Are You Dealing with a Toxic Friend? (3 Signs to Watch Out For)
Have you ever seen a friend start to change before your eyes?
In the beginning, it was really fun to spend time with them. You created inside jokes together and shared the kind of personal secrets you aren’t comfortable telling anyone else.
Now, their jokes seem to come at your expense and you’re worried they’re going to use your deepest feelings against you.
Here at KMA Therapy, we know recognizing toxic friendships can be difficult, especially because we often want to give the benefit of the doubt to people we care about. We’re here to help you identify, understand, and deal with toxic friend behaviours.
After reading this article, you’ll know three signs that you’re dealing with a toxic friend, and what next steps to take.
3 Signs You’re Dealing with a Toxic Friend
Here are three signs to watch out for in your friendships. If you recognize any of these behaviours, it might be time to re-evaluate how certain friendships make you feel.
1. They will do anything to look better than you
The first sign to watch out for is called the “Man Overboard.”
They always say that if you see someone drowning, you should throw them something to grab onto instead of jumping in yourself, because they will literally just go down with them.
Toxic friends will not hesitate to pull you down and make themselves look better.
This might look like a friend who is super nice to you until you're around someone that she's attracted to, and then suddenly she's willing to tear you down just to make herself look better.
2. They expect you to put them first (but don’t return the favour)
The second warning sign is that they expect to be the centre of your entire world.
They get really mad if you have plans with other people or, heaven forbid, want to spend time with somebody who's not them.
If your life was a compass, they want to be the true north that you're always pointing to - or else they're going to be really upset.
3. They refuse to apologize or acknowledge when they’ve made a mistake
Number three is that they won't take accountability for anything they do wrong.
We all make mistakes in relationships, and when you spend so much time being so close to someone, you're going to end up hurting each other in some little way.
True friends know how to have a conversation about that, and grow from the experience so they can become even better friends.
A toxic friend will refuse to take any accountability for their actions at all. They will find any way to change any conversation that you're trying to have about something they did that hurt you into an opportunity for them to come back and attack you.
Navigating a Friendship Breakup
Friendship breakups can honestly hurt more than romantic breakups - and just because your friend is exhibiting some toxic behaviours, it doesn’t mean your relationship needs to be over.
Follow these three steps to see how communication can help save your friendship - or let you know when it’s time to move on.
1. Name what you’re trying to tame
Step one is naming the things you're trying to tame.
A lot of the time, our biggest issues are caused by tiny miscommunications. They’ll just keep building and building until they snowball into something you can't deal with anymore.
If this friend is someone you truly care about, take the time to have a meaningful conversation with them. Talk about specific instances or situations that just really hurt your feelings.
Even if it's a hard conversation, the right person and the right friendship will be able to really grow and develop from this.
2. Use intentional communication strategies
Step two involves being intentional about when and where you're having this conversation.
Choose a time when you both have the mental energy to be able to really get into the problems you're facing.
Remember that you don't have to tackle every single thing in one sitting - it's okay and it's healthy to take breaks if you need to just step back from the conversation for a minute.
3. Recognize when it’s time to go
If neither of those steps work, then unfortunately, it might be time for number three.
You can recognize that you really truly deeply care about a person and acknowledge at the same time that they're not someone you want to still be a part of your life.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to set whatever kind of boundary works best for you.
If you’re ready to end the friendship, it’s okay to not spend any more time with that person.
But if it’s too hard to let them go completely, it’s also okay to just distance yourself a bit so that your relationship isn’t quite so intimate.
Maybe this friend can no longer have front-row access to everything going on in your life - but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up for coffee every once in awhile.
Let yourself grieve what you lost while acknowledging that this opens up the space for even more really aligned and connected friends to come in.
It's hard, but it's worth it to know that you're having the friendships and relationships that you really deserve.
Next Steps for Navigating Relationships
After reading this article, you know how to recognize a toxic friendship and what steps to take when dealing with a toxic friend.
Here at KMA Therapy, we’re relationship experts. We know how much of an impact friendships can have on your life - and we’re here if you ever need to talk.
Register online to connect with our team - we’ll get back to you within 24 hours with therapy options and answers to your most pressing questions.
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