It's no secret that manipulative, Machiavellian people make for great fictional characters, but toxic relationships are rather less glamorous in real life. Unfortunately, they're harder to spot, too; in fact, there are all kinds of daily habits you may not realize are toxic. Even the most well-intentioned among us participate in these behaviors at times, whether it's by giving in to the urge to stir up some drama or simply taking friendships for granted. After all, it's impossible to be perfect all the time, nor should you want to be — the problem arises when toxic behaviors turn into habits.
Naturally, this brings about the question of what makes something deserve the phrase "toxic." It's a word that's been thrown around quite a bit online in recent years, and as a result, everyone has their own definition. The general idea, though, is this: Toxic behaviors arise from a place of selfishness, insecurity, negativity, or all of the above. The bottom line is that they're unhealthy, for the person being manipulated and ultimately for the one doing the manipulating, as they're likely to bounce from relationship to relationship without ever really getting to know anyone.
Having a few toxic habits doesn't mean you're a terrible person, of course. In fact, if you're worrying about the effect of your bad habits, chances are pretty high you're not the toxic type. On the other hand, it never hurts to be aware of the effects your actions have on other people — just take the following list of toxic habits with a grain of salt.
1. You Don't Accept Responsibility
When you're late, it was because your friend wanted to get brunch too early. When you fail a test, it's because your teacher is a jerk. When you cheat on your partner, it's because they weren't giving you what you needed in a relationship. An inability to take responsibility for their own actions is one of the most notable characteristics of toxic people; they're always blaming problems on other people.
2. You Expect Other People To Take Care Of You
It's one thing to reach out for help when you need it; in fact, many people find it harder to ask for help than to accept it. However, it's unhealthy to continually put your emotional well-being in the hands of others and give nothing back. This can manifest in all kinds of ways: calling your friends for rides at 3 a.m. every weekend and getting mad when they don't pick up; expecting someone to drop everything and comfort you after a bad day; constantly treating your friends as therapists (and rarely reciprocating); and more. Again, the problem doesn't lie in asking for help; it comes from being so dependent on other people that you can't function on your own.
3. You Interrupt Other People
If you make a habit of interrupting other people, it's a pretty good indication that you're not really listening to what they have to say. Part of what makes toxic relationships so, well, toxic is their one-sided nature, in which one person gives everything and gets nothing back.
4. You Cancel Plans For Better Ones
As a long-practicing hermit, I'm well aware of the fact that cancelling plans can feel better than heroin. But if you're always on the lookout for "better" things to do, it's clear that you don't value your friendships. The deepness of your friendships is up to you, of course, but it's not healthy to pretend to care about someone more than you actually do.
5. You One-Up Everyone
Many of us can get a little competitive; toxic people take it to the extreme by playing down other people's achievements in favor of their own.
6. You Get Annoyed When Someone Asks For Help
Toxic people may expect help, but they don't like to give it. If you're repeatedly irritated when someone needs something from you — especially if that person is nominally your friend — you might want to take a look at why you're annoyed.
7. You Take Everything Personally
This one is a little tricky: Sometimes, people are considered "too sensitive" if they speak out about sexism, racism, or other taboo topics that bother them. There's nothing wrong with pointing out something that makes you uncomfortable, but taking everything personally could be a sign of self-absorption.
8. You Gossip, Gossip, And Gossip Some More
Everyone loves a little juicy gossip, but it's not healthy to obsess over every detail of your friends' and co-workers' lives. Unfortunately, that's exactly what toxic people do — they love drama, especially when it comes to watching other people's lives implode.
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