8 Toxic Personalities to Avoid

Although we like to think that the people in our lives are well-adjusted, happy, healthy minded individuals, we sometimes realize that it just isn’t so.  Personally, I’ve had moments where I’ll be skipping through my day, happy as can be, thinking life is grand and BAM, I’ll be blindsided by someone who manages to knock the happy wind out of my sails.  Sometimes it is easy to write it off and other times, not so much.

Maybe you are a positive person, but when you are around a certain individual, you feel negative.  Or, maybe you have an idealistic view of the world and when you are with certain people, you are made to feel silly, unrealistic or delusional.  Or, maybe you pride yourself in being completely independent and in control of your life, but when you are around a certain family member, you regress into a state of childhood.

Some of these situations, and yes, these people, can have a tremendously negative impact on our lives.  And, although we are all human and have our ‘issues,’ some ‘issues’ are quite frankly, toxic.  They are toxic to our happiness.  They are toxic to our mental outlook.  They are toxic to our self-esteem.  And they are toxic to our lives.  They can suck the life out of us and even shorten our lifespan.

Here are the worst of the toxic personalities out there and how to spot them:

1. Manipulative Mary: These individuals are experts at manipulation tactics.  Is a matter of fact, you may not even realize you have been manipulated until it is too late.  These individuals figure out what your ‘buttons’ are, and push them to get what they want.

  • Why they are toxic: These people have a way of eating away at your belief system and self-esteem.  They find ways to make you do things that you don’t necessarily want to do and before you know it, you lose your sense of identity, your personal priorities and your ability to see the reality of the situation.  The world all of a sudden becomes centered around their needs and their priorities.

2. Narcissistic Nancy: These people have an extreme sense of self-importance and believe that the world revolves around them.  They are often not as sly as the Manipulative Marys of the world, but instead, tend to be a bit overt about getting their needs met.  You often want to say to them “It isn’t always about you.”

  • Why they are toxic: They are solely focused on their needs, leaving your needs in the dust.  You are left disappointed and unfulfilled.  Further, they zap your energy by getting you to focus so much on them, that you have nothing left for yourself.

3. Debbie Downers: These people can’t appreciate the positive in life.  If you tell them that it is a beautiful day, they will tell you about the impending dreary forecast.  If you tell them you aced a mid-term, they’ll tell you about how difficult the final is going to be.

  • Why they are toxic: They take the joy out of everything.  Your rosy outlook on life continues to get squashed with negativity.  Before you know it, their negativity consumes you and you start looking at things with gray colored glasses yourself.

4. Judgmental Jims: When you see things as cute and quirky, they see things as strange and unattractive.  If you find people’s unique perspectives refreshing, they find them ‘wrong’.  If you like someone’s eclectic taste, they find it ‘disturbing’ or ‘bad’.

  • Why they are toxic: Judgmental people are much like Debbie Downers.  In a world where freedom rings, judgment is sooo over.  If the world was a homogeneous place, life would be pretty boring.  Spending a lot of time with these types can inadvertently convert you into a judgmental person as well.

5. Dream Killing Keiths: Every time you have an idea, these people tell you why you can’t do it.  As you achieve, they try to pull you down.  As you dream, they are the first to tell you it is impossible.

  • Why they are toxic: These people are stuck in what is instead of what could be.  Further, these individuals eat away at your self-esteem and your belief in yourself.  Progress and change can only occur from doing new things and innovating, dreaming the impossible and reaching for the stars.

6. Insincere Illissas: You never quite feel that these people are being sincere.  You tell a funny story, they give you a polite laugh.  You feel depressed and sad and they give you a ‘there, there’ type response.  You tell them you are excited about something and you get a very ho-hum response.

  • Why they are toxic: People who aren’t sincere or genuine build relationships on superficial criteria.  This breeds shallow, meaningless relationships.  When you are really in need of a friend, they won’t be there.  When you really need constructive criticism, they would rather tell you that you are great the way you are.  When you need support, they would rather see you fail or make a fool of yourself.

7. Disrespectful Dannys: These people will say or do things at the most inappropriate times and in the most inappropriate ways.  In essence, they are more subtle, grown up bullies.  Maybe this person is a friend who you confided in and uses your secret against you.  Maybe it is a family member who puts their busy-body nose into your affairs when it is none of their business.  Or maybe, it is a colleague who says demeaning things to you.

  • Why they are toxic: These people have no sense of boundaries and don’t respect your feelings or, for that matter, your privacy.  These people will cause you to feel frustrated and disrespected.

8. Never Enough Nellies: You can never give enough to these people to make them happy.  They take you for granted and have unrealistic expectations of you.  They find ways to continually fault you and never take responsibility for anything themselves.

  • Why they are toxic: You will spend so much time trying to please them, that you will end up losing yourself in the process.  They will require all of your time and energy, leaving you worn out and your own needs sacrificed.

All of these personalities have several things in common.  1) the more these people get away with their behavior, the more they will continue.  2) Unfortunately, most of these people don’t see that what they do is wrong and as a result, talking to them about it will fall on deaf ears, leaving you wondering if you are the crazy one.  3) Most of these people get worse with age, making their impact on you stronger with time.

Frankly, life is too short to spend your time dealing with toxicity.  If you can, avoid spending mucho time with people who are indicative of these behaviors and you’ll feel a lot happier. Have you encountered these personalities?  What have you done?  Any personalities you would add?



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  • Diane

    Thanks, Brett, for your well written articles on as dealing with toxic boundary-breakers can be challenging. I pride myself on being positive and willing to listen, yet their issues are always ‘more important’. Standing my ground and stating my boundaries doesn’t work with the controlling, manipulative, narcisscistic types, and they tend to exhibit disrespectful tendencies. No matter the approach, whether it be compassionate concern nor simply stated boundaries, work with these types as they continue their disillusioned behaviours toward myself and others in their life. It’s amazing how many people tend to put up with it! I am finding that the best thing for me is to step away from them and let them go. I’d like to believe that people can change and I know they can, yet most don’t seem to feel they need to, an unconscious awareness on their part. As for me, I continue do my best to learn and practice how to offer healthiness in relationship. This makes for a happier life!

    • brettblumenthal

      This is so true Diane. There are people who just don’t get it. And if you do your best to set boundaries respectfully, and they never seem to adhere, cutting them out of your life is maybe the best solution. Sometimes, it is difficult…if the person is family for instance. However, I believe you need to take care of yourself first and foremost, and if cutting time out from seeing them helps, then so be it!

  • sue

    yes I also had to get rid of three women whom I had done a lot for over the years presents and helping them with their computer problems. one was very bossy with me and her friend ridiculed me over weight at a xmas party, waited til she had a safe audience and humiliated me. … the next one criticised my home decorating skills, her hubby is a wallpaperer and painter and if he did some work here she would come over and look it up and down… also criticised my boy who had his car on the front lawn.. her own children were smoking pot and she used to do a quick scan when she came in my house to see what I had done to it, the other one ran down everyone I knew and her friends and family ..her family gave up on her too..I went on a weeks holiday with this one never again. and then I found out two other women had been away with her and had the same carry on as I had over diet etc. she is diabetic and didn’t seem to want to pay half for our breakfast stuff.. strange lady she was a very big lady… I have had a hard time in my life with bi polar hubby who is epileptic as well. my handicapped son is now in care due to my health problems.. I have a new hobby and new friends now and I can never get over why women do this to other women… each xmas I gather four ladies together all age groups we have a coffee together at my home and we discuss our year and what we want to achieve next year they request I do this as they only see each other once a year here.. I had to love myself after 7 trips to hospital with my son and then I found out he was getting bullied where he lived.. made my life hell… he had to move house and is now improving in health…he can’t tell me anything as he is handicapped and doesn’t speak.

  • xSassySusiex

    A lot of Debbie Downers have been raised by Manipulative Mary/Narcissitic Nancy combos. It can be a hard outlook to change but not impossible with proper therapy and a willingness to be realistic, among other things.

  • James

    Very interesting reading,at the moment I’m dealing with an individual in the workplace who covers nearly all aspects of the above.I feel the problem with this person is that everything that I’ve achieved in a short time is he finds the negativity in it saying “why him why does he get this why why why and so on,he places undo manipulation on people and a toxicity through the workplace not only amongst us but also a strain on other work crews when we work with them.Hes extremely cunning and extremely ecotastical person who can push the boundaries to the limit but is always quick to back step when it comes to laying all the cards on the table when theirs issues.I feel management are to blame in someway for this for not nipping it in the bum so it hasn’t snowballed to the situation we are all in at the moment but then again that’s what these people are good at what they do.