When we talk about being wary of and removing toxic relationships from our lives it isn’t always about romantic connections. Toxic friends could be having a negative impact on your life and the warning signs aren’t always obvious.
A toxic friendship will usually leave you feeling frustrated, and even exhausted, rather than bringing you the comfort and company that a healthy friendship should. If you’re concerned about there being some toxic friends in your circle, there are a number of signs to look out for.
What are the warning signs of toxic friends?
1. Too much drama
A toxic friend is likely to be someone that is constantly surrounded by chaos and drama. They’re always arguing or falling out with someone and tend to cause problems. Drama may also come under the guise of unbelievable things happening to them a lot.
These types of friends can be draining, especially if they start dragging you into their drama. Whether they’re always telling you about the amazing things that have happened to them or constantly need your help, if you feel like someone is constantly sucking the life out of you, they are a toxic friend.
2. Everything is about them
Do you find yourself spending a lot of time listening to your friend, but they don’t do the same for you? It can be frustrating when you’ve heard all of their problems and tried to help, but when you share something, your friend always seems to turn the conversation back to them.
A toxic friend is someone that ensures everything revolves around them. If you want to test this, you can try bringing up a random topic that isn’t related to either of you. A toxic person will have the conversation turned back to being about them very quickly.
3. They never pay you a compliment
Toxic friends are more likely to put you down than give you a compliment or congratulate you on your achievements. If you think about it, you’ll realise that you don’t actually feel happy around them because they don’t make you feel good about yourself.
A friendship should be mutually beneficial and supportive, so if you’re getting any benefits, it may be time to cut ties.
4. They seem to be competing with you
Toxic friends don’t like to see you excel at things. This could be at work, in romantic relationships or hobbies. Whatever it is, if you’re succeeding without them, they won’t like it and will make everything a competition.
Sometimes this competitive element goes further, and your toxic friend will start to copy you. This stems from jealousy and they try to take on your identity and put you down.
5. Toxic friends cross your boundaries
Toxic friends can do inappropriate things like showing up without an invitation. If you tell them that something they’ve done has made you uncomfortable, they are likely to turn it around on you and make you feel unreasonable for bringing it up. They are unlikely to respect your boundaries and will make you feel bad for pushing back.
6. They are extremely needy
A toxic friend can start to feel like a needy partner calling and texting you at all hours of the day even if you tell them that you are busy. If you don’t respond to them, they are likely to get annoyed and angry with you.
7. They are jealous of your other friends
Toxic people will be jealous of your other friends because they feel that they are taking you away from them. They want to be your number one and may criticise your other friends and try to isolate you.
8. You feel responsible for them
Even when you know what your toxic friend is behaving in an unreasonable way, you’ll find that you can’t help but feel bad for them. They are experts in guilt-tripping and making their lives seem like a big sob story. Because of this, you feel responsible for them and it will feel like if you give up on them, their whole life will collapse. This is extremely toxic.
9. They are hypocrites
Toxic friends won’t think twice about making your feel guilty for not spending enough time with them, but when you need their help and support, they’ll probably let you down. You may be reluctant to call them out on their hypocrisy too as they are likely to respond in an over-dramatic way.
10. Toxic people lie to win sympathy
Toxic people love to get sympathy and they’re likely to exaggerate the harshness of their life stories to get it. Sometimes the things they say won’t quite add up.
11. They’ll make you feel nervous
Even though the signs of a toxic friendship can be subtle, we’re generally quite good at sensing when things aren’t right. While you may find it difficult to pinpoint exactly what the problem is, if you’re feeling on edge when you’re around someone, that person is probably toxic.
How do toxic friends make you feel?
The way you’re feeling about yourself can also be a key sign that you have a toxic friend in your life. If you’re spending a lot of time with someone who doesn’t genuinely care about and support you, your mental and physical health will be negatively affected. You’re likely to feel:
- More stressed
- Lonely and isolated
- Your self-esteem lowering
What should you do about toxic friendships?
If you’ve identified a toxic friend, what should you do about it? You only really have two options.
Giving them a second chance
You may realise that your friend hasn’t always been toxic, and they could be completely unaware of their actions and how they impact you. Being open about how their behaviour has been making you feel and setting clear boundaries could help things to improve.
Unfortunately, in many cases, toxic friends will make promises to change and you may see some short-term improvements but later the toxic behaviour returns. If this happens, you need to move on.
Tell your friend that you need some space and time away from them and let them know why. Make your reasons clear and don’t let them make you feel guilty. Once you’ve done this, you can cut all contact and focus on taking care of yourself and connecting with friends that support you.
Ending a toxic friendship isn’t easy, but it is necessary for your well-being. We all need to fill our lives with positive people who can support us when we need it.