When a friend hooks up with your boyfriend or posts mean stuff about you on Facebook, it's obvious that it's time to let them go. However, bad friends aren't always obvious, which makes it important to watch out for the more subtle signs that you need new friends. It can be hard to let go of people that have been a part of your life, but bad friends can end up hurting our emotional wellbeing, and good social support is important for both our physical and mental health.
"Every relationship serves a purpose for us, even if it's a bad one," says Jasmine Menser-Lust MA, LCPC over email. "While we might not be completely fulfilled, there is something in those bad relationships that we are getting such as a feeling of companionship, hope, or worth. When you realize that the purpose the relationship is serving is outweighed by the discomfort of what is lacking, you will be more secure in your decision to not engage in that relationship."
It might take some strength, but saying goodbye to the toxic friends in your life can do you some good. Here are 11 subtle signs to watch out for that indicate that you need some new friends in your life.
1. You Don't Feel Like Yourself When Your Around Them
Good friends just make you feel comfortable completely being yourself. "This is a huge factor when you are in a friendship that is no longer serving you," says psychotherapist Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT over email. "How do you show up when you are around this friend or group of friends? Do you find that you can’t really be yourself or that you judge yourself for what you say or you are careful about what you share?
2. They Get Upset When You Won't Do What They Want
"Whether it's going out when you know you have more important things to do, overindulging in food or drink, or just generally being insensitive to your desires, it's not a good paradigm," says says lifestyle coach Jaya Jaya Myra over email. "Friends respect what their friends want. If they don't, turn and walk away. It will just deplete you, make you depressed, and question why you can give so much when they don't give in return."
3. They're Not Good Listeners
Pay attention to that friend who always calls and complains about their problems, but is never there to listen in return. "It gets old quickly and will only bring you down," says Myra. "You deserve that same attention in return. Anytime things are not reciprocated, it's best to walk away."
4. They're Not Dependable
Someone who constantly flakes often is not going to be there for you when you need them. "Sure, things come up that keep people from following through on commitments, but if this happens consistently, then you might want to reconsider your friendship," says psychologist Kathryn Moore, Ph.D over email. "You can either understand that this is the way the person is and might not show up when planned, or you can move on to find someone more dependable."
5. They Don't Show Up To Your Life Events
Good friends show up to your important life events. "If your friends regularly have 101 other things more important than your graduation, birthday party, or family member's funeral, you just aren't that important to them," says psychotherapist Laurel Steinberg, PhD over email. "Good friends show up."
6. They Constantly Put You Down
Good friends can give you constructive criticism, but there's a difference between nicely helping you and making you feel bad about yourself. "Perhaps the person criticizes you, judges you, or puts you down," says Moore. "If any of these happen and the person does not stop once you say it upsets you, then run — don't walk — away from them."
7. They Don't Support Your Life Goals
If your friends don't support your goals in life or values, it's time to say goodbye. This could be anything from trying to make positive changes in your life, like exercising more or eating healthier food, or even just focusing on your career. "If the person can't engage you in social activities that align with those goals, or, even worse, won't hang out with you unless you are at happy hour, then he or she probably doesn't support you and isn't a good friend to have around," says Moore.
8. They Engage In Dangerous Behaviors
It's something to think about if your friends regularly engage in dangerous behaviors. "You will ultimately be invited to join, and it will be harder for you to say no than to not be invited in the first place," says Moore. Also, you are known by the company you keep. Choose wisely.
9. You Feel Emotionally Drained
"Lopsided friendships leave you feeling emotionally drained," says counselor and life coach Monte Drenner over email. "These friends take more than they give emotionally. There are times in a friendship when one in the relationship is going through a difficult time and needs a lot of support. This is natural but when it becomes the norm and the other person is constantly needy, then it is time for a new friend."
10. They Gossip About You
"If you find out that your friend is yakking about your private business behind your back, they’re either more interested in sharing your secrets or they like the attention they get from others because they have your secret information," says relationship expert April Masini over email. "Either way, you’ve got a friend problem. If this happens more than once, after you’ve called your friend on this, let go and move on. You need new friends who value your privacy more than their need to gossip.
11. They're Too Busy For You
Your relationship with your friends should involve more than just online interactions. "Text messaging and liking each others social media posts are all very fun, but real relationships meet up in person to discuss ideas and share emotions and experiences together," says psychologist Dr. Sarah Allen over email. "Everyone is busy — life is busy —but if you care enough about someone you make time to see them, and you make it a priority."