If only bad people held up glaring neon signs declaring they were up to no good, the world would be a better place. We’d easily be able to avoid those seeking to cause harm while living our best lives with fabulous people.
Although the warning signs are rarely glaringly obvious, some subtle signs indicate a person isn’t worth your time. When you learn to pay attention to these warnings, you can learn to avoid people will ill intent.
While scrolling through my favorite community on Reddit, R/askredding, I found a thread helping users identify those warning signs. A user asked community members to share subtle tips that someone isn’t a good person.
Here are the top warning signs to look out for.
How You Feel
Have you ever met someone who leaves you feeling bad after an interaction, no matter what? One Redditor said you shouldn’t ignore that subtle, off-feeling you get after a conversation.
“Every time you interact with them, you feel worse than before,” they replied, as an indicator someone isn’t a good person.
Another called these folks “psychic vampires” because they drain the energy from you. “Psychic vampires are the worst. Took me a lifetime to understand this phenomenon. You want to take a nap, or you feel hopeless without understanding why,” they shared.
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People who tell small lies about small things probably can’t be trusted to tell the truth about big things.
“They tell small lies,” said one user, describing the little lies as “the kind you might pick up on and not mention cause it’s not anything big, but when added up, they can completely change the context of a situation.”
Others responded that any form of lying, regardless of how small, indicates a problem.
“Lying, no matter how small, is poison to a relationship,” stated one. “Relationships are built fundamentally on trust, and breaking that trust breaks the relationship. You can rebuild, but only if they are committed to honesty and treating you with respect as a person who deserves truth.”
Actions speak louder than words, so when someone tries to explain how good of a person they are rather than show you, proceed with caution.
“They are very concerned with making sure you know they’re a good person,” shared one user.
“So true,” added another. “I dated a guy like this; he’d always put on his “nice guy” persona to make me and others think he was this wonderful and caring guy. He was a complete narcissist and a lying tool.”
Others agreed but distinguished between people who claim to be good versus people who walk the walk. “Not to be confused with trying to show that you CARE. One is about empathy, the other is about vanity,” one Redditor clarified.
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If someone is willing to share secrets with you, they’re likely willing to share your secrets with others.
“They tell you things about their other ‘friends’ that they should keep between them, it also means they’re telling your business to someone else,” offed one user.
Another shared a story about a former colleague. “I had a co-worker like this. She used to tell me gossip, 99% of it negative, about other co-workers to try to get me to dish dirt on everyone else in the office precisely so she could run to them and say, “Do you know know what Tournesol said about YOU?” adding that they refused to play into the game.
Using Things Against You
Some folks will pretend to be your friend to get insider information to later use against you. Others will store anything you say and do as part of an arsenal for later.
“Anything you say to them can and will be used against you, but subtly,” stated one user.
“I cut out a guy like this from my life after way too long,” shared another. They added that their friend was “superficially charming and friendly, you came to learn that every single interaction was transactional. Every confidence or weakness was tucked away to throw back in your face or weaponize to hurt when he was pissed off about something.”
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Treating Servers Poorly
You can get a glimpse into the true essence of someone’s character by paying attention to how they treat service workers.
“Seeing how someone treats service workers tells you how they see others and their relation to the world,” said one user.
Another said that some people see it as a power play, “You bring me food, so you are a servant, and I’m your superior,” they explained, highlighting how some view people working in service industries.
Most Redditors don’t understand the dynamic, saying the server is just another person doing a job trying to get by in the world. However, that showcases how much of a glaring red flag it is when someone doesn’t treat a server right.
Some people are only friendly when they want something. Watching someone shift from kind to uncaring in seconds when they don’t get what they want clearly indicates they aren’t a good person.
One Redditor explained the phenomena well. “Their kindness is contingent on their level of attraction to you/others, with a tendency to ignore and/or be cold to those whom they are not attracted to,” they said.
“I would classify this trait as “subtle” because it’s easy to miss if you are not aware of how they interact with other people relative to you; as such, this tendency is very easily overlooked when you are just beginning to know someone,” they added.
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Their Friends Dropped Them
Sometimes people run with the wrong crowd or make friends with users. It happens to the best of us. But when no one wants to hang out with you, you might be the problem.
Redditor users explained that people who complain about having no friends due to being kicked out of friend groups or because “all their friends left them” may be the problem.
“In addition to friendships, they may show this pattern in other areas in their life. Strings of crazy exes, family members they’re always fighting with, jobs that don’t work out because they can’t get along with their bosses or colleagues. And nothing is ever their fault; it’s always someone else that has the problem,” added one user.
Others added nuance, saying some friend groups ditch people over sexual orientation or illnesses. Of course, the friend group was the problem in cases like this.
Shopping Cart Test
Do you return your shopping cart or leave it out in the middle of the parking lot for workers to find?
One user described the shopping cart test as a way to determine whether someone’s a good person or not.
“Basically, you can tell if someone is a good person based on where they put their shopping cart when no one is watching. Put it in the cart return? Good person. Leave it in the parking spot next to their car? Bad person,” they said.
Another explained why the test works so well. “It’s a built in test of how people behave when there are no repercussions for bad behavior. No one will punish you if you do not return your cart. There are no consequences. You are free to behave poorly. How you behave is entirely your choice,” they shared.
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As humans developed conscious awareness, we relied less and less on life-saving instincts. However, those instincts are still there, helping us navigate life, and often offer warning signs of dangerous people or situations.
“If the person makes you feel uncomfortable, makes you feel unsafe, makes you feel like you can’t trust them, trust that instinct. That is a sign,” stated one user.
“I have a friend like this. Nothing major has happened but it’s the small things over time and the general feeling of wanting to avoid them that has made me come to the conclusion my instincts are telling me to run. I feel all these things you’ve mentioned and she’s the only friend I feel that way about,” shared another.
Our instincts are usually spot on, so when we get a weird feeling, we should listen to it.
Signs Someone is Bad Not Always Spot On
Although Redditors pointed out a lot of red flags, it’s essential to approach most situations with nuance. Someone neglecting to put a grocery cart away doesn’t automatically make them a bad person.
The Redditors were spot-on with some other comments, though. Trusting your gut can help you avoid dangerous situations, and someone who constantly lies about the big things probably won’t be truthful when it counts.
It’s important to trust your own judgment when interacting with people, don’t you agree?
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.