We’ve all had a toxic friend — whether it was back on the playground in elementary school, during the terrible middle school years or even more recently. Toxic friends are never healthy, and they can trap you in a dysfunctional relationship that you might not even want to be in. But have you ever considered that you might be a toxic friend? If you think your friendships are a little bit rocky but can’t quite put your finger on the source, you might want to take a look at yourself. Here are six signs that you may be a toxic friend.
1. You’re never wrong
If you have a hard time admitting you’re wrong, you might be making your relationship hard on your friends. It’s good to feel right, but if you find that your friends are exasperated during discussions — which seem more like arguments — you may be making your friendships more difficult than they need to be.
Abbie Doward, a senior at the University of Florida, says she was once friends with a girl who never admitted to being wrong. “If I ever tried to bring up an issue I had with her, she could never admit a wrongdoing or take responsibility for anything,” she says.
Be sure you’re taking responsibility for your words and actions. If you find that you can’t admit your faults and wrongdoings, you may be toxic to your relationships. Next time you get frustrated when things don’t line up the way you want them to, ask yourself if you’re being too stubborn—and why.
2. You get jealous of friends
It’s normal to get jealous of friends from time to time — especially if they, say, ran into Chris Pine on the street or got a new Kate Spade handbag for their birthday. But if you find yourself constantly getting jealous of friends over small, relatively meaningless things, you might want to take a step back and evaluate.
Abbie says her toxic friend was also jealous of anyone else she spent time with. “If I made plans with other friends/people, she would be angry if I didn't include her or tell her about it,” says Abbie. “She had to be involved and included in everything. She would say I was trying to cut her out and ostracize her if I made plans to hang out with a friend we both knew, which was totally untrue.”
If you often envy your friends — especially your friends’ friends — take a moment and try to figure out why. You could be feeling jealous because of your own insecurities or if you’re not feeling confident in your current friendships. If you’re causing tension within your friendship because you’re jealous of simple things, you may be a toxic friend.
3. You’re self-centered
It’s understandable to prioritize your own needs, but in order to keep up a healthy friendship, you need to care about your friends. It goes without saying that a one-sided friendship is an unhealthy one.
Abbie says her friend “talked endlessly over and over about her own problems and issues and stories and didn't take the time to ask me about my day or my issues.” In this case, she was focused on herself and didn’t have the time, or the interest, to hear about her friends.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own problems, so make sure you’re making a point of reaching out to friends about their own lives. Ask what’s been going on, keep up with their lives and spend time with them regularly. If you find that you’re genuinely not interested in your friends’ lives, you could be making your relationships unhealthy.
4. You talk about friends behind their backs
In large groups of friends, the conversation can often lead to discussing mutual friends. And while it isn’t bad to discuss friends, it’s another thing to talk behind someone’s back.
“I would say that you can tell someone is a toxic friend when you feel like they are going to talk about you behind your back,” says Bridget Higgins, a junior at UMass Amherst. “In my case, mutual friends came forward and told me about the things my ‘friend’ would say about me when I wasn't around. She even talked about a lot of secrets I told her!”
Next time you’re about to share a piece of gossip about a good friend, try to hold yourself back. Being manipulative is mean-spirited and can have a negative effect on other people, so make sure to remain genuine. If you have a problem with a friend, try to deal with it one-on-one.
5. Your friends aren’t a priority
With school, work and family time (and probably more) already on your plate, it’s understandable if your social life has to sit on the back burner every once in a while — but it shouldn’t be happening regularly. In order to keep up a good relationship with your friends, you should be treating your friendship as something that’s important to you.
“Another type of toxic friend are those who do not make your friendship a priority, or don't seem to put in as much effort as they should,” says Ariel Vaisbort, a third-year at Western University. A one-way friendship is no fun for anyone, so make sure you keep that from developing. Ensure that you’re always showing your friends that they’re important to you. And if you don’t consider them a priority, you’re probably making the friendship a little toxic and definitely one-sided.
6. You act differently around other people
It’s natural to act differently around other people, but if you find yourself acting like night and day around your friends, you might be coming off a little two-faced. It’s one thing to behave differently around your parents and family than you do around your best friends, but when you’re changing aspects of your personality when certain people are around, you might be crossing a line.
Try to remain genuine in your friendships and be your truest self around everyone. We all act a little differently when new friends or significant others are around, but try to remain true to yourself in all situations. If you’re being yourself, you cut out the risk of being ingenuine and manipulative.
It’s easy to go on in a friendship without thinking that you’re causing any problems. But if you find that your relationships are in uncertain waters lately and can’t quite identify why you’re feeling this way, consider taking a look at yourself first—you may be the toxic friend.