Has a friendship ever made you feel drained or uncomfortable? If so, this could be a sign of a toxic friendship. But if you need more guidance on how to identify if this relationship is toxic, look no further! Here are some questions you can ask yourself to reflect on the friendship. I will also add some personal examples that will highlight the difference between toxic friends and healthy ones (my wonderful friends are pictured above!).
1. Do they support your new opportunities?
If you feel hesitant to tell your friends about new opportunities because you feel scared that they may poke fun at you or try to undermine your success, this is a definite sign that shows lack of support. Friends that truly support you will be happy when you are presented with new opportunities. They will want to celebrate your new success with you, rather than try to make you feel insecure.
2. Do they want you dependent on them?
Favors are always great! However, it’s important to be able to distinguish between someone doing favors for you just because versus someone who stacks up favors to make you feel dependent on them. The latter could be a sign that they seek control over you. A good friend will be there for you when you need it, and not see it as your weakness.
3. Are you comfortable being yourself around them?
You should never feel uncomfortable being yourself around a friend. If you feel more closed off or filtered, ask yourself—why this is happening? Do they make fun of your interests and hobbies? Do you feel like the brunt of the joke all the time? If so, this is a definite sign that something is wrong. For example, around some people I feel more closed off and less able to speak freely. But around my friend group, I feel like I can share anything with them and they will still support me. That is a good sign and indicates a healthy friendship.
4. Are you excited to see them? Or does hanging out with them feel like a chore?
Your body tries to tells you things that may not be obvious. A big indicator is how you feel before seeing them. If you feel drained, upset, or irritated that you have to hang out with them, then there may be a problem. If I really enjoy spending time with someone, I’m buzzing with excitement before. I feel happy that part of my day is being taken up by them, not inconvenienced by it.
5. Are your feelings acknowledged?
Last but not least, a key indicator. If you can’t even tell the person what you’re feeling or if whenever you try, they never actually listen, this means that they may not value the friendship. Personally, if I make a mistake and one of my good friends brings it up, I feel immediately sorry and ensure that it never happens again. If a friend does not feel sorry for hurting your feelings, then this could be a toxic relationship.
If some of these answers point to your friend being toxic, don’t panic. That does not always mean cutting them off forever. It means working through the relationship and communicating how you feel. Hopefully these questions have given you a framework on what to bring up.
However, if nothing seems to reach them, it is totally okay to distance yourself. People in our lives are not always permanent. Sometimes, they appear to teach us things. So, there’s no need to dwell too hard on it. Try to take a lesson from the friendship and remain civil with the person. Make the most of the tough situation and keep it as peaceful as possible!
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