25 Subtle Hints That Someone May Not Be a Good Person

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While people’s ideas of a ‘good person’ differ, there are some actions that are universally recognized as characteristic of ‘bad people.’

They Rarely Ever Say ‘Sorry’


When a person makes mistakes but never offers a sincere apology, it reveals a lack of accountability and empathy. 

The absence of genuine remorse or the inability to articulate regret can severely hinder trust and respect in any relationship—is it really hard to say ‘sorry’?

Lies, Lies, and More Lies


When you notice someone often alters the truth (even in minor ways), take it as a clear sign they’re frequent liars. 

This pattern can be as simple as ‘spicing up’ a story or as serious as completely making up events. So, a little tip—keep your distance, it’s generally safer!

They Always Put Themselves First


If someone always prioritizes their needs and desires over everyone else’s (such as cutting in line or dominating conversations) it’s a sign of excessive self-centeredness. 

This trait often comes at the expense of disregarding others’ feelings and needs.

They’re Superficially Charming

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Superficial charm can be misleading, often used by individuals as a tool to impress or sway others without forming meaningful connections. Superficial charm can be deceiving. Initially, you might spend a few minutes with someone and think, “Wow, what a fantastic person!” But as more time passes, you might start to notice unsettling traits that prompt you to think, “Wait, what’s really going on here?” 

This kind of charm is used to make a strong first impression while hiding less desirable qualities that emerge later. This facade might win over some at first, but over time, the lack of depth and authenticity becomes apparent, revealing their true self-serving motives.

Their Actions Don’t Match Their Words


Watch for people whose actions consistently fail to align with what they promise. 

This discrepancy can range from small commitments to significant promises, revealing a troubling pattern of unreliability and dishonesty.

Their Glass is Always Half Empty

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Constant negativity and pessimism can drain the energy of those around them. A pessimistic attitude, characterized by a lack of hope and minimal optimism, can really bring others down. 

Pessimists tend to believe that bad outcomes are more likely than good ones, often seeing the worst in situations or people. This dampens their own spirits and also spreads gloom in their interactions. While a touch of pessimism can be protective, alerting one to potential dangers—like fostering caution in potentially risky work environments—it generally has a chilling effect on morale and personal well-being when it’s a dominant trait.

They Play the Blame Game

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Notice when an individual never admits faults or mistakes and always deflects blame onto others. 

This behavior causes you to doubt yourself (often making you feel unjustly guilty) and also creates a perpetual state of defense—not the best example of a healthy relationship.

They Can’t Celebrate Others’ Successes


Jealousy and envy are evident when an individual struggles to be happy for others’ achievements. Instead of celebrating, they may belittle or question the legitimacy of others’ successes, indicating deep-seated insecurity and competitiveness.

They Ignore Your Comfort Zone


A person who repeatedly ignores others’ personal limits or comfort zones—without regard for their preferences or consent—clearly disrespects any personal boundaries. 

This could involve overstepping during conversations or making decisions that affect others without their input (rude!)

They Thrive on Others’ Drama


Engaging in gossip or speaking negatively about others behind their backs—often to manipulate or gain social leverage—is a subtle yet harmful way someone can erode trust and spread discord within a group or community.

They Take Advantage of Others (Unapologetically!)

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Taking advantage of others for personal gain is a definitive sign of a problematic character. From manipulating situations to their advantage to exploiting someone’s generosity, such actions demonstrate a clear disregard for fairness and reciprocity in relationships. 

An exploiter, essentially a user, operates selfishly and unethically. This could manifest in various forms, like an employer who demands long hours yet pays insufficient wages, highlighting a profound lack of respect and fairness. This behavior damages relationships and also reveals a deep-seated selfishness.

They Don’t Show Compassion


Consistently overlooking or dismissing the emotional needs of others is an alarming sign of a lack of empathy. Picture a scenario where, instead of offering a comforting word, someone coldly ignores a friend’s evident distress. 

This lack of sensitivity hints at a deeper inability to connect emotionally—a big red flag to maintain your distance!

They Actually Enjoy the Pains of Others!

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Taking pleasure in the difficulties or failures of others is a clear sign of schadenfreude—a trait that’s highly concerning in any relationship. Schadenfreude, the pleasure derived from another’s misfortune, often surfaces in highly competitive settings. For instance, imagine a football player who experiences a rush of delight when an opposing player is injured during a game. 

When schadenfreude is intense and persistent, it may indicate deeper personality issues, particularly in those with low empathy or a tendency to dehumanize others. This troubling trait is frequently linked with the Dark Triad personality traits: psychopathy (characterized by a lack of empathy and poor behavioral control), narcissism (marked by self-centeredness and arrogance), and Machiavellianism (noted for power-seeking through cunning and deceit).

They Never Own Up (Again)


This trait manifests as a constant shifting of blame and making excuses instead of owning up to one’s mistakes. Those who never admit fault tend to criticize others readily, using it as a tactic to divert attention from their own flaws. 

If they’re always pointing fingers, perhaps they hope their own errors will go unnoticed. This relentless fault-finding can drain the people around them. Plus by refusing to acknowledge their mistakes, they hinder their personal growth and contribute to a toxic atmosphere.

They Treat the World as Their Trash Can

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Littering, such as throwing trash out of a car window or leaving a mess for others to clean, reflects a disregard for the environment and the community. 

This behavior suggests a broader disrespect for shared spaces and a selfish attitude that prioritizes convenience over communal responsibility.

They Treat Restaurant Staff Poorly

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Treating restaurant staff poorly—like being rude, impatient, or disrespectful—reveals much about a person’s character. 

This behavior indicates how they treat others who they perceive as having less power, suggesting a lack of empathy and respect that only needs the ‘right’ conditions to be revealed. 

They Regularly Show Anger or Hostility


Regular displays of anger or hostility can be deeply concerning—from road rage to snapping at colleagues over trivial matters—this consistent irritability tends to foster a hostile environment. Such behavior complicates the development of healthy relationships. 

Contrary to some beliefs, anger isn’t a show of strength—rather, it signals a lack of control over one’s thoughts and emotions. While anger can be a natural, immediate reaction, its dominance over reason often makes meaningful and healthy interactions nearly impossible

You Feel Worse After Meeting Them


Feeling consistently uncomfortable or drained after interactions with someone is a serious red flag. 

If every meeting leaves you feeling worse, it may indicate that this person’s presence or behavior is toxic, often because they emit negativity or engage in subtle forms of emotional manipulation.

They Struggle to Say ‘Thank You’

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When someone consistently fails to say ‘thank you’ after others do something nice for them, it shows a lack of appreciation and acknowledgment. 

This absence of basic manners can hint at a self-centered nature, where they take others’ efforts for granted, diminishing the mutual respect that supports healthy interactions.

They Offer Non-Constructive Criticism


Criticism without constructiveness has no point but pointing out flaws without offering solutions or support. 

When someone consistently critiques in a way that undermines confidence rather than fostering improvement, it highlights a tendency to devalue others, which can significantly strain personal and professional relationships.

They’re Absent When Needed Most


A person who disappears or remains emotionally unavailable during challenging periods is showing a lack of support. 

This behavior is especially damaging in close relationships, where emotional support is fundamental to mutual trust and respect.

They’re Unreliable

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Unreliability can manifest as missed deadlines, broken promises, or being generally undependable. This trait causes frustration and inconvenience, and also indicates a lack of respect for the time and expectations of others, eroding trust over time.

They Lack Remorse


Lack of remorse after making mistakes is a profound sign of emotional disconnect. 

If someone does something wrong but shows no guilt or empathy for those affected, it indicates a deep-seated insensitivity that can be damaging to trust and relational dynamics.

They Use Your Intimate Details Against You


When someone uses intimate knowledge against you, it’s a betrayal of trust. 

This manipulation tactic damages any relationship and also shows a strategic and often malicious intent to undermine or control, reflecting a significant lack of integrity and respect.

They Treat Animals Poorly


How a person treats animals is a telling indicator of their compassion, regardless of their personal feelings toward animals. 

Treating animals poorly—such as through neglect, cruelty, or aggression—demonstrates a profound lack of empathy and respect for living beings, which often mirrors how they might treat people as well.

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Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.