For years, I spent hurting in relationships, workplaces, and friendships by putting up with toxic people. It caused me a lot of pain because I felt lonely and unfulfilled. One day, I had enough and left my toxic relationship and began my healing journey. During it, I learned that toxic people all have the same traits that can be identified in the very beginning.
Here are the 5 most comment red flags I look for:
- Disrespect: If the other person is consistently disrespectful or inconsiderate of your feelings, boundaries, or needs, this is a red flag. This may include things like talking down to you, belittling your ideas, or ignoring your requests.
- Dishonesty: If the other person is not being honest with you, this is a red flag. This may include things like lying, withholding information, or gaslighting (manipulating you into doubting your perception of reality).
- Controlling behavior: If the other person is trying to control you or your actions, this is a red flag. This may include things like telling you what to wear, who to spend time with, or how to spend your money.
- Lack of accountability: If the other person is not willing to take responsibility for their actions or their mistakes, this is a red flag. This may include things like blaming others, making excuses, or denying wrongdoing.
- Negativity: If the other person is consistently negative or critical, this is a red flag. This may include things like complaining, blaming, or being pessimistic.
By paying attention to these red flags, you can protect yourself from unhealthy or toxic relationships, friendships, or work environments. If you notice any of these red flags, it is important to trust your instincts and take action to protect yourself.
Why people dismiss red flags:
- Denial: People may ignore red flags in others because they do not want to believe that there is a problem or that something is wrong. This can be especially common when the red flags are related to difficult or unpleasant topics, such as addiction or abuse.
- Lack of awareness: People may not recognize red flags in others because they do not have enough information or knowledge about the situation. For example, they may not know the signs of a certain mental health condition or they may not be aware of the warning signs of a toxic relationship.
- Wishful thinking: People may ignore red flags in others because they are hoping that the problem will go away or that things will get better on their own. This can be especially common when the red flags are related to someone they care about, such as a friend or family member.
- Fear: People may ignore red flags in others because they are afraid of the consequences of acknowledging the problem or taking action. This can be especially common when the red flags are related to something intimidating or uncertain, such as a difficult conversation or a potential confrontation.
How to recognize red flags:
- Pay attention to your instincts. If you have a gut feeling that something is not right in a relationship, friendship, or workplace, pay attention to this feeling. Your instincts are often based on unconscious cues and observations, and they can be a valuable source of information.
- Notice patterns of behavior. Look for patterns of behavior that are concerning or that do not align with your values or expectations. For example, if someone is consistently disrespectful, unreliable, or dishonest, this may be a red flag.
- Pay attention to how you feel. Notice how you feel when you are around the person or in the workplace. If you consistently feel anxious, uncomfortable, or drained, this may be a red flag.
- Look for warning signs of abuse or manipulation. Be aware of warning signs of abuse or manipulation, such as controlling behavior, jealousy, or verbal or physical aggression. If you notice these behaviors, this is a red flag and you should seek help and support.
- Write down what you feel. If you are unsure at the moment, write it down and check back on it later if it comes up again or ask someone what they think. This also ensures you don’t forget what you noticed.
- Seek advice from others. If you are unsure about whether something is a red flag, consider seeking advice from others who are close to you or who have more experience in the situation. They may be able to provide a different perspective or valuable insights.
Red flags are warning signs that indicate potential problems or issues in a relationship, friendship, or workplace. These red flags can be subtle or overt, and they can be difficult to spot, especially if you are not looking for them. But you be cautious about protecting your energy because that is the most valuable thing you have. The people around you have a profound impact on your well-being and success.