If you are in a toxic relationship and are looking for personality traits of toxic people to help you manage it, let me help!
We all have them in our life – toxic people.
Whether it’s a boss or a co-worker, a family member or a lover, we all have people in our life who we know only bring us down. And, unfortunately, for many of us, these toxic people bring us down every day.
The best way to avoid, or get rid of, the toxic people in our lives is to know what kind of personality traits they exhibit and to learn how to deal with them.
Fortunately, toxic people are fairly easy to identify, if you know what to look for. Of course, if your person has one or more of these personality traits that doesn’t automatically mean they are toxic but, if you are reading this article I am guessing you are thinking they might be.
#1 – Self centeredness
Many toxic people are totally about themselves.
Everything that happens in the world, the good and the bad, is a reflection on them. They truly believe that they are the center of the universe and that everyone and everything should put their needs second to them.
Because of their self-centeredness, toxic people are simply incapable of reading the feelings of others, of having any concern that they might be causing pain. They have no interest in looking out for the needs of another person and would never put their needs above their own.
I have a client whose partner is as self-centered as they come. He pushes his girl away when he needs ‘time’ and then draws her back in when he wants her. He has done this over and over and she blames herself – if only she was good enough he would stay. But it’s not about her. It’s about him.
My client and I have been working on identifying the self-centeredness of her partner and, with that awareness, that he is incapable of putting someone other than himself first, she is seeing that their relationship problem is on him and not her. And that is giving her the strength to walk away, as all people should do in toxic relationships.
#2 – Insecurity
Many toxic people are paralyzingly insecure. And it is this insecurity that brings about toxicity.
With my same client, her guy had a horrible childhood with his father disappearing and his mother struggling with difficult relationships. He started drinking young, has a hard time staying employed and is chronically unfaithful. I think he knows that he has failed on many levels and it consumes him.
How does this make him toxic? Because of his insecurity, he is quick to blame others for his failings. He lashes out at people who let him down. He finds it hard to believe that anyone could ever love him so he will not commit to loving someone else.
So how do you deal with an insecure person? Again, awareness is an important part of it. And you can’t make someone who is insecure secure by telling them they are wonderful. What you can do is make your person feel safe and help them gain security by helping them find successes. If you can do that, you could help you person manage their insecurity and, therefore, their toxicity.
#3 – Possessiveness
People who are toxic are often very possessive.
People who are possessive don’t like to share their friends or their lovers with other people. They hold on tight to someone who might try to live their own life, sometimes causing those people to become alienated from others.
My client’s partner would push back every time she wanted to go out and spend time with friends. He would make up excuses as to why she had to be with him or he would pretend that he was sick to make her stay home. If those things didn’t work, he would fly into a rage and insist that she stay and not go. More often than not, she complied.
If your person is possessive, a good thing to do at the first sign of it is to talk it through. Your person needs to understand, from the beginning, that you will have your own life and that you will always want to do things on your own.
If you person doesn’t like that, leave them. Immediately!
#4 – Controlling
Toxic people are very often controlling. They insist on managing how their partner acts, what they wear, what they eat, who they hang out with etc.
People’s need to control and their possessiveness are often the result of their insecurities. They believe that if their person is out of their sight they will lose them. As a result, they do whatever they can to control the actions of their partner.
My client’s partner insisted that she always texted him every morning when she woke up, during her coffee break, at lunch, on her way home from work and at bedtime. If she didn’t do so, he would blow up her phone, wondering why she hadn’t reached out.
My client timidly did exactly what her partner wanted her to do. She figured that he did it because he loved her – not because he was trying to control her. Once I pointed out what he was doing she recognized the effect it was having on her and stopped doing what he wanted just to keep the peace.
#5 – Easily angered
People who are toxic are usually very angry. It doesn’t take much to trigger them into a rage. Because they are working so hard to control their world, even the smallest thing can’t set them off.
My client’s partner would often rage at her about the smallest thing. The not texting was just one of many examples. And she lived in constant fear of his anger – it was scary and upsetting. Walking around on eggshells was exhausting.
Anger is one of those personality traits that you can’t do anything about. You can encourage your partner to get help, which they may or may not do. You can also leave them. That might seem scary but getting away from a person with anger issues might be the smartest thing you ever do.
#6 – Meanness
One very significant personality traits of a toxic person is that they are mean. Not just unpleasant but mean.
I had a boss once who was constantly insulting the people who worked for him. He would cut them down at staff meetings, undermine them with the clients, belittle them for shoddy work habits and continually mock the way they dressed. As you can imagine, the work environment was toxic.
So how to you deal with a mean person? Once again, you can quit your job or leave your lover. You can also choose how to manage your reactions to that person. You know that their default reaction is meanness. If you know that, perhaps you can moderate your reaction to them – you can recognize that what they say is more about them then it is about you.
Doing so might mitigate the damage done by their toxic words and action.
#7 – Passive aggressiveness
I believe the most common personality trait of toxic people is passive aggressiveness.
Passive aggressiveness is defined as behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)’
Passive aggressive people don’t come out and say what they mean or what they want. They hint and suggest and they undermine and pry. Whatever they need to do to get you to act in a certain way or do something with directly asking or taking responsibility.
The reason that I believe that passive aggressive people are the most compelling personality trait of toxic people is because passive aggressive people manipulate others to get what they want and that in and of itself is toxic.
So how do you deal with a passive aggressive person? I encourage my clients to talk to their person about their passive aggressive tendencies and to not allow themselves to be manipulated. If they can do that, they might raise awareness in their partner of their manipulative ways and they can work together to change them.
The personality traits of toxic people are ones that are key to notice if you want to be happy in this world.
Toxic people bring us down every day. Not matter how hard we work to make our lives a better place, we have no control over what toxic people bring into our lives.
Having some awareness that toxic people are self-centered, insecure, possessive, controlling, angry, mean and passive aggressive will help you identify those who you want to stay away from and give you some information to manage those who are already in your life.
Life is too short to let your happiness be hampered by toxic people.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.