No man is an Island. We have been created social beings which means that making friends is inevitable. However, until we die, our circle of friendship will continue to change—intentionally or otherwise. True friendship can improve your physical and mental health. While it is important to make friends, you should also take time to identify toxic friends in your circle.
They manifest themselves in different ways. While some are outright abusive, others affect you negatively in a more subtle way. The negative impact of toxic friends can be physical, emotional, or psychological. Rather than burst you with inspiration, their presence leads to frustration, exhaustion, and sometimes depression. The signs of toxicity are always there. Sadly, we often don’t pay attention.
5 ways toxic friendship can affect your life
You may not understand how badly your toxic friendship is affecting you until it becomes too late. The reason is that the effect is usually gradual. Some of the signs that show you have just spent time with a toxic friend include;
- You become overwhelmed by a feeling of loneliness or isolation
- Increase in your stress level such as an increase in anxiety
- A dip in self-esteem or self-confidence
- Sorry feeling for what is not obviously your fault
- Spending time with toxic friends affects your other relationships negatively
Today, we are going to expose 15 signs that show you are dealing with a toxic friend. By the way, feel free to share your experience with a toxic friend below.
#1. Mentally put you down
When your so-called friend never sees anything good in you, you need to think twice. However, this does not mean that they should always sing your praise even when you are on the wrong path. A good friend should be able to lift you up. They should compliment your efforts while correcting you with love where necessary. Friendship is never supposed to be transactional. However, if you are always feeling drained or insecure around a friend, you need to weigh your gains once more.
#2. Unhealthy comparison
Toxic friends will always remind you that you are not good enough through unhealthy comparison. Those who are guilty of unhealthy comparison usually focus on your weakness. Consequently, they emphasize your weakness rather than your strength. When your friend constantly points to the people that are better than you, it will certainly make you nervous. For the sake of your health, flee from such a relationship.
#3. Everything is about them
If you are the one doing all the calling and checking up in a friendship, you need to think again. Toxic friends often think the world revolves around them. They can encroach on your time but accuse you of being inconsiderate when you do the same. Also, they will never inconvenience themselves for you but always want you to move the mountain for them. The best way to deal with such toxic friends is to severe all communications and watch the relationship die slowly.
#4. You can’t trust them (Gossip)
Real friends are not afraid of sharing secrets because they know it will remain with them. However, for toxic friends, the difference is the case. At African vibes, we strongly discourage keeping friends that you don’t trust. This is because a friend will likely know a lot about your personal life. Therefore, know your friends properly before sharing certain secrets with them.
#5. Always trying to change you
As we grow, we continually change in every facet of our life. A true friend understands that individuals differ. Therefore, they will try to accommodate your uniqueness. Toxic friends, on the other hand, will rather want to change you to conform to their perfect image. This does not apply to those who genuinely want you to become a better person.
#6. An apology that lacks sincerity
One popular trait among toxic friends is an inflated ego. Toxic friends hardly apologize even when they are obviously wrong. Even when they do tender an apology, it clearly lacks sincerity. How will you know? They tend to repeat the action that got you upset over and over. Also, a defensive apology is no apology. A good example is something like,
“I’m sorry but it was only a joke.”
#7. Unhealthy competition
Competition prevents monopoly and leads to innovation. However, when your friend is always competing to be ahead of you in every sphere of life, it becomes toxic. Toxic friends are never truly happy when you are excelling in anything. Rather, they feel they should be the one excelling. Perpetua Neo, a psychologist and therapist, explains it better,
“They want to compete with you, even if you’re not competing with them. Even if you’re in a completely different field, they want the same things you do.”
#8. Disregard for your boundaries
Toxic friends are mostly guilty of inappropriate things. For example, they may ring you at odd hours of the night and feel offended if you fail to pick. Also, they may turn up in front of your house without prior notice or do the things they know you are uncomfortable with. Finally, they hide under the guise of friendship to justify their misdeeds.
#9. Always in need
Everyone will be in need at one point or another in their life. However, for toxic friends, it is more of a common occurrence. If they are not asking for all your time, they are asking for financial assistance. Neo said the feeling is comparable to having an obsessive boyfriend or girlfriend. In fact, they make their needs your responsibility. Well, to avoid this scenario, you need to set your limits and be firm about them.
#10. Lie to gain sympathy
Toxic friends are rarely sincere. They always want to come off as saints. Thus, they will twist every tale to their favor. However, lying is one of the traits of drug and alcohol abusers. If you have a friend that is always entangled in a web of lies, show some support and try to find out if he or she needs genuine help.
#11. Mostly unhappy
Your friend’s mood will easily rub off on you. If you have a friend that is mostly unhappy, there is a huge chance that you will be unhappy too. Your unhappiness might arise in solidarity with your friend or from your inability to help him or her. Constant sadness will wear you out physically and mentally. Your job productivity may be threatened too.
#12. Excessively seeking attention
Toxic friends are often living in a utopian world of flamboyance and exaggerated lifestyle. They want to jump on every trend. Consequently, their life becomes a living drama. You need to be careful around such people because they will do all it takes to drag you into their drama.
#13. Highly judgmental
True friends are supposed to listen to each other and provide moral, emotional, and physical support. However, for toxic friends it is a different story. They already have a bias when they are listening to you. Consequently, they’ll begin to pass judgment even before you conclude your story. If you cannot freely pour out your heart to a friend for the fear of being judged, you need to review your friend list.
#14. Lack of commitment
Without commitment, friendship degrades to a mere acquaintance. Friends need to be committed to the friendship to make it work. Toxic friends act like they can walk out and into your life whenever they want. The outcome is that you can neither trust them nor rely on them for physical or emotional support. Life is too short to be dealing with such inconsistencies.
If the role of your friend is to give you a hundred reasons why an idea will fail even before you try, he or she is likely toxic. Of course, you won’t grow in your career without taking risks. Therefore, such a friend is indirectly stunting your growth.
What you need to do if you are already entangled with toxic friends
Firstly, you have to know that it takes courage to let go. However, this is your life and you need to live it to the fullest. Letting go of toxic friends will not only improve your health but also your career. Some of the steps you can use to severe unhealthy relationships include;
- Gradually severe communication with them: most relationships (even healthy ones) will wither when starved of communication.
- Create a space: if you usually spend a lot of time with your toxic friends, take a break. This can also help you to reassess your friendship—whether it is worth it.
- Set boundaries: it is ok to give everyone a second chance. However, before you do, make sure you define your friendship and set boundaries. Also, insist that he or she respects that boundary.
- Speak up: human beings are not mindreaders. Therefore people may hurt you without even knowing unless you tell them. Learn to be open about your feelings to your friends. That way, you will know those hurting you intentionally.
Which of the following sign of toxicity have you experienced in your friend? Are you currently struggling with a toxic relationship? How are you dealing with it? Feel free to share your thoughts as it may help someone out there. Let’s keep this conversation going.