how to identify a toxic friendship.
Friendships are one of the most important things in life. They have a major impact on our overall well-being, by being an emotional support for us throughout our lives. Maintaining these friendships should not be a challenge, but in some cases, it is.
If keeping the friendship alive is a strain on you and your wellbeing, you might be in a toxic friendship. Like romantic relationships, friendships can have an end date, and calling time on a toxic friendship can improve your life. Here are some red flags to look out:
Guilt in itself can be a very powerful and toxic weapon, which some people know how to use a little too well. A friend may be making you feel bad when you decline to meet up with them, cancel plans or simply by saying no to them. Even when you’ve done nothing wrong, they may imply that the situation is somehow your fault. This is them making their unhappiness clear and thus leaving you to fix the problem and apologise.
Firstly, it is important to note that you do not need to justify yourself to anyone and declining to meet up with a friend is a completely normal and human thing to do. Secondly, you shouldn’t give anyone the power to make you feel obligated to do something which you do not want to do, and if cancelling plans is something that you feel is in your best interest, then do so.
dismissing your feelings.
Validation is something that we need as human beings. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to agree/relate with another person’s thoughts or feelings, but you should create an inviting atmosphere which allows the other person to be emotionally vulnerable and have a safe space to exist.
Having your feelings diminished or pushed to the side can be very upsetting. They will make you feel as though your feelings aren’t valid, or they’ll go even further to say that your feelings aren’t as important compared to theirs. It’s important to know that your feelings are valid. They matter and most importantly, you matter.
isolation from other friends.
Jealousy is often deemed as a negative emotion, and trust me, it can be. But it also shows that you have a fondness for someone close to you. It’s important to know the difference between healthy jealousy, and straight up toxic jealousy.
When it comes to other people, it's good to have friends outside of your friendship with this person, as it allows you to be more sociable to others. Sometimes, people get jealous when you have other friends outside of your friendship. This can be because they may feel left behind and vulnerable in the friendship, which is something important to acknowledge on your side as much as on theirs too.
making fun of you.
If a friend regularly puts you down and makes you feel miserable, whether they use more subtle comments or outright insults, your friendship probably isn’t a healthy one.
There’s a difference between joking around and making fun of someone, and blatant rudeness. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but if it gets to the point where comments being made towards you are starting to make you feel insecure and upset, it’s time to draw the line and say how you feel. Your feelings are valid and stating so to your friend is important.
lack of give and a lot of take.
Some people don't think about the other person and their feelings. It’s important to be wary of whether they may be doing this consciously or subconsciously. Friendships are best when you both feel happy, valued, and heard, and when someone isn’t reciprocating the same amount of time effort, it can hurt, especially when you care strongly about them.
Friendships are a two-way street, and a sign of toxicity in a friendship is lack of effort from one side. This often leads to feelings of neglect and unworthiness but remember that your self-worth is not determined by how people treat or view you.
A good friend will be happy for your accomplishments in life, no matter how big or small. So, it can be disheartening when someone downplays your successes in life, in order to make themselves feel better. Again, this action is usually done out of jealousy (and not the healthy kind) which is not normal in a healthy friendship in any way.
This not only makes you feel unworthy, but you start doubting yourself and your achievements.
spreading your secrets.
Sharing your inner thoughts with someone can be difficult, as you’re opening up to someone you feel comfortable with. When that person spills your secrets or private thoughts to others, it can hurt, deeply and breaks the trust in the friendship. No good friend should ever make you feel less than, or silly in front of anyone, and any friend that does so, does not have your best intentions at heart.
Being in a toxic friendship can take a toll on you mentally, physically, and emotionally. It can leave you feeling drained and can even cause a strain on other relationships in your life. When it comes to asking yourself if you’re in a toxic friendship, be wary of the red flags and always monitor how you feel when you’re around them. Do they make you feel happy?
Do they support you?
Do you trust them?
And most importantly, would you treat them the way they're treating you?