8 Signs of a toxic friendship
1. Putting You Down Constantly
You should feel like your friend’s equal, giving and receiving positive feedback that makes you both feel good. However, a toxic friend may find ways to make you feel like you’re less than they are.
For example, they might draw attention to your insecurities and reinforce them as true. Or, they might discourage you from trying to achieve your dreams (telling you that they’re not realistic for someone like you).
Everyone makes mistakes in relationships. Good friends can apologize for their part in such arguments or other clashes.
In contrast, toxic or manipulative friendships often involve one person who won’t own their mistakes… This person will blame you for everything instead, and apologies may be in short supply. You will be told that everything is your fault and that it’s you who needs to change or feel bad about a difficult interaction.
3. Attempts to Control
Controlling behaviours can be less obvious in a toxic friendship than they are in a romantic relationship, but they can be just as damaging.
The friend might always insist on being in charge of what you do or where you go. They might even try to influence your life choices. Or, they could attempt to exert influence over how you look and dress.
Loving friends empower you to make your own choices! They may give feedback but will always respect your autonomy.
On a similar note, some controlling friends may actively try to stop you from making new friends. Alternatively, they may even attempt to stand in the way of you finding a partner. This is because a toxic friend often wants to claim all of your time and energy. It might be they hate the idea of you turning your attention elsewhere at any times.
Sometimes, you may not even notice this isolating influence until suddenly you realize that other friends, or even family, have drifted away.
5. Deliberate Humiliation
Gentle teasing is part of many good friendships, however being shamed in public is another story.
If your friend makes fun of you in social settings, tells cruel jokes at your expense, or claims that you “just don’t have a sense of humour” then they’re being abusive.
If you explain this to your friend and the behaviour still doesn’t change, this person is not good for you. Healthy friendships should be about having your back and speaking well of you.
Toxic friends can project their own disliked traits onto you so that they can attack these traits safely. For example, they might be very unpunctual, and yet scold you for “always being late” when you show up three minutes late for lunch for the first time.
If this is happening a lot, your friend is using you to work out their own issues. This is not always a conscious choice, but if it doesn’t change over time then the friendship can leave you confused about your own traits and flaws.
7. An Inconsistent Personality
Everyone experiences different moods, and of course, you can’t expect all of your friends to constantly be in a good mood.
On the other hand, if you have a Jekyll and Hyde friend who is joyful one might and furious at you the next, you’re in an unhealthy dynamic that’s hazardous to your mental health. You will never be able to properly relax around this person, and you’ll spend too much time trying to work out how to consistently please them.
8. Emotional Blackmail
Finally, toxic friends often withhold affection or support depending on the circumstances. This is because their love is conditional and highly based on what you can do for them. So, if you say you can’t go to a social event then the friend may refuse to take your calls or be cold in conversation until you change your mind.
In healthy friendships, both people understand that availability varies over time, and they communicate openly and honestly about hurt feelings.