Creating friendships and relationships is so important, but some can become toxic or simply unhealthy; if you don’t catch up with the person enough, if they become friends with people who may be a negative influence or if you just grow apart, it can become unhealthy. That doesn’t mean you should just cut them off as soon as you haven’t texted each other in a few days; you just need to put in the time and effort and hope that they do too.
Toxic people can lower our self-esteem and also damage our mental health, so knowing when a friendship has turned toxic and how to deal with the situation is beneficial. These signs are common ones and if you read this and notice that one of your friends is showing a few or most of the signs, it probably isn’t the healthiest friendship.
They aren’t happy about your successes
When you do something good, it’s always nice to be supported and praised. A good friend should always stick by you and make sure that they congratulate you – otherwise what’s the point? Friends are meant to make you feel good about yourself.
You worry about them secretly disliking you
This is common if you have a friendship that seems to be struggling a bit. Do you still have much in common? Are you a little scared of them? Do they have time for you anymore? We all worry about our friendships as losing a friend can be difficult; however, if you’re thinking they dislike you, that’s a sign it’s toxic. Don’t continue a friendship just because you need their approval. Try to talk to them and just check you’re on the same page, and if you get a negative or disinterested answer it may be time to move on.
They’ve talked about you behind your back
I think this one is subjective – if someone is trying to help you by asking for advice or simply speaking out in your best interest, that’s fine. But if you hear from other friends that someone is actively talking about you behind your back with bad intentions, it’s probably time for the friendship to be over. It’s never nice to hear about and whether it was a one-off or not, it isn’t a good sign; they’ll have to regain your trust.
They cancel plans frequently or avoid spending time with you
It’s completely fine to cancel a plan if you’re ill or unable to get there, as long as you give notice. However, cancelling plans on the day or doing it more than once in a short space of time can put a strain on a friendship and look as if they are trying to avoid spending time with you. It’s also annoying and selfish if they never intended to go through with the plans, and a true friend wouldn’t do that. If you’ve noticed someone often making up excuses or phoning up just before you’re getting ready to leave, the friendship might not be the best.
They’re overly protective or clingy
This is awkward as we’ve all had that one friend who simply won’t get the message and just back off a bit; clingy people can be overbearing and overwhelming and therefore put stress on the friendship and become tiring. Try to talk to the friend and ultimately ask them if you could have some alone time or just a day apart, and if they take it well then move on. However, if they make a fuss and put you in a bad situation by acting hard done by or neglected, this could be a sign of a toxic friendship and prove they want to be in control of the situation. Try to be rational and avoid being rude, but if someone really won’t leave you alone and is trying to manipulate you when you do ask for some space, it isn’t a healthy friendship and it’s not fair on you.
They get angry or annoyed when you spend time with other people
Following on from the last point, there are those people who can’t bear to see you talk to other people. If your friend demands to know who you’re seeing at the weekend, who you talk to online, who you’re spending time with at school or anything like that, it’s unhealthy. They’re either manipulative or very nosy and neither is brilliant; ask them about it and say it makes you feel uncomfortable, and if they persist then it could be time to cut them off. Further, if they get angry at you for saying this, it’s definitely a bad sign; a friend should be able to listen to what you’re saying and respect how you feel too.
You feel unwanted
If they often make excuses to hang out with other people, make cruel jokes that can be interpreted as more than a joke or don’t value you for you then it’s toxic. People can have off days and sometimes say things they might not mean, but repeated jokes or snide comments show that they’re not a nice person. Worse, them saying things can lower your self-esteem and make you anxious or sad, so it’s best to simply end the friendship or properly talk to them and see if they’d even realised that they weren’t being nice.
You’re at a loss of what to talk to when you’re with them
If you can’t think of anything to talk about with someone, the friendship might be outgrown or simply outdated. Try to talk to them about this and ask if they want to go out sometime with you and try to organise something fun; this can often rekindle a friendship or let you guys just restart and chat again. However, if you try and rekindle the friendship and they make very little effort, it could be a sign that you’ve both outgrown the friendship and it’s time to talk to some new people.
I hope this guide is useful and it allows you to make good decisions; feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask me for advice or simply contact me for a chat.