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Toxic Friends and How to Deal with Them

It’s no secret that our friends play an important role in our lives. Friendships are essentially romantic relationships but without the romance. If that’s the case, then why do we put up with certain behaviors in our friendships that we wouldn’t tolerate in our romantic relationships? Would you stay in a relationship where your significant other regularly belittle you and make you feel bad about yourself? No. Then why do we tolerate that kind of behavior in our friendships? If you were treated poorly in your romantic relationship and considered it emotional abuse or manipulation, then why don’t we hold our friends to the same standards and call them out when they’re becoming someone we don’t want to be around because of the way they make us feel. It can be hard to see what’s most suitable for you when you’re invested in any kind of relationship. A lot of us deal with too much because the pain of particular relationships don’t scare us as much as the pain of letting go of people we’ve come to love. We tend to deny toxic relationships because some of us are exposed to those kinds of relationships that it starts to feel normal. The truth is, it’s not normal at all. Here are some signs that you’re dealing with a toxic friend and how to get out of that toxic friendship. 

They Only Care About Themselves 

Have you noticed that anytime you go to them for support or help it just seems like they’re distant and unsupportive? But then they expect you to always be there and listen to them go on about their problems? Do they seem disinterested in your life, but want you to listen to everything that’s going on in theirs? That’s a major red flag for an unhealthy friendship. You should be able to talk to your friends about your problems and life without feeling like they only care about themselves.

They’re like a Personal Bully 

Yes, some friends playfully tease one another, but the teasing shouldn’t hurt someone to the point where they constantly feel attacked. If your friend uses your emotions and insecurities to attack you, then that’s not a friend; that’s a bully. A friend who knows that certain things can make you feel crap about yourself shouldn’t use those things against you even if it’s playfully. It should be common sense not to use your own friend’s others insecurities as a way to joke around. 

They’re Constantly Criticizing You

There is a thing called constructive criticism where you offer valid and well-reasoned opinions about others, both positive or negative. If your friend is constantly criticizing you from the clothes you wear to the things you do, then you need to get out of there ASAP (Rocky). That friend isn’t trying to help you grow or thrive. Someone attacking your identity and the core of who you are is not a good friend. Even if they do it to try and “help” you, doing it maliciously isn’t the key and constantly doing it isn’t beneficial either. Being constantly criticized comes with that cloud of negativity and pessimism. If your friend never lets you feel good about yourself or anything in your life, how are you supposed to thrive and enjoy life? 

They Try to Compete with You

Games and contests come with a bit of competition, but it’s always friendly. You usually walk away with fun and great memories linked to it and everyone feels like they had fun and genuinely enjoyed themselves. Competing with your friends when it comes to real life is a different story. Toxic friends always seem to try and compete with you. They either always try to look better than you, put down the achievements you’ve made, go after the people you’ve expressed romantic interest in, or even outwardly try to subtly brag when they feel like they’ve won or are close to winning. When one person in a friendship succeeds or is doing well, your first thought shouldn’t be to one-up them. It should be to congratulate them and support them in their accomplishments. 

They’re Inconsiderate

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your friend completely abandoned you either because they found something “better” to do or they just ditched you all together just cause they can? Well, there you go; another sign that you’re in a toxic friendship. Friendship is all about loyalty and not leaving each other behind. You should know it’s time to go once you find yourself always being left behind. 

If you’ve come this far and noticed some of these red flags in your friendship and are wondering how you can get yourself out of it, then here is the best and mature way to go about it.   

The most important thing you should do is to find time to sit down and talk to your friend about how they make you feel. Explain to them that their actions and words affect you more than they think it does. Sometimes people genuinely don’t know that the way they’re acting isn’t very pleasant. Making excuses for this type of friend over a period of time can lead you to grow resentful, and it might only damage the friendship further if you continue to go along with it. This is why it’s also important to hear their side of the story even if you’re at that point where you don’t want to hear them defend themselves. On top of talking to them and hearing their side of things, it’s also important that you establish boundaries. Boundaries play an important part in every type of relationship. Let them know that if they continue to follow similar toxic patterns that they’ve shown throughout your friendship, then you will have to distance yourself.

If they don’t respect your feelings after you’ve explained to them why you feel the way you feel, then it’s time to grab those scissors and have at it at that string that’s holding your friendship together.

I know letting go of someone is hard to do, but it’s unhealthy to keep around someone who makes you feel like your in this dark smoggy bubble filled with their toxic energy. Once you start surrounding yourself with people who support you and are there for you, you won’t ever regret getting rid of a friendship that served no purpose other than to bring you down. 


Sheena Williams

Pace Pleasantville '22

Sheena Williams is a sophomore at Pace University, majoring in digital cinema and filmmaking along with a minor in digital media studies. She spends her time working on creative projects and hopes to play an active role in the media.
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