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A toxic person is a person whose behaviour adds negativity and upset in your life. You can imagine, then, how important it is to remove those kinds of people from your life. Nonetheless, it can be hard to identify a toxic person and set necessary boundaries for yourself. Here's what you need to know:

You know a person is toxic person when...

  1. you'd do anything for them but they wouldn't do the same for you--we'll call this unequal effort.
  2. they gaslight you and victimize themselves in nearly every discussion you have with them--we'll call this gaslighting.
  3. in their presence, you don't feel like yourself or they make you feel bad about being yourself--we'll call this insecurity.

Unequal effort

Recently, I had been giving a person all of my energy. It took time away from them with little communication for me to reflect on the past we shared together. I realized that all good memories I had shared with them had included bad memories that I had ignored. I also realized that I would do anything for them, but they wouldn't do anything for me unless there was something in it for them. I was in a position where I would gladly, without hesitation, give them all of my support, money, forgiveness, and peace so I wouldn't lose them. And it took a long time for me to see these patterns. While it's great to forgive and forget about the past sometimes, there's only so much of yourself you can give to those who have never been there for you. With that said, I would recommend setting boundaries for yourself.

For me, this meant only letting them back into my life to support them and show them my respect, but not to give them all my effort as I did many times in the past. Being a people-pleaser and guilt-tripping are two habits that needed to go.


a type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality.

NBC News, 2018

When I set boundaries for myself, I let the person know. When I did, I found that they were attempting to do everything in their power to change my mind in favour of what they wanted me to do. At that point, although I had worn myself out by ignoring the past I shared with them and the hurt they had caused me, I was strong enough to understand that they were gaslighting me. If this ever happens to you, stand your ground! I don't think there's anything wrong with knowing your worth and wanting to live happily and peacefully. It's okay to be a good person who's constantly forgiving and accepting people as they are. But remember to also yourself: when does it end? If you're unhappy or tired with constantly showing up for someone who makes you feel like you're in the wrong whenever you voice your feelings to them, stand firm in your choice and set a boundary (or two!) for yourself that'll allow you to not give others so much power over your wellbeing.


One-sided relationships and heated arguments that target you may lead to insecurity. What I was most familiar with, though, was feeling insecure after I had spent any time with the toxic person in question. I not only disliked the person I was when I was around them, but I also disliked who I became when I was no longer around them. I was agreeing to be in conversations and events that didn't align with the person I was and what my true feelings were, which led me to investigate how the relationship was benefitting me. I would go back to my life without them and would either be quick to anger and impatient, or sad and confused depending on how good or bad our visit was together. If ever you find yourself in a similar position of being someone you're not to be included in that person's life, you should ask yourself if it's really worth having them in your life? If you asked them about something you like or dislike, would they be able to get the right answer? If you could create a list of all the things you know about them and have them create one about what they know about you, would your list be longer than theirs?

You deserve to be with someone who's there for you, meets you halfway, and adds peace and love into your life. This can be applied to any relationship you're in whether it be romantic or even familial!

The people in your life should be:

  • supporting you as much as you support them;
  • listening to what you have to say without being quick to make your words and feelings seem unimportant or false;
  • taking the time to get to know you, not just when the time is convenient for them or when something exciting is happening in their life.

If they aren't doing any of those things but instead are expressing the three common traits of a toxic person that were mentioned above, it could be that the person is adding more negativity than positivity in your life.

Final Words

I hope that this article reaches those who've been needing to know how to identify a toxic person in their life. If that person is you, I hope you put your happiness and peace first in your life. If you feel like your own life isn't separate from them, it'll be your choice (and only yours) to separate your life from theirs.

I’m a third-year student at the University of Ottawa pursuing communications and sociology. I don’t know what I want to do for a living but I know that I love to write!
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