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Sometimes the signs you should stay away from someone shouts at you. Some people are so outrightly toxic. 

However, sometimes the signs can be subtle. And the subtly toxic people wreck way more havoc on us emotionally.

They’ll often present themselves to us as friends while toiling with us at the same time.

They’ll draw you in and push you away, and they’ll make you feel guilty for their change of character towards you.

Sometimes you know there’s something wrong, but soon, they’ll draw you in and make you forget again. This is why the signs can often be confusing. 

But if you pay attention and see some of these signs overlap, you can be sure it’s time to stay away from someone. 

1. The skillful exploiter

Some people are very skilled at figuring out your weakness and using it to their advantage. 

For instance, if they realize you’re very soft, easy to persuade, or you find it difficult saying no to others, they’ll come to you whenever they need something.

They’ll look pitiable because they know that’s how you won’t be able to turn them down. 

To spot these kinds of people, firstly, watch how they behave with others. Are they usually loud or hostile but only become gentle when they need something from you in particular? 

If it appears like the gentility they portray towards you is an act to manipulate and persuade you, it most likely is. 

Secondly, watch how they act when you don’t give in to their requests. Do they seem offended or disappointed?

Do they act like you not granting them what they want is an offense in itself? 

If yes, then you’re most likely dealing with someone you should be staying away from. 

2. The emotional vampire 

Life can be hard, and sometimes we just want a listening ear to poor our minds too.

But any good friend will understand that it’s not a good thing to make it seem like other people are responsible for sharing their problems all the time. 

They want you to hear how terrible and unfair life has been to them, but they get impatient whenever you even attempt to share a little bit of yours.

These kinds of people will always leave you drained after an interaction with them. Why? 

You’ll want to rescue them all the time. You’ll probably give them advice, but they’ll quickly throw it out of the window.

They don’t want to grow, they just want your sympathy. 

Why? It’s easy.

Complaining about life is a good way for them to justify their misery. But the problem is that they can’t see how their negative energy is affecting you. 

3. The insatiable taker

You can’t like someone and not show it by some acts of kindness, either through spending at least a little on that person or just rendering help in whatever way that you can.

Whether male or female, intimate or platonic friends, you just want to do something special for the person in one way or another. 

However, some people will claim they care about you, but all they want to do is take from you. 

They feel they’re entitled to getting things from you. The annoying part is when they don’t show a little sign of gratitude.

These people could be among your friends, family members, or colleagues.  

Exploiters have only one mission—to use. They have no conscience and are not bothered by how their victims will feel when they’re done with their games.

They are not interested in your growth, and they don’t bother about contributing to you.

4. The holy backstabber 

When a person always seems to find fault in others, that’s a huge red flag. They’ll talk about the terrible behavior of others while never seeing or admitting the same mistakes about themselves. 

They project their faults on others.  

But here’s the thing: People who like to talk trash about others to you will most likely talk trash about you to others. Why? 

It’s a game to them. And in that game, it’s all about them. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt or whose reputation gets destroyed.

If they come out in a good light, as the perfect one without fault, they are more than satisfied. 

Don’t fall for the “holier than thou” attitude of this sort of people. If someone is always gossiping and backstabbing others, that’s a huge sign you should stay away from them. 

5. Emotional instability 

Hanging out with an emotionally unstable person can be hectic. You can never tell what will put them off balance.

You have to always look over your shoulder to make sure the joke you’re about to tell will not make them mad. 

For instance, an emotionally unstable person can suddenly get jealous because you’re hanging it together with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) but they don’t have theirs with them at that time. 

The bottom line is, if you have a friend that often has mood swings without any apparent reason, you might be dealing with an emotionally unstable person.

And it’s best to stay away. Why? 

Their erratic behavior towards you is going to frustrate and confuse you most of the time.

6. Neediness 

Needy people can be charming at first. In fact, their neediness can even make you bond with them fast. Why? 

We all love to feel important. To have someone who always want to be around us, compliment us, and always agree to and support everything we do can be flattering.

It gives us that sense of superiority and security. 

However, needy people can quickly become unbearable. Soon you’ll realize that their dependence on you isn’t born out of any special skills you have.

Rather, they stick to you because they are too afraid to be alone. 

They’ll want your approval for everything they do. But even as amazing as this kind of relationship might be at the beginning, it soon becomes weird. Why?

Needy people become frustrating when you realize that they always want to stick with you no matter what.

In some cases, they can get jealous when you try to make new friends, or when you’re just having fun without them. 

7. You feel bad about yourself when you’re together

A good friend brings out the best in you. They highlight your strengths and see beyond your weaknesses.

However, some people just like making you feel so miserable without any apparent reason. 

They only notice your mistakes. They tell you how bad you are at some things. They compare you with other people and make you feel less of yourself.

They hardly or never compliment you when you do something right. 

People like this are only interested in draining you emotionally. Maybe you remind them of something they don’t like.

Or, as the saying goes “Maybe there’s something in you that irritates the demons in them.”

But whatever it may be, you should stay away from anyone who appears to be deliberately attempting to make you miserable. 

8. Erratic behavior

Have ever you had a friend who is all nice, friendly, caring, and fun today but tomorrow seems to be the total opposite? A person with erratic behavior can be into you today and fall out the next.  

They have a problem with being consistent. Sometimes they seem trustworthy, reliable and you feel like spending the rest of your life with them.

Other times they make you feel like you’re not needed in their lives anymore.

These kinds of people are very confusing and hard to tell if they’re your friends or not.

9. Disregard your boundaries 

Have you ever had a friend who finds pleasure in doing things they already know you don’t like? 

Friendships are supposed to be built on mutual understanding. Sometimes we offend each other, we talk about it, and we stay away from the mistake we made. 

Indeed, mistakes are inevitable. But if you have a friend that keeps going back to things you don’t like, or worse, use them to hurt you, you should stay away from that kind of person. 

They are not doing it because they forget. They do it to get a reaction from you, and they enjoy doing it. They don’t respect your boundaries. 

For instance, if you have a friend who talks bad about your mum, even when you have warned them on several occasions, that person just enjoys putting you on the edge. 

10. Bad influence

These people never want you to leave them behind. If they can’t be better than you at least they should be on the same level as you.

They always find ways of pulling you back mostly at the times you’re deliberately working on helping yourself to become better.  

As the saying goes, “20 children can’t play for 20 years.” When you notice this kind of person, it’s very wise to part ways immediately.

As Jordan Peterson explained in 12 Rules For Life, when you try to move forward, you threaten those who are on the same level around you. 

You tell them that the reasons for their mediocrity are not justifiable. 


Sometimes we don’t get to pick those who want to be friends with us. And at first, we rarely know the stuff people are made of.

It takes time to understand a person’s true nature and the impact they can have on our lives. 

But once you see that the impacts are negative, don’t hesitate to stay away.

Toxic people can mess with you emotionally, and it’s never a good option to stay with them or manage them. 

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Destiny Femi

Destiny Femi is a dating coach whose work has helped transform the love lives of countless people. With a writing style that is both insightful and relatable, Destiny has amassed a following of hundreds of thousands of readers who turn to him for advice on everything from finding the perfect partner to maintaining a healthy relationship. Through his articles he has inspired people around the world to become more confident, authentic, and successful in their dating life.

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