While toxic friendships can happen to anyone, they seem to happen more often for those of us who don't have high standards when it comes to choosing friends. If just anybody can be in your life — regardless of how they treat you or how they make you feel — it may be time to reevaluate who you're hanging out with, and how you choose those so-called "pals" of yours.
"Friends should provide support, bring happiness to your life, listen to you, keep you in check, and help you become a better person," therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. "If someone in your life is inhibiting both of these areas, the relationship should be reevaluated."
If it seems like your standards have been too low, and a few toxic folks have slipped their way into your life, do know it's perfectly OK to part ways. "People come into our lives for various reasons. Once their purpose is filled, it may be crucial to move on," Hershenson says. "Sometimes we outgrow our friends and that's OK!"
Either that, or you might realize the people in your life just aren't the quality of friends your looking for, which is totally fine, too. Read on for some signs you may need to up your standards and say goodbye to people who just don't make the cut.
1. You're Never Their Priority
As relationship coach Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC tells me, it's impossible to have a healthy friendship with someone who's constantly canceling your plans. Not only is it disrespectful, but it shows you're not their priority. If your friend is flaky AF, consistently and without apology, it may be time to search for someone new.
2. You Feel Worse After Seeing Them
You deserve to feel uplifted by your friendships, so take note if you leave hang outs feeling frustrated and drained. As Coleman says, it's a matter of "tuning into your gut and noticing when spending time with 'friends' isn't satisfying, fun, relaxing, and/or enjoyable — and instead leaves you feeling drained, unsteady and anxious, angry, and/or just disappointed." When that's the case, it may be time to move on.
3. They Don't Support Your Goals
Healthy friendships are made up of people who celebrate each other's accomplishments, while offering support along the way. As psychotherapist Dina Molina tells me, your friends should be there as you make career changes and relationship changes. And they should be judgment-free and fun the whole way through. "When this doesn't happen, then [you're] probably in a friendship that isn't great and [you] must raise our standards."
4. It Seems A Bit Abusive
We all know the signs of an abusive relationship, but it's important to watch for these toxic signs in friendships, too. "It usually shows signs of negative words, unkept promises, and lots of anxious feelings when you're around them," Molina says. "Many times, individuals stay in these relationships because they don't understand what a healthy friendship looks like ... they've never seen one or had one and definitely don't understand how to attract one into their lives."
5. You Don't Share The Same Values
Just because someone will hang out with you, doesn't mean they're a great addition to your life. So don't be afraid to cut ties with anyone who's bringing you down. "Every relationship involves compromise — even friendships. But if values are too different, it may be time to end the friendship and move on," Hershenson says. "For instance, if being kind to others is important to you but your friends constantly gossip, these might not be the friends for you."
6. You Can't Trust Them
If you're worried about "saying too much" around your friends, it's probably a sign they're not the best people to have in your life. "Friends should be safe places to go to pour your heart out," Hershenson says. "If you find that what you tell them isn't kept in confidence, new friends should be a priority."
7. You Aren't Your True Self When They're Around
As counselor Danneita Johnson, MA, LCPC says, "Signs you need healthier relationships are ... when there is no reciprocity in the friendship, and if you can’t be vulnerable and feel emotionally safe with them." It's a comfort level you're looking for, since ease and support are both signs of high quality friendships.
8. There Is Always Some Kind Of Drama
If you're trying to decide if you have high standards or not, take a look at those drama levels. "Everyone likes a bit of drama in their life because it makes things exciting. However, if you have a friend who stirs up drama all of the time, they will drain you," says spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport. And that's not the type of mature, healthy friendship you should be looking for.
9. Things Often Feel One-Sided
Sure, your friends might be fun to hang out with. But do they value you as much as they should? As Hershenson tells me, if you're always the one to call, or the only one making plans, the answer is likely "no."
10. You Only See Them Out Of Habit
If your only friends with someone because you've "known them forever," Hershenson tells me that's not a good enough reason. Just because you've been friends since childhood, or roomed together in college, doesn't mean you have to be friends for life.
11. It's All About Them
If someone is particularly charming or fun, you might get swept up in their life, and feel grateful they're your friend. But if that's the only thing holding you two together, take note. "While your stock may go up by being their friend, you may discover that they cannot be bothered with anything that does not revolve around them," Rappaport says.
And that's not the type of friend you need in your life.
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