6 Signs You’re Unintentionally Toxic, Not Malicious

Have you ever asked yourself: Am I toxic?

If so, then you are taking a step in the right direction. Being self-aware is the first stage of acceptance that you, and everyone around you, are imperfect.

Sometimes, you don’t notice that your habits are harmful to you and your loved ones. That’s why it’s good to learn more about them and how to develop that behavior.

So, let’s read about six signs you’re unintentionally toxic, but not malicious.

FRIENDLY DISCLAIMER: If, at any point, you relate to this article, please don’t feel or think that you are a bad person. Everyone has their own struggle, and you are doing so well by educating yourself about this type of behavior. We appreciate your efforts in learning and we hope it can help you!

1. You make a lot more promises than you intend to keep.

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Do you have a habit of promising a lot of things?

Things like I promise I won’t tell anyone your secret but end up slipping it out later on?

If you tend to overpromise and under-deliver, you might not notice that you’re being unintentionally toxic.

Generally, overpromising stems from our desire to be liked or accepted (haileymagee.com, n.d.).

It may be that you want to feel trustworthy in giving out these promises but end up getting the opposite effect.

People may feel like you’re not taking them seriously enough and this can cause friendships to grow apart.

It may even damage your reputation and prevent you from creating more deep, meaningful relationships.

In attempting to break away from this habit, it helps to take your time before promising something.

Try considering:

Will you be able to stand by it?

What are its consequences if you do break them?

By identifying these things, you will know the weight of what you’re about to swear.

Try to be straightforward about your limits.

It’s better to tell people that you can’t do a certain thing rather than give them false hope.

They will understand your side as long as you are clear about it.

It’s a method of taking care of yourself and knowing which boundaries you should set for yourself and those around you.

Whenever you feel the urge to promise, you can try saying that you’ll do your best instead! 

2. You use pity to get the things that you want.

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Do you find yourself letting out words that can ignite other people’s pity or guilt?

Things like “I feel so tired of doing everything in this house. If only someone could help me with the dishes, that would be great.”

Or maybe “It’s been so long since I had time for myself and I still have to be on duty tonight.” just to bait someone else in taking your shift out of pity?

These actions are a form of manipulation, and it also stems from you not knowing how to ask for help directly.

You probably aren’t used to opening up or voicing out your troubles so you go the roundabout way of doing so.

And this can lead others to see you as selfish or outright manipulative.

It’s helpful to know when to ask for help (directly). You can’t take on everything by yourself because you’re also human, too.

Other people will understand. And when you reach out for help, it shows your trust in them.

So don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.

Try to avoid making other people guess what you want. Be respectful, considerate, yet straightforward enough to get your point across.

An example is “Hey. I did the laundry earlier and I feel tired now. Would it be okay if you wash the dishes tonight?”

Don’t be afraid to take help, and be generous in giving it.

3. You’re defensive.

Do you notice that you’re constantly blaming people?

This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for…

It was their fault, not mine.

I did it, but only because they told me to!

Blaming is an easy way out—we make someone else responsible rather than owning our part (Razzetti, 2018).

You may feel inclined to do so because you want to prove that you are right – to the point where you victimize yourself.

But sometimes, being right doesn’t solve the situation.

What was the problem in the first place?

What went wrong?

What can you do to fix it?

In developing a healthy approach, you try to think as a team rather than putting out individual faults.

Sometimes, you have to put yourself into other people’s shoes to understand why they do the things they do.

There are two sides to a situation, not a right or wrong one, but the differences in perspective.

So the next time you find yourself in this situation, try asking yourself:

How can you be better?

By doing so, you’re taking part of the blame, and working to find a better solution.

4. You’re overly sensitive.

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Do you feel like you need to have a response to everything?

When you’re too sensitive, you tend to take a lot of things at heart.

You may feel like everyone is against you, or that what they say is a confrontation to your existence or belief.

Being too sensitive may be caused by low self-esteem.

It’s not easy to be confident in yourself, and with the constant flow of comments – both positive and negative – coming from different people every day, you may feel like you have to be constantly on the defensive.

This usually stems from childhood upbringing.

If you were constantly told or ridiculed about the things you didn’t have any control of, chances are you grow up with insecurities about them.

But remember, you are worth more than anything else just for the sole fact that you are you.

And there is no one else like you in this world.

In trying to heal from becoming too sensitive, it is good to be self-aware.

Acknowledge your tendencies, and attempt to not defend yourself against them.

Indulge in what self-care means to you. If it’s through eating well, good. If it’s through exercise, that’s also good!

But sometimes, self-care just means smiling and telling yourself that you are enough.

And that is what matters.

Identify which parts of yourself you like, and focus on them. 

The uncomfortable parts can come later, at a time when you’re ready to embrace them.

You don’t need to defend yourself from everything that comes your way.

Once you have a healthy view of yourself and identity, you will be more than capable of shrugging other people’s opinions off.

5. You’re exceedingly pessimistic.

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Are you the type of person who always expects the worst outcome?

Let’s say someone asks you out or says that you’re good-looking, do you simply appreciate the gesture or think that there’s something more behind it?

Being pessimistic means that you always see the negative side of things.

It can be a good thing! You tend to be more mature and logical than others.

But when other people are constantly subjected to this cynical energy, they might feel that you’re a killjoy who wants nothing but to dampen the mood for them.

It may be that you’re pessimistic for the sake of being practical and realistic, but at times, people just really want to let loose and have fun.

Like, if a friend of yours just got into a relationship, they would naturally want to hear some form of congratulations rather than a bleak “Again? Didn’t you just break up with someone?”

Even though your intentions were coming from a good place, they can really send the wrong message.

And aside from breaking off relationships and hurting other people, being too negative can cause stress, anxiety, and depression.

There are better ways to approach situations rather than being pessimistic.

Try to run words in your head first before saying them out loud. 

Do you think it would ruin the mood? If so, then there is probably a better way and time to say it.

Developing a positive mindset is a conscious effort.

It requires you to be lenient with yourself. Instead of always focusing on potential problems, why not look at solutions instead? That way, you’re not wallowing in the bad stuff.

Lastly, it’s best to surround yourself with supportive, understanding, and optimistic people.

The friends who know your patterns and tendencies and are willing to talk about it with you.

After all, being cynical isn’t your fault. It’s most likely a byproduct of what you have witnessed and experienced in the past.

Just remember, although it’s difficult to move on from previous experiences, the people around you value you for who you are – in the present.

They appreciate you for being there in the moment.

So you should, too.

6. You rely on other people for validation.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

When you’re too caught up in other people’s opinions to the point where you plan your life around being complimented, you may not notice that you’re being toxic.

Not to them, but yourself.

Your body, your personality, your skills – all of you is beautiful. All of you is important.

But if you need other people to say it before you can feel validated, you may be facing insecurity brought by low self-esteem.

Being complimented feels nice.

It makes you feel that others care about you and that they notice what you’re doing.

And that kind of feeling is what you should experience when you’re alone and complimenting yourself, too!

If you notice yourself relying on other people’s views more than yours, try to take a step back and examine why you feel that way.

Do you want to feel accepted?

Is your own opinion not enough on this matter? Why do you think so?

After your quick self–reflection, it helps to rewire your brain to acknowledge how you feel and what you’re going to do next.

I recognize that I feel this way, and I will let this pass. I am working on being more confident with myself, so I can rely less on others’ validation.

Take small, conscious steps to a happier self. It will work wonders.

Remember that you’re not a bad person if you can relate to these signs. You’re already better by educating yourself about it.


Do you have experience with friends who are being unintentionally toxic?

How do you handle them?

Please don’t hesitate to share your experiences in the comment section below. We appreciate hearing your stories. 

Thank you for reading 6 Signs You’re Unintentionally Toxic, Not Malicious. We hope you learned something from this article.

Until next time!



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