11 Subtle Signs Your Friendship Isn’t Healthy

If you stop to examine your friendships, you'll probably find that some of these so-called "pals" are actually pretty bad for you. Some are dramatic, some are too needy, and others don't bring out your best characteristics. It's not always obvious at first, but these are all signs your friendship isn't healthy.

Such a realization can be a bit of a shock, especially since most of us view our friends as people who should and could stick around for life. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with taking a step back, examining said relationships, and possibly deciding some shouldn't continue on.

For a friend to be considered a healthy addition to your life, and not just someone who sticks around out of habit, you should look for several different things. "A healthy friendship has reciprocity," says sociologist, friendship coach, and author Dr. Jan Yager, in an interview with Bustle. "That doesn't mean that there is something concrete and specific about 'you do this and I do this back' but that the two friends feel that things are equal."

There should also be a sense of trust and openness, and an ability to settle disagreements amicably. As Yager notes, "Healthy friendships either have less conflict or they're able to handle any disagreements or conflicts that arise." Does your friend check these boxes? If so, they are probably worth keeping around. Be wary, however, if he or she shows some of the signs below, as they all hint towards an unhealthy friendship.

1. They're Jealous Of You

A good friend will be happy for your successes, even if her own life isn't currently the best. So consider it a bad sign if you're constantly afraid to share good news. "When you feel you have to watch every word you say with this friend, or you start withholding positive thoughts and situations because this friend has become excessively jealous of you, that is a sign the friendship has become, or is becoming, unhealthy," Yager says.

2. There Is An Unhealthy Give/Take Balance

If unfairness seems to be the relationship's go-to trend, it could be a sign you two need to chat. "If after making it clear that you want a more equal relationship it is obvious that you have become a permanent caretaker to your 'friend,' you can either charge professional fees or gracefully move on," said Ann Smith on Psychology Today. Simple as that.

3. He Or She Can't Keep A Secret

This is an obvious sign of a bad friend, so don't let yourself conveniently forget all the times your pal shared your deepest and darkest. As Smith said, "Keeping in mind that human beings are imperfect and may slip up, if a friend does this more than once, or in a cruel fashion, you need to be honest about your hurt and disappointment and either end the friendship or shift it back to the superficial category." (AKA, the type of casual friendship where secrets definitely aren't shared.)

4. You Kind Of Dread Seeing Them

If your friendship isn't healthy, then you'll likely find yourself avoiding plans. "You find yourself putting off contacting this friend or, if she contacts you, you don't feel the excitement and enthusiasm about talking or getting together that you used to," Yager says. Clearly, it's not a good sign.

5. They Take Up All Your Time

While you should definitely be there for your friend, the relationship shouldn't feel like a full-time job. Too much neediness can get exhausting, according to Samantha Zabell on Real Simple. If this is happening, try chatting with your friend, and backing off for a while. Hopefully he or she will get the hint.

6. You Don't Feel Well After Hanging Out

"Friendships can boost your mental and physical health, but bad friendships can do the opposite," Zabell said. So if you feel sick after hanging out, or always get a headache when she calls, it could mean that the friendship isn't the best.

7. They Let You Down On The Regular

We all have that one friend who's constantly canceling plans. It's up to you to decide if that's something you want to deal with. But do recognize that it's unhealthy, as well as a pattern that's unlikely to change, according to Smith.

8. He Or She Peer Pressures You

If there's one thing that's not cool — especially from a friend — it is peer pressure. "A real friend doesn’t push you to act dangerously or unhealthfully," said Stacy Feintuch on "Maybe she pushes you to smoke when you’re trying to quit or to have that extra drink when she knows you have to drive home." Whatever it is, it's definitely not OK.

9. They're Becoming Super Critical

When it comes to talking about relationship problems, clothes, and major life decisions, you should expect your friend to be honest. But they're never supposed to be critical. As Yager says, it's a bad sign "when a friend becomes critical and even labels it as 'help' but that help was unsolicited and, to be blunt, none of that friend's business."

10. You're Embroiled In Their Drama

When life is bad, it's pretty wonderful to have friends who will listen to you complain. But do you have a friend who's seemingly always having problems? Even if it's not her fault, it can get to the point where you, too, feel drained. And that's not healthy.

11. You Simply Struggle To Communicate

As with all relationships, communication in your friendship should feel easy. But that probably won't be the case when things are unhealthy. "An unhealthy friendship no longer does the 'dance' of communication in the comfortable back-and-forth way that you find with healthy and nurturing friendships." And it can feel downright exhausting.

And clearly so are the rest of these friendship problems. That's why you can't let them go on forever. It's up to you to decided what to do next (End it? Back away? Sit down for a chat?). Just be sure to do something, so you can have the healthiest relationships possible.

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