Toxic friendships: possibly one of the worst situations an individual can be stuck in. Whether you’ve never dealt with a toxic friend or you’ve had too many to count, there are some easily identifiable red flags that point out when a friendship is starting to go south. By spotting these signs early, you can take the appropriate steps towards dealing with your “friend.”
1. They make you feel bad about yourself
I know this one sounds pretty simple – if someone is constantly belittling you and telling you you’re wrong, of course they aren’t being a good friend! But what does it really mean to belittle someone else? We often associate toxicity with people who yell at you, call you names and are very aggressive, for example bullies. However, when it comes to toxic friends, we often turn a blind eye to the negative comments that they make. For instance, toxic friends often mask their insults with sarcasm, which can make you doubt whether their intentions are truly negative, or if they’re just “joking around” or being “honest.”
For instance, when you get a great grade on a test and your friend Karen says that “the test doesn’t count for a lot, so there’s no need to be excited about it.” Or when your friend Regina doesn’t let your other friends celebrate your accomplishments, like getting into a club that you really wanted to join, by distracting everyone with her awful day; those are some toxic friends!
2. They manipulate you into thinking that you’re a bad friend
Possibly the worst thing about toxic friends is that they make you think that they aren’t toxic! Toxic friends often like to pull on your heartstrings by confessing that they’re “going through a lot right now” and you trying to distance yourself from them is a reflection of you being a “bad friend.” However, I am a firm believer that your experiences are not an excuse for toxic behaviour! With toxic friends, they often get their friends to feel bad for them because they don’t want to give up having that person in their life as an individual that they can manipulate. It’s important to recognize this as toxic behaviour because a real friend wouldn’t feel the need to constantly remind you of all the nice things that they’ve done for you, or try to prove that they are in fact a good person.
3. They’re emotionally exhausting
If you find yourself going the extra mile for this friend that does very little for you in return, you may have a toxic friend. With real friends, you don’t have to walk on eggshells when talking to them, you can be your true and authentic self. Often with toxic friends, you have to be careful of what you say in order to make them feel happy and not throw a fit.
4. They don’t take responsibility for their actions
Some of the most painful situations include having to argue with someone when you know you are in the right. Toxic friends will often make you feel frustrated and spin the situation back on you to make you feel as if you are responsible for everything that may have gone wrong. Communication is a two-way street and if you find yourself always apologizing in situations where you were in the right, or letting things that bother you slide, you might be dealing with a toxic friend.
It can be really hard to separate yourself from a toxic friend but it’s important that you speak your mind and stay to true to how you feel. Remember: it isn’t selfish to put your mental health before pleasing others, especially with individuals that do not appreciate having you as a friend.