The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter
Everything you need to live well

Identifying Toxic Friendships

Somehow, we talk a lot more about toxic relationships than we do about toxic friendships. This might be because we’ve learned growing up – albeit unconsciously – that romantic relationships take precedence over relationships built on friendship. Because of this, we learn how to identify relationships that are bad for us, but never really learn much outside of “don’t join bad gang”.

The thing is, even in avoiding bad gangs, we still end up in friendships that aren’t exactly good for us mentally and socially. Your friend is more often than not perceived as your safety net and so toxic friendships can go unnoticed for a really long time. People generally don’t realize they need to move on from this person until there is a betrayal of epic proportions.

Worse still, you find it difficult to breakaway because people will try to make you feel you are overreacting to whatever it is your friend has done. However, if you are convinced a friendship is affecting your mood and outlook on life negatively, it is time to pack up and move.

 How to Identify Toxic Friendships

You Don’t Like Who You Are Around This Person

In this case, it’s not just an issue of your friend being a “bad influence”. If you find that being around this person, for instance, turns you into someone who’s mean and surly, you should consider cutting down the time you spend together. Sometimes, you might struggle with intense jealousy or feel very disgruntled when you are around this person. These are also signs of a toxic friendship.

The Emotional Investment Is Unbalanced

You’ll notice this mostly is seemingly meaningless interactions. How much time do you spend solving your problems versus solving your friend’s? It may seem petty, but it actually does matter who approaches the other person for a settlement when you have a fight. You should also be concerned if you find that your friend is constantly leaving you hanging but expects you to drop everything you’re doing when they call. Being friends with someone should be mutually beneficial.

Your Friend Puts You Down In Front of People

Do you know what’s worse than being friends with someone who thinks they’re better than you? Having this person constantly trying to show people, especially strangers, that you are inferior to them. Your friendship becomes a battle for social dominance – whether you’re interested in the championship belt or not. You shouldn’t feel the need to keep spending time with someone who needs to make you look smaller than them to feel good about themselves; especially if they make fun of insecurities they know you have.

You Don’t Have Good Things to Say When You Talk About This Person

If over time you realize that you speak negatively about this person in their absence, it’s time for you to bow out of this friendship. Why? It’s understandable that you never went into this friendship expecting it to go south. It’s also very okay for you to share what you feel with other people when you are having some problems. However, if it gets to a point where you find you are only pretending to be friends with this person you no longer actually like then it’s time to breakup.

One thing to remember in identifying a toxic friendship is that no relationship, platonic or romantic, should ever make you feel you cannot enjoy being yourself. Yes, friendship can be hard and trying, but it’s also supposed to be fun.

If you realize you’re in a toxic friendship, how you deal with it is totally up to you. You could try having an open discussion with the person, and if the person really wants to keep you in their life they will make an honest effort to change.

In this article:
friendships

Related