10 Signs You Are in a Toxic Friendship

10 Signs You Are in a Toxic Friendship

“I think it’s time to take a break in our relationship,” I said to a friend one day a few years ago. As a Christian, this was not something I ever thought I would say to someone. Doesn’t Jesus want us to keep the peace with everyone? Yet, I was sacrificing my peace and overall wellbeing in exchange for not hurting a friend’s feelings. Even God wants to know His children intimately. He is not interested in having a relationship with someone who only wants Him for what He can give or do for her. Do you know someone whose friendship is a hindrance to your overall wellbeing? If you’re not sure, here are ten signs you are in a toxic friendship: 

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  • 1. Narcissist is her middle name

    Narcissism is synonymous with egoism, which is defined as “limited in outlook or concern to one's own activities or needs.” A friend who can’t sympathize with your needs because they can’t see past their own is not someone you want in your life.

    How this presents itself: She turns every conversation back to her own opinions or ideas, she’s quick to share how someone else’s suffering is affecting her, she only wants to do things with you that she plans.

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  • 2. Your conversations with her are one-sided

    Anyone who only talks about her life and never takes an interest in yours is not your friend. Friends have a vested interest in other’s happiness just as much (if not more) than their own.

    This kind of person is quick to make you feel important by telling you all about the problems they are facing, and that can feel good for awhile, but after awhile you’ll notice that she seems uninterested or even adverse to hearing about your own challenges and pains. She’s also quick to brush off joyful news you have or one-up you with her own stories.

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  • 3. You give but never receive

    Do you find yourself dispensing advice, offering encouragement or lending your hard earned time and resources to help out a friend, yet when it comes time for you to receive help she is nowhere to be found? Every relationship is 100/100. Each person should give of herself fully so the other can reap the reward. Although there are times when this can’t always happen, both parties should feel like they can count on the other in times of trouble. If you are the one stuck in a bind more often than not, it might be time to cut ties. 

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  • 4. You don’t trust her

    This is one of the most important signs your relationship is toxic. The basis of any relationship is trust. What typically happens in friendships like these is that the friend will bring a bit of gossip or an “innocent” question about another mutual friend or coworker to your attention – and for a minute, it might feel like you’re bonding. But anyone who bonds with someone by tearing another person down is not a friend and you should limit your interaction with her and be careful what you say around her.

    This also presents itself when you've told her something that you thought she would keep to herself, but then in interacting with someone else you hear that she has told them what you wanted to keep in her confidences. Again, this type of person thrives by connecting with people over secret, gossipy information and is a major red-flag.

    If you have caught your friend saying or doing things to others that make you cringe, more likely than not she will do it to you too. You don’t want to be involved with someone with whom you have to second-guess her every move and motive.

    If possible, you might be in a position where you can address this character issue with her. If she changes, that’s wonderful. But if she’s hostile and denies what she is doing, your suspicions are proven and it’s best to keep a healthy distance between the two of you.

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  • 5. You feel more torn down than built up

    Abuse comes in many forms. A person doesn’t have to raise a hand on you to leave a scar on your heart. Psychological and emotional abuse is just as prevalent (and equally as dangerous) as physical abuse. A “friend” who constantly criticizes or even mocks you at your expense is not a friend. That’s a person with deep emotional wounds that need to be healed.

    If possible, be as blunt as possible when this person mocks or hurts you. Take a brave, deep breath and calmly say, “What you just said was hurtful to me.” You’ll find out a lot about her by the way she responds.

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  • 6. Other people always take priority in her life

    In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes your needs have to take a back seat to someone else’s. However, constantly setting aside your needs because your friend invests more time in others than in you is a sign that she’s “just not that into you.” This might be less toxic and more telling of the fact that she might mean more to you that you do to her. The toxicity comes if she sees that and uses it to her advantage – getting you to do all sorts of things for her but then never making your needs a priority. 

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  • 7. She doesn’t make you a better person

    The people whom I consider friends are those who have helped me grow as a person. Those are the ones who challenge me when I am wrong, celebrate my triumphs and carry my burdens with me. But if you receive no benefit from the relationship and your heart fills with dread when you see her, you need to rethink if that friendship is worth having at all.

    Ask yourself – do I like who I am when I’m around her? Does she make me want to be a better person? Does she challenge me to be kinder? Or do we spend our time talking about other people, complaining about our work, family, etc., and generally being negative about life with each other?

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  • 9. She is in a constant state of imbalance

    This is the girl who one day will be the most cheerful person you know and the next will be stone cold to your face. You never know what person you will get and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for it. It’s pretty clear that if she’s in bad mood, she wants to make sure everyone else knows and suffers along with her (or constantly feel obligated to ask her what is wrong).

    If you never know the state of your friendship because the other party is talking to you one day and ignoring you the next, you need to set up boundaries and restore your life to a state of equilibrium.  

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  • 10. One of you is more dependent on the other to fill needs and meet expectations

    This could go either way. You might be the one who needs her constant attention and approval to feel loved, or the other way around. Both are unhealthy.

    It’s normal to want to spend a lot of time with a good friend, especially in the beginning stages of the relationship. But you should not sacrifice your regular routine all for one person. Draw proper boundaries and leave enough time for you to be you.

     

    Friendship is a necessary element of life that enhances your overall happiness. Don’t waste your time on people who want you to be anything but your absolute best. 

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    Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year and the Enduring Light Silver Medal, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her first book with Leafwood Publishers, An Invitation to the Table, came out September 2016. She also teaches at various writers' workshops, such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She and her husband live in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with their two children, Caleb and Leah. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.

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