How to Use the Rule of Three to Identify Signs of a Toxic Person


Cutting people out of your life can be a painful process. Even if you know it’s ultimately for your own good.

Here, we’ll tell you how to recognize the signs of a toxic person. You’ll learn how to use the “Rule of Three” to help you weed out these people before you let them into your inner circle.

Doing this will help you to feel more confident, too.

What Are The Signs Of A Toxic Person?

In The United States alone, 20 percent of people are abused, whether physically or emotionally, every minute. The toxic people in your life may not be abusive to you. But, it’s likely there have been moments where they’ve toed the line.

How do recognize the signs of a toxic person? How do you differentiate them from the “good people” in your life who just made a bad choice or had a moment of poor behavior?

If someone is toxic, treating others poorly is just a part of their makeup, it’s not a temporary setback, but a permanent personality trait.

Toxic people can drain you mentally by constantly needing your support, showing up unannounced, constantly ignoring your needs in favor of their own, or belittling you subtly or outright.

Some other signs of toxic people include:

Constant Selfishness

Whether this person is always dominating the conversation, picking activities based on their interests alone, or love to find a way to play the victim, one of the top signs of a toxic person is someone who will do or say anything to be the center of attention.

They’re Always Angry Or Frustrated

Anger is a normal, even healthy emotion to experience from time to time – but one of the main signs of a toxic person is someone who wants everyone around them to know just how high the cards are stacked against them – and that it’s never their fault.

They Don’t Appreciate The Time And Effort You Put Into Them

It doesn’t matter if the toxic person is an intimate partner of a long-term friend: if they don’t see your relationship as a two-way street, their behavior is for sure one of the signs of a toxic person. Toxic people are takers, and they only become givers to get what they need out of you.

They Can’t Set Or Follow Boundaries

Toxic people have no regard for your schedule, the relationships you have with others, or your personal/private space and life. They’ll show up, call, text, and write at all hours – and they’ll often expect an immediate response. It can be difficult to say “no” to a toxic person because they’ll often lash out.

How Can I Use The Rule Of Three?

You know the old saying: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. But this can’t be quite as easily applied to accurately discerning whether or not someone is a toxic person – this method is more of a “three strikes and you’re out” approach.

Strike One: They’ve Hurt You

Strike One: The person really messed up, hurt you, or made a poor decision and disrespected your boundaries because they were so desperate for your immediate help and input. This can happen to anybody – we’ve all had our bad days. If they apologize (even if it takes you bringing up the fact that their actions bothered you) and attempt to amend the behavior, move on from the problem.

Strike Two: The Caution Signal

Strike Two: This is the “caution” signal and is the start to seriously considering if these are signs of a toxic person. The same person may have made a much more serious, and much more emotionally impactful, mistake. It’s time for a frank conversation and a clear statement of what you will and won’t tolerate in this relationship.

Strike Three: They Don’t Care

Strike Three: Yep, this is a toxic person. They’ve proven they don’t respect you because they’ve refused to take what you’ve said to them in the past seriously – or they just disregard it because of an inflated sense of self. This person is likely a liar, a narcissist, or just a mean person in general. Cut your losses and work on finding a friend that really cares about you.

Keep in mind that the Rule Of Three needs to be applied to a reasonable timeline – of course, everyone will mess up a few times a year. if you’re seeing consistent “strikes” in short periods of time or related to the same issue you’ve had in the past, it’s time to move on.

However, if you’re seeing consistent “strikes” in short periods of time, or related to the same issue you’ve had in the past, it’s time to move on.

How To Move On From A Toxic Person

First of all, know that it’s OK to feel sad about the loss of a friendship – even a toxic one. To let go with love, and to keep yourself physically and emotionally safe:

  1. Be polite: Even if you don’t feel like it. There’s no reason to give them an excuse to lash out one last time, and even if they do, you get the satisfaction of knowing you took the high road.
  2. Be frank: You’re giving them an opportunity to amend behavior they may or may not be aware of – you’re doing them a favor. Still, being honest and up front ensures they can’t weasel their way back into your life.
  3. Be Brave: Nobody wants to confront a toxic person, and yes, it can feel scary. Still, remember that this person wouldn’t think twice about dominating a conversation with you – now it’s your turn to talk.

There are a lot of survival skills to learn in life. Moving on from these people is just one.

Learn More About How To Live Your Best Life

Cutting a toxic person out of your life doesn’t mean you’re selfish, it means you have¬†self-worth.

If you’re looking for more advice about relationships, how to interact with your coworkers, and how to take care of yourself without being selfish, we encourage you to take the time to read through our site and blog posts.

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