Check These 7 Signs To See If You’re In A Toxic Friendship

Friendships can be a wonderful thing. They provide a sense of belonging and companionship for those who have them. But friendships can also turn toxic, and it’s important to recognize when this is happening.

A toxic friendship is one that causes more harm than good to the people in it, and it can be any of the persons who are friends with each other, even you. Sometimes, the toxic person can be a family member who is more like a friend than a relative.

The toxicity caused by these relationships can be mental, emotional, or even physical. Many times, friendships that were once healthy and happy turn into toxic ones as one person turns to take advantage of another’s vulnerability.

Let’s explore the ways a friendship can become toxic, and how can you pick up the red flags.

Toxic Friendships

What is a Toxic Friendship?

A toxic friendship is marked by a lack of support, understanding, empathy, and compassion. Toxic friendships harm one’s self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as one’s ability to take risks, speak freely, and feel courageous.

Toxic friends are usually pessimistic and unpleasant, and they promote unhappiness. They try to block your freedom to spend time with the people you care about. In a toxic friendship, your friend constantly criticizes you, exploits your slip-ups and failures, and makes you feel sad about yourself.

Furthermore, toxic people are often unaware of how much harm their acts cause their friends, even causing them to end long-standing relationships.

If you are spending more time arguing with a friend, than listening to them, your relationship is probably not as healthy as it could be. This is a classic example of a toxic friendship or relationship where you are more invested in the fight than empathizing and bonding with the person.

7 Signs of A Toxic Friendship

How can you tell if someone is a toxic friend?

There are several signs that can help you identify toxic people in your life. Everyone has some form of toxicity, but if they have certain qualities, chances are they’re going to be more of an impediment than an enabler.

The good news is that if you spot any of the following signs, it may be time, before it’s too late, to mark this person out for your own good!

Signs of a toxic friendship:

1. They Decide For You.

A toxic friend is one who believes they know what is best for you and tries to make decisions for you. A toxic friend may not actively want to hurt you, but they might be unconsciously doing so by making poor decisions without your input.

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2. They Don’t Allow Disagreements.

It’s common for friends to disagree and sometimes share different opinions than each other, but a toxic friend doesn’t allow any room for disagreement and can retaliate if their opinion isn’t followed through.

3. They Gaslight And Blackmail You.

A toxic friend might use guilt-trip tactics and blackmailing techniques in order to maintain control over your life. Toxic friends often gaslight you.

A gaslighter is essentially a narcissist. Narcissists are people who crave attention and praise, capitalize on the triumphs of others, and position themselves at the center of their social circle. They are master manipulators and brilliant blackmailers.

When these approaches fail to get their attention, narcissistic people may become aggressive and vengeful. When their methods work, the narcissist thrives and even achieves big success in both professional and personal life.

4. They Constantly Criticize You.

Toxic friends criticize you for all your accomplishments. You will find them talking about you in a disparaging way, both behind your back and at your face. And if you’re a friend who isn’t doing well, then they’ll skin you alive for your dire circumstances, while offering no support.

If you’ve achieved something they couldn’t, they might feel envious or resentful of your success. It doesn’t matter if they think you’re better than them or not — they just want to be around you to make you feel like a loser for achieving anything in your life.

In short, don’t expect them to support or encourage you in a positive or constructive way.

5. They Stop You From Making Other Friends.

Toxic friends make you stop hanging out with other people because they want you to spend all your time with them. This can leave one or both of you feeling isolated from social networks that could be helpful when dealing with tough times.

6. They Make You Walk On Eggshells.

When you’re with them, you feel like you have to walk on eggshells.

When you are around a toxic friend, you have to weigh your every response, expression, gesture, and word to prevent getting into an argument or fight with them. The emotional and mental energy spent on managing uncomfortable situations never goes towards having fun, which often leads to resentment.

7. They Abandon You In Times of Need.

Whenever there is a time you need them desperately, they will desert you.

They belittle you by labeling your issues as insignificant and leave your side when you get challenged or threatened. They typically make excuses to make way for the exit when you, even if you’re their best friend, need them the most.

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The Friendship Paradox

The Friendship Paradox refers to the phenomenon first noticed by sociologist Scott L. Feld in 1991, which bases itself on the assumption that most people have fewer friends than their friends have, on average.

The Friendship Paradox is that the company of friends should give us more freedom to be ourselves, but it often results in suppressing our true identity. It is a type of bias in which you believe when you are with your friends, you are not your true self with them. Rather, you are busy being someone else.

The paradox suggests that trying to maintain a healthy friend group may be an impossible task. Identifying toxic people can help ease this problem. You don’t have to put up a show for a friendship that’s harming you.

Interestingly, this issue is more acute in these times when the people we follow on social media have friends and followers in millions, which makes us feel unnoticed and unimportant. Are your Facebook friends making you unhappy?

How To Deal With Toxic Friends

It’s a difficult emotional task to deal with toxic friends.

Friends form a big part of our lives. Friendships we form as children often last through our adulthood and beyond. However, even long-standing friendships can devolve into toxic relationships.

Toxic friends — those who don’t support you, your dreams, and your goals — are hard to deal with. However, it is important to know that our relationships with toxic people impact our health and wellbeing.

Here are three ways to handle them:

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1. Drift Apart

The first thing to do is to understand the difference between friends and confidants. A friend is someone who can be there for you in any situation. But a confidant is someone with whom you only share your thoughts and feelings.

A friend is usually your confidant, but a confidant may not be your friend. If you decide they are a confidant, not a friend, it is easy to drift apart without telling them anything.

When two people drift apart, they gradually become less friendly and their relationship dissolves without being apparent. They slowly lose interest in each other, and their interactions become less and less frequent.

Finally, they cut themselves off from the relationship irreversibly.

2. Inform Them

But if you conclude they are a friend who has turned toxic, the best way to deal with them is by telling them how their behavior has affected you.

The important thing is that we should understand the type of friendship we are having, or how our friend is changing for the worse, and take stock of how it is affecting us.

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There are many ways that toxic friends can get under your skin and make life difficult for you. People like them seem to be inescapable in our modern world, and every encounter with them can ruin your day, no matter what.

3. Break off

Sometimes, when our best friends become toxic or abusive, as the last option, we must decide to break it off.

Remember, toxic people are not a good option, even if they are your last option for friendships. Even if you can’t seem to make friends easily, perhaps because of your shyness or social fear, compromising to have toxic friends will make your life unhappier and more stressful.

So, even if you have to end up feeling left out, miserable, and alone, a toxic friend is not the answer for your mental health or mental peace.

Final Words

Toxic people are everywhere. They are in the workplace, in your personal life, and even in your family. And toxic people can have a very destructive effect on you if you let them. A common example, they can make you question your worth or make you feel inferior to them.

Finally, imagine the tables turned, and you’re the perpetrator rather than a victim in a toxic friendship.

If your friends are feeling threatened by you, it’s likely because they know you are the toxic person in the friendship. So what can you do if your friends feel so?

First, make them feel comfortable around you. They have to feel they are welcome and wanted in your life.

You need to focus on them, especially when you’re with them. You must give them enough time with their other friends. Make plans for adventures and fun times together.

Maintain relationship boundaries and do not ask them to tell or do things that make them uncomfortable. Ask them if they need your help before jumping to help.

Do not take advantage of them. Do not abandon their side in times of need.

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Trust is a two-way street. You have to trust a person before earning their trust. Once you earn theirs, you have to keep it safe with you, so they do too. Learn how to build trust in a relationship.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.

• Our story: Happiness Project

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