Toxic Friends – Do You Know the Signs?
In the world we live in, having close friends is a critical part of emotional survival. That’s because for some of us, romantic relationships can be hard to come by. But how do you know if one or more of your friends are helping or hurting you?
Below are 10 signs you have a toxic friendship specifically created guys men (but can apply to anyone). Some of these traits may seem obvious while others will require that you pause and reflect. Read them all in order to fully absorb their deeper meaning.
Check this out:
1. They always seem to focus on the negative
Generally speaking, most friends will talk about their ups and downs. But if your friend is toxic, the person will almost exclusively focus on the negative in life and struggle to identify the positive. Here are some other characteristics of this sign:
- You are left emotionally drained after most conversations.
- They blame everyone else in the world for their problems but themselves.
- They have a negative comeback from anything good you point out happening in their lives.
2. They are quick to criticize you
Having a friend who can call you out on your shit is valuable. However, if a person is relentlessly pointing out your flaws with no sensitivity for your self-esteem, they are toxic. Here’s some other pointers under this characteristic:
- You fear sharing things with them because you know they will have a negative response.
- They are quick focus on the downside of your decisions without highlighting the positive.
- You feel like you need to justify all of your actions.
3. They never listen to your problems
Does your friend call you without hesitation to recount their daily drama? Does that same friend seem to minimize any personal struggles you bring up or not listen to them at all? This is a major indicator of a toxic person. Additional points under this one include:
- They expect you to be there for them but are nowhere to be found when you are having a problem.
- Will gloss over something serious that happened to you and turn the conversation back to them.
- Come up with simplistic solutions for what you are dealing with that aren’t insightful or helpful.
4. They become jealous of your success
Real friends share in the joy of your success and celebrate the good things that happen in your life. Toxic friends, however, will go out of their way to make a happy moment negative. Here are some things to look out for:
- Minimizing your accomplishments
- Use negative comments when speaking to others about something positive (i.e. you were promoted)
- Ignore obvious good news
- Overly competitive; becomes spiteful when they lose
- Purposely goes after guys you are interested in or dating
5. They easily become angry with you
All friendships will experience uncomfortable moments. Disagreements will happen from time to time. But if you have a toxic friend, he/she will usually have a short temper. Signs to be aware of under this characteristic include:
- Giving you the silent treatment for no apparent reason
- Passive aggressive game playing that usually ends with an angry blowup
- Blaming behaviors with an inability to accept responsibility for personal actions.
6. It’s always about them
Healthy friendships are built on the foundation of mutual trust, fortified with empathy. That’s why it’s nice to have a friend who is there when you are feeling blue or vice versa. But toxic friends don’t operate in this manner. Look for these signs:
- An inability to show compassion and empathy for your situation
- A knack for turning your problem into something about them
- Minimizing your life challenges and somehow redirecting the conversation towards their personal drama
7. They assume you should be the one to keep in touch
All of us live busy lives, putting time at a premium. The decision to invest in a friendship, therefore, shouldn’t come lightly. But if you have a toxic friend, they likely hold the mindset that it is pretty much on you to keep in touch.
Quick signs to check for on this point include:
- Obvious narcissism whereby the person never initiates contact with you
- Upon calling/texting them, they continually cut you short and claim they will get back to you (they never do)
- When they do call, it is usually about some crisis they want you to listen to – ad nauseum.
8. They don’t consider your point of view
If you have a group of friends, you already know that trying to agree on something can be a struggle. This is normal and happens with the tightest circle of buds. Toxic friends, however, don’t allow for disagreement because they never consider other people’s feelings. Examples include:
- Making plans without asking your opinion
- Continually assuming you will like something
- Regularly making comments that are hurtful or offensive
- If you are in recovery for substance abuse, they may disregard your need to abstain from certain people, places or things
9. They are not open to change
In healthy relationships, friends grow personally and spiritually. At their best, friendships can be transformative. But when you have a toxic friend, growth withers on the vine. That’s because friends who are toxic are never open to change. In most all cases, the person is always right and you are always wrong.
10. You feel emotionally drained
Perhaps the strongest sign you have a toxic friend is how you feel both during and after being around them. Here are a few thoughts to consider under this sign:
- You feel emotionally depleted because they require so much attention
- Most of the time you spend with them is spent solving their problems
- They attract drama to their life on a 24/7 basis
All of us need friends if we are to flourish and grow. Discerning healthy relationships from toxic ones can take a bit of effort.
A great book to help you arrive at a healthier place of decision making on personal relationships is: When Friendships Hurt by Jan Yager, PhD.
Inside, you will find page after page of useful insight on how to recognize toxic people and what to do about them.