15 Red Flags that Scream “This Person is Toxic”

From gaslighting to stonewalling, navigating toxic personalities from the workplace to your relationships can be tricky. More often than not, we don’t notice these harmful behaviors until it’s too late. 

Getting out of a toxic relationship or finding ways to deal with a manipulative coworker can be tough. Spotting the signs early on can help you learn to cope and adapt to the situation, allowing you to establish yourself in a hostile environment. 

What Are Toxic Traits?

Displeased woman manipulator ignoring husband wanting to talk
Image Credit: DimaBerlin / Shutterstock.com

These are harmful habits and behavioral patterns that cause physical and emotional damage. Many toxic traits can be hard to pinpoint or understand often until it’s too late. The majority of these behaviors stem from insecurity, a lack of self-awareness, and an absence of empathy.

Should You Be Scared?

Woman feeling anxious
Image credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

We all develop and experience toxic habits throughout our lives, but it doesn’t define who you are. Nobody is perfect; that being said, there are a few traits to keep an eye out for, especially when getting into a new relationship, either at work or home. 

What To Look Out For

young women talking while looking at a guy
Image credit: PeopleImage / shutterstock.com

Not all toxic traits manifest as physical or noticeable behaviors. Many harmful attributes are far more nuanced than just pure aggression.

Here are 15 telltale signs of a toxic personality to help you get ahead. 


Victim of gaslighting
Image credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Gaslighting is a major red flag. Often associated with narcissistic traits, this manipulative tactic distorts reality to make others doubt their perceptions. Gaslighters warp situations to suit their narratives and often portray themselves as the victims. 

It’s essential to set boundaries and disengage with attempts to twist reality to help prevent their manipulative tactics from taking hold.


Sad woman being ignored by her friend sitting at street cafe outdoors
Image Credit: Bilanol / shutterstock.com

This refers to someone incapable of showing appreciation or acknowledging the contributions and talents of others. 

Rather, this behavior is motivated by envy toward those they deem more successful. They seek to either bring them down to their level and withhold or reject their contributions to take control. 

Martyr Complex

Man embracing woman for support
Image credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

A martyr complex refers to someone who consistently makes a point of appearing to sacrifice their own needs to help others. They tend to take on more than necessary for seeking recognition, praise, or sympathy, crafting a narrative that they are unfairly burdened and are worse off than anyone else. 

They essentially act as victims but the psychological strain and guilt-tripping they place on others and themselves can be incredibly draining and harmful in the long run.  


Close up overjoyed wife hugging husband, thanking for romantic present, surprise, happy attractive young woman holding gift box with bow, couple celebrating anniversary, birthday or Valentines day
Image credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Lovebombing is the ultimate charm offensive, designed to lure people in by showering them with gifts, praise, and attention. It’s a manipulative tactic to gain control and exploit another person’s emotions by making them feel indebted and overly involved to the extent that they find it hard to leave.


Image Credit: Nicoleta Ionescu / Shutterstock.com

If someone is overly arrogant, it implies that they may genuinely believe you are inferior to them. A lack of balance and respect in any relationship can become incredibly harmful in the long run.


Jealous husband spying the phone of his partner while she is sleeping in a bed at home
Image credit: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

Jealousy breeds paranoia. Someone who gets jealous often harbors feelings of resentment and suspicion toward others, which can be incredibly damaging to a relationship. This can create a hostile environment, making building genuine connections and mutual respect difficult.

Lack Of Empathy

wife was crying because her husband
Image Credit: VGstockstudio / Shutterstock.com

Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of others. A lack of empathy tends to be related to narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies, meaning they are incapable of recognizing or comprehending the emotions of those around them. 

As a result, they can be very self-centered and incredibly unsupportive of others, a lack of empathy is often coupled with gaslighting, where an individual will reflect blame onto the other person.


male fist smashing glass
Image Credit: Evannovostro / Shutterstock.com

Aggression and especially violence are clear signs of a toxic personality and unresolved personal issues. No form of violence or physical or mental abuse should be tolerated and if someone in your life has been aggressive towards you or someone you know, it is important to seek professional advice.

Constantly Critical

Stressed young married family couple arguing emotionally, blaming lecturing each other, sitting on couch. Depressed husband quarreling with wife, having serious relations communication problems.
Image Credit: Srdjan Randjelovic / Shutterstock.com

Someone who constantly criticizes, belittles, or shifts the blame onto others is a telltale sign of a toxic personality. Constant criticism suggests that they are incapable of empathy and unable to take any kind of responsibility for their actions.


Young man arguing with sad girlfriend
Image Credit: Egoitz Bengoetxea / Shutterstock.com

Stonewalling is a toxic trait often found among narcissists. This is where someone will refuse to communicate or engage in a discussion or argument. 

This blocks any form of meaningful or productive conversation. Stonewalling prevents conflict resolution and often leaves one party feeling undervalued and unheard. 


Tired frustrated african wife ignoring angry black despot husband arguing blaming upset woman of problems, jealous man shouting at sad girlfriend, family fight and controlling boyfriend, disrespect
Image Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Constantly judging others is often a sign of toxic projection caused by a level of personal insecurity. Those who are overly judgemental lack self-confidence and lash out at other people’s characters in an attempt to drag them down to their level. 

This can be very harmful in any relationship, and it’s important to be confident in yourself to avoid being affected by such a negative presence. 


Lie women with hand crossing fingers behind back telling liar and cheating to man,April Fools' Day concept
Image Credit: GBALLGIGGSPHOTO / Shutterstock.com

Dishonesty or constant lying is something to look out for. Lying is typically a choice a person makes, and we all do it from time to time. Dishonesty is when lying turns into a trait and can become compulsive.

Passive Aggressive

couple have quarrel in kitchen, at home. annoyed stressed couple arguing
Image Credit: UfaBizPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Someone who evades confrontation or working through their issues can become harmful. An inability to express themselves often leads to feelings of resentment or unfairly placing blame onto others. 


concept of narcissistic woman cheating on man
Photo credit: Giulio_Fornasar / Shutterstock.com

Cheating destroys the foundations of trust and honesty in any relationship. Recognizing the signs of a cheater is essential to avoid getting trapped in a toxic relationship. 

Can’t Maintain Friendships

young girl sitting alone in café
Image Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

People who isolate themselves and those around them and struggle to maintain long-term genuine connections are often signs of a toxic personality. The inability to maintain long-lasting relationships is often an indication of intimacy and commitment issues, selfishness, and a lack of empathy.  

Why Do People Develop Toxic Traits?

Displeased angry pessimistic woman with bad attitude
Image Credit: pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

Toxic traits can often develop naturally from underlying issues of past trauma, insecurities, or the fear of being vulnerable. Everyone exhibits some form of harmful or toxic behavior throughout their lives.

Recognizing and addressing these underlying issues in yourself as well as in others is essential for promoting personal and fostering healthier connections. 

More From SewCanShe

Young woman envy on white background
Image Credit: Oakland Images / Shutterstock.com

18 Tactics of Manipulative Minds That Scream ‘Red Flag’

Man hands with strings on fingers on black background. Violence, harassment, bullying concept. Master in business suit, abuser using influence to control person behavior. Manipulation of government.
Image Credit: KinoMasterskaya / Shutterstock.com

14 Troubling Personality Traits That Scream ‘Red Flag’

Young woman with evil smile
Image credits: Ollyy / Shutterstock.com

15 Things Narcissists Do That Should Make You Run a Mile

Photo credit: FabrikaSimf / Shutterstock.com

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂