Recognizing a toxic person before the relationship even starts is the most effective way of avoiding getting into toxic relationships in the first place.
On the other hand, sometimes we can get so vigilant that we actually throw away the baby with the bathing water. I have spoken to men and women who say when they meet someone with a flaw (e.g. parents were divorced, or was molested as a child, or suffers from depression), they are like, "Sorry, you have a problem from your childhood/in your life. I can't go out with you".
The problem is that if you look closely over 90% of men and women have something in their childhood and past that would qualify them for ‘toxic" people's database. For God only knows why, some people even with really bad childhoods do turn up "emotionally healthy" or just slightly emotionally scarred. Other people can be "severely damaged" in childhood but over time and with deep inner work manage to come out the other side.
What I am trying to say is, no one is perfect and no one be should be expected to be. And just because a man or woman disagrees with you or isn't attracted to you doesn't mean he or she is toxic.
I have listed a few things to help you recognize and avoid toxic people but also be flexible enough to let emotionally healthy men and women in.
1. Being around toxic people drains your emotional and physical energy. Their constant fault finding, ever complaining, ever judgmental, ever critical and ever controlling nature erodes your enthusiasm, hopefulness and self-esteem
2. Toxic people are consistently acting in self-destructive patterns of behavior and seem to have a special knack for finding a way to undermine their own happiness and lives.
3. Toxic people tend to dismiss the idea that they have a problem, and often see their non-productive, self-destructive and unpleasant traits (aggressive, vindictive, manipulative, etc) as strengths and even take pride in them.
4. Toxic people have an unusually hard time recognizing or respecting other people's emotional and physical boundaries.
5. Toxic people can be wishy-washy seeming to be really good/cool at first, but it soon becomes clear that they have hidden agendas and usually it's to use someone else for some purpose or goal of their own.
6. Toxic people struggle with feelings and emotions in ways that suggest a level of attachment or detachment.
7. Toxic people are weighed down by generalizations and irrational beliefs such as, all women are manipulative, all men are chauvinist pigs, relationship never work out, no one can ever be truly happy, life sucks, etc.
8. Toxic people are generally self-concerned and unable to invest much of themselves in a relationship with others. Most have no special relationships (such as good friend or close relative) because they are very difficult to love or help and can do a lot of damage to those who try to love or help them.
9. Sometimes toxic people are just plain mean.
One more thing, it is a fact that in most cases all that can be done with toxic people or self destructive people is to keep as far away from them as possible and allow them to immolate themselves with their self destructiveness. So get out of your system the notion that you can find someone and then try and change or ‘fix" that person. Thinking that if he/she loved you enough it is only natural that he/she would change (open up, be more caring, pay attention to you, spend more time with you, have more sex with you, love you, etc) is one trait of "toxic" people.
The illusion that you have the "power" to change another keeps you stuck in behavior that not only does not work to get you what you want, but drains you of the energy you could be using to create an environment that strongly encourages personal and self-driven behavioral change.
On a more positive note, if you are in a relationship that you suspect is "toxic", pointing the finger at the other person without recognizing your own role in the dance of destruction is a cope out. It's not by accident that you are in a relationship with that man or woman. You both picked out each other to reenact your unresolved issues. That's why it's called a dance of destruction.
I've seen real life cases of men and women who take the necessary steps to change their own dysfunctional and self-destructive behaviours and in the process find that the person they are with starts to change too.
The other person changes because he or she wants to and because he or she sees that it is in his or her best interest to change. Not because someone else is putting pressure and demands on them to change. That's what the power of love does!