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10 Signs of a Potentially Toxic Friendship

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UT Chattanooga chapter.

Finding a friend that is a friend for life is something to cherish. Although that is what we all wish for, it’s not always what we get. Some say that friendships are like a relationship and it’s true. Often, we have the same expectations for our friendships that we do in our relationships: they should call, they should be invested in your life, they should want to spend time with you, etc. So, if those boxes aren’t being checked, it may be safe to assume that you are in a toxic friendship.

If you are still unsure, here are 10 red flags to keep an eye out for.

Everything is one sided.

In a friendship doing nice things or going out of your way for a friend shouldn’t be one sided. Always having to go to them isn’t a healthy friendship. There needs to be a give in there somewhere where they take interest in your life too. Meet each other half way, because if one person is doing all the work then the friendship will come to an end either way; it is exhaustive.

They let you down consistently.

When you ask a friend for advice, or to do something, don’t you expect them to deliver? Sure things come up and get in the way or they have off days and just aren’t helpful, but at what point do the excuses get old? Being let down time after time tends to become what you expect. When disappointment is the norm, something has to give.

They hear but don’t listen.

It’s the worst feeling when you feel like you are talking to a wall.  You should be able to confide in a friend and be confident that they will have a thoughtful response. Otherwise, what is the point in talking at all?

They act as if their problems are more important than yours.

Of course catching up with friends is great, but it’s hard when it starts to feel like you are competing when talking about your life or problems. If they feel the need to tell you that their horse is bigger than yours, then honestly they probably don’t value you or feel like you are their equal. They simply need to bolster themselves to assert their superiority in life, even if they are just complaining about how terrible it is.

They are on their phone 24/7 when you are hanging out.

This one goes with just about anyone. When having a conversation with someone and they won’t look at you or they ask you to constantly repeat what you said because they are on their phone is not okay. Maybe here and there it can be okay but an all the time occurrence is definitely not okay.

They are full of back handed apologies.

Me: “ I feel that I am always making the effort and it’s more of a one-sided friendship.”

Them: “ Well that’s because I have so much going on and I’m so stressed with all that’s going on and you have more free time than me. It’s easier for you to work with my schedule. Plus you like visiting my friends right?”

They choose boyfriends over friendships.

When a friend gets in a relationship you start having to give up some of your time with them. That’s understandable right? What about girl’s nights? What about just getting lunch? Why should you only see your friend once a month if even that? If they can’t have more than one person in their life at a time then that is probably a good indicator that they are never going to be a great friend long term.

They ditch you as soon as a better plan comes along.

When you have plans a week or month in advance and they last minute have something “important” come up. So you understand right? Turns out they post on snapchat a picture with some other friends at a party. Seems “important.”

They don’t stand behind you.

Easy to assume your friend has your back right? What happens when it involves another friend of theirs? What if their friend is the reason a guy cheated on you? How can your friend still care more about that other friend and not be there for you? If they don’t have your back, then you don’t need to have theirs. At some point you have to save yourself.

If you met them today would you still be friends?

This is such a tough question to ask your self but it has to be done. Friendships can be such an uplifting experience in your life or they can be that weight that pulls you down from your potential self. A friendship should not be holding you back in life. A friendship should be pushing you forward. So ask yourself, is this the kind of person that is going to help me be a better me? Is this the kind of person I want to be associated with?


It is never easy to cut someone out of your life, especially when they have been there for so long. However, you have to take care of you, and if they are draining the life out of you, then something needs to change. It is okay to say, “you are great but you aren’t great for me.”

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Chelsea Conner

UT Chattanooga

I'm a Junior majoring in Communications with a minor in Psychology. I'm an introvert that desperately wants to be an extrovert, that loves adventures, dogs, reading, and hearing people's unique stories! My favorite thing is to make people genuinely smile. My one thing that I go by in life is being spontaneous because I believe it is good for the soul and prevents "What if's".
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Emily Thornton

UT Chattanooga

I am a junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga majoring in Economics, Psychology, and Literature. I am the founding president of UTC's chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta, an active writer, an avid reader, and an outdoor enthusiasts. I spend my days running from class, to meeting, to class, to work, while squeezing in time for friends, family, and the occasional hour of sleep, while also being a proud cat mother to a kitten named Merlin. I love my hectic life, and am always ready for a new challenge!