Most of us have stories of a toxic friendship we endured in the past. It seems so obvious, looking back – all the signs were there.
But when you’re caught in a toxic friendship, it can be hard to know whether you truly are in one.
What if you’re just over-reacting? Don’t all friendships have their ups and downs? Should you have got upset when you did, or were you just being sensitive?
Remember, toxic friends can often make you doubt your own gut feelings – but if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Let’s take a look at 12 of the red flags that may indicate a toxic relationship between you and your “bestie”.
1. You’ve lost trust
Trust is one of the most important things in a friendship. You need to feel that you can confide in your friend in full confidence. You should also feel like you can count on them in all scenarios – so that’s no letting you down at the last minute without a valid reason, no forgetting to do a favor you asked of them, and so on. If the trust isn’t there, you have to ask yourself why.
2. You give more than you get
Friendships tend to be a little unequal in the give-take balance. It’s hard to find a friend who’s perfectly compatible in terms of the attention each of you wishes to receive from the other. It’s normal for one friend to be faster to respond to the other’s messages and keener to arrange catch-up dates. What isn’t normal, however, is if your friend barely makes the effort with your relationship at all.
3. There’s always drama
There’s always drama circulating around a toxic friendship. Maybe your friend has blown something up into something far more dramatic than it needed to be. She might also bring up things from the past, just to make you feel angry or uncomfortable. Even if there’s no drama within your own friendship, if she’s constantly complaining about the “issues” she’s having with her other friends, it’s a bad sign.
4. You feel like someone you’re not
Toxic friends can make you feel as if you need to be a version of yourself that doesn’t feel authentic. They can be pretty judgemental, so you might not feel like you can be your true self at all when you’re around them. If you have to put on an act just to please your friends, ask yourself whether you should truly need to do that. If they don’t like the real you, it’s your cue to get out of the friendship.
5. It’s all about them
Just as toxic friends love drama, they love to center everything around them. They’ll often take the lead in conversations, only to boast about their latest achievements, at the same time making you feel second-best because you haven’t reached your own dizzying heights of success. And, of course, they decide what’s cool, so you might feel like some of the things you’d share with other friends are off-topic.
6. They compete with you
Toxic friends are always looking for ways to one-up you. Instead of being proud of you, they’ll find ways to make themselves look better – and make your achievements look like nothing in comparison. A friend who has your best interests at heart would never want to compete with you.
7. They’re always putting you down
On a similar note, to boost their own ego, toxic friends will say or do whatever it takes to put you down. This probably won’t be in the form of obvious bullying; more like little jabs here and there. Toxic friends know exactly how to hit you where it hurts, but they’ll always make a joke of it, making you wonder whether you’re just overreacting. Newsflash: you’re not.
8. They talk behind your back
Got a toxic friend who always moans about her other friends to you? There’s a 99.9% chance that she’s moaning about you to her other friends. It’s a common toxic friend thing to try and get their friends to compete with one another, too, or, on the other end, laugh at one another behind their backs. If there’s a group of you with a toxic friend in the middle, ditch the toxic friend before she tears your group apart.
9. They don’t want what’s best for you
You’ve probably realized by now that a toxic friend doesn’t want what’s best for you. If your bestie doesn’t have good intentions, she’ll deliberately hurt you – because she simply doesn’t care about your feelings. Toxic friends will do whatever they feel like without being bothered by the potential consequences.
10. They’re obsessively needy
While a toxic friend might not treat you like they actually want you around, they tend to be incredibly needy. If your friend is jealous of your other friends, whines at you for not texting her back fast enough, or expects you to drop everything to meet her at the last minute, she’s probably toxic. A good friend will respect your space, and understand that you have a life around her.
11. You’ve caught them lying more than once
Toxic friendships are pretty much built on lies. The problem is, it’s not always easy to tell when a toxic person is lying. People can get so good at lying that they don’t even realize they’re doing it. If your friend is telling stories that don’t add up, investigate further. Toxic people often try to play up their own lives to get sympathy.
12. You make excuses for them
Nobody should have to make excuses for their friends. If you’re telling your parents, your partner, and your other friends things like, “Oh, she’s just going through a crazy time at the moment,” or, “She’s usually really nice, I think she was just tired,” you should probably reevaluate your friendship.
If one person doesn’t like your friend, that’s on them. But if everyone you know is in agreement about your friend, they may be onto something. Instead of making excuses for your friend, ask yourself why that should be your responsibility.
If you think you might have a toxic friend, hopefully these red flags have helped you to figure out the truth.
It can be difficult to break off any friendship, and toxic friendships can be even harder to end. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from other friends, family, or even a professional if you need it.
Above all, you should do the right thing for your health and happiness – and that means letting go of a friendship that’s bad for you.
Wondering whether there’s another reason for feeling left out? If you’re in a friendship group of three, the video below is well worth a watch. Are you the third wheel in your group?
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