In accordance with this study, only 50% of those people who we consider our friends think the same thing in return. These people may spend time with us because they want to get something from us or they think that having a lot of friends is good for their image. But even if your friendship began with mutual interest this might change to something completely different in time. Of course, misunderstandings and fights can happen even between the dearest of friends, but if these relationships make you feel uncomfortable on a regular basis and often upset you, maybe it’s time to think about whether or not you need to continue them.
Bright Side together with psychologists Susan Heitler and Sharon Livingston sum up the signs of toxic friendships and explain how you can change the situation.
1. Your friend makes you compete with their other friends.
Your friend always tells you how much their other friends are more interesting than you and how they had a great time together, making you feel jealous and dull.
2. Most of the time during your meetings, you speak about your friend’s matters, but they’re not interested in your problems.
Your friend is passionate about telling you of their news but as soon as you try to say something about yourself, they get an urgent message to reply to or they find another reason to not listen to you.
3. Your friend criticizes you condescendingly but doesn’t accept your criticism.
Honesty in relationships is very important, constructive critics can be rather useful. But a toxic friend doesn’t spare your feelings when saying that you need to go to the gym or to get a better haircut. Their goal is not to tell you the truth but to humiliate you. But this friend can become really indignant if you try to do the same.
4. You initiate meetings more often than your friend does.
They don’t seem to be interested in communicating with you and don’t contribute to your relationship. The opposite issue can be when your friend is too clingy and demands all of your time which isn’t so good either.
5. Your friend thinks that you need to change.
When you have a fight, your friend thinks that it is you who is always wrong, that you could be softer or less impulsive, or something else. But they are good no matter what, of course.
6. You always fear an emotional swing — your friend is either open and friendly or cold and indifferent.
The inconsistency and unpredictability of your friend’s behavior always catch you off guard. Yesterday you had a nice chat over the phone, and today they ignore you and you keep asking yourself what you did wrong.
7. You are always cautious about saying something wrong which can set off your friend’s anger.
Your friend is often offended and angry with you which is why you always feel tense in her presence and are afraid to say something wrong.
Why is it so difficult to part with a toxic friend? How do you do it?
It seems it would be easy to end relationships that you don’t enjoy but it turns out to not always be so simple.
- Toxic friends can have their positive features. Psychologist Yan Yager in his book When Friendship Hurts says that toxic signs are revealed only from time to time, and for the rest of the time, your friend is ready to help and console you. In this case, weigh all the pros and cons of these relationships. If this person always breaks their promises, takes and doesn’t return your things, takes advantage of your help or tells your secrets to other people then perhaps their readiness to go to the movies or a café with you is not so important.
- Humiliating remarks are often presented like jokes and are said with a smile and a saying like, “I always think about what’s better for you.” When an insult has a so-called friendly wrapping it is much harder to distinguish it but don’t be deceived by it.
- We are afraid to stay alone. This fear is a widespread reason why people are ready to tolerate a bad attitude of a friend. But if you are open and friendly, new relationships will always find you.
- Your relationships are long-lasting and have warm memories. Even if an old friendship doesn’t bring anything except for irritation, your common past can make you doubt in your decision to break up the relationship. This break-up can be similar to a break-up with a love. All you can do is be patient and outlive it.
- You can’t understand your feelings. You can experience a wide range of emotions toward this person: love, anger, and irritation. You have to decide which emotions prevail and choose whether you want to continue this relationship or not.
- You think that you deserve this attitude. Sometimes you try to find excuses for your toxic friend’s attitude and think, “Maybe, they’re right and I’m too touchy?” But if you have to be perfect to be treated kindly, is it really a friendship?
You have common friends. If you don’t want to make your friends choose sides it’s better to avoid an open war and an official break-up. Try to distance yourself slowly and gradually to avoid rumors and accusations.
Friendship makes your immune system stronger and your life longer. We believe that love can end but friends are forever. Sometimes this is the reason why we can’t break a toxic relationship. But in accordance with some studies, this kind of communication makes our blood pressure higher and contributes to inflammatory diseases apart from just psychological discomfort. Don’t be afraid to lose friends who stop being close to you, you’ll definitely find new real and loyal friends!
Have you ever broken up with your friends? Tell us your story in the comments below.
Illustrated by Natalia Tylosova for BrightSide.me