If you ever watched the movie Mean Girls, you know what toxic friendships look like. But even if your friends don’t sabotage your relationship with your crush or frame you for spreading gossip and rumors about the entire school, friendships in real life don’t always seem squeaky clean either. But how do you know if you act overly sensitive or if your friendship really is Britney Spears level toxic?
Read on for 10 red flags of a toxic friendship.
1. They Compete with You
Ever feel like your friend always wants to make everything a competition? From grades in school to how many boys you Snapchat, this person always seems to feel the need to outdo you.
“Friends who always want to compete with you can wear you out so easily. It’s really just not worth the energy to put up with this, as it’s really unhealthy for both you and your friend,” University of San Diego sophomore Alyssa Harden said.
Competing acts as a warning sign of insecurity and self-esteem issues on their end, so try to have empathy for them by reminding yourself not to take it personally. At the same time though, don’t be afraid to cut ties with them. You should not need to put up with this toxic behavior 24/7.
2. They’re Possessive
Nothing screams jealousy like someone who gets upset when you spend time with people other than them. You wouldn’t accept this in a romantic relationship, so why tolerate it in a platonic friendship? If you feel smothered by your friend or feel that he/she becomes angry with you when you hang out with other friends, try talking with them about it and invite them to hang out with you in larger groups. If they still refuse to give you the space and freedom you deserve, distance yourself immediately. Over-possessiveness of friends is a huge red flag indicating that they have some major issues, and you don’t want to get wrapped up in that.
3. The Friendship Centers Around Them
You know what I’m talking about: the type of friend who expects everyone to be wildly interested in the minute details of their life. But the second you begin talking about your day or something important to you, they completely zone out and could not care less.
“It’s always such a turn off when a friend is super self-centered and always talks about themselves. Especially when you are always there for them when they have a problem, but they don’t reciprocate,” University of San Francisco freshman Tiffany Boudagian said.
Thank you, next.
4. They Share your Secrets
While this can feel like one of the biggest betrayals a friend could conduct, innocent slip-ups can happen to anyone and sometimes good-hearted people just have loose lips. Have a serious conversation about it with them, making sure to communicate how they have betrayed your trust and how it made you feel.
Most of the time, you will find them extremely apologetic and more mindful in the future of what information they share about you with others. However, if they become defensive or continue in their ways, don’t be afraid to cut them off. You should feel safe being vulnerable with your friends, and if you don’t, move on.
5. You Feel Drained After Spending Time with Them
You might not even notice this unless paying close attention, but how they make you feel says a lot about your friendship. I had a close friend after hanging out with whom I always felt worn out, but I never learnt to attribute it to the toxicity of our friendship until much later. While you obviously won’t always feel super vivacious nor should you expect to, good friends should fill you with energy rather than drain you. Chances remain, if their company makes you feel depleted, your dynamics probably contain some unhealthy aspects.
6. They Flake On Plans
Sometimes things do genuinely come up or maybe you just don’t feel like socializing after having a suboptimal day, and you need not feel guilty. However, if someone simply cannot stick to a plan and cancels at the last minute every time, they just don’t deserve your time.
“One of my biggest pet peeves is friends who are flakes. I know sometimes it’s not personal, but I just always feel really bad when my friends cancel our plans and it just kind of ruins my day. If I notice that someone is really unreliable, I usually just try to distance myself. If they want to reach out they can, but I don’t want to waste my energy,” University of San Diego sophomore Hana McAnally said.
Find people who relish spending time with you and cherish every opportunity to do so!
7. They Don’t Respect Your Boundaries (When You Need Them To)
You know the type of friend I mean, the one who stays friends with your ex or flirts with your crush. Friends need to respect your wishes on certain things, no questions asked.
“I think that not taking your friend’s side or following their wishes in certain issues can be really toxic. Obviously you shouldn’t try to control who your friends can talk to, but everyone has that one person who they have major beef with, and if your friend tries to befriend them or stay in contact with them, it’s just awkward. If someone is a true friend, they should prioritize your feelings over acquaintances’,” University of San Diego freshman Maya Roy said.
8. They Refuse to Make Compromises for You
You shouldn’t expect your friends to be your personal Uber drivers or constantly ask for favors, but in a close friendship, you should be prepared to give and receive at least occasionally. If your friend consistently declines your requests for small favors like borrowing a jacket because you forgot yours at home, or driving ten minutes to pick you up from the airport, move on. This can be a sign of self-centeredness or extreme inflexibility, both of which can prove damaging to your happiness and well-being.
9. They Don’t Celebrate Your Wins
When you get a promotion at your job or get asked out by the cute boy in your economics class, who do rush off to tell right away? If your best friend didn’t make the top of the list, it remains very important to ask yourself why. If you feel that they would not mirror your delight, run fast.
“In my opinion, a sign of a really toxic friend is someone who doesn’t celebrate your accomplishments and instead seems to root for your downfall. It sometimes can be really subtle and hard to tell, but be careful because these types of friends are really dangerous. If they feel threatened by your success, they can do a lot of damage to your reputation and other relationships,” UCLA sophomore Kaylee Reyes said.
With friends like that, who needs enemies?
10. You’re the Only One who Puts in Effort
Do you ever feel that if you stopped reaching out to one of your friends, the friendship would just fade away and you might never see them again?
“Personally, I think that friends who make you constantly question where you stand with them are really toxic. Your friends are supposed to be your biggest supporters, but if instead they make your feel unloved or a bother to them, it can do a lot of damage to your mental health,” Santa Clara University freshman Olivia Bick said.
If you feel comfortable talking to them about it, you should give it a shot because it could be a simple misunderstanding. However, engaging in a relationship where you feel like a burden can never end well, so it remains best to politely distance yourself if you find this to be intentional on their part.
Let’s leave toxic friends in 2020 and start the new year off fresh.