Most times many of us get stuck in unhealthy situations that have a negative impact on our mental health and even on our self-confidence. It is funny how we sometimes know something or someone is harming us, but we continue to choose them regardless.

However, at sometimes isn’t our fault. Some people may seem friendly, charming, respectful and even emotionally mature when we do not know them enough. I have been one to fall for what people show me a lot of time, and as Nairobians would say, I got slapped with a big dose of Character Development. What I am saying is, a lot of people are great at acting.

It is for this reason that it is essential to learn to recognize unhealthy habits early enough. Here are a few traits I have observed from subtly toxic people.

1. They are pros at gaslighting

Ever met those people who provoke you then ask you what you’re mad about? They undermine your feelings, your reactions and make you feel dumb for reacting to their provocation. You find yourself second-guessing your reactions and responses when you are around them.

Blame-shifting is one of the identifying behaviors of the victim personality. Individuals who habitually indulge in self-victimization tend to manipulate, provoke, or abuse others verbally or even physically, and then blame the other person.

If you notice this in someone, especially a friend or romantic partner, just…run!

2. They are passive-aggressive

Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them. There’s a disconnect between what a passive-aggressive person says and what he or she does.

Passive-aggressive people do not take responsibility for their actions. They blame other people for their shortcomings and make excuses for not following through with their responsibilities.

3. They fake interest

There is a huge difference between someone genuinely interested in you or in what you have to say, and someone who’s faking interest because they need something from you.

Someone genuinely interested, may ask you several questions, because they want to know more about you, and will remember what you told them. They will remember your face and your name.

Someone who fakes interest may give you some attention in a certain moment because they need something from you, but their brain won’t even bother to retain the information you gave them.

These are the people who make you feel important one day, when it’s convenient for them, and don’t remember your name the next. The even get mad at you for not dong what they want or behave in a weird manner when you do not do what they want. Absolute red flags.

4. They are very impatient and never empathetic

Becoming impatient and yelling at someone instead of using empathy, is a behavior that tells you a lot about someone. Observe their behaviour when they are angry. If they are treating a stranger in a way that is demeaning, they may treat you the same way sooner or later.

Behaviors such as blame-shifting, passive-aggressiveness, faking interest, and lack of empathy can be hard to see, but sometimes they are there, right under your nose, and they tell you a lot about someone.

In fact, when you see these behaviors you might be dealing with a problematic person and the best thing you can do is to set healthy boundaries with them. Remember, if they are not inspiring you, they are draining you.

5. They are controlling

One of the most dangerous traits of a toxic person is controlling behavior. They may try to restrict you from contacting your friends or family, or limit resources like transportation or access to money to restrict your ability to interact with the world around you.

6. They are self-centered

Toxic people care mostly about themselves. They don’t think about how their actions affect others and believe they are better than everyone else. Someone who is self-centered is focused on getting what they want and is unlikely to compromise or consider another person’s point of view.

7. They make you feel bad about yourself

Insults are the most direct way that toxic people can make you feel bad, but most of the time the ways they affect your self-esteem are more subtle. When you are feeling happy or proud of yourself, they will find ways to downplay your achievements. They might also act like they are smarter than you to make you feel dumb or insignificant.

8. They are manipulative

If you feel as though you’re the only one contributing to the relationship, you are probably right. Toxic people have a way of sending out the vibe that you owe them something. They also have a way of taking from you or doing something that hurts you, then maintaining they were doing it all for you.

This is particularly common in workplaces or relationships where the balance of power is out.