A toxic relationship and how to identify one

We all know toxic relationships are bad for us, but we often don’t know how to identify if a relationship is toxic, frequently doubting our judgement on a person and burying those uneasy feelings that frequently arise. So, I thought I would write an article that addresses in a succinct way, how a toxic relationship is identified and what to do if you’re in one.

Identify a toxic friendship

Toxic people can be extremely difficult to identify, but I advise you to look out for one (or more) of the following personality traits:

  • jealousy
  • a gossip
  • a liar
  • selfish
  • lazy
  • violent
  • manipulative
  • narcissist
  • judgemental
  • a bully

 Also, a toxic person is one or more of the following:

  • a frequent canceller
  • generally, a bad influence
  • only in contact when they need something
  • someone who can’t be relied upon

My main piece of advice to identify a toxic person, is to analyse how you generally feel after spending time with that person. If you feel bad, drained, upset or angry then this person is toxic.

Effects of a toxic friendship

A toxic person can seriously effect mental health in many ways, but the most common ways are by causing; inferiority complex, lack of confidence, lack of self-esteem, shyness, anger, stress or general irritation.

What can you do?

Once a toxic person is identified, it’s imperative that the situation is addressed.

I recommend one of the following:

1. In most cases and before trying point number 2 onwards, try to salvage the relationship by talking to the toxic person. Explain how they are making you feel and what they need to do to rectify the situation. Then assess. If this doesn’t work see below points.

2. In the case of a toxic friendship, phase them out slowly or go cold turkey if warranted.

3. If a romantic relationship is toxic, then in the first instance try couples therapy. If it’s more severe, then it may be a case of separating or ending the relationship.

4. Toxic family members are trickier to deal with. If directly trying to resolve the toxic situation doesn’t work, try mediation. If this doesn’t work, either distance yourself or decide to have no contact and make sure other family members understand your wishes.

5. If you’re experiencing a toxic person at work, in the first instance try to resolve directly with that person. If that doesn’t work, then speak to your Line Manager or HR department.


My closing comments are not to underestimate the effect a toxic person can have on your life. If you identify someone as being toxic, regardless of who they are to you, they either need to rectify their toxic ways or they need to be removed from your life.

If you would like further help in this area you could contact a coach for private coaching.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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