Our feelings are designed to be signals. They send us messages and offer signposts to help point us in the right direction.
We should listen to our emotions for that very reason. That’s especially the case when you suspect you may be dealing with toxic people, who are skilled at manipulation.
They may try to twist things, but how someone makes you feel is a big clue to the health of your relationship with them.
Their negative energy can seep into your daily routines, relationships, and overall well-being.
That’s why, if you recognize the following feelings, chances are, you’ve probably dealt with a toxic person.
1) Feeling emotionally exhausted after spending time with them
Energy vampires suck your energy reserves and leave you feeling mentally, and sometimes even physically tired.
Even the smallest of interactions could leave you zapped so that you walk away feeling emotionally depleted.
I remember a former colleague who was what I call a “negaholic”.
He always had something to complain about. He was constantly mixed up in drama (of his own making). And whenever you talked to him, he would spew his emotional baggage all over you.
That may not sound very sympathetic or compassionate. But when you are dealing with deeply toxic people you are often powerless to help them, and they try to drag you down with them.
So if you’re persistently feeling tired after interacting with a specific individual, this is an important sign to heed.
2) Always walking on eggshells
Whenever we feel uneasy around someone it’s usually for good reason.
You may feel like you have to be constantly vigilant so that you don’t inadvertently say something or do something that will trigger them.
That makes honest communication pretty much impossible.
Whilst a sensitive approach is admirable, this goes beyond that.
They may try to make out like you do unreasonable things that “set them off”. But the truth is that you are so conscious of offending or upsetting them because they are so reactive.
As research has highlighted, something more sinister may be at play whenever we walk on eggshells, with one study concluding:
“A person who causes another to resort to eggshell behavior is often guilty of emotional abuse, as one partner is placed on high alert to the other’s next moves.”
This feeling you get is just one manifestation of anxiety, and as we’re about to see, there may be more.
3) Increased anxiety levels around them, and feeling stressed out
A natural consequence of building pressure is extra stress and anxiety.
As explained by Charlie Health toxic relationships can impact us in physiological ways.
“Toxic relationships disrupt our brain’s natural reward system, leading to negative emotions and behaviors. The constant stress and anxiety associated with toxic relationships activate our body’s stress response system, leading to increased cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Chronic exposure to high levels of cortisol can have a detrimental effect on our mental and physical health.”
As the quality of our social relationships has been noted as a major risk factor when it comes to depression, toxic connections can seriously affect your psychological well-being.
4) Feeling guilty all the time, even if you can’t work out why
Despite how destructive they are, one of the common tactics that toxic people fall back on is playing the victim.
They use this apparent position of weakness as their strength. It’s designed to prompt pity so they can more emotionally manipulate others.
When you’re on the receiving end of one of their guilt trips, you may end up feeling a lot of self-reproach.
They might blame you for things beyond your control. Or they try to pass responsibility onto you, often for their emotions and behaviors.
So you may end up believing that it’s your fault when they are unhappy or mad at you.
That’s why if no matter what you do, you’re constantly feeling guilty, you may be dealing with a toxic individual.
5) Feeling bad about yourself
It’s really common to feel confused and unsure of yourself after spending enough time with a toxic person.
That’s especially the case when gaslighting and manipulation have been at play. It’s all part of their tactics to make you doubt yourself.
So they can make you question your worth, abilities, or decisions.
They could do things like subtly belittle your achievements, or try to make you feel like you’re not good enough.
Backhanded compliments, insensitive “feedback”, and cruel jokes are just some of the ways this might show up.
People who care about us or have our best interests at heart lift us up, they don’t tear us down.
If your feelings are constantly invalidated, and you feel judged all the time, it’s an indication that a toxic person has started to erode your self-esteem.
6) Feeling disrespected
Unfortunately, toxic people have a tendency to disregard both emotional and physical boundaries.
And whenever boundaries get crossed we can end up feeling walked all over.
You may feel unheard and unseen as if your wishes are disregarded. That’s bound to bring up a certain amount of resentment or frustration.
Even when you say no, it falls on deaf ears. Similarly, if you ask them not to do something, they continue anyway.
They may frequently try to overstep, leaving you feelings very put upon.
As we’re about to see next, you may not know what to do about it as you increasingly feel powerless.
7) Feeling trapped
This can manifest in different ways depending on your relationship with the toxic person in question.
Toxic people can be incredibly controlling, which eventually takes away your sense of power.
That may leave you feeling like you have very little choice or say in things.
It’s also a common tactic to try to isolate you from other people so that their hold on you becomes stronger.
They might create rifts between you and your loved ones. They could alienate you from your friends. They might even try to turn you against your family.
Essentially it’s about removing your support network. The lonelier they can try to make you feel, the more you may feel like you need them.
When you are dealing with toxic people it’s common to feel misunderstood, demeaned, and unsupported.
This only serves to compound the feeling of being stuck or helpless over the situation.
In a nutshell, a toxic person will make you feel worse when you’re around them, and worse about yourself.
Whilst no relationship is perfect, there is a disproportionate amount of negative emotions flying around in toxic connections.
Healthy relationships make us feel secure, safe, appreciated, and energized. So pay very close attention if there is someone in your life who brings out the opposite.
If you’re feeling down, drained, and disrespected you’ve probably been dealing with a toxic person.