June 1st, 2020

Personal Better

Is your friendship toxic? 6 signs it's time to step away

Shaelynn Miller

By Shaelynn Miller FamilyShare

Published April 11, 2018

Is your friendship toxic? 6 signs it's time to step away
Many people try different ways to flush negativity out of their lives. They take a break from social media, meditate or write their feelings in a journal. But the problem may be bigger --- the negativity in your life might be coming from the people closest to you.

Here are six signs you're in a toxic friendship:

1. Everything's about them

A toxic friend never seems to care about your feelings or what you're up to. Conversations seem one-sided. It's all about them and never about you. This can leave you feeling unappreciated. Friends are supposed to be people you can confide in. If you can't confide in your closest friend, you might be in a toxic friendship.

2. They respond to your concerns with "at least"

You express how hard your workload is. They responds with, "At least you have a stable job." You open up about your recent miscarriage. She responds with, "At least you can get pregnant."

Responding with "at least" reduces your problems, leaving you feeling like no one understands or that it's wrong for you to feel bad about your situation. This is a toxic friendship --- a true friend will validate your feelings, mourn with you in difficult times and help you come up with solutions when appropriate.

3. They're only around when they need something

If your friend only seems to pop up when they need something, you might be in a toxic friendship. Life gets busy, and maybe that means you both only turn to each other in times of need. But make sure you're able to turn to them just like they turn to you. Friendship is a two-way street.

4. They constantly criticize you

Whether it's your clothing, hobbies or eating habits, a toxic friend finds something to criticize. A caring friend might also address certain issues, but there is a major difference between criticizing and caring.

Caring confrontation involves respectfully communicating thoughts, feelings and observations in a way that doesn't put others down, according to mental health and addiction expert Kim Harris. Harsh criticism is communication without respect; it focuses on blame and what not to do, rather than what to do to fix the issue.

A caring friend will confront you about a problem if they're genuinely concerned. They're focused on helping you in a kind, supportive way.

5. You're walking on eggshells around them

You should be able to share your worries, hopes and good news with your friend without feeling nervous about how they'll respond. A toxic friend is unpredictable. You're careful about what you say around them in fear one poorly phrased sentence will hurt.

A good friend gets you --- they know you never mean to hurt them and doesn't jump to harsh conclusions.

6. They betray your trust

A toxic friend breaks your trust several times. A true friend listens to your secrets, thoughts and ideas and keeps them locked up like a vault. Breaking that bond is a huge betrayal.

If you have a toxic friend in your life, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma recommends being there for them and connecting them with the right resources. If you're stuck in a one-way friendship, she suggests letting them know how you feel.

The best way to help your friend (and yourself) is to be completely honest so you can work together to mend your friendship.