Red Flags | How to Spot Toxic People

Red Flags and Rose-Colored Glasses

No matter how skilled someone is at crafting an attractive persona, you can usually find subtle clues to their true character. If you know where to look, you can spot the red flags. So, why do we so often miss them? Why is it so hard to see the warning signs?

When you first become interested in someone, there is an initial phase of attraction that can be pretty intoxicating – literally. It triggers the same dopamine release in your brain as drugs or alcohol. This is especially true for people who rush into physical affection and doubly true for those who start having sex.

When you experience that much pleasure from having someone’s attention, the last thing on your mind is finding reasons why being around them is a bad idea. You don your rose-colored glasses and notice all of their good qualities. In this dopamine-fueled haze, all their bad or even potentially dangerous characteristics are invisible.

Slow Your Roll

That is why I encourage singles to slow down. Delay getting physically involved with anyone until you can get to know their character. Stay out of romantic situations until you have formed a realistic picture of who they are. There is time for that later.

People love to rush past the getting to know you stage and get right into the romantic and sexual stage. That is why so many people miss huge red flags. Yes, some people are very skilled at hiding who they are. But, you give yourself a greater chance to see them more clearly if you take it slow.

Do They Pressure You?

In fact, how they react to you taking it slow is a good indicator of what kind of person they are. One big red flag is pressure. If someone makes a habit of pressuring you to do things their way, rush into a relationship, or modify your boundaries, they do not have your best interests at heart. Red flag.

Do They Manipulate?

Some people are extremely skilled at manipulation. Overt manipulation is usually easy to spot. It takes a little more time and effort to spot the subtle manipulation tactics some people use. Whether it’s playing on your sympathy, rushing you to make decisions, or any number of advanced manipulation tactics, any type of manipulation is a danger sign.

Do They Try to Isolate You?

One of the biggest things to look out for is someone trying to isolate you from your friends and family. If they constantly talk bad about your friends and family and try to pit you against them, beware. Red flag. At best they are insecure and your relationship with them will be dysfunctional. At worst – they could be dangerous.

Do They Exhibit Addictive Behaviors?

If you want a truly terrible relationship get with someone who is addicted – to anything. It could be drugs, food, sex, alcohol, porn, or whatever. The exact nature of the dependency is not the main issue. The main issue is that there will always be something in their life that is more important than you. Whenever there is a choice to make between your wellbeing and their getting what they need, your wellbeing will always lose. Huge red flag.

How Do They Treat People?

Of course, they treat you well – at least at first while they are trying to win you over. Remember, you see the best they can be in that first stage. If they do not treat you well at first, don’t think you can correct that later. It will only get worse as time goes on.

But, aside from that, how do they treat their parents? The waiter or waitress? Your friends? Their ex? People who disagree with them? The way you see them treating other people is the way they will, sooner or later, treat you.

How Do They Speak?

The Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. You can tell a lot about someone by paying attention to the way they speak. Their volume, their word choices, and their openness or secretiveness – each aspect tells you something about them.

Do they speak loudly? Softly? Mostly about themselves? Are their favorite words I, me, and my? Is their speech full of negativity? Positivity? Profanity? Anger? Put-downs? Thankfulness? Do they carefully measure each word to the point where you really can’t tell what they mean? Or, do they speak so forcefully that you are afraid to disagree with them? Does their speech stir up trouble? Or, de-escalate situations?

Do Your Friends and Family Like Them?

Not all opinions are equal. You have friends and family who think no one is good enough for you. You have friends and family who think everyone is too good for you. And yet, every once in a while, almost all of them agree that someone you are interested in is not good for you. When that happens, you would be wise to pay attention. Most of the time, the people around you see the person you are interested in more clearly than you can with your rose-tinted glasses. So, when most of the people you trust don’t trust the new person you are interested in, consider that a big red flag.

Miscellaneous Red Flags

There are numerous other red flags. Here are a few. Do they:

  • Talk constantly about their ex
  • Seem overly fixated on violence, tragedy, money, power, or sex
  • Post way too many selfies on their social media profiles
  • Not get along with your friends and family
  • Seem a little too perfect
  • Make a big deal over things most people see as trivial
  • Ogle and fawn over attractive people of the opposite sex
  • Go out of their way to impress people they believe are rich or important
  • Have no problem doing things that are a little shady or barely legal

And there are other signs as well. These types of “little things” can indicate serious character flaws.

Seeing the Red Flags

There are some things you can do that make it more likely you will see the red flags.

  • Slow down. Don’t get in a rush.
  • Don’t get too attached before you get acquainted.
  • Ask your trusted family and friends for their advice.
  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
  • Don’t ignore small red flags. Sometimes they point to big problems.
  • Guard your heart. Be slow to trust anyone with it.
  • Pray for guidance. Don’t leave God out of your relationships.

Think It Over

What red flags have you missed in the past?

How did you miss them?

What could you do differently to make sure that doesn’t happen again?

Think about it. Let’s discuss it below.

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