5 personality traits that characterize toxic people

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5 personality traits that characterize toxic people

There are people in whose presence we simply do not feel comfortable. This is perfectly normal; after all, we can't find everyone likeable. In the case of toxic people, however, this goes much further: these personalities deliberately make the people around them feel bad. Unfortunately, for many this is often only apparent at second glance.

Dealing with toxic personalities is accordingly difficult. It is not always possible to avoid them completely. Therefore, we would like to familiarize you with the most important tips for dealing with them.

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What are toxic people?

Toxic people are people who have a demonstrably negative influence on their immediate environment. In their presence you feel bad, wrong and inferior. In addition, toxic people often lie and manipulate purposefully in order to gain personal advantages. They put themselves in the spotlight and know no scruples or shame.

You can encounter toxic people in almost every area of life. They can be work colleagues, partners, supposed friends or even family members. Subtle psychological violence is characteristic. Subtle because it is usually not obvious. Toxic persons act very skillfully.

Emotional abuse is often observed. Here, the toxic person belittles the personality as well as the wishes of his victim, deliberately embarrasses him in public or "punishes" arguments with the withdrawal of affection. In extreme cases, the complete Self-confidence undermined. In this case, we are talking about so-called "gaslightning.

What annoys toxic people?

Toxic people often resent boundaries that limit their control, the independence and self-reliance of others that diminish their manipulative power, criticism or confrontation that exposes their weaknesses, the success and happiness of others that makes them envious, and authenticity and honesty that breaks through their facades. They are sensitive to situations that expose their vulnerabilities or undermine their ability to influence others.

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How toxic people behave: the 5 most common signs and characteristics

Toxic people often suffer from strong inferiority complexes themselves, which they try to compensate in a destructive way. By belittling others, they promise themselves an increase in their own Self-esteem - This is how toxic people like to behave.

However, as mentioned earlier, toxic people are not always easy to spot. Therefore, you should definitely watch out for the following signs:


Straightforward behavior is something that toxic people cannot master. They are capricious and fickle in their decisions. What was ironcladly sworn to yesterday may long cease to be true tomorrow. A toxic person can swear never to do something certain and still do it. Accordingly, it is almost impossible for them to keep promises or keep secrets.

Put simply: toxic people cannot be relied upon. They prove this time and again.

Constantly demanding attention without reciprocation

Toxic people always want to be the center of attention. They demand unconditional support from those around them without ever reciprocating. When a toxic person calls or stands in front of the door to ask you for help, he expects you to drop everything else for him immediately. If the case were reversed, however, he would put you off. After all, the world revolves around him.

Constantly seeking attention may be a sign of narcissistic personality disorder. In fact, many toxic people are narcissistically inclined.

Constant drama

Toxic people really thrive in dramatic situations. They seem to magically attract drama. Naturally, they expect those around them to join them in the situation.

Some even go so far as to deliberately create crises in their lives in order to be sure of the attention and sympathy of those around them. In doing so, it is accepted that even bystanders are hurt emotionally. Toxic people are only interested in their big appearance. Consideration is alien to them.


To achieve what they want, toxic people twist the truth in their favor. They add details or leave important facts under the table in order to influence other people and thus realize their own goals. Sometimes, however, they get entangled in contradictions.

If you notice more and more of this kind of thing, you should be alert. You may be being manipulated. Targeted pressure is also typical for toxic people: "If you don't do xy, I'll be really disappointed in you.

Everything is negative

A problem is created from all banalities, but toxic people are not interested in a solution. They are much more interested in creating a negative mood in their environment. In professional life, this can cause entire projects to stall or even fail.

how to recognize a toxic person

How to deal with toxic people: 5 helpful tips

It is not always possible to completely avoid contact with toxic people. However, to protect yourself mentally from the negative influence, the following five tips can help you:

1. stay calm

Admittedly, this is often easier said than done. However, realize that toxic behavior is not directed at you personally. Toxic people use their manipulation strategies to make themselves feel better. They can't help it and treat everyone this way. There is nothing wrong with you!

2. address the behavior

Toxic people are often resistant to counseling. However, it can be useful to address your observations and take a clear position: "I will not be treated this way. Please refrain from doing xy."

3. show possible consequences

Do you notice how a colleague is scheming on a massive scale or deliberately obstructing projects? Then let them know that you are aware of their behavior and will take the necessary action if they do not stop. This could involve going to your supervisor, for example.

4. do not stay alone

You are certainly not the only person who has suffered from the machinations of a toxic person. Share your experiences with others who have been affected. This will help you regain lost self-confidence. It is not up to you!

5. break off the contact - if possible

In your professional life, it is hardly possible to permanently avoid a toxic colleague. In your private life, however, you can very well decide which people you (don't) want to surround yourself with. Even if it is difficult: Detach yourself from false friends or even from a toxic partner. Seek professional support if you can't do it alone.

10 types of toxic people you should avoid at all costs

Toxic people do not all behave in the same way. In fact, ten different types can be differentiated:

1. the gossip lover

The gossip lover feasts on the misfortune of others and passes on every mishap scaldingly. This makes the person feel even worse. A little gossip may be normal and even fun. Too much of it, however, poisons the environment.

2. the impulsive

Impulsive character types tend to have strong emotional outbursts, which are at least subliminally the Manipulation serve. They use other people as "trash cans" for their soul ballast. Since they often arouse pity, it is not so easy to put such people in their place.

3. the victim

Similar to the impulsive character type, the victim type deliberately drags other people into their own suffering. Every banality becomes a problem, constantly such people find themselves in a Life crisis. However, they do not really want to be helped at all, but only to attract attention.

4. the selfish man

Selfish character types are not interested in building deep emotional connections. They use other (insecure) people to further their Self-esteem build up. Within a friendship or partnership, the other party often has the feeling of being completely unimportant and dispensable.

5. the manipulator

Manipulators try to win the friendship and trust of other people in order to gain advantages for themselves. Since they are very clever in doing so, they are not easy to expose. Basically, however, the manipulator never acts altruistically. If he does you a favor, he expects something in return.

6. the envious

Envious people cannot stand it when something positive happens to someone else. They therefore always try to talk down other people's successes. If something good happens to them themselves, they do not appreciate it. They always focus on all the things they lack instead of grateful for what they have.

7. the pessimist

As soon as the pessimist enters the room, the mood changes negatively. He really infects other people with his pessimistic views. The pessimist knows how to make a mountain out of a molehill and discourage others.

8. the villain

Vile character types flourish when they can cause mental pain to other people. They derive deep inner satisfaction from the suffering they cause. They quickly lose interest in people with whom they do not succeed.

9. the evaluator

Judgmental people look down on anything they think is different from the norm. They make you feel that your dreams and goals are ridiculous. They deliberately hold you down. If you tell them about a mishap, they condemn you for it.

10. the arrogant

Arrogant character types are very full of themselves. empathy is far from their mind. However, with their behavior they conceal their own Uncertaintiesof which they are often not even aware. Arrogant character types look down on their fellow human beings just like the judgmental type.

Letting go of toxic people: how to succeed

Basically, the facts should be clear: If a person harms you, remove him from your life. Unfortunately, this is not so easy in practice. This is especially true when emotions are involved.

Nevertheless, your Self-esteem always be in the foreground. If your partner does not appreciative and even conversations do not change anything, the end of the relationship is without alternative.

The first step is to admit to yourself that you are in a toxic relationship trapped. How you can recognize a toxic relationship and how you can free yourself from it, you will learn in our professional article on the topic "Toxic relationship”.

Interesting to know: According to a Parship survey from 2021, about 36 percent of respondents said they had been in a toxic relationship at some point.

Toxic people - 5 sayings

We have put together 5 sayings that can help you deal with toxic people.

  1. "Do not surround yourself with people who extinguish your flame; look for those who make it burn brighter."
  2. "Not everyone deserves a place in your life. Choose wisely who receives your energy."
  3. "Sometimes the greatest growth you can experience is to let someone out of your life."
  4. "Toxic people turn gold into dust. Stick to those who turn dust into gold."
  5. "Realize that your strength is to let go, not your weakness to hold on."

Typical sayings of toxic people

Toxic people often use sayings that belittle or manipulate others. Examples of this are

  1. "You're too sensitive."
  2. "I was just being honest."
  3. "You'll never find anyone better than me."
  4. "I was only joking."
  5. "You're misinterpreting it."

These sayings are aimed at undermining the self-esteem of others and asserting one's own dominance.


Toxic people poison the atmosphere wherever they appear. They deliberately make their fellow human beings feel bad, hopeless, and sometimes worthless. For this reason, if possible, you should distance yourself from toxic people. If this is not possible, try not to take the attacks too personally. Stay with yourself, your truth and your Values.

Toxic people often can't get out of their skin. It is important that you do not let them make you feel insecure. But how should you behave if you find yourself in a Relationship with a toxic personality? As already mentioned, the first and most important step is to first admit this to yourself. This is not always easy when love is involved.

In this context we would like to present you our free relationship test to the heart. This helps you to recognize in an uncomplicated way whether you are in a harmful relationship. The test comprises 20 questions and is completed in just a few minutes. You will receive your clear result immediately.

Take the first step back into a self-determined life and put your current relationship to the test.


Is your relationship healthy?

Find out, Whether your relationship is toxic! Our free relationship quiz will help you see if you're in a harmful relationship - or if everything is in the green.
Only 4 minutes
Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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