No friendship is perfect. It’s unavoidable to encounter challenges in any relationship, even with the friends whom we feel closest to. Yet in the long run, our best friends should be the people we can trust and feel comfortable with.
When we share history with someone, we tend to overlook things they do that don’t feel right. This feeling of unease settles in us and we continue to ignore it because we’re convinced that our friendship can endure anything. We make excuses for toxic friends, telling ourselves that things will get better. Do they though? In the case of toxic friendships, we are led to believe that someone who is manipulating us is truly on our side. There is a point where you must admit that someone is not as genuine as you once thought they were, and decide how to salvage your friendship or if it is worth saving at all.
It is bittersweet to admit that you must let go of someone, but it is important to know that a manipulative friend isn’t what they pretend to be. Friendships with toxic people are one sided, and staying in these relationships becomes detrimental to your own mental health. If you feel that someone is repeatedly making you feel anxious, exhausted, or stressed, it’s vital to take a closer look at the situation and identify the signs that you may be in a toxic friendship. Some of these may appear to be clear signs, but are often masked underneath lies that manipulators tell. These behaviors may be subtle at first, but persist over time and take a toll on your own happiness.
Before reading, remember that manipulators are experts at hiding these behaviors behind lies. Sometimes, they may even place the blame on you.
1. They Are Overly Controlling or Protective
For many of us, friends are some of the first people we go to for advice. Whether we need someone to talk to about a new career move, a change taking place, or our personal relationships, we can always trust a close friend to be honest with us. However, toxic friends tend to cross the line between caring and controlling. Initially we may perceive this controlling behavior as them being invested in the friendship.
But over time, they will become too controlling and demanding when it comes to your personal life. It is common for a toxic friend to become too involved with your personal life. You may notice them trying to get passwords for your accounts. You might also notice that they need to know details about everyone you talk to. While it is completely normal for a friend to give welcomed, honest advice, it is never healthy for a them to overstep boundaries. A genuine friend will gladly help you make decisions, but will never forcefully make those choices for you. They will allow you to be an independent person, without making you feel poorly about it.
2. They Take Advantage of Your Generosity
A toxic friend will often trick you into providing for them. For money, food, clothes, or any other items that they may ask for.
Toxic friends will make you feel guilty for not giving in to their pleas. They will commonly make an excuses such as “I promise, this will be the last time I ask.” Or say something convincing alone the lines of, “But you’re my friend. Friends are supposed to help each other.” Another typical response is for them to turn the tables on you. If you deny their requests, they could respond with “But I would do this for you”, as another tactic to make you feel empathy for them. It goes without saying- someone who takes advantage of your kindness or generosity is not a true friend.
While stuck in a toxic friendship of my own, I remember my friend constantly scolding me when I did not help them pay for their food. They did not have a job at the time, and knew that I had been working and saving up my money for a long time. So whenever they asked me for some help and I declined their request, they would remind me that I had more saved and that I had a consistent flow on money. Over time I began to believe them, and it took a long time for me to realize that they were make me feel guilty the whole time. While I am always glad to help out a friend, I had to remind myself that it is not my responsibility to provide everything for them.
3. They Disappear When You Need Help For Once
As mentioned previously, these manipulators always seem to be around when they need something from others. They will suddenly start conversations with you or compliment you to lead you to believe they care. But the instant you need a small favor or emotional support in return, they vanish.
You try reaching out to them, but are met with no response. This happens too often to be a coincidence. These friends will continue to bombard you with details about their life asking for support, but lack any empathy when you need a helping hand. They might apologize, but it’s always very insincere. Friendships aren’t about what you get in return. But when a friendship becomes completely one-sided, it’s important to acknowledge that you may be the only one putting in effort.
4. They are Competitive- And They Don’t Like to See You Succeed
A toxic friend will become bitter if they see you doing well and constantly try to one-up your achievements. They may go about this in subtle ways. Many times it begins with small remarks. They may be lighthearted jokes at first, until their remarks become more and more serious. For example, they might try to downplay your achievements, while constantly drawing attention to their own. When you share something that you are proud of they may ignore your messages, or compare it to one of their own, making you feel like what you did was not an accomplishment.
Toxic friends don’t want to see you doing well, especially if it makes them feel insecure about themselves.
5. You’re Always the One at Fault
You find yourself falling into arguments with this kind of person more often than not. They aren’t playful arguments, nor are they civil discussions about your differences., either. A toxic person always seems to place the blame on you, even for things that are simply out of your control. These people are not capable of admitting then they are at fault for their own mistakes, and as a result they will continuously blame others for their unhappiness.
So, what can you do if you are in a toxic relationship?
The people we share our lives with affect us much more than we think. If someone consistently brings negativity into your life, it’s time to ask yourself the question: should I let go of this friendship?
It’s never easy to exit a friendship, especially when you have created so many memories with someone. However, it’s necessary to draw the line when a friendship begins to hinder your well being. If you sense that a friendship is beginning to cause you more stress than relief you may need to take some time to think about the situation.
It may be wise to confront the friend about the issue and have an honest conversation before jumping to any conclusions. But if this person continues to repeat the same toxic behaviors, you may need to take time away from them or end the friendship entirely.
At the end of the day it is key that we surround ourselves with positive, supportive friends. Friendships are about sharing life with the people who lift you up, not those who drag you down. If it becomes clear that someone is toxic to you, do not let them convince you other wise. Sometimes we must break ties with someone before the relationship takes more energy than it is worth. There’s no reason to feel guilty for taking time off from the things that cause our unhappiness.