While I can’t ascertain if your ex is toxic or not, I can help you recognize the signs that indicate he or she is. And that’s what this article is all about. To help you to conclude your exes maturity level.
In the end, I’ll even present you with a clear and concise definition of who a toxic person is in a nutshell, so you’ll never feel confused about the subject again — at least not entirely.
Believe me, I know a thing or two about toxic people. Not only have I spent most of my drinking and partying years with them, but I have also been one for years. In fact, I had some pretty deep emotional flaws and delicate childhood wounds that, when fused together, produced a fair case of codependency, narcissism, and self-loathing issues.
But I’m going, to be honest…I did learn how to gobble up a quadruple-shot of vodka, mixed with shots of Jägermeister, and topped with 2 cans of foamy dark beer in one sitting without throwing up or getting (too) dizzy.
That probably counts for something, right? Right…?
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IS my ex toxic or not?
As a disclaimer, don’t take this as an exhaustive list. These are exclusively the signs I believe most accurately represent a toxic person. There are probably many more I’ve never heard or thought about.
So with that out of the way, let’s get to the list.
Your ex is probably, most definitely and in all likelihood a toxic person if…
Sign #1: they cheated at some point
This one is a no-brainer.
If your ex cheated at some point, I would consider them a toxic person immediately. And I don’t care if they only massaged this one guy or girl they kinda liked with the hopes of getting some affection, or if they had an orgy with their whole neighbourhood while being committed to you. Both options and everything in between them is just a different shade of infidelity and betrayal.
Overall, people with low integrity will begin meeting and lining up new potential future partners when they feel like their relationship is getting nowhere or is going downhill. And when you screw up, by either restricting their freedom too much (being needy, jealous, possessive, codependent) or by neglecting their emotional needs one too many times, they cheat. Then came the flood of their lies trying to subdue and suffocate the truth.
The typical strawberry jam on top of a cheaters’ peanut butter sandwich is that they also take no responsibility for their actions after they commit betrayal. In fact, they justify those actions by telling themselves, “anyone would do the same thing in my shoes!” In other words, people with low integrity typically believe that their act of betrayal was reasonable, rational and that everybody would do it in their place.
SIGN #2: THEY could not imagine a happy life without you
If you were with your ex for a lengthier period, your identities started to mesh together. That is your values, belief systems, and goals. And that’s natural, healthy, and to be expected. However, if your ex-partner completely dismantled their identity for you, to the point where they became an entirely new person, then that’s pretty needy. It’s also unattractive, and, well, a generally fucked up thing to do for someone.
For instance, if you sacrifice your whole identity for another individual, an intact relationship with them will begin to mean everything to you, and you will even start to fight for its survival haphazardly. This prioritization also feeds your insecurities and makes all other areas of your life that once meant something, like your career, health/fitness lose their meaning and emotional weight. Sometimes entirely.
And don’t even get me started on how other relationships in your life begin to deteriorate when you make only one of them the primary source of your fulfillment and meaning.
Ultimately, if you believe that your ex truly meant those “You are my world” statements to the point where they would actually believe that their life’s over if you ever left, then they probably were a toxic person.
Sign #3: they were codependent
Being codependent tightly connects and goes hand in hand with our previous point.
What would make me label your ex as codependent is if they had been desperately emotionally dependent on you — that is, hungty for your validation, respect, approval, and support.
But why would someone be like that, you ask?
Well, because they don’t love or respect themselves deep down and need someone else to fill the empty void inside of them since they clearly can’t do it. And that’s a constant pattern with toxic people. Several of them love and respect themselves so little that even when they get ginormous love or respect from others, they still can’t accept it because they simply consider it fake. They think, “what? How can you love me? You’re full of crap. I’m unlovable!”
Put differently, their conviction that they’re unlovable and unworthy, per se, closes them up from actually receiving love and support from others.
Sign #4: they couldn’t communicate well
In general, healthy communicators will not be afraid to speak their minds about the issues they’re facing or the sentiments and feelings that they carry.
For example, if your ex revealed what’s bothering them when they were down and didn’t hold anything back when you tried to lovingly pull their worries out of them, then we could argue that they were a healthy person — at least in the communication aspect.
Or let’s say that your ex disliked the party you took them to. If they would lovingly and in a non-needy way, communicate what they dislike about it, and express their desire to go home, we could, again, assume they could be a mature communicator.
But on the flipside, toxic communicators would stonewall you, refuse to open up, and go along with your plans and ideas even if that’s not what they want. Consequentially they would build resentment towards you, which would at some point explode out of them and cause massive drama in the relationship. And compared to healthy communicators, these kinds of people would also stay upset and closed off for more extended periods.
Sign #5: they were unsupportive and tore you down
Did your ex attempt to tear you down while you struggled with something, like losing weight, getting in shape, starting a business, or getting a degree?
Was your ex perhaps jealous of your success and wanted you to hang up your career or stop eating so well so they could feel better about where they were in those areas?
Did they try to persuade or command you to, for example, put your career on hold so you could spend more time with them, even though that’s not what you really wanted? Maybe, they even tried to make you feel guilty for working so many hours with the hopes that you would cut it out.
Well, any of the above is the case, then that’s a good indicator that your ex actually is, again, toxic.
Sign #6: they were jealous, controlling, and possessive
Did your ex provide you with a “hard time” when you were out with your friends? Did they hate your guts when you said you’re going on the short bike ride by yourself? Or did they throw a fit whenever that friend from next door called you?
Did your ex want you to snugly fit into their imaginary precepts, fucked-up narratives, and absurd expectations on how you should act and be?
Hell, did they ever threatened to end the relationship if you weren’t prepared to change in the way they wanted?
If any of the above rings true, your ex was most likely a toxic person.
And the reason for their unhealthy behavior was simply because they feared they weren’t good or lovable enough to succeed in their relationship. They were probably filled with so many insecurities about themselves that they thought you would deliberately cheat on them as soon as they would be out of sight. That’s why they tried to control you so much in the first place. It was never about you really, but mostly how they felt.
Sign #7: they kept score on the things you’ve done
Relationships are far from a videogame where you could track each character’s high-score. If your ex tracked all your kind gestures, loving words, or the chores you’ve done throughout the day like cooking or dishwashing, then they’re really fucked up.
Here’s the deal, people. Relationships are messy and chaotic by nature, and as much as each individual in them can be aware of their role and responsibilities, things change. Everything can turn upside down in a flash.
Ultimately, relationships — mostly because of their chaotic nature — are never really 50/50, and they shouldn’t be. So keeping score is not only toxic since it turns two people from teammates to opponents, but it’s also pointless since you’re never going to be even. At least not forever.
Sign #8: they prioritized love above all
In general, if anyone possesses love as their highest value, or at least higher than trust or respect in a relationship, they could end up staying with an incompatible or toxic partner just for the sake of love, and make themselves miserable in the process.
So if your ex knew, at least on some level, that you’re incompatible or that the relationship is not stable, yet they still lingered around in the name of love, that is a dysfunctional quality. It’s an error in their value ladder.
What’s worse is that some people — hopefully not your ex — who put love above all their other healthy relationship values also hold a skewed representation about the meaning of love.
They believe love is something that’s all jolly and full of cuddles, rainbows, and leprechauns. This erroneous and delusional belief also leads them to believe that their relationship should never be without struggles or conflict.
But in reality, that’s never the case. Relationships are like the waves on the beach. They continually shift and fluctuate in intensity and emotions without any logical sequence. Like long-haired macho surfers on the beach, you simply have to learn to ride those waves well. And love. Well, love connects, love unites, love is important, but then again, it’s often overrated, and sometimes, it fades.
Sign #9: they blamed you for virtually every-fucking-thing
Suppose you noticed that your ex was continually blaming you when they felt unhappy or made a mistake and could not take any personal responsibility for their life. If that’s the case, that’s not only a problem of their boundaries but also a clear-cut indicator that they’re a narcissist.
Narcissists are, by nature, abnormally optimistic and confident, meaning they never doubt themselves. You can probably sniff out a few at most self-development seminars. They are also engulfed in a delusional belief of self-importance, which stops them from ever taking any responsibility in their life — even when they made a colossal fuck-up.
Interestingly, when a narcissist screws up, they will probably blame anyone else but themselves. Because if they blamed themselves, that would mean they took responsibility. And when a narcissist takes responsibility for their actions, they would need to realize that, well, they have flaws and imperfections like the rest of us. Consequentially their shittyPpl-19 CPU that’s snugly attached to their brainstem would short circuit and fry itself out.
Put differently, when a narcissist actually gets out of their asshole and takes some bloody responsibility, they could sink into a long winding and traumatic identity crisis.
Fun fact: You don’t have to see yourself as superior and overly entitled to be labeled a narcissist. You can also be a narcissist if you deem yourself worthless and inadequate. In both cases, you’re constructing a delusional definition of your self-worth, and act like you’re somehow special or unique. Which, by the way, you’re not. None of us are.
SIGN #10: THEY were offended over EVERY-FUCKING-THING
I don’t know about you but I love to fuck around with my girlfriend. Not just physically, but also emotionally. I love to call her all kinds of weird things like a pop tart, cheese ball, or some other food-related pet name and joke about her habit of impulsive shopping sprees.
And what does she do?
Well, usually, she laughs it off like a mature person.
While some people would assume that I’m an utter asshole, she knows I adore her and that everything I say, even if it’s mocking to some degree, is out of love.
Did your ex-partner react the same when you at some point joked, teased or bantered with them?
The point I’m trying to make is that some people are completely fine with you harshly joking with them. However, a few exceptions go completely nuts when you call them names or make sarcastic and witty remarks about them. If your ex was one of those people, they just might be what I would consider a toxic individual.
SIGN #11: THEY WERE cold and UNAFFECTIONATE
When I was a kid, I had a pretty confusing experience (to be honest, I had many). I’ve been at my schoolmate’s house and met his mom, who was, despite her dainty posture and loving smile, an incredibly unaffectionate person.
Her way of showing love was by buying gifts, and hell did she buy a lot of them.
But other than that, whenever I paid attention to how she treated her husband I was baffled. No loving words have been spoken between them. There were no hugs and no “I love you’s” or other similar phrases. It felt like they were acquaintances at best.
My friends’ mom’s attitude would indicate a relationship issue now that I think back on those events. Still, since she was cold and unaffectionate with everyone (her kids, her parents, her friends, etc.), I would say it’s more likely she had a character flaw than a necessarily crappy relationship.
So this little analysis brought me to the conclusion that this woman is simply a person who rarely shows affection. Maybe she faced some bizarre trauma or was never loved appropriately in her childhood.
In any case, if you think or know your ex was also cold and insensitive, I would consider them toxic.
encapsulating the question of “who is a toxic person”
As you can see from this listicle, many signs can indicate that your ex is a toxic person, but conclusively, one could ask, “is there a clear and succinct definition of who a toxic person even is?”
I don’t know, to be honest. But here’s my best attempt at clearly defining just that.
A toxic person is someone who does any of the following:
cheats, lies, abuses(emotionally or physically), and betrays you
Someone whose codependent. Meaning someone who lacks boundaries and seeks fulfillment, validation, and confirmation that they are loved not from within but from external sources. Such as their partner.
Someone who can’t take any responsibility for their life and has a delusional representation of his/her worth.
In the most general sense, I reckon that a toxic person is anyone who causes drama in a relationship(s).
Drama simply refers to unnecessary relationship conflict, bickerings, and fights caused by the toxic individual’s insecurities. It also stays deeply ingrained in your relationship as long as the toxic person (or people) have undealt and unmanaged underlying insecurities in their psyche.
So this brings us to an end.
If you believe the ex who broke your heart as caused you all this pain is toxic after reading this article , you’ve dodged a bullet! Give yourself a big old pat on the back.
Now go and recover, then, when you’re ready, go and find someone else — someone healthy. Someone with whom you can create something meaningful, however long it lasts.
Receive a free copy of my popular breakup survival guide, 56 Tips To Heal A Broken Heart, with three bonus exercises on how to stop obsessing over your ex. Remember: whether you want to get over or re-attract your ex, recovery is always the first step.
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