may be immediately dismissed.

– Disrespectful of the boundaries you set. Example: Mary says, “Can you please not talk about my brother that way? It hurts my feelings.” Jack responds, “Whatever. I can say what I want to say.”

– Very self-involved. Focused on own emotions, moods, needs, and insecurities and expecting others to regulate how they feel for them. See themselves as the victim.  They make others responsible for their feelings rather than to take responsibility for their own feelings.

– Constantly needs attention, reassurance, and validation.


If you are first discovering toxic behavior patterns in yourself and others then be patient with yourself. If you are in a relationship where these behaviors are present, then it can be a very messy process to decipher what traits are yours and which is the other persons. Start by focusing on YOUR feelings.

To survive someone with this type of behavior it can involve a combination of boundaries and possibly creating distance from this person. Check out these other articles of mine that explain how to cope with toxic behaviors:

6 Steps to Setting Boundaries in Relationships 

How to Be Happy When Other People are Draining You

How to Heal from a Toxic Relationship 

But, before we part ways, lets focus on some self-reflection…


Eliminate Toxic Behavior Patterns from Your Life!

Get out a piece of paper or your own journal and answer each of the following questions:

What toxic behaviors have you seen in yourself (either in distant past or current life)?

Keeping in mind the list above, in these situations how could you have handled it better?  What could you have done instead?

What do you think you can do to help yourself break these behavior patterns? (there is no right or wrong answer – write whatever comes to your mind… be creative!)

Now, what toxic behaviors have you seen in others (either distant past or current)?

What do you think you can do to help feel yourself of this person’s toxic behaviors or avoid any toxic situations to happen again in the future?



One thought on “Toxic Behavior Warning Signs

  1. I thought the other person was the “toxic person” but reading this list made me realize I’m the toxic person…?

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