Friend or Foe: Has Your Friendship Become Toxic?


Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

Friendships are the icing on the cake for most parts of life.

They are crucial to your mental health and help you live longer and happier lives.

But what happens when your friendships no longer seem to serve you?

When you are happier missing plans with them?

Even the best of friendships has the potential to turn bad and just like any other relationship requires constant work.

If you find your friendship is becoming draining or you start to avoid them, it may have become toxic.

If you notice any of these signs in your friendships it may be time to some work...

Signs your friendship is toxic

Compare you to other people

Everyone has qualities that make them unique. A good friend appreciates you for your differences as opposed to comparing you and ranking you.

If you have a friend that is constantly ranking you against other friends it's time to run.

Put themselves front and center — always

It is ok to prioritize yourself. To be happy and healthy it is important to make sure you are getting your needs met.

The problem that arises when prioritizing yourself makes it difficult for others to prioritize too.

Everyone has experienced that friend that expects everyone to drop everything every time they have a crisis. And every week there is a new crisis...

If you feel like you are never getting anything done, and you spend most of your time dealing with the whims and desires of a single friend - it may be a sign they value their time well above your own.

You don’t enjoy spending time with them

You aren't always going to get along with your friends every time. Disagreements and arguments are a normal part of friendships. Knowing they will stick by, even at your worst, only makes your relationships stronger.

The time spent with your friends shouldn't only be fighting and drama though.

If you start avoiding certain friends because you don't have the energy to deal with their drama it's a sure-fire way to know something is wrong.

You feel used...

It's normal to want to do things for your friends.

It isn't normal to feel like your friends are taking advantage of your kind and giving nature to get what they want.

If you feel like you are giving a lot more than you are giving it may be time to take a closer look.

What to do if your friendship is toxic

Ok so your friendship is toxic, now what? Do you do, throw it all away and move on? Maybe...

But there are some things you can do to improve the quality of your friendships and maybe give it another try

Try these steps below and if it doesn't work out at least you have a little comfort knowing you at least tried everything to fix your friendship before putting out the white flag.

How do you feel and what do you want?

The first step is to acknowledge your feelings about the situation and what it is you want to achieve. Do you want to save the friendship and keep them in your life? Or is it time to cut ties and move on with your life... Before you proceed you need to decide what directions your next steps are going to be.

Do you think your friend will change if you tell them how you’re feeling?

If you've decided that the relationship is worth saving then your next big question is will they respond well to criticism. Even the kindest and coolest friend can become ugly when confronted with criticism. Egos can be monstrous things and knowing that your friend will be willing to listen the how their actions make you feel is important.

If they are unwilling to listen, then it doesn't matter how thought out and empathetic your concerns are, they will be falling on deaf ears.

Figure out what you can and can’t control

You can never have everything you want, and figuring out what is and isn't possible to ask of your friends is important. Remember no one is perfect, including yourself. Decide what parts of the relationship and their behavior are controllable and focus on that.

The last thing you want to do is start criticizing them the same way you feel they are criticizing you.

Are you being respectful?

Focus on being as empathetic and respectful as possible. Remember this person is your friend and their behavior might not be conscious.

Try your best to understand why they might be acting the way they are and focus on possible solutions. It isn't your job to fix their problems but offering more than just criticism can go a long way in these situations.

Set new boundaries

It isn't enough to just talk about past issues. Once everything has been brought out into the open, it's important to set new boundaries and stick with them. This ensures that the relationship can't fall back into old habits.

It can be difficult to stand up to people and even harder to do it to friends. But for the sake of your future respect and happiness, it's crucial to stand your ground.

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