Signs of a toxic friend can be harder to spot than you might believe. So often we invest a great deal of time into friendships and have a hard time seeing flaws in relationships. Not only does this apply to us, but it also applies to our children and their relationships. We can be our child’s first example of healthy friendships. Being able to spot a toxic friend can help you to set boundaries and make healthier choices in the relationship.
What are the signs of a toxic friendship?
Friendships are often relationships in flux dependent on a variety of factors. Disagreements can happen and you won’t always agree on everything. This is completely normal. However, this can shift into a toxic friendship when it is more than just disagreements. Toxic friendships are harmful to at least one party in the friendship and have unrealistic expectations attached to them.
How do you feel when you leave them?
When you are with your friends, it’s easy to be oblivious to the less healthy parts of the relationship. One of the best ways to measure the health of the relationship is to ask yourself how you feel after you leave them. When you go home, how do you feel about yourself? Do you play back conversations and experiences and think, “man that really made me feel like crap?”
Looking at how you feel when you aren’t with someone can speak volumes. Friends are able to disagree but it becomes toxic when you start to feel badly about yourself because of them.
Do they respect your boundaries?
One of the best ways to gauge whether someone is a toxic friend is to look at how they handle your boundaries. One of the main signs of a toxic friend relationship is a lack of respect for your boundaries. These can be small boundaries such as not calling during certain times. They can also be large boundaries such as not drinking alcohol around you or not talking about a certain unsafe topic. If a person is not willing to respect your boundaries it speaks volumes.
How do they talk about you with others?
A friend should be your first defender and your biggest fan. They should want to see you thrive and see you live with joy and purpose! More than that, they should hype you up to other people and let them know the best things about you. If your friend is speaking negatively about you to others, it may be an indication that you have a toxic friendship with this person.
Will they speak difficult truths kindly?
Friends will walk some of life’s hardest roads with you. They will see your struggles and the things you don’t do well. How your friend handles this conversation can speak volumes about whether they are healthy for you. Take some time to look at the advice you’ve been given by your friend when you are making a poor choice or when you need constructive criticism. A toxic friend will not be kind or take your feelings into account when advising you about difficult truths.
Do they empathize with your pain?
Life can let you walk some really hard roads. Does your friend empathize with your pain on your hard days? People may not always have the right words for a situation. That is not what I’m referring to. Instead, I’m asking if they handle your fears and hurts with compassion and kindness. Do they try to understand what you need emotionally and be there for you supportively? If you are in a toxic relationship with a friend you might find that they are not able to put your needs and emotions first.
Do they always need something from you?
Friendship should be a give and take. It should be a balance of giving and taking between the two of you. If you are in a toxic friendship, you might find that the toxic friend is only a taker. They focus on their needs, wants, an fulfillment. A toxic friend will leave no room for your needs, wants, or desires.
Do they let you have other friendships?
The idea of best friends from childhood implies that you only get one true friend. However, as you grow, you start to realize that this is a myth. A healthy friendship leaves room for connections with others and that we can have other friends without there being any animosity. When you look at the way your friend behaves with you, are they open to the fact that you have other friends who get your time? Take an honest look at how your friend behaves toward you about other friendships and towards your other friends.
Are they able to apologize?
Friendships aren’t always perfect. Sometimes people fight and sometimes they strongly disagree about things. A quality friendship will make room to own these choices and make ammends. If you are in a friendship with someone who will not apologize, that may be something you should take an honest look at. You deserve people who will own their mistakes and make your forgiveness a priority.
Are they willing to accept you changing?
Change is normal part of growing older and a real friend will grow with you. If your friendship is going to last the years, it will need to be able to adapt to your change. When looking at your friendships ask yourself if your friend is secure enough in themselves to be a quality friend when you change the way you see the world or the desires you have. A real friend may not understand but will be able to find ways to support you and stand with you.
Are you hiding pieces of yourself from them?
You should be able to be your truest self when you are with your friends. Are you hiding pieces of yourself from your friend because of their typical reactions? I have a friendship like this and constantly guard some parts of me because I know she’ll be critical. When you look at the friendships you value, ask yourself if they truly accept you. A friendship might be toxic if you constantly have to hide your true self from your friend.