Every time you meet a certain friend (or you chat with them on WhatsApp), you’re left with a bitter taste in your mouth. It may be because of their subtle comments, cynical jokes that do not make you any hint of grace or because it opens the wall of lamentations that leave you exhausted.
Whatever it is, it makes you feel bad. Well, the time has come to realize that maybe you are facing a toxic friendship, one that erodes you of energy and does not contribute in both directions.
People change and that friend of the soul, with whom you shared sorrows and glories, is no longer the same and has become someone that is best to be avoided. Let’s see what may be the reasons why a certain friendship has become toxic:
- Everything’s about this person
A toxic friend never seems to care about your feelings or what’s going on with your life. All of your conversations with this person seem to be one-sided and even pointless. All the time, it’s all about him/her and never about you and your needs, thoughts, and feelings. This relationship can leave you feeling unappreciated and frustrated. Friends are supposed to be people you can share your secrets with. So, if your closest friend is not someone you can confide in, it may be a sure sign you’re in a toxic friendship.
- This toxic friend responds to all your concerns with “at least”
You state how hard your job can sometimes be. However, your friend’s response to that is, “At least you have a stable job.” You open your heart about your recent miscarriage. Again, he/she responds with, “At least you can get pregnant.”
Responding with “at least” reduces the significance of your problems, leaving you feeling misunderstood or that it’s wrong for you to feel bad about your current situation. This is another sign of a toxic friendship. A true friend will value your feelings, sympathize with you in hard times and help you find solutions when possible.
- This person is only around when he/she needs something
If your friend only seems to pop up when he/she is in need of something, you may be another person having a toxic friend. Our lives get busy, and sometimes that makes people turn to each other only in times of need. But make sure whether you’re able to turn to your friend just like he/she turns to you. Remember: Friendship is always a two-way street.
- You hear them constantly criticizing everything about you
Whether it’s your clothes, diet or hobbies, a toxic friend always finds something about you to criticize. A friend who cares for you might also point out certain problems, but always with a good intention. A caring friend will confront you about an issue if they are genuinely concerned for your wellbeing. Their focus is on helping you in a kind, supportive way.
There is a big difference between caring and criticizing. Namely, harsh criticism is mere communication without any respect; it focuses on blame and what not to do, rather than what to do to solve the problem. On the other hand, caring confrontation involves respectfully communicating observations, thoughts, and feelings in a way that doesn’t belittle others, according to mental health and addiction expert Kim Harris.
- You’re watching your step around this so-called friend
You should be able to share your good news, hopes, and worries with your friend without feeling nervous about his/her possible response. A toxic friend is someone whose reaction in these situations is unpredictable. Therefore, you are careful about what you say in front of them in fear one poorly phrased sentence will hurt or insult them. A good friend understands you – he/she knows you never had bad intentions and doesn’t rush into making harsh conclusions.
- He/she breaks your trust
A toxic friend will betray your trust on multiple occasions. A true friend is here to listen to your thoughts, secrets, and ideas and keeps them safely locked up. Breaking such a sacred bond is a big betrayal.
If you’re in a toxic friendship, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma recommends being there for them and connecting them with the right resources.
However, if you find yourself stuck in a one-way friendship, Dr. Varma’s advice is letting them know how you feel. The best way to help your toxic friend (and yourself) is to be completely sincere so you can work together to recover your friendship.