It's officially 2018 and with the new year comes all kinds of resolutions and goals that we want to accomplish in our lives. I'm not big on resolutions myself, but I do agree that each year we should work towards bettering ourselves and making the most of the life that we're living.
For a lot of people that means cutting out toxic relationships, especially friendships. Friendships are one thing that we can actively choose in our lives so why would anyone put up with someone treating them like crap? Well, it's not as easy as just taking a pair of scissors and snipping them out.
Friendships are basically a bond between you and another person so deciding to cut them out of your life requires a lot of thought and actually doing it isn't fun at all. But if your resolution this year is to put up with less crap from the people around you and focus on your healthy and supportive relationships, this article might be able help you realize which friend needs to go.
In the next few pages we'll review the signs of a toxic friendship by how they treat you, when you're talking about your life, when you're hanging out together, by how they make you feel and by how you act around them. Then I'll tell you some ways you can deal with these types of friends.
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They point out your flaws all the time.
You want to surround yourself with friends that are honest with you, but there is such a thing as too much honesty. When it goes from just being honest to harsh criticism, constantly, that's when you know there's a serious problem. If you're afraid to talk to them in fear that they'll be unsupportive and mean, you're in a toxic friendship.
They never think about your feelings.
Friends who never think about how their actions or words are affecting you, are probably toxic friends. They don't care if what they're saying is hurting you or if them bailing on your plans causes you stress and makes you unhappy, they just do it anyways. They do whatever it takes to make themselves feel better at the expense of your feelings.
You argue with each other all the time.
This can be for a myriad of reasons. Maybe you told them you wanted to spend time with your other friends and they got mad. Maybe you confronted them about bailing on your plans too much. Whatever the reason, it seems that you two are constantly arguing which can't lead to a healthy friendship.
They tell you that you need to change.
Your friend tells you that you're doing something they don't like and that you need to change. But they would never admit that they have any kind of problem or need to change their own behaviour. They see there's a problem in the friendship but they'd rather blame it on you than change themselves.
Understand that it's okay to part ways.
Not all friendships can last, and that's okay! It may feel terrible to end a friendship, especially when most people's instinct is to stay and work it out. But if your friendship isn't healthy for you anymore, it's okay to part ways and call it quits. Losing people along the way is a part of life so don't feel too badly about it.
Don't hang onto any bitterness.
Feeling bitter towards a friend that was supposed to be there for you but ended up making you feel badly about yourself is common when dealing with a toxic friendship. Holding onto your bitterness and not letting it go and moving on can be damaging for you and your other friendships.
Allow yourself to feel sad about it.
A friendship that you took the time to grow is starting to come to an end and that can be pretty sad. It's not a good feeling to cut someone out of your life for good, especially when they were once a great friend to you. So it's okay to feel sad about it for a little while but also know that moving on and feeling happy again is just as important.
Don't take their behaviour too personally.
This is obviously a really hard one and will probably feel impossible sometimes when all of their behaviour is directed at you, personally. But understand that it's their problems entirely and it's not really about you at all. You've done nothing wrong but be their friend so try to remember this when they're being especially toxic to you.
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They only want to talk about themselves.
So you call your friend to talk and spend the first 15 minutes of the conversation only talking about themselves, then when you start discussing your life they say they have to get off the phone. This can happen a lot with toxic friendships because they're not interested in your life as much as they want to talk about theirs.
They aren't happy for your success or happiness.
It's important to surround ourselves with friends that are happy for our own happiness and success. If you get a promotion at work you want a friend that will take you out for drinks to celebrate. If you meet someone and start a new relationship you want someone that will ask all about them. A toxic friend will always find a way to point out the negative in your happiness and success instead of being happy for you.
You feel like you're always competing with them.
Healthy competition is pretty common in friendships but when it changes to unhealthy competition, that's when you know there's a problem. If your friend is constantly trying to one-up you it can get frustrating and cause you to act differently in the friendship. Maybe you'll hold back from sharing things with that person or become defensive with them.
You're always the one reaching out to talk or make plans.
Just like they're always flaking on your plans, you're always the one reaching out to make plans with them in the first place. You've been calling and texting her to chat and it's always you asking to meet up and hang out. It can become very one-sided and friendships need to be equal in order for them to work. If the other person is more invested in the friendship than the other, it can become toxic.
Focus on your healthy relationships.
You most likely have other friendships in your life that are much healthier than this one, so go focus your energy on maintaining those for a while. After all, you need good friends in your life and if your toxic friend only wants to talk about themselves when you're together, you need good friends that will listen to you sometimes.
Start having less and less contact with them.
If you're not big on confrontation, that's okay. An easy way to distance yourself from a toxic friend is to start having less and less contact with them. It's not always the nicest thing to do, but if they contact you to hang out you can always say you're busy until they get the hint that you just don't want to see them much anymore.
Don't wait for them to change or apologize.
If your friend has been treating you badly, don't expect them to miraculously change or apologize to you for it. If you put off cutting them from your life in the hopes that they'll realize that they've treated you poorly isn't very realistic. They most likely won't change their behaviour any time soon so don't wait for them to.
Seek out support from other friends and family members.
Don't feel like you have to go through this alone. The best way to get yourself through a friend breakup is to seek out advice and support from really grounded friends and close family members. You might need a dose of reality to help you realize this friendship just isn't working anymore and they can give it to you.
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They're not reliable and always flake on you.
So you made plans months ago to go for dinner at your favourite spot and last minute your friend cancels with one of their million excuses, which happens a LOT. Maybe they even forgot about your plans altogether. This is a big sign of a toxic friendship because she's not only disrespecting your feelings but also your time. She's sending a clear message that she doesn't care as much about making time for you as you do for her and that's just not fair.
They're judging you the whole time.
You make plans and you feel like everything you say is being judged by your friend. She's constantly asking why you said that, did that or acted that way in any story you tell her which is just not okay. She's judging your opinions and decisions and not even trying to be a supportive friend to you in any way.
Your friend is super clingy and needy.
This is another trait of a toxic friendship where your friend will be overly clingy and needy with you. They need to hang out every Friday night. They need to call and consult you on every single decision they make.
They need you to be their plus-one to every work/school event. If you don't agree, say you made other plans, or didn't reply to their text quick enough, they'll get extremely angry withkind of behaviour is super possessive and controlling and overall bad for your health as well as theirs.
They pressure you to do things you don't want to do.
It's always a good thing to find friends that help you try new things once in a while. But it's a totally different thing if they're pressuring you to do something that you really don't want to do. The friendship can become toxic if your friend is always pushing you out of your comfort zone.
Try not to get too angry towards them or others.
If your friend has been flaking on your plans or displaying other signs of being a toxic friend it can get extremely frustrating and cause you a lot of stress and anxiety. It can also easily become contagious because you're feeling so stressed and hurt over their actions it's easy to lash out at them or others. It's easy to say "don't do this" from behind a computer screen but really try not to get angry at those who don't deserve it.
Talk to them about making positive changes to their behaviour.
It's definitely not easy to tell someone that they're being negative and judgemental around you, especially with a friend that's so unpredictable. But if you really are committed to making your friendship work the next step is to talk to them about making some positive changes in their behaviour so your friendship can grow.
Always try to lead with empathy though, instead of telling her outright that how she is acting isn't right because chances are she already knows that.
Tell them what you need from them as a friend.
Your friend isn't a mind reader, so if you're unhappy with the way the friendship is you have to tell them. If they're being too clingy or needy, tell them you need a bit of space and why. You can't move forward in your friendship and make it stronger without honest communication. Maybe there's a reason she's acting the way she is and just needs some extra support.
Set boundaries with your friend.
If your friend has been pressuring you to do things you don't want to do, or they always monopolize your time it's a good idea to set some boundaries with them. Tell them the things you absolutely don't want to do and where your comfort zone ends. If you're hanging out or talking on the phone but you need to leave at a certain time, tell them and don't allow them to occupy your time any longer than what you said.
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You feel like you're walking on eggshells around them.
Your friend is now very inconsistent with how they treat you and how they react to what you say to them. It can cause you to feel like you're walking on eggshells around them. You have to be careful about what you say and the tone of your voice so that they don't blow up or lash out at you all of a sudden.
You feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster.
The emotions and reactions of your friend are totally unpredictable and you have no idea how they might act next. You're always worried that they might react badly or get upset with you, it's like a roller coaster of ups and downs and they're the ones at the controls.
You don't feel like you can be yourself around them.
Because their emotions are always so predictable and you're walking on eggshells around them, you can never feel like yourself when you're with them. We all want to feel liked and valued by our friends but with a toxic friend you can't act like your true self for fear that you'll be judged for being that way.
You don't feel like you can trust them.
Whether they've already betrayed your trust or you just have doubts that you can depend on them, it's a big sign of a toxic friendship. If you know they gossip behind your back to other friends that can be a big betrayal of trust, which won't lead to a stronger friendship.
It's okay to forgive them, but never forget.
If they did something to hurt you or said something that made you feel badly about yourself, it's okay to forgive them. But definitely don't forget what they said or did. Make a mental note of it and for the next time they do it or something similar and if gets to be too much, you have reasons to back up your frustrations.
Decide how you want to end the friendship, if that's what you want.
If you decide that ending the friendship is the best thing to do, decide how you're going to do it. You can choose to slowly stop seeing them, send them a letter or a text message or do it in person. All of these methods are effective but you should choose which one would work best for you and your friend.
Keep the 'breakup' brief and to the point.
When you're telling your friend that you no longer want to be in the friendship anymore, you need to keep your words straight and to the point. This may seem hard and it may take more than a few attempts, but this is necessary to remove the negativity from your life.
If they want to talk afterwards, hear them out.
Breaking up with someone, whether it be a S/O or a friend is never easy. It isn't always a clean break so your friend might want to talk with you after you tell her you want out of the friendship. If they do, hear them out because maybe they want to apologize and you can end the friendship on a good note.
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You have to compete with their other best friends.
They tell you how their other best friends do more for them, treat them better or do more fun things with them. This causes you to want to compete with them for you friend's approval.
You feel guilty for spending time with other people.
Every time you want to see other friends, spend time with family members or have quality time with your S/O, your friend makes you feel guilty about it. This is a big sign of a toxic friendship because you can't be expected to only spend time with one friend all the time.
You dread spending time with them.
If you notice a sinking feeling every time you see their name pop up on your phone or you start feeling anxious when you have to spend time with them, this is a big sign that the friendship is toxic. You can't wait for them to leave and you dread seeing them next.
You experience physical symptoms when you see them.
Toxic friendships can actually cause physical symptoms. If you suffer from headaches or stomach cramps before or after seeing your friend, this could be a sign that the relationship is doing more harm than good in your life.
Don't hesitate to cut them out of your life.
If you're not acting like yourself, experiencing physical symptoms, and can't handle all the negativity in your life then don't hesitate to cut them out of it. If they can't except any responsibility for how they've been acting, this is the best way to deal with it.
Allow yourself to let go and move on.
Just like in a romantic relationship, after a breakup the next step is to let go and move on with your life. Start focusing on your better friendships and even making new ones. That will help you feel better about yourself and your happiness.
Think about what you learned from the situation.
Even though this friendship was negative and didn't end up lasting, it still taught you something. The best thing you can do after letting go of this friendship is to reflect on what it taught you. Learn from their mistakes and yours and use this to make your future friendships stronger.
Stick to your decision, even if they come back and try to convince you to take it back.
They might come back and try to convince you that they've changed and that you've made a mistake in ending the friendship. It's okay to listen and hear them out but it's best to stay firm in your decision. Don't cave in just because they're being nice now, it's probably not as heartfelt as it seems.