Have you been called moody, manipulative or judgmental? Here are signs you might be toxic

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We may be quick to find fault or point out what the other person is doing wrong, but seldom look at our own behaviour.
We may be quick to find fault or point out what the other person is doing wrong, but seldom look at our own behaviour.
Photo: Ivan Pantic
  • Relationship expert Paula Quinsee says when it comes to relationships, romantic or other, we may be quick to find fault or point out what the other person is doing wrong, but seldom look at our own behaviour.
  • Toxic traits can range from deliberate behaviour such as lying, screaming and shouting, to more subtle undertones that include being unsupportive, manipulative, needy, judgmental or controlling.
  • Having a conversation with someone portraying toxic behaviour does not always go down well and can lead to more toxic behaviour and conflict, or ruin the relationship entirely.

The word "toxic" is used to describe a situation, relationship or environment. In recent years, we have even learned more about what to call toxic behaviours such as narcissism, ghosting, gaslighting and pocketing.   

Psychologists and therapists often share advice to help navigate toxic people. But how often do you stop and wonder if you could be the toxic one? 

READ MORE | Keep dating toxic, narcissistic people? Here’s how to change that

Relationship expert Paula Quinsee says when it comes to relationships, romantic or other, we may be quick to find fault or point out what the other person is doing wrong, but seldom look at our own behaviour.

"It can be difficult to admit that we are perhaps not as perfect as we like to think. The reality is that we all have flaws, and embracing and accepting them is where growth happens. There is no such thing as the perfect person or perfect relationship," she says. 

What if you are the toxic one, and you don't know it because it is easier to point fingers at others?

Paula says toxic traits can range from deliberate behaviour such as lying, screaming and shouting, to more subtle undertones that include being unsupportive, manipulative, needy, judgmental, controlling, self-centred, and physical, verbal and emotional abuse.

READ MORE | In a toxic relationship? Here’s how to handle it

"It's not always easy to identify toxic behaviour in another person, so the best place to start is within yourself and how you feel in situations or when spending time with people in your life," Paula says.

"Maybe it is time to read the room, especially if you make people feel confused and unsure of themselves or they feel drained or full of anxiety. Can people in your life say 'no' to you without having to explain and justify their reasons to you? And do you have difficulty respecting other people's boundaries?"

According to Paula, these questions might help you determine if you display any toxic behaviours. 

READ MORE | Pocketing: The toxic dating trend to watch out for


If you are on the receiving end of the toxicity, Paula advises that you express your feelings for people who have experienced toxic behaviours from their loved ones. 

"Having a conversation with someone portraying toxic behaviour does not always go down well and can lead to more toxic behaviour and conflict or ruin the relationship entirely," she adds. 

"If you want to keep this person in your life, then you may need to have a courageous conversation and put down firm boundaries with this person.

"Boundaries can include things such as: putting some distance between you, limiting the time or types of interactions you have, unfollowing them on social media and being very clear on what behaviour you will/won't tolerate from this person," Paula says. 

It is normal to hit a speedbump in relationships and for emotions to run high.

"We can quickly get stuck in the blame game and blame the other person for everything wrong or what they have done to us. When we try and change them to suit our lens or perspective in the world, when in fact, stepping into their world and seeing it through their eyes takes courage and bravery to be vulnerable and admit our flaws or that we are not always right," she adds. 

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