11 Ways To Know You're In An Unhealthy Friendship
Friends are some of the most important people in our lives. They're there for us when we need care, support, and a good laugh. But every now and then a particular friend actively make us feel bad, and we're forced to wonder if we're perhaps in a toxic friendship.
I've definitely had a friendship or two in my time that admittedly didn't call forth the images of "friend" we typically think of when we hear the word. There was the guy who could never be happy for my personal successes because he was unhappy about his own situation. The girl who always expected me to listen to her complaints, but whose eyes glazed over when I ever had a real problem. And then there have been people who made me realize I didn't like myself when I was around them — people who brought out my gossipy or more mean-spirited side, and made me have to take a step back and decide if I really wanted that in my life.
Basically, toxic friendships are very real, but it can sometimes be hard to realize when they're happening because we have so many ties to the person or seemingly valid reasons not to notice (AKA: "We've been friends for years," or, "We know all the same people.")
If you've been feeling down about a particular person or friend in your life, here are eleven signs you could be in a toxic friendship.
1. They Take But Don't Give
In a piece for Psychology Today, personal growth author Ann Smith said a strong indicator that you're in an unhealthy friendship is when they always take and you always give. "If over time you notice that the balance between giving and receiving leans heavily toward you giving, and your friendship rarely focuses on your needs, it's time to have a talk," Smith said.
2. They Bring Out The Worst In You
"When you have an emotional "growth spurt," you may find that your oldest friend isn't able to go along with you into a healthier future," Smith said. If you find yourself saying negative things about other people when with a particular friend, or engaging in behaviors you generally try to avoid, you may want to reevaluate the friendship.
3. They Attack Your Confidence
In a piece for Mindbodygreen.com, life coach Tony. J Robinson said that one of the most obvious signs of a toxic friend is when they routinely attack your confidence. If they often say things like, "Are you really going to wear that?" or, "Well, X has never been your strong suit," then it could be time to have a serious conversation or move on.
4. You Find Yourself Complaining About Them... A Lot
This is a personal tip and it's actually something I've only just started to work on. Do you find yourself complaining about a particular friend a lot of the time? Are you constantly frustrated with something "typical" he or she did, like acting selfishly or with insensitivity? If so, then it may be time to ask yourself if this is a person you really want in your life.
5. You Always Feel Misunderstood
This is another personal tip I've just gathered from three decades of life. If you often spend time with someone, but don't feel like you can really share yourself, or that when you do, they just don't "get" you, then this might not be a friendship worth investing too much time in. Because let's be real — feeling misunderstood is exhausting.
6. They Want To Be More Than Friends
Smith noted that it can be really difficult — and often even impossible — to maintain a healthy friendship when the other person wants to have a romantic relationship with you. Because the fact of the matter is the other person will always feel unsatisfied in the dynamic, and likely won't be genuinely happy or supportive of your actual romantic relationships. As sad as it is, it may be time to put distance between yourself and a friend who wants more.
7. You Leave Encounters With Them Feeling Deflated
Jinhee Jun at TinyBudda.com said it's a big red flag if you generally leave encounters with friends feeling deflated, as opposed to happier and energized. If a person does not bring joy into your life you may want to evaluate why you choose to spend time with them in the first place.
8. They're Jealous Of Your Successes
This is another tip I've had to learn the hard way, and it applies to just about every relationship in our lives. When a friend can't celebrate our successes and be genuinely happy for us, it can become really hard to even want to share things with them (as well as just be a total buzz kill in an otherwise happy moment).
And this doesn't mean you have to go around bragging about every small victory in your day (especially if they're going through a rough patch of their own), but they should never make you feel bad or uncomfortable about sharing good news.
9. They're Not Truthful
Founder of GuruHabits.com Brad Paul said to always be careful of friends who often lie or conceal information from you. It means they may be more interested in their own image than in creating a meaningful connection with you.
10. You Can't Be Honest With Them
And in turn, Paul also emphasized that we should generally always feel as though we can be honest with our friends. If we don't feel as though we can vocalize our honest tastes, preferences, and thoughts to someone, then the friendship isn't all that real to begin with.
11. You Can't Be Yourself
And finally, life coach Dr. Jane Bluestein stressed the absolute importance of being able to be ourselves around someone we consider a friend. If we feel like we need to be "on," or a specific version of ourselves to maintain the friendship, then it's worth considering if we're friends with the person out of love and respect, or merely obligation or social pressure.
Honestly assessing friendships in our lives can be difficult — especially when we've known someone for years. However, remember: friendships are meant to bring us up, never down, so if a friendship continually makes you feel upset or frustrated, it may be time for some serious self-reflection.