Social connections and friendships are essential for our mental health and well-being. Friendships give us a sense of belonging, provide emotional support, help us feel less lonely, and make us happy. Healthy friendships are supportive and bring you up, celebrating life with you and are there for you in times of distress.
However, some friendships are toxic and can affect you negatively, which ultimately takes a toll on your mental health. These toxic friends will bring you down and leave you feeling physically and mentally drained. All relationships have their ups and downs, but truly toxic friends will always leave you feeling down.
Signs of a Toxic Friend
Not all toxic friends look the same, but they do share common traits. If you’re wondering if you have a toxic friend in your life, here are some signs to look out for:
1. It’s Always About Them
A toxic friend will make everything about them. They will never really listen to you, and they will always manage to turn the focus onto them. Everything will always revolve around them and their needs. In this kind of friendship, you’ll often feel like you always give and they always take. There is no balance in this type of toxic friendship.
Toxic friends will never be truly happy for any of the success or happiness in your life. If you do excel at something, they will try to compete with you. Toxic friends are jealous of the things you have in your life. This could be a job, relationship, or a new apartment for example. This kind of toxic friend will never compliment you or seem happy for you.
Toxic relationships will always revolve around a lot of drama. You’ll find this friend will always have some sort of drama occurring in their life and they will bring you into it. They will often play the victim feeling the world has wronged them. This can create a lot of unnecessary stress in your life.
4. You Avoid Confrontation
If you feel you’re always walking on eggshells with a friend in the fear that being honest will upset them, they may be toxic. A toxic friend will always make you feel that you are wrong and you’re never able to say how you truly feel. In this kind of friendship, any compromise will always come from you. You will find it difficult saying no to them.
5. Very Needy
A toxic friend could be someone who’s obsessively needy. They may act as if they are your romantic partner, getting jealous of other friendships you may have. A toxic friend that is needy will call or message you constantly and get upset if you don’t respond right away. This type of toxic friend will expect you to drop everything and tend to their needs. This type of toxic friendship becomes very codependent and it isn’t healthy for either party.
How to Deal With a Toxic Friend
1. Be Self aware
If you find yourself in a toxic friendship, be self-reflective. None of us are perfect. See what part you have in this toxic relationship, and if there is anything you can personally change to maintain this friendship and improve it.
It’s important to set boundaries in any relationship, especially one with a toxic friend. If you want to keep the friendship, make it clear what you will and won’t accept. If you find yourself in a toxic friendship, you’ve allowed it until this point. Setting boundaries is a great step at changing the course of the friendship for the better. It could be helpful to decide how you will manage situations when your boundaries are crossed.
Communication is key in any relationship, whether it be a friendship or a romantic one. It’s important to communicate your needs clearly. If you feel unsettled in your friendship, or there is something bothering you, find an appropriate way to tell your friend.
You’d be surprised how far effective communication goes sometimes. However, if they’re truly toxic, they may get very defensive and you will find it difficult to have an honest conversation.
4. Create Distance
If you find yourself in a toxic friendship, it could be beneficial to create distance. Taking space will give you some clarity on the friendship and it allows you time to decide if you want to continue this friendship. You may realize how much happier you are without them.
5. Walk Away
If a friendship is making you feel bad about yourself, brings nothing good to your life, and only brings up down, it may be time to walk away. As difficult as it may seem, your mental health should be a priority and ending the friendship may be necessary. If the friendship is truly toxic, most likely you will find how much better you feel without them as a friend.
6. Get Support
If you’re having difficulties ending a toxic friendship or relationship, it can be helpful to reach out for support. Unbiased advice can guide you in how to cope with the loss of this friendship and help you deal with any underlying reasons you wanted to maintain a friendship that makes you feel badly about yourself.
MyTherapist is an online counseling service that can match you with a licensed therapist to help you break away from this toxic friendship and provide you with strategies to improve your well-being.