All friendships are important, but do you know the many ways to tell if you have a toxic friend? Toxic friends are not good to keep in your life, as they’ll eventually wear on you more and more. Sometimes, even our closest friends can become toxic. Keep the space and time in your life for important friends and family who treat you well and make your life better! Identify the ways to tell if you have a toxic friend, and work on getting them out of your life.
1. You No Longer Feel Good
One of the first ways to tell if you have a toxic friend is if you no longer feel good after hanging out with them. If you come away feeling bad about yourself or certain things in your life--or just simply down - more times than not, you have a toxic friend on your hands. Try to pinpoint what it is that makes you feel down, and take steps to change it. Are they always talking negatively about themselves and their lives? See if your positivity will help change the subject. Do you feel like they’re constantly criticizing or judging you and your choices? Try to tell them you appreciate their advice, but want to let this one go. See how your friend reacts to your change in behavior, and monitor if you start to feel better!
2. You Watch What You Say
If you find yourself biting your tongue or watching how you phrase things around your friend, that’s a bad sign. It’s one thing to be respectful, polite and aware of someone’s sensitivities or personal history, but watching almost everything you say because you know it will be held against you is not fair - or fun! You should feel comfortable around your closest friends, and like you’re able to be yourself! To a certain extent, don’t let anyone judge how you speak or what you think about everyday decisions or choices. If you like breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast, they shouldn’t call you weird. If you like a nice, nerdy guy for who he is, don’t let them say you’re making a silly mistake!
3. You Feel Defensive
Feeling defensive is not a good feeling. As long as you feel that there is a good reason you’re constantly on the defense, take a good look at your friendship. If you and your friend are different, that’s a good thing! People should respect others and learn from differing choices and thoughts! If you feel that because you’re different, you then have to constantly defend what you believe in or which differing actions you take, that's a red flag! Try to gauge whether or not your friend is really supporting you, or just wants you to act in the way that they would prefer. Make sure you’re not breaking promises or hurting your friend, which are valid reasons for them to be a bit on the offense, and try to see through your defensive behavior for what it really is guarding.
4. You Don’t Feel a Return
Friendships are different from other partnerships because they’re about acceptance. Unlike a business partnership, you should not just be looking out for the mutual benefits or return of each party. Though, if you are a person who puts a lot into your friendships - offers help where needed, adjusts your schedule at times, goes all out for their birthday - you’re going to feel a dissonance if there are no returns. Some people show their love differently than others, so try to pinpoint this.If though, you constantly feel like you’re going out on a limb for your friend and she’s not giving back, take a look at the friendship. Also, if you can tell the balance between them and their other friends is more equal, it’s a good sign that you’re not getting back what you give. Try to give a little less, and see if your friend still sticks around!
5. You Don’t Feel Appreciated
Another side of not feeling a return in a friendship is not feeling appreciated. Maybe you are that host that likes to throw birthday parties for her closest friends, and never gets one in return. The key thing is do you feel appreciated? If you feel that your friends truly appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness - and show you that - then it’s a balanced friendship. Try to feel out whether you think your friend understands your gained happiness from giving and feeds you positive thanks, or not. Some people think that they deserve good treatment regardless, and others are blind to what you may see as true kindness. It doesn’t mean you or your friend are bad people, you just show your love differently. Keep in mind, though, you should always feel appreciated for the kind things you do!
6. You Don’t Feel Respect or Respected
If you no longer feel respected in a friendship - or no longer respect your friend - you may be in a toxic friendship. It’s very important to me that I respect my friends. I may not agree with every decision they come to or their every choice, but I hold a general respect for who they are and how they choose to live their lives. Try to pinpoint when and why you lost respect, and see if it has anything to do with a friendship gone bad or how they've treated you. On the flip side, if you no longer feel respected, try to talk to your friend about it. You should never be in a relationship where someone is making you feel like you are a person of lesser character, qualities or traits. Friendship is about learning from one another and the minute that’s out the door, the friendship probably is, too!
7. You Suspect Lying
If you think your friend is lying directly to you (or anyone for that matter!) you may have a toxic friend. Everyone makes up harmless white lies here and there, but the truth is, respectful honesty and communication are the key to good relationships. If you’ve caught your friend lying multiple times to you or others, maybe you should put your friendship to the test. There is never a reason to lie. Lying is not kind, necessary or respectful, and your friend should never think you deserve to be lied to anyway!
8. Your Friend is a Gossip
How one person treats others is usually a reflection of how they may be treating you. If your friend tends to talk behind others’ backs about them, they're probably a toxic friend. Everyone needs to talk things out if someone hurt them or disrespected them, but a complete gossip or backstabber is a bad friend. Who knows what they're saying behind your back! Also, our friends typically mold our own actions. Try to detour around conversations like this, and salvage the friendship for what else it may be.
9. You’ve Tried Talking
If any of the situations above have spurred you to start an honest conversation and your friend acted unfairly or shut you down, then you are most definitely in a toxic friendship. If you’ve explained calmly in a private place that your friend made you feel disrespected, hurt your feelings or lied - and mentioned that you'd like to talk about it - watch how they react. If they do not want to discuss it, deny doing anything or laugh it off, your friend holds no respect for you. A true friend should want to mend a friendship when you feel hurt, and not disregard your feelings. Keep it classy and respectful, and try only once or twice - otherwise, you may be better off just letting your friend go!
It’s important to keep in mind how you internally feel around your friends. If you start to feel like you’re hitting a wall or not getting anything good out of the relationship, it’s a good time to assess whether the friendship is toxic. What toxic friendships have you been in, and how did it feel to let them go?