7 Signs A Friendship Is No Longer Healthy, According To Experts

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No matter what your life looks like, it can be very hard to decide to end a friendship. After all, you've likely spent a good deal of time with this person and have made some great memories. But what's the line between having a difficult time in your friendship and a friend you shouldn't keep in your life?

Honestly, this is different for every person, so do your best to listen to your gut. "An issue that would be a deal-breaker in some friendships may not be in others," Gina Handley Schmitt, MA, CMHS, LMHC, a psychotherapist with a specialization in interpersonal distress and author of Friending: Creating Meaningful, Lasting Adult Friendships, tells Bustle. Maybe honesty in a friend is crucial to you, so a friend who you regularly catch lying to you is not someone you want to stay close to. Or maybe it's important to you that someone is willing to be present and support you at the times when you need them most.

Whatever your personal "line" is, an important part of making that decision is communicating your needs, Schmitt says. If your friend is consistently unwilling or unable to meet the needs that you have shared with them, then it might be time to reevaluate, she says.

While it can be heartbreaking to let go of a friend, just do your best to remember that leaving them behind will free up energy to put into a healthier and more mutually satisfying relationship. Here are some signs you should end a friendship, according to experts.


They Make You Feel Worse

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Pay close attention to the way that you feel before, during, and after hanging out with your friend, Christine Scott-Hudson, MA MFT ATR, a licensed psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist, and owner of Create Your Life Studio tells Bustle. "For example," she says, "do you dread going to see them? Do you feel disrespected and put-down while you are together?"

While there might be the occasional day when a friend could say something that hurts your feelings, if you walk away feeling worse almost every time you get together, that is probably a sign that the relationship is more harmful than it is up-lifting.


You Can’t Trust Them To Keep Secrets

Trust is everything in a relationship, and "confiding in your friends to keep your private things private is essential," Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City-based neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University, tells Bustle. If you find that one friend repeatedly shares information that you asked them to keep to themselves with others, that's not a sign of a healthy relationship.

"A good friend would respect your confidence and not share your secrets with anyone," Hafeez says. Sometimes people make mistakes, but if you notice a pattern arising, try confronting them about this behavior so that you can explain how deeply their actions have affected you. But if they break your trust again, you might want to reevaluate the relationship.


They Take Advantage Of You

Do you have a friend who asks you for favors on a consistent basis, but never agrees to help you in return? Maybe they regularly ask to borrow money from you but won't let you do the same, or they ask for help moving but will never make the time to be there for you.

"This is probably a sign that your friend takes advantage of you and doesn’t treat the friendship as a mutual relationship," Hafeez says. "If you are always there for your friend in their time of need, but they go silent when it’s yours, it’s best to think about ending the friendship."


They Are Constantly Negative

One of the wonderful things about having friends is the ability to share some of the most difficult parts of your life with them. Having someone to listen to your problems with your partner, worries about work, or family troubles can be a huge comfort. But if you have a friend who always finds something to complain about, no matter how small the nuisance is, that might not be a friendship that you want to hold onto.

"This can have an impact on your mental health," Hafeez says. "If your friend is surrounding you with negative energy, they are less likely to ask about you and wind up talking more about themselves." A friendship like this can be very emotionally draining rather than fulfilling, she says. So remember to look for a balance.

If it feels very one-sided, start off by explaining how their consistent griping bothers you, and then consider ending the friendship if they don't make a change.


You Can't Count On Them

If you tell your friend that you really need to meet up to vent about something and they cancel last-minute, it could be that they have a very good reason why they broke their promise to be there for you. But if this is a pattern in your friendship, that's a sign that this might not be someone who you want to have in your life long-term.

"Getting blown off by your friend consistently is a telltale sign the friendship is not going to benefit you in the long-run," Hafeez says. "If your friend doesn’t answer your texts or calls, they are deliberately avoiding you and putting their needs in front of yours." Life can get hectic and things can come up, but your needs should be important to a good friend.


They've Betrayed You

If your friend has gone behind your back, lied to you, or otherwise broken your trust, take note. As Hafeez says, "A friend who has betrayed you is one that you should reconsider keeping."

Some choices might be minor enough that you're willing to forgive them, like accidentally letting one of your secrets slip or flirting with the person who you said you were into. But if your friend commits major betrayals like stealing from you or coming onto your partner, Hafeez says, they might not deserve a second chance.

Depending on the situation, you can gauge whether the disloyalty is something you're willing and able to move past or not. But if it completely destroys your trust in them, it might be time to leave the friendship behind you.


They Don't Make Time For You

Chances are, you're pretty busy with work, your social life, and a seemingly endless list of chores, and your friends probably are, too. But there's a difference between having a hard time coordinating schedules and having a friend who is regularly disinterested in spending time together.

"Sometimes, a friendship dynamic changes and one person in the friendship is no longer committed to spending quality time together," Schmitt says. "There can be extenuating circumstances, which should certainly be discussed before a 'friend break-up,' but sometimes there's just a growing apart that happens in some friendships."

Whether you decide to opt for a difficult discussion with your friend about how their behavior is hurting you, or you actually decide to end the relationship, keep in mind that you have an obligation to your own happiness and well-being even more than you do theirs. If the friendship is truly hurting you, it might be time to let go.


Gina Handley Schmitt, MA, CMHS, LMHC, psychotherapist with specialization in interpersonal distress and author of Friending: Creating Meaningful, Lasting Adult Friendships

Christine Scott-Hudson, MA MFT ATR, licensed psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist, and owner of Create Your Life Studio

Dr. Sanam Hafeez, New York City-based neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University

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