Friends make the world go round, don’t they? They’re what hold us together when we’re falling part, they’re the people who make us laugh til we cry, and they’re the ones who stop us feeling lonely. Friends add something special to our lives; they make us better people. They’re fabulous.
Sometimes though, unfortunately, someone who may once have been your tonic, becomes toxic. They stop adding value to your life and instead, become damaging. If you’re a good person (and I’m guessing you are…) it may be hard to spot. You’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. You’ll keep trying. But when do you say enough is enough?
Here are 10 ways to spot if you have a toxic friend:
They only call when they want something.
Have a think about it. When was the last time this person got in touch just to say hello, or ask how you were, or even asked you a question about your life? If all they ever want is an introduction to one of your contacts, a favour, or to vent at you about their latest drama, they’re getting it all wrong. They should be interested in YOU, not just what you can give them.
Spending time with them wears you out.
If you come away from a night out or phone-call with them feeling drained, it’s not a good thing. Once in a while, of course we will all be put in that situation…but if you feel worn out every time you speak with them, or you dread taking their call when the phone rings – you’re not doing yourself any good.
They involve you in unhealthy situations.
It could be that this “friend” pressures you to cover for them with their boyfriend when they’re cheating, or asks you to lie to another friend about something ridiculous. It could even be worse, and they might ask you to do something illegal. If you end up feeling like your morals are being compromised, it’s time you backed off. A true friend would never try to force you into doing something you weren’t comfortable with.
They put you down in public
It’s one of the worst feelings in the world, but some “friends” like to show off at our expense. Perhaps in front of a guy you fancy, they bring up an embarrassing incident you’ve agreed never to discuss. Or maybe they make fun of your appearance, or job, when you’re in a group of new people. Chances are they’ll pass it off as “fun”, but a real friend would be mortified to know they’ve made you feel terrible. If they make out like you’re being over-sensitive or continue to behave in the same way, there’s a problem.
They don’t support you.
Ever been in a position where you are always the shoulder to cry on, but when you have a problem, that friend just doesn’t have time? Or they make you feel like you are causing a problem over nothing? If you have someone who talks a lot but never actually listens, be careful. Friendship should be give and take, not all one way.
They drop you at the last minute all the time.
If every time you make plans with this friend, they drop you at the last minute – or worst still stand you up – it’s not acceptable. You are important, and probably have as busy a schedule as they do. So, if they change plans at last minute because they’ve been invited on a date, or just don’t show up without a word, it’s time to re-evaluate. Unless they have a good (real) excuse, that is!
You can’t trust them to keep your confidence
If you’ve told them a secret, and suddenly everyone knows your business, it’s not OK. If this has happened more than once? This friend has become a frenemy. You should be able to tell your friends anything and everything without the fear of them turning your life into gossip. Trust is a minimum requirement on a friendship, right?
They lie, a lot.
If you keep catching someone lying to you, or others, you have a problem. You need to be able to trust the people in your life, and if this friend can’t be honest about the little things, how can you believe a word they say?
They’re selfish and deceitful
Does this person consistently crow about themselves and step on others to get what they want? If you have noticed that they will happily be sneaky or deceitful to get ahead, or that they will be mean to someone else to feel better about themselves, it’s time to step back. Even if they haven’t affected you directly with this behaviour yet, it’s a sad fact that your time will probably come.
They have betrayed you.
Has this person made a move on your partner, lied about you, or caused you a problem at work? Come on…they’re not your friend! No person should ever go out of their way to harm you – especially not your friend. Friends should want you to be happy, warm and safe – and a real friend would never do anything to take any of that away from you.
Recognise any of that?
If you have a friend that does one or two of the above occasionally, it’s probably normal. Take the time to have a chat with them and explain that it’s a little bit of a problem. Chances are, they’ll be sorry and do their best to change it.
If someone in your life does any of the above often, or unthinkably does most of the above, grab that gas mask and step away. They’re toxic!
Now, I’m not telling you that you have to immediately cut this person loose from your life and never speak to them again, but it is probably time to examine the relationship a little closer. Try talking to the person involved; try to explain how you’re feeling and get to the bottom of why their behaviour has changed. They may be going through something difficult. We sometimes act up when we’re going through a hard time. So if you are a good person, do your best to help.
But…if there is nothing going on, or they laugh at you when you make the effort to resolve things, or if…when you look at this closely, you realise they’ve always been this way, it may be the right time to put some distance between the two of you.
Stand up to them. If they ask you for another favour? Politely say you can’t help this time. If they are mean? Simply tell them you won’t stand for it anymore.
Walk away, with your head held high, and breathe again. You’ll feel 120lb (or whatever they weighed) lighter, and you’ll have more time to focus on the FRIENDS who matter.
As for you…don’t feel guilty. You deserve to be respected by anyone in your life, and a friend who acts like a foe is better off out of your life. Make it clear they’re welcome back into your inner circle if & when they change their behaviour, but for now? You’re all out of toxic.
What a lovely place to be!