The last thing each and every one of us wants when it comes to dating (or generally in life) is to be involved with toxic people.
Dealing with a toxic person, let alone a toxic partner, can be difficult and draining, to say the least. They create problems, unnecessary complexity, conflict, and, worst of all, endless stress.
Unfortunately, whether it was at school, college, or work, at one point or another, we’ve all invited a toxic person into our lives, who ended up making it complicated and challenging.
That’s because spotting a toxic person can be tricky. What follows is a breakdown of toxic people into their four types and how you can recognize each one of them.
1. The Narcissists
Upon hearing the word “narcissist” the first thing that comes to mind is someone who is arrogant, selfish, and full of themselves.
The narcissistic trait, however, goes far beyond that.
According to this article in Psychology Today:
“It’s easy to describe someone who spends a bit too much time talking about her career or who never seems to doubt himself as a narcissist, but the trait is more complicated than that. Narcissism does not necessarily represent a surplus of self-esteem or of insecurity; more accurately, it encompasses a hunger for appreciation or admiration, a desire to be the center of attention, and an expectation of special treatment reflecting perceived higher status.”
Narcissists aren’t just annoying people with a grandiose sense of self-importance. They only care about themselves, are controlling and manipulative, lack empathy, and often use seduction to get what they want.
When they are denied something or don’t get special treatment, they usually become aggressive and verbally (sometimes even physically) abusive.
How to recognize a narcissist:
- They require excessive admiration and act out when they don’t receive it
- They spend most of their time talking about themselves and seem uninterested in what you have to say
- They expect everyone around them to comply with their wishes
- They are arrogant, expect special treatment, and want to socialize only with people of high-status
- They manipulate and take advantage of others in order to get what they want
- They lack empathy for the feelings and problems of others
2. The Chronic Complainers
Cynical and pessimistic, chronic complainers seem to always be unhappy and are determined to make everyone around them feel the same way.
They keep complaining about their problems, without ever trying to find a decent solution to them. They love misery and they love making others equally miserable as well. Since they can’t be happy, why should anyone else be?
As you can understand, their toxic negativity presents a huge challenge for those around them.
As author Robert Biswas-Diener explains in his article in Psychology Today:
“They have a tendency to ruminate on problems and to focus on setbacks over progress. Some research suggests that making a habit of complaining can “re-wire” the brain so that those particular thinking orientations become ingrained. It is possible to re-wire this re-wiring to make it more positive, of course, but chronic complainers probably don’t think it would work all that well.”
How to recognize a chronic complainer:
- By the most obvious thing — they complain all the time
- Every time you share some positive news with them (for example that you got a raise or that you entered a new relationship) they find something negative to say
- Nothing is ever good enough for them
- They always focus on a problem and never on finding a solution
- Although negativity could as well be their middle name, they don’t see themselves as negative people
- They always blame someone else for their problems — their parents, their partner, their boss, or their friends — and never consider themselves as part of a problem
3. The Fake Friends
Another type of toxic people are the fake friends. You know the ones: one day they’re by your side, helping you and telling you how much you mean to them, and the next you learn that they’ve been saying some nasty things behind your back.
These people will pretend to be your friend and act like your happiness and success matters to them. But when you actually experience these things, they will do everything in their power to sabotage them and hurt your confidence.
Full of insecurities, they usually surround themselves with people who are in a worse position than them, in an attempt to improve their low self-esteem.
How to recognize a fake friend:
- They get jealous every time you say that something good happened to you
- They often make passive-aggressive comments
- They make you feel like you have to be constantly on guard
- They distance themselves whenever you’re going through a happy time in your life and come back during your dark times (not because they want to support you but for the reason that seeing you unhappy makes them feel better about themselves)
- You can’t remember the last time when you’ve felt genuinely happy in their company
4. The Attention Seekers
People who are attention seekers are superficial and judge themselves and those around them by their looks or other superficial criteria, like how much money or friends they have.
They have a lot of insecurities and crave attention, which they use as a remedy for their low self-esteem.
They usually fish for attention through small actions, for example by interrupting people and talking over them, or being unnecessarily loud. But if they don’t get the attention they so much crave, they will act out, step into arguments, and make a scene.
Even if it’s your birthday, your graduation, or your wedding, an attention seeker will find a way to make the day all about them.
How to spot an attention seeker:
- They are always unnecessary loud
- When they’re in a group of people, they keep interrupting everyone or talking over them
- They fish for compliments by continuously pointing out their achievements
- They bring up controversial issues to provoke a reaction
- They often pretend to be unable to do something so that others will pay attention to them and offer “help”
One of my favorite quotes of all time is one by John Mark Green:
“Toxic people attach themselves like cinder blocks tied to your ankles, and then invite you for a swim in their poisoned waters.”
If there’s something to learn from this quote, is the fact that once you spot a toxic person, eliminating them from your life is essential for your happiness and peace of mind.
Once a person in your life proves to be toxic, you need to remember that you can’t change them. The more time you spend trying, the more miserable your life will get.
Do not let them steal your happiness. For your own sake, be brave and walk away.
Previously published medium
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