9 Warning Signs You’re in Bad Company

9 Warning Signs You’re in Bad Company

It is better to be alone than in bad company.

A big part of who you become in life has to do with who you choose to surround yourself with.  Sometimes luck controls who walks into your life, but you decide who you let stay, who you pursue, and who you let walk back out.

Ultimately, you should surround yourself with people who make you a better person and let go of those who don’t.  Here are some warning signs you’re in the presence of the latter:

1.  They only make time for you when it’s convenient for them.

It’s obvious, but any relationship without regular interaction and communication is going to have problems, especially when there’s a lack of commitment.

Don’t waste your time with someone who only wants you around when it’s convenient for them.  You shouldn’t have to force someone to make a space in their life for you, because if they truly care about you they will gladly create space for you.

Being in a relationship with someone who overlooks your worth isn’t loyalty, it’s stupidity.  Never beg someone for attention.  Know your self-worth, and move on if you must.

2.  They hold your past against you.

Some people will refuse to accept that you are no longer who you used to be – that you’ve made mistakes in the past, learned from them, and moved past them.  They may not be able to stand the fact that you’re growing and moving on with your life, and so they will try to drag your past to catch up with you.  Do not help them by acknowledging their negative behavior.  Keep moving forward.

Holding on to the unchangeable past is a waste of energy and serves no purpose in creating a better day today.  If someone continuously judges you by your past and holds it against you, you might have to repair your future by leaving them behind.

3.  You feel trapped.

Healthy relationships keep the doors and windows wide open.  Plenty of air is flowing and no one feels trapped.  Relationships thrive in this kind of unrestricted environment.  You can come and go as you please, but you choose to stay because where you are is where you want to be.

If you want to be a part of someone’s life, all the open doors and windows in the world won’t make you leave.  If someone has closed them all in an effort to trap you into something you don’t want to be a part of, it’s time to find the strength to kick down the door.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the Relationships and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

4.  They discredit your dreams and abilities.

If you allow others to define your dreams and abilities, then you enable them to hold you back.  What you’re capable of achieving is not a function of what other people think is possible for you.  What you’re capable of achieving depends on what you choose to do with your time and energy.

People will throw all sorts of assumptions your way about what is possible and what is impossible.  Look beyond the presumptions and mental limitations of others, and connect with your own best vision of how YOUR life can be.  Life is an open-ended journey, and what you achieve comes from what you expect to achieve and what you work to achieve.

So don’t worry about what everyone else thinks.  Keep living your truth.  The only people that will get mad at you for doing so are those who want you to live a lie.

5.  They have lied to you more than once.

Love is a verb, not a noun.  It is ACTIVE in all relationships.  Love is not just feelings of passion and romance between lovers; it is also a behavior among friends and family.  If someone lies to you, they are unlovingly disrespecting you and your relationship.

When you keep someone in your life who is a chronic liar, and you keep giving them new chances to be trusted, you have a lot in common with this person – you’re both lying and being unloving to you!

Bottom line:  Those who avoid the truth and tell you only what you want to hear do so for their own benefit, not yours.  Don’t put up with it.  (Read Emotional Vampires.)

6.  Their negativity is rubbing off on you.

The negative people in your life don’t just behave negatively towards you, but towards everyone they interact with.  What they say and do is a projection of their own reality – their own inner issues.  Even if they say something to you that seems personal – even if they insult you directly – it likely has zero to do with you.

This is important to remember because what these negative people say and do shouldn’t be taken to heart.  Although you don’t have control over what they say and do; you do have control over whether or not you allow them to say and do these things to you.  You alone can deny their venomous words and actions from invading your heart and mind.  If you feel like these people are getting to you, take a break and give yourself some space to breathe.

Positive things happen when you distance yourself from negative people.  Doing so doesn’t mean you hate them, it simply means you respect yourself.

7.   They are excessively envious of what you have.

A little bit of envy is OK, but when someone is excessively envious of what you have, there’s a good chance what they really want is to take it from you.

Excessive envy doesn’t tell you how much someone admires you, it tells you how much they dislike themselves.  If you can, try to help lift them up, but also be careful that they don’t pull you down.  Oftentimes no amount of love, or promises, or proof from you will ever be enough to make them feel better about themselves.  For the broken pieces they carry, are pieces they must mend for themselves.  Happiness, after all, is an inside job.

8.  They motivate you to be judgmental or hateful.

Truth be told, no human being is superior.  No faith, race, size or shape is inferior.  All collective judgments about others are wrong.  Only judgmental hypocrites make them.

If you judge others by their skin color, their body size, and their outer beauty, you will miss EVERYTHING about who they really are.  It is amazing the quality of people you will learn about and meet in this world if you can simply get past the fact that lots of people are not dressing and living the way you do.

People who motivate you to judge or hate others are as bad as bad company gets.  Avoid them at all costs.  (Read The Mastery of Love.)

9.  They want you to be someone else.

Spend time with people who see you the way you are, and not as they wish to think you are.  Spend even more time with those who truly know about you, and who love and respect you anyway.

If someone expects you to be someone you’re not, take a step back.  It’s wiser to lose relationships over being who you are, than to keep them intact by acting like someone you’re not.  It’s easier to nurse a little heartache and meet someone new, than it is to piece together your own shattered identity.  It’s easier to fill an empty space within your life where someone else used to be, than it is to fill the empty space within yourself where YOU used to be.

Your turn…

What would you add to the list?  What’s one big warning sign you’re in the presence of bad company?  Please leave a comment below and let us know.

Photo by: Bhumika Bhatia


  1. Dorrie says

    When you realize that you have lived with a person for several decades and see the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, attitude more frequently, then you know it is time to take a step back and plan for another adventure anywhere else but the place one called home !

    • noni says

      Add to list: (relationship wise) if the person you are seeing seems too good to be true. Tells you all the right things then after while changes. A lot of times what they say that draws you in turns out to be the opposite of whatever they said or displayed. Recently broke up with someone who was the total opposite of everything he portrayed. He pretended to be a good person after awhile I introduced him to my kids. My kids liked him which drew me in. After awhile he began complaining about them and being jealous of them. He wanted to be the baby. My kids come first so that was the deal breaker. You have to give it some time but if you take note of things and watch the warning signs you can save yourself some time. The real him was selfish and controlling. Plus a liar and a cheater.

    • KT says

      I wish I had the guts to leave, that sounds exactly like my Jekle and Hyde. The words, the voice and tone that are used cut deep and the hurt never goes away, I guess that’s my fault for not taking a stand and leaving and I, for the life of me, can’t figure out why I won’t leave. I tried once and he called our son up to tell him that mom wants a divorce and continued to tell him that he did not and asked our son if he wanted our family to break up and our son answered no, so I suspect that’s why I take it silently to keep our family together. I tried telling him that his words are negative and they hurt but he was angry at me and has never apologized for the hurt and pain. I know staying is not the answer and I know how good life would be if I could just get the nerve up to leave but I keep thinking of my son saying he doesn’t want our family to break up. Great post, I’m glad to read something that resonates and know I’m not crazy!

      • Kj23 says

        He doesn’t care about the family aspect, he just wants to control you. Think of this, is this how you would like your son to turn out? You can show him what a woman will and won’t tolerate by taking a stand for yourself. Your sanity could depend on it. Been there, done that. So glad I left. My kids had to accept it and move on, too.

      • Rs says

        I agree with what KT has said. Sometimes it’s social pressure which forces you to continue living like that no matter how hard it is for you. I guess when we have children we think about their well being not our own.

  2. h.b says

    If they make you feel unwanted, stupid or worthless then stay away from them because you can’t constantly stay around someone who is making you feel this way. In any relationship, both people are supposed to boost each other up, not bring each other down! xx

  3. Lisa says

    Another thing is to consider is this:

    If they always come to tell you about the ‘ill’ being spoken of you from other people, they gotta go. Sometimes you have to play ‘Shoot the Messenger’ … Why are they telling you this? Why should you care? Why was it OK for others to talk bad about you in their presence, and they did not defend you? Why can’t they disclose the sources (the people and their names) where this information came from? Seriously, what is the real deal behind all this?

    Bottom Line: Don’t tell me what they said. Tell me what YOU said to defend me. Tell me why it’s was OK for them to talk about me and for you to report back to me. Tell me why it was OK for them them talk about me in your presence so comfortably.

    BEWARE of the Messenger who tells you of the ill that’s been spoken about you from other people.

    • BRENDA says

      Wow LISA you hit it on the nail. Very wise advice. I had gone thru something like this last week with people I know. Thanks for the eye opener.

  4. Darlene says

    What about grown men who are momma’s boys who have never left home? They take the time to be in a relationship, love you with all their hearts and tell you that you are ‘the one’ they have been looking for their entire life….. but 2 1/2 years into the relationship they realize that they can never leave their mother for you. Can they not leave because of guilt or is the fear of leaving the only home they have ever known too much for them? The man in question is 49. I just cannot wrap my head around this and I keep hearing his words to me over and over again how much he wanted to be my life partner. It’s very painful.

    • Anna says

      I know your pain. I have been in an identical situation. Lost time. He will never change. NEVER. Get over it. Sorry.

  5. Craig says

    The comment about a partner wanting you to do what THEY want you to do reminded me of something i watched on T.V the other day. The singer , Elton John, when he was struggling to make it as a professional, his then girlfriend , told him to ‘ GET A JOB!!’ He told her to ‘F.CK OFF’ walked out forever, and years later got signed!! hahahahah!

  6. Natalie says

    Sometimes I wonder if people have a negative effect on me. Some people don’t come into my space until I am feeling down. I have noticed people don’t (98% of the time) come into my space (unless I have to meet them for study or shopping) until I am in a certain mood. Usually worse.

  7. Michele says

    I hear lots of people on hear asking what to do if the offenders are their family. It is way harder to separate from this but the answer is the same – you need to at least create a safe distance from them.

    I grew up with two parents that did and still do have an extremely dysfunctional, toxic relationship. They fool themselves into believing they are ‘normal’ people, but they are not. I could fill a book with all the ways this has screwed my head up, and the battle its been to get out from under their metal and emotional oppression.

    I have spent half of my time here on earth wasted in careers I hate, second guessing my own judgment and ability to think. I have wasted years my time in toxic, abusive relationships, romantic and otherwise, all because they brought me up to believe I didn’t deserve proper boundaries. I was brought up to think I didn’t deserve any better. How could I even know what proper boundaries were? – I had no examples of it ever displayed before me and my mother would put up with anything.

    It’s been a long hard battle in which I had to make some very difficult decisions. They have effected me in ways that have severely impeded my quality of life. Even a brief phone convo feels as if poison has been shot directly into my veins. I have two sisters who are still under their spell, who do not even realize how twisted their thinking is and who try using the same tactics on me as well. I don’t speak to them anymore. I thought this would leave a tremendous void in my life and that I would miss them terribly. I don’t. But this of course makes me the big bad black sheep of the family. I don’t care.

    I now am extremely careful who I let into my inner circle, and have made a concerted effort to steer my own children in a very different direction – I have realized that its up to me to break the cycle. Still, its a battle every single day to ignore the negative voices in my head and to trust my instincts and not second guess myself and my decisions.

    My parents, however, are old now. Still, I keep them at arms distance. If they need my help, I will help them, because of course I still love them, but I have done lots of work to emotionally separate myself from them. Still, when I do see them, I am screwed up for at least a week, a week I’ll never get back to live my life in a positive, productive manner. I am very careful in sacrificing my sanity for them anymore.

    If I’m going to be completely honest, I must admit, that the only reason I stay in contact with them at all is because they are old, and I don’t need to feel that inevitable guilt I will feel when they pass away. So I guess my reasoning for staying in contact with them is, in a way, selfish. I don’t want their toxicity controlling me from the grave.

    • anonymous says

      Wow. Your post really shook me to the core. I am experiencing the same emotions with my parents. It’s funny that you would describe it as a spell. I’ve felt this way too. My brother moved out and even though he’s having a tough time, he refuses to come home. I’m married and I live with my husband but my parents house flooded. They needed help so, we had them move in with us. Needless to say, they have taken over and lately, I’m feeling too much like a little kid. I’ve rarely felt confident in my decisions. My parents are in their late 50’s but they aren’t very healthy so, I do have the worry that they will pass away and I will feel so guilty for how I’ve felt, unsure and I will still be under their spell. My G-d… It’s like im talking to one of my siblings. *HUGS* Let’s try to stay strong!

  8. Ivy says

    Add to list:

    If they do not let you into their life, keep you a secret, do not introduce you to friends &/or family, and do not offer reasonable explanations after a consirable amount of time with that person.

  9. Marcy says

    Was starting to think some people in my life weren’t the best people to be around, then I read this and I’m almost certain they aren’t healthy to be around.

    Another red flag for if someone is better not being in your life is when you dread talking to them or being around them and make “i dont know if i can” your go to answer for when they ask to do something or go somewhere with them.

  10. Floats says

    Trust your gut. Stay strong. Not giving up is strength. Don’t get a habit of seeking the easy way out. These are things that I’ve learned from the relationships I’ve had with people whom made my life a carousel of uncertainty. But I am thankful for the lessons I’ve learned and the devotion to myself that I now have. Above all, trusting my gut is something ill never forget.

  11. joyce says

    I am in a relationship with a man that no one in my family likes. They don’t like him because of his past. He was addicted to cocaine. An alcoholic. And somewhat of a violent past. He has not drank in 10 years and has done no drugs in over 4 years. They hear past stories about him and think that he treats me hora be. But I have never had someone love me like this man does. Yes he is hard to deal with sometimes but is the most caring loving man I have ever meant. He has no problem saying exactly what he feels in every waking moment of his life. He expresses every day how much he loves me. But everyone one in my family hates him because of how open he is. He is brutally honest in every situation. The only one out of 7 siblings in my family that likes him is one of my brothers and my mom. Am I wrong? Or do they see something I don’t.

    • Anita says

      You have said a lot of things about this man that would raise red flags. Your family may be seeing things you don’t because your thoughts are clouded by love right now. You wouldn’t want to wake up one day to find yourself being abused.

  12. Michael says

    It is important to know that people do not have personality flaws, they have character flaws.

    All you have to do is review their past and you have it all figured out…

  13. Lisa says

    What a profoundly uplifting blog. This is my new lifestyle bible!

    Ok… One sign you’re in poor company is someone who is full of saccharin sweet flattery and sycophantic behaviour. Be incredibly wary of the ‘friend’ who also agrees with everything you say and appears to have little independent thought. This is someone who is terrified of not being popular or liked by everyone and will say and do conflicting things depending on who they are sharing a cup of tea with. A real friend is authentic in their ups and downs on this roller coaster of life and doesn’t feel the need to hide their human faults or moments of darkness from you. More importantly they do not judge you in return.

    Watch out for this energy vampire: they may suffocate you with barely veiled passive aggression and betray your confidence to the next person they want to impress!
    Peace love and light :-)))

  14. Lopa says

    Hi guys. Mind-blowing blog. I have met someone like this in my life. He insulted me every time as if I have no existence to him at all. He only craved for my body & my money. He forced me not to take even my breath without his or his parents permission. He had insulted my parents verbally, emotionally & even physically. He, being brutal in nature, tried to even kill me twice. Now I am free from him & going through the painful process of divorce. It is a trauma for anyone to meet some like this, but the moral of the story is truly catchy – you are the master of your life; don’t give anyone such licence that he/she can make your life hell.

  15. deanne fox says

    The simple fact that I read this article and agreed to most of it, backs up what I’ve been second guessing and lying to myself about. I need to finally dump the guy now!

  16. Carole says

    Grateful to have stumble on this blog – the Universe has a way of providing just what we need to hear when we need to hear it.

    Rock the Day All!

  17. Carmela says

    When, after interacting with them, you feel drained. And after a while, you become physically ill, or you begin to manifest physical symptoms of illness (brain fog, fatigue, chest pains, etc) yet your physician can’t find anything technically wrong with you.

  18. Johnny says

    I’d like to add something. Have you ever found yourself listening to someone gripe about one thing or another and then offering your constructive, unbiased opinion from an outsiders point of view only to find that when you feel the need to vent the same person whose problems you were polite enough to listen to, basically says they don’t want here you complain. I’ve experienced that recently. It’s unsettling to me how little consideration some can have, and its unfortunate but the last thing anyone needs is to give their positive energy to some one who, not only gives none back, but actually gives off negative vibes.

  19. Minnie says

    It took me a long time to finally realize that my family was toxic for my life. I couldn’t understand the why I was feeling stupid, insecure, and unimportant around them until one day I decided to go back to school and their response to this was- you are too old for that!

    I have been criticized about my spirituality, my personality, my morals, and values… everything about me, according to them is/was crazy. I needed to be confident for the career I chose and to strengthen my ability to NOT second guess my decisions at work, so while working on acquiring confidence and self-love, I find out that these people (so call family) did not have had my best interest, love, respect, and appreciation; therefore, I do not talk to them and ever since I made this decision, I have been happier, more confident, and motivated to achieve my goals and dreams without having to feel inadequate because of their opinion. Just because it is family does not mean that you have to sacrifice your happiness.

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