15 Toxic Habits You Don’t Realize You’re Guilty Of

15 Toxic Habits You Don’t Realize You’re Guilty Of

We all like to think we’re pretty decent humans, but the truth is, we’ve all got some toxic habits lurking beneath the surface. These aren’t the obvious ones like kicking puppies or stealing candy from babies – they’re the sneaky, insidious ones that we might not even realize are causing harm. But if we want to be our best selves and have healthy relationships, it’s time to face the music and own up to these 15 toxic habits.

1. Constantly canceling plans

We all have times when we just can’t muster the energy for social interaction, but if you’re consistently bailing on plans at the last minute, it sends the message that your friends can’t count on you. It’s flaky, inconsiderate, and destroys trust over time. If you’re not up for something, be honest from the get-go instead of stringing people along.

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2. Talking over people

two men looking at mobile phone

We get it, you’re excited and you have a lot to say, but constantly interrupting and talking over everyone is a surefire way to make them feel unheard and undervalued. Take a breath, let people finish their thoughts, and resist the urge to steamroll the conversation. Active listening is a skill that takes practice, but it’s worth it for the deeper connections it fosters.

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3. Holding grudges

Portrait of a young woman talking on her mobile

Hanging onto resentment and bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It doesn’t hurt them, but it sure as hell eats away at your own peace of mind, Mayo Clinic points out. Learn to forgive, not for their sake, but for your own. Let go of the weight of grudges and focus on moving forward. Life’s too short to let the past keep you stuck.

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4. Constantly needing validation

We all want to feel appreciated and valued, but constantly fishing for compliments and reassurance is a drain on other people. It puts the burden on them to prop up your self-esteem, and it’s ultimately unfulfilling. True confidence comes from within, not from external validation. Focus on building yourself up from the inside out, and let your inherent worth shine through.

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5. Dismissing people’s feelings

When someone comes to you with a problem or a feeling, resist the urge to immediately jump to solutions or minimizing their experience. Saying things like “it’s not that bad” or “just get over it” dismisses the validity of their emotions. Instead, practice empathy and validation. Acknowledge their feelings, even if you don’t fully understand them. Sometimes, just being heard is enough.

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6. Gossiping and spreading rumors

Talking behind someone’s back might give you a temporary rush, but it’s a toxic habit that erodes trust and creates a culture of negativity. If you have an issue with someone, address it directly and privately. Gossiping and spreading rumors is cowardly and cruel. Rise above the drama and focus on building people up instead of tearing them down.

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7. Constantly complaining

We all need to vent sometimes, but constantly complaining about every little thing is a drag on everyone around you. It creates a negative spiral that brings everyone down and keeps you stuck in a victim mentality. Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong, try to focus on what you’re grateful for and what you can change. Shift your perspective and watch how it transforms your mood and relationships.

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8. Refusing to apologize

We all mess up sometimes, but refusing to apologize or take responsibility for your actions is a toxic habit that erodes trust and respect. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being accountable. When you’ve done something wrong, own up to it sincerely and without excuses. A genuine apology goes a long way in repairing relationships and showing people that you value them.

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9. Playing the blame game

man criticizing girlfriend in kitchen

When things go wrong, it’s easy to point fingers and shift blame onto other people. But constantly refusing to take responsibility for your own actions is a toxic habit that keeps you stuck in a cycle of victimhood. Own your mistakes, learn from them, and focus on solutions instead of dwelling on problems. Taking accountability is a sign of maturity and growth.

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10. Dwelling on the past

We all have baggage and regrets, but constantly rehashing old wounds and mistakes keeps you stuck in a negative loop. It prevents you from being present and enjoying the moment. Learn to make peace with your past, forgive yourself and other people, and focus on creating a better future. You can’t change what’s already happened, but you can choose how you let it affect you moving forward.

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11. Neglecting self-care

Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary for your overall well-being and ability to show up for people. Neglecting your physical, emotional, and mental health is a toxic habit that catches up with you over time. Make time for activities that recharge you, whether it’s exercise, meditation, or just taking a damn nap. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so prioritize filling your own first.

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12. Comparing yourself to other people

In the age of social media, it’s easier than ever to fall into the trap of comparing your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel. But constantly measuring yourself against other people is a recipe for misery and self-doubt. Focus on your own journey, celebrate your own progress, and remember that everyone’s path is different. Comparison is the thief of joy, so don’t let it rob you of yours.

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13. Refusing to ask for help

We all need support sometimes, but many of us have a hard time asking for it. We don’t want to be a burden or appear weak, but refusing to reach out when you’re struggling is a toxic habit that keeps you isolated and overwhelmed. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. Let people in, and be willing to lean on them when you need to. We’re all in this together.

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14. Perfectionism

Striving for excellence is admirable, but perfectionism is a toxic habit that sets you up for failure and self-flagellation, Forbes notes. It’s an impossible standard that keeps you paralyzed and afraid to take risks. Embrace the idea of “good enough” and focus on progress over perfection. Let yourself be a work in progress, and celebrate the journey as much as the destination.

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15. Neglecting boundaries

Boundaries are essential for healthy relationships, but many of us struggle to set and enforce them. We say yes when we want to say no, we overshare, and we let everyone trample all over our time and energy. But neglecting boundaries is a toxic habit that leads to resentment, burnout, and codependency. Learn to get comfortable with saying no, speaking up for yourself, and protecting your peace. Your well-being is worth it.

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Piper Ryan is a NYC-based writer and matchmaker who works to bring millennials who are sick of dating apps and the bar scene together in an organic and efficient way. To date, she's paired up more than 120 couples, many of whom have gone on to get married. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Cut, and many more.

In addition to runnnig her own business, Piper is passionate about charity work, advocating for vulnerable women and children in her local area and across the country. She is currently working on her first book, a non-fiction collection of stories focusing on female empowerment.