Characteristics of a Bad Friend (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

We can clearly see the warning labels on dangerous goods. On any label, that human skull with the two cross bones behind it screams one word: TOXIC.

Without having to interact, we know that whatever is inside is at best harmful and should be handled with caution, and at worst poisonous and should be avoided at all costs. Toxic people are similar in their ability to negatively impact us and cause serious harm. Toxic people, on the other hand, do not come with warning labels, making them much more difficult to spot.

So, how do we know if someone is toxic? What are the toxic personality traits that they share and that we should be on the lookout for?

If you've arrived at this page, you've probably already encountered someone engaging in toxic behavior. When dealing with toxic people, you may experience feelings of being dismissed, devalued, and taken advantage of. These feelings should not be ignored. Toxic people come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They could be your boss or a coworker, a family member or a love interest, or even your neighbor or that grocery checkout clerk who always seems to be the only one working when you walk in. Unfortunately, toxic people are not limited to any one aspect of our lives. There are toxic people among us, both personally and professionally.

Toxic people are unquestionably the latter

Here are some telltale signs to help you identify toxic personality traits:

1. Expert Manipulators

Toxic people crave power. They enjoy twisting situations in their favor, and they've honed their pitch for making you feel off-balance and irrational if you don't completely agree with what they want.

They will use the following tools in their manipulation attempts:

Making you feel bad

  • Even when the facts are right in front of them, they will lie or deny.
  • They are transferring the blame that is rightfully theirs to you.

Toxic people will do everything they can to gain your trust. They can be so endearing. You start out thinking they're a friend, but then you start to doubt them. Once they have you, they will take advantage of the weaknesses and insecurities that you have confided in them.

2. Drama Addicts

While the majority of people try to avoid drama, toxic people are addicted to it. They not only thrive in chaos, but they also enjoy causing confusion and conflict. Surrounding yourself in such a whirlwind of stress exhausts you just as much as it exhilarates them.

Some of their favorite tools for creating drama include:

Announcing project deadlines and requirements at the eleventh hour, not out of necessity, but on purpose to watch others spin
Expecting exactly what they want, when they want it, no matter what it takes (usually at your expense)
Unnecessary worry about everything and anything, sucking you into their world of unfounded fear and doubt

3. Communicators who are condescending

When toxic people open their mouths, an air of superiority fills the room. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

  • Bullying and belittling are probably its most blatant and, perhaps, worst manifestations.
  • Another favorite of theirs is mean-spiritedness or masking negative comments with alleged humor.

Complaining about others and doing everything they can to get you to agree or join in is a way for them to make a party out of patronizing others, spreading their toxicity to a larger group of people who, unfortunately, happen to cross their path.

Some of their favorite tools for making you feel small with their words are:

Rather than commenting on the content of another person's message, toxic people will point out and focus on minor errors, such as a mispronounced word.
Telling others how they should or should not feel, often in a way that shames them into believing they are wrong — “don't be so emotional,” “relax,” or “get a grip.”
Criticizing what others say by exaggerating their responses with backhanded compliments — “I can't believe you came up with that!” or “Wow…but it's not exactly rocket science”

4. Mentality of “Me, Myself, and I”

This one is easy to identify. It's akin to the narcissist, the ego-tripper, or the swollen head. Toxic people are only interested in themselves and will only include you IF you serve a purpose in getting them what they want. This goes beyond selfishness and into self-obsession. They are the center of their own universe, and they expect to be the center of yours as well.

The following are unmistakable indicators of this toxic trait:

There isn't a shred of empathy or even awareness of what others are going through or feeling.
The desire to put oneself on display, as well as the desire for others to lavish them with compliments and accolades
An “above the law” attitude — the rules are fine for minions, but they don't apply to them in the toxic mindset.

5. Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll

When dealing with toxic people, you never know who you'll be dealing with at any given time or on any given day. They can act altruistic and fool a lot of people, including you. It's how they worm their way into your heart, making you believe they're a friend when their mission is to erode your self-esteem and elevate their own presence and status.

Toxic people frequently contradict themselves, but they are masters at making it your problem, your fault, if you point out their flip-flopping. They'll turn on you in the blink of an eye, leaving you wondering what you did to cause such a change in the person you thought you knew.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde warning signs that come from within you include:

If you dread opening emails, taking phone calls, or having in-person meetings with someone, feeling anxious because you don't know what to expect — you just want to stay away from the toxic person.
When you are hesitant to speak or act in front of them for fear of what they will think, say, or do in response
When you feel like you're losing your mind or have bipolar disorder because you can be on top of the world one minute and then be in the depths of despair the next depending on whether Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde shows up.

6. Leopards are born predators and never change their spots

Toxic people do not change their ways. At their core, they are predators looking for those who will feed their egos. They prey on people who aren't always easy to manipulate — what's the challenge in that?

Toxic people cast a wide net, inflicting their negative attitudes and behaviors on whomever they can and following up with those to whom their toxicity adheres. A toxic person considers themselves to have scored big if they can inflict damage on someone who starts out strong and confident and ends up turning them into a shadow of their former selves.

When a toxic predator is stalking their next prey, there are a few things to look out for:

They'll appear to be everywhere. They will appear whenever you are in a position to shine so that they can use their negativity to dim your light.
They'll do everything they can to separate you from the herd. They will not want you to surround yourself with more positive people. They want you entirely to themselves.
A toxic predator will play with you, much like a cat does with a mouse, before killing you. They frequently relish your slow demise, watching you fall innocently deeper and deeper into their traps.
Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, toxic personality traits become clear to us IF we pay attention to our own gut instincts and internal alarm bells that tell us something isn't right. We don't need to know what's wrong, but we do need to pay attention to the voice inside of us that warns us. We must pay attention to those warning signs before they become so common that we accept a toxic person's negativity as normal. It isn't.

Toxic people are poisonous…

But keep in mind that you are the one who gets to decide whether or not to drink.

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