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Identifying Toxic People and NONE OF THIS IS TRUE by Lisa Jewell

Josie and Alex met by chance at a restaurant where they both celebrated their 45th birthdays’. The festivities were polar opposites; Alex’s was full of friends and family, easy conversation, love, and laughter, whereas Josie’s was shared with only her husband, and the conversation was stilted. Alex continually ran into Josie in the following days, and they ultimately partnered on a podcast.

Cover of the book None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

The relationship never feels quite right to Alex. Josie’s stories are dramatic, portray Josie as a perpetual victim, and never make sense. When Josie missteps, she never apologizes, instead blaming others. Alex sets boundaries, which Josie ignores or manipulates into a guilt trip.

Josie is a toxic person.

Relationships with toxic people generally make non-toxic others feel bad about themselves. Identifying toxic people early on can be challenging because their methods are manipulative and initially sympathetic. The non-toxic person leaves interactions with toxic people feeling depleted but also responsible, as if it is their responsibility to solve the toxic person’s endless problems.

Watch out for these red flags:

  • Callous: Never cares or shows interest in things that are important to others, because they hate sharing the spotlight.

  • Manipulative: Relationships are about using another person to accomplish their goals.

  • Judgmental: Constantly criticizing others helps protect their fragile egos.

  • Plays the Victim: To garner sympathy, they express that anything negative is someone else’s fault.

  • Never Apologizes: Toxic people thrive in problems and conflict, but lose their power when things are resolved. Apologies end discord, which is where they thrive.

If Alex had correctly identified Josie as the toxic person she is when they first met, she would have avoided associating with her and all the negativity it brought to her life.


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