Most of us are familiar with the “red flag” trend that has taken over social media recently. People are sharing what they deem as “red flags,” or toxic traits, using scenarios they’ve experienced, observed, or made up. 

Twitter users are conveying these deal-breakers by posting quotes, some real and some jokes, that they believe to be a warning sign of possible problematic behaviors or beliefs, and then following those quotes with red flag emojis.

On TikTok, some of the newest filters display a card on your forehead and reveal a list of different “red flags” or “toxic traits” like a terrible driver, no boundaries, likes pineapple on pizza, sleeping with socks on, or even thinking you don’t have a toxic trait. 

image of red flags

It started out as something a bit more serious to help people avoid potentially harmful relationships, friendships, and situations but now is often portrayed in a funny way. I think one of the many reasons this trend took social media by storm is that people are genuinely curious about what their toxic traits are.      

Recognizing Your Own Toxic Traits 

Self-awareness is key to recognizing your own toxic traits. Admitting the toxic aspects of yourself will lead to self-development and growth. When changing behavioral habits and becoming self-aware it is important to be honest with yourself, even if it means acknowledging a part of yourself that you’ve been trying to avoid or asking yourself questions about the past. 

red flags and toxic traits influence on us

There are two types of self-awareness: internal and external. Internal refers to how people fit in with our environment and how we impact others. It relates to our own values, passions, aspirations, and reactions including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses.

Think of when you’re at a job interview, the interviewer asks you to name your strengths/weaknesses and how difficult it can be to evaluate yourself. External self-awareness means understanding how other people view us, in terms of the aforementioned list. There is a difference between how we see ourselves versus how others see us.

Toxic Traits


This is rarely noticed as a “toxic” trait. Some use negativity as a coping mechanism to protect themselves from taking risks, and it makes it hard to appreciate anything. But I’m not talking about having a bad day and not feeling very positive. I’m talking about when you start expecting bad things to happen to you. It is good to be cautious, but keep in touch with the energy you give off and if you have a negative approach to life. 

Avoiding Responsibility:

A more common toxic trait is avoiding responsibility. Instead of knowing when to admit when you’re in the wrong, you always blame another person or thing for what happens. This is especially important when you may have hurt someone, and taking responsibility for your actions goes hand-in-hand with apologizing. To take responsibility, you have to sincerely apologize and acknowledge what you did wrong. A lot of times people need to see action behind an apology as well. 


Another social media craze, yes, but gaslighting is another toxic trait because it involves invalidating someone’s emotions and trying to manipulate them into questioning their own sanity. People with this trait tend to blame someone for making a “big deal” out of something that is important to them or putting someone’s emotions down when they voice their concerns. To recognize this trait, ask yourself: have I downplayed something someone else said, just people I didn’t agree with or couldn’t take responsibility for it?


This trait presents itself in many forms including making something all about yourself, doing anything to get what you want, or using people for your own personal gain. Manipulative people don’t think or perhaps care, about the consequences of their actions.

They can end up twisting stories to benefit themselves, guilt someone into doing something for them, exploit emotions, or use mental tricks to implement fear. It is important to acknowledge this kind of behavior, but many manipulative individuals have a hard time admitting they have this trait, in turn manipulating themselves. 


A lot of people possess this unhealthy trait and it may have developed as a result of experiencing something difficult or life-changing. When people can’t rely on or depend on you, this can become very toxic. You’re inconsistent with hangouts, work commitments, or responsibilities which leads to overall low expectations of you, fragile relationships, and distrust.

Inconsistency is understandable when you make yourself distant in certain situations, but when you begin to strain your relationships and become unreliable you are being a toxic person to people in your life. Try not to make a habit out of making plans and not following through or rescheduling with no intent to follow through. When you’re inconsistent, it can make people feel like you are only there for them when it’s convenient for you.


When you possess this trait, you make people feel unheard and not listened to. Being judgmental to others can often stem from being too judgmental or hard on yourself. Recognizing judgment can start by reflecting on what your own triggers are when you’re hard on yourself. Ask yourself: am I creating a safe space for others to be part of?

 9 Signs You Are Growing

No one is perfect and the first step to growth is recognizing, accepting, and understanding what your own areas of improvement are. It’s all about bettering yourself and growing as an individual.

statement focus on remedies not faults
  1. You ask for support and know asking is not a sign of weakness
  2. You also accept that it’s not your responsibility to fix other people’s problems 
  3. Others’ opinions of you no longer affect you
  4. You prioritize quality time with yourself
  5. You are no longer comparing yourself with others
  6. When something does not add joy to your life, you limit the amount of time and energy spent on it
  7. Things that used to consistently bother you no longer affect you in the same capacity
  8. You’re committed to taking accountability and you take actionable steps
  9. You are self-aware 

I think I personally can be overly sensitive, to the point where it affects others, and it is a trait I am constantly working on. I am learning to recognize when my emotions are a strength as well as a weakness. It is a strength to be passionate and empathetic, but I need to recognize that it’s not my responsibility to try to fix and know everything.