Wondering if one of your friendships is toxic? Here are some clues that it might be.
Have you ever been in a toxic friendship – one that just feels like a ton of work? Sometimes you might wonder why you’re still friends with this person given how much effort it takes to have them in your life.
But you maintain the friendship for whatever reason – maybe you’re the only friend this person has, they’re a ton of fun when they’re not being difficult, you care deeply for this friend, or you just don’t want to have to deal with the drama of ending the friendship.
When you do think of ending the friendship, you second guess yourself. You consider the possibility that you’re just being really sensitive or impatient and this person isn’t toxic after all.
Maybe that’s the case. Maybe it isn’t. To help you figure it out, here are some of the most common signs that you’re in a toxic friendship.
What does “Toxic” Mean?
“Toxic” is a word that we use often to describe people who bring negativity into our lives. It’s definitely an extreme adjective to use and when we label someone as “toxic” we’re almost confirming in our minds that they are a bad person.
When you’re thinking about a friendship you have and are reading through these signs to determine if it’s toxic, I want to remind you that none of this means your friend is a bad person; Or even that they’re doing anything intentionally.
But this doesn’t change the fact that a relationship with one of your friends may be causing you more harm than good, and that’s what I want you to carefully think through.
Signs of a Toxic Friendship
Your friend judges or criticizes you often.
The world is filled with critics. Sometimes it can feel like you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.
Your inner circle should be your support system. They should be the ones who lift you up when you’re at your worst, or who cheer you on when you’ve decided to go after another crazy idea.
Our friends are also the ones who sometimes have to tell us the cold, hard truth because we can’t see it ourselves. But if that’s not coming from a place of love, then it’s not serving you.
A friend is manipulating you when they make you feel guilty about something in order to get you to do what they want you to do. They might also purposely embarrass you or bring you down in front of others.
True friends are understanding and would never want you to feel guilty or humiliated.
They talk behind your back.
I doubt that there isn’t a person on the planet who hasn’t had to deal with this one. People talk. But when it’s one of your friends doing that talking or allowing that talk to happen without standing up for you, it’s especially hurtful.
Our friends should stick up for us when we’re not around, just as we should do for them.
They are passive-aggressive.
There is a whole slew of reasons why someone might be passive-aggressive. It could be due to anger, jealousy, or irritation. If a friend is feeling any of these emotions and they’re acting them out instead of talking to you about them, they’re being passive-aggressive.
This could come in the form of backhanded compliments, hurtful sarcasm, or avoiding you completely. If your friend is displaying any passive-aggressiveness, that means there’s something deeper going on that needs to be addressed.
They are demanding.
If your friend is demanding that you do something, like spend most of your free time with them, they don’t have your best interests at heart. Real friends respect your boundaries and would never expect you to do something completely unreasonable.
They’re constantly negative.
Friends who also focus on the negative can bring you down. They often play the victim and blame everyone else for things that are going wrong in their lives. After spending time with a friend like this you feel drained and feeling down.
As your friend, you’ve confided in them trusting that what you tell them doesn’t go beyond that conversation.
But you find out that they’ve shared your secrets with others. Or maybe they say they will help you with something or meet you somewhere, but they never come through.
It’s at the point that you no longer believe what they say and you don’t feel comfortable sharing anything personal with them.
They aren’t there for you when you need them.
Your friend is always around during the good times, but when things aren’t fun they’re nowhere to be found. They’re up for drinks, going out to dinner, parties – anything that’s a good time.
But they aren’t there to support you when you’re going through something tough like a divorce, a job loss, or sickness.
They’re competitive with you.
You feel like your friend is constantly competing with you. If you tell her about a success you’ve had, she immediately comes back with one of her own successes that she deems better or she minimizes your success. A real friend will put the focus on you and celebrate with you, no matter how small the achievement.
A Final Thought
If you decide that your friendship is actually toxic, it’s up to you how you want to handle it. Remember that people are complex – there’s almost always a reason behind someone’s negative behavior.
But that doesn’t mean it’s your job to fix the other person. The choice is yours to either decide that the friendship is complete and it’s time to move on, or that it’s worth trying to save and have a discussion about it with your friend.
While you don’t have control over the other person’s behavior, you do have control over whether that person is in your life or not.