According to a 2019 survey1 of 2000 people, the average American hasn't made one new real friend in the last five years.

In this article, Jay Shetty explores friendship and why it is so hard to make new friends. As you get older, it is harder to build meaningful, long-lasting relationships. The relationships you are in may become less significant if they are not moving in the same direction as your life. One of the reasons for problems in our friendships and other relationships is poor boundaries, states Jay Shetty. What are some traits that characterize a good friend? Honesty and trust should be high on your list of must-haves for friends. Maybe loyalty and a sense of humor are important to you. People tend to surround themselves with people they enjoy being around and people with the same traits and habits. How can you recognize the difference between the healthy traits and toxic traits that people possess? Jay Shetty unpacks eight types of toxic traits to be on the lookout for, as well as the five tools you can use to create healthy boundaries. “I just want to start off by saying that there is no such thing as a toxic person,” Jay Shetty shares. “There are toxic habits, there are toxic conditionings, there is toxic karma, there is toxic behavior. But a person is not inherently toxic, no one is toxic in their soul. No one is toxic in their being. But we take on toxic behaviors, toxic conditioning, toxic habits in our life.”

Setting Boundaries

Boundaries are essential to creating healthy relationships. Setting boundaries does not mean you have to cut people out of your life. It means you cut the part of their life that you do not want to be part of. “When I first got involved in spirituality after I met the monk, I realized I wanted to live a certain way. I wanted to live a life of service,” Jay Shetty explains. “I wanted to stop certain habits in my life. I started to realize I couldn't be around people who enjoy those habits deeply. So if someone was completely immersed in some of those habits that were no longer habits that I wanted to have, I had to set a boundary. It was tough because it wasn't that I didn't want to be around those people. Instead, I didn't want to be around them when they were practicing that habit.”

You can set boundaries that will result in healthier, more fulfilling relationships without cutting a person totally out of your life. “In our spiritual tradition, we would often say ‘Respect from a distance’,” explains Jay Shetty. “You have to be spiritually mature to respect someone from up close. Why? Because when up close, you see all of them. Whereas respecting from a distance is something you practice, where first you learn to respect someone by only seeing the good in them. Then as you become more aware of their challenges and their flaws, you can deal with that because you also see your challenges and your flaws. An important thing to note is that most people aren't toxic 100% of the time, and it doesn't mean they're bad people. Toxicity is a bad pattern, not a bad person.”

What types of toxic people should you be on the lookout for?

The Catastrophizer

There is an old saying that goes, “Some people create their own storms, then get mad when it rains.” This applies to the first type of toxic person, the catastrophizer. Everything is the end of the world to this type of toxic person. This person lacks perspective, and they often resist any effort to help them. Experiences in their lives where things have gone wrong have left them seeking the attention they didn’t get them.

“In their mind, the catastrophe lives on the edge of a cliff and even the slightest wind can threaten to blow them over,” shares Jay Shetty.

The Complainer

The complainer is the type of toxic person who is never happy about anything. The sun is out, and it is too hot. If it is cloudy, it is depressing. The complainer always finds a downside to everything and is quick to point it out to others. To help create compassion and empathy for the complainer, try to look at it from the point of view that they could have had someone in their life that always pointed out the negative. Perhaps they grew up with a complainer, and they acquired that habit.

The Critic

The critic is just how it sounds. This type of person is constantly criticizing other people, generally behind their backs. Critics are often created because they have been criticized themselves. “In my book, Think Like a Monk, I talk about a monk who upset me because he was always critical of others,” Jay Shetty explains. “I would then criticize him to others. The behavior that I didn't like in him is the behavior that I adopted from him in my resentment for him. When I would talk about it, I would get so consumed by it that I started to believe and think that I was doing something right by criticizing someone else who's doing something wrong. Actually, by criticizing him, I got dragged into the same space.”

The Curmudgeon

The fourth type of toxic person is the curmudgeon. The curmudgeon is someone who is easily annoyed or angered and likes to complain. A curmudgeon will downplay or brush off situations with comments or information that make others feel less worthy. “They're always wondering, ‘How did you pull that off? Maybe it's because of this or that’,” Shetty explains. “They lose out on the opportunity to grow because they always believe other people have got a benefit that they don't have.”

Curmudgeons don’t lend genuine support or compliments to others. So why do they act this way?

According to Jay Shetty, it likely stems from their parents not complimenting them or noticing their good. It can also be when someone has become envious and not allowed to live to their full potential. Maybe they've been limited by other people, and now they want to limit you.

Keep your judgment at bay. Deploy compassion instead. When you judge them for this habit, you are judging yourself.

The Ceaseless Celebrators

There is nothing wrong with a positive, happy attitude, but if you constantly push away negative emotions and refuse to acknowledge them, you are the fifth type of toxic person, the ceaseless celebrator. This person offers tissues and encouragement not to cry when someone is upset. They use diversion as a tactic to avert others’ feelings and emotions when they are not positive. Jay Shetty admits that he was this type of person at one point in his life. When others were negative, he would encourage them that there was nothing in life to be negative about. He was not willing to explore his difficult emotions because he believed they were unworthy and useless. Today, he recognizes how false that is. Emotions are like signals. An emotion does not define who you are. Instead, an emotion is like a phone call. You can either acknowledge it and learn more about yourself or choose to ignore it and miss out on the information.

The Consumer

The sixth type of toxic person is the consumer. The consumer is someone who can zap all your positive energy. They tend to have ongoing issues and are always asking for your advice, but they never take it. You waste your time trying to be supportive while they have no intention of changing. They just feed off the attention. “The consumer often ends up like that because they've never been given any validation, attention, or affection, so now they look for it from everyone,” Jay Shetty says. “They ask ‘What do I need to do?’, and then they don't take the advice because they don't have the courage and the time to do that.”

The Changer

Do you know someone who tells one person one thing and another person another, contradicting themselves in the process? It is difficult to know where they stand or to get a sense of who that person is. “The truth is, they don't know compassion for the change that comes from the fact that they don't know who they are,” Jay Shetty explains. They have lost themselves and are trying to feel a sense of belonging. Perhaps they have not had a place that feels like they belong, and they are seeking a place where they feel part of something.

The Courtroom Expert

Unwanted opinions and advice are what the eighth type of toxic person is a pro at. The courtroom expert has an opinion about everything, and they never think they are wrong. They have an addiction to giving advice and get frustrated and angry when people don’t follow that advice. Jay Shetty shares that he was once the courtroom expert until a realization brought him out of it. “I wasn't giving people the best advice,” Jay Shetty explains. “I was giving people the best advice for me, not for them.”


There are different kinds of boundaries. There are physical, time, emotional, financial, emotional, and mental boundaries that can be applied to situations.

“When we think of boundaries, we often think of a solid line like a fence or a brick wall,” Jay Shetty explains. “This is one of the reasons people have trouble with boundaries. They hate the idea of fencing people out, especially when we want to feel more love and connection in their life. We're often willing to extend ourselves, but we don't want to extend ourselves beyond what's comfortable for us.”

Jay Shetty also reminds us that just because you have a boundary in one area with someone does not mean that you have to have it in another area. Someone borrows money and doesn’t pay it back promptly. You create a financial boundary but can still have a healthy relationship with them. You just know not to lend them money again.

How do you create a firm boundary that you can stick to? The first thing you need to do is realize you need to put a boundary in place. Are you feeling resentment, frustration, or anger about a situation? Maybe you always pick up the kids or do the chores at home, or the boss asks you to stay late again. You start to have physical symptoms like headaches, anxiety, sleeping issues, or stomach problems. Perhaps you begin to avoid the situation altogether so you don’t need to deal with it.

Jay Shetty says these things are all signs that boundaries need to be set. The hardest part about setting a boundary is honoring it, partly because you don’t create it well enough. To create boundaries that are easy to keep, you need to implement the following. Clarity. The idea is to be clear and concise about what your boundary is. If you are murky or fuzzy, people often violate them unknowingly. When there is clarity, people will know where you stand from the beginning. Communication. One of the biggest challenges for all of us in creating clarity is learning how to communicate our needs with kindness.

“It takes thought and practice about how we want to say what we want to say, yet most of us never grow up specifically being taught how to set boundaries,” explains Jay Shetty. If we don’t honor and communicate our boundaries, it can lead to frustration, depression, and even health problems. Consistency. When you're consistent with your boundaries, people will start to see you're not willing to receive what they want to give or that you're not willing to give what they want to take. Consent. When you have the occasion to bend a boundary, you need to ask yourself for permission. Question if you are genuinely okay with bending the boundary. “Can you do it justice once or are you setting a dangerous precedent where it'll be harder to stick with the boundary in the future?” Jay Shetty asks.

Compassion. One of the things that enables kind communication and clarity is compassion. Boundaries don't have to be bad or negative. They can be beautiful, robust boundaries that, when regularly reinforced, make for reliable, rewarding, powerful relationships. A proverb popularized by a Robert Frost poem that says, “Good fences make good neighbors.” You never know what someone is going through or may have experienced in their past. Jay Shetty states that learning to recognize these types of toxic people and implementing these tools can lead to healthy, fulfilling relationships with others. Set boundaries where needed in your life, and respect others when they set boundaries as well.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode ON “Eight Types of Toxic People” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

1 Gervis, Z. (2019, May 10). Why the average American hasn't made a new friend in 5 years. New York Post. 

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