The term toxic friendship has become so universal that many have learned to recognize it as something negative, but many people are still unsure of what exactly constitutes a toxic friendship or relationship, and how they can spot the signs of one early on.
Here are some ways to identify toxic friendships or relationships so you can cut them out of your life before they have a chance to tear you down.
What Is a Toxic Friendship
Toxic friendships occur when one or both people in a relationship aren’t acting reasonably. When we become friends with someone, we should be able to trust them and rely on them for support. If our friend is doing something that could hurt us (whether intentionally or not), it might lead to a point where we need to end that relationship. When a relationship is affecting you negatively, it should happen as soon as possible.
Toxic friendships and relationships cause emotional strain and often lead to other complexities. They can also negatively impact other relationships you have with family members, co-workers, spouses, etc.
It’s good to have a few close friends you can trust—people who support you when times are tough, who don’t judge you when your life is messy, and whom you can count on.
At its best, friendship can be one of life’s greatest joys, but at its worst, it can be toxic. The more healthy friends we have in our lives, the happier we tend to be. One study found a direct correlation between having quality friendships and whether or not we experience depressive symptoms. So how do you know if your friendships are healthy?
5 Warning Signs You Have a Toxic Friendship
If you have a toxic friend, your life is going to be negatively impacted in some way. You’ll feel bad about yourself or guilty for some reason, become more stressed out, anxious or overall unhappy.
Learning how to spot toxic traits early on can save you a lot of time and energy.
Friends shouldn’t make you feel bad about yourself, shouldn’t require too much from you, or constantly disappoint you. (Keyword is constantly. No one will NEVER disappoint you)
Having a close circle of supportive friends is key to fostering healthy relationships with others.
Here are five warning signs that can help you determine if someone’s not toxic.
The only times a friend wants to hang out with you are when he or she needs something from you
Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, cash, or a ride somewhere. It’s easy for people who aren’t used to having support in their lives to take advantage of others who value friendship more than anything else. In contrast, good friends will check in even when they don’t need anything but care about how things are going with you personally and professionally.
They’re always negative
If you’re friends with someone who only wants to hang out when they feel like it and complains about their life all of the time, they may not be friends you want to keep around. Friendships should enrich your life, not bring you down.
Friends should be supportive during hard times and good times—and there’s a big difference between venting, which is healthy for relationships, versus complaining, which isn’t.
It’s also worth noting, that not everyone has a happy-go-lucky personality by nature. It is possible that sometimes people are grumpy from day one, but they can still make great friends.
Knowing the difference takes time and really getting to know someone.
They care more about what you do for them than what you do for yourself
The top trait most toxic friendships share is a friend who prioritizes his or her needs above yours on a regular basis.
Good friends don’t put pressure on others to skip family vacations or blow off work because he or she doesn’t have plans unless it’s an emergency.
They also don’t expect you to cover for them all of the time.
It takes effort to maintain close friendships, so if you find yourself constantly giving without getting much back, take some time away from that person until he or she learns how to treat others better.
They never let anything go.
There are things best left unsaid—whether it’s an insult about your clothing choice at age five or a comment made years ago that has no relevance today.
Toxic people will use old gripes as leverage against their friends. Even worse, they may bring up issues that happened way before you ever met just to get under your skin.
You shouldn’t have to pretend everything is hunky-dory every time you see a friend, but harping on issues from long ago isn’t helpful either.
They try to control your life decisions
Whether it’s career choices or dating preferences.
You might love spending Saturday nights binge watching Netflix with a group of friends instead of going clubbing downtown, but if someone else tries to tell you otherwise every week then it could be a sign that he or she feels threatened by your independence and identity outside of friendship itself.
What Is a Healthy Friendship
A healthy friendship is a relationship where both people feel a sense of trust, comfort, openness, honesty, respect, loyalty, and genuine affection.
Healthy friendships allow for you to be yourself without feeling that you have to hold back or change anything about yourself because your friend doesn’t accept you as you are.
If one or more aspects aren’t present in your relationship with someone else then it might be classified as a toxic friendship. There are different types of toxic relationships but what they all share in common is a negative effect on you either emotionally or physically.
Toxic relationships can also cause problems in other parts of your life such as work, school, and family relationships. You should try to avoid having any contact with those in your life who cause toxic relationships.
The goal is to build positive interactions and relationships to bring more happiness and fulfillment in your life.