5 Warning Signs of a Manipulative Friend

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 notThey 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.

Learning to Trust Yourself

From a young age we become accustomed to chasing recognition and approval- whether that may be from our classmates or our teachers. It’s not always easy to catch this habit. We rely on others in many forms. Sometimes, it’s asking someone whether or not you should post a photo. Other times it’s something much more serious, such as making a major career change. It happens slowly but surely, and soon enough we rely on the advice of others more than we trust ourselves. In the worst cases, can not even distinguish our true desires with our need to please others.

As comforting as it may be to always take the advice of others, there is a point where we must draw the line. Where we must take actions for ourselves and only ourselves; to make decisions without seeking validation from others. How does this all come back to trusting ourselves? When we make a habit of looking towards others for the green light we begin to feel as though our decisions must always be cleared by others.

Often times we ask our friends what we should wear to an event, or if we should apply to a job, or if they think we are making the right choice… the list goes on and on. Sometimes we need advice to assist us, go provide us with a solution, and sometimes advice from the people we trust can save our lives. This advice can be beneficial and lead us down great paths. Other times, though, we find ourselves asking advice because we want to hear someone to say that we are making the right decision. Although deep down we know that we want to make the choice that we are asking advice on. We are simply seeking validation.

The major problem with constantly seeking the opinions of others is that no one you ask is you. No matter how much you trust someone, their advice will not always fit you. The best compass we can find is in ourselves, guided by what will make us happy and what we feel is right.

What we must learn is that ultimately, no one has the same desires as us, goals as us, or the experience that we have had in life. Even if someone truly believes that they are giving amazing advice to us, it is coming from someone with a different perspective that will not always suit us. When we ask for someone’s advice on a major life decision, we are allowing someone to determine if we are capable of pursuing a goal or not. We must first have faith in ourselves that we know our own strengths, weaknesses, and above all what we want in life. Yet we still place what others say over what we already know.

If we everwish to trust ourselves we must place the value of our own opinions above anyone else. Learning how to make decisions entirely based on ourselves and our personal insight, we give ourselves the power to live with the mentality that we can trust ourselves and live confidently with the choices we make.

What Makes Us Who We Are.

We all reach times in our lives where we are tested for our breaking points. It can be when we are thirty or when we are as young as thirteen, but for me, that was at a very young age and it changed my perspective on life forever.

When I was exposed to violence at such a young age I felt like part of my childhood was ripped from my hands and I could not take it back. I recalled the years I spent growing up and how early I was forced to adapt to the world around me.

Often times I would take pity on myself, wondering why others could live such simple lives. I wished that I had the same things that they had, because I thought that maybe if I had grown up in a better environment that I would have better opportunities.

It took time for me to realize that I was looking at my life from the wrong perspective. I spent so long dwelling on what I did not have that I failed to see what was right in front of me. That the experiences I had starting from a young age pushed me, revealing qualities of me that I would never have discovered if it were not for that push.

I have grown enough to know that where I grew up, the people in my life, and what I have experienced are what makes me who I am. Everything that has happened and everyone who I have allowed into my life have shaped me in ways I can not begin to explain. I may resent the challenges that I faced growing up but I can take pride in who I have become. They have led me on a path of discovering my own strengths and weaknesses, where I am meant to be.

We are not defined by our past failures, nor the challenges we may face in life. Although we are forever defined by the choices we make to overcome them. That is what makes us who we are.