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Advice Friendship

7 Signs You’re In a Toxic Friendship (And How to Get Out)

Let’s leave the toxic in our Britney Spears songs.

There’s a fine line between a healthy friendship and toxic friendships. It’s especially tough if you’ve been friends forever and the blinders go on. Once you realize you’re in an unhealthy friendship, it can be even harder to get out.

Toxic friendships are bad for your mental health and self worth, and that’s why if you’re in one, you need to put an end to it. Not sure if you have any toxic friends? Here are the signs to look for, and how to get out of them.

Toxic Friends - upset friend

7 Signs That Your Friend is Toxic

1. They’re constantly putting you down.

Someone who does not congratulate you or celebrate your success is not truly a friend. These are the people who put you down instead of building you up. Think: Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl.

Toxic Friendships - mean girls 2. Competitive friends are (sometimes) toxic.

Competition is a tell-tale sign that a friendship is unhealthy. Don’t get us wrong; some competition is healthy. We aren’t talking about competing for who can hold a plank longer.

Negative competition is when you bring up something you’re proud of and they interrupt to tell you about their recent accomplishments instead. Some jealousy is normal in a friendship, but true friends won’t let their own insecurity bring you down.

Toxic Friends - arguing

3. They make you feel anxious or lonely.

If you feel anxious whenever you are about to spend time with a friend, that’s a bad sign.

Consider how you feel before and after spending time with this person. Do the good times outweigh the bad? Try making a list if you’re unsure. What positive traits does this person bring into your life, and what do they take away?

Toxic Friendships - good vibes only

4. They’re always talking smack.

Think of it this way… if they’re talking crap about Katie to you, they’re almost definitely talking crap about you to Katie.

Keep an ear out for the friends who tend to spill secrets, create drama, and make rude comments. On the off-chance that they aren’t talking smack about you, consider this: is this type of negative Nancy a friend you really want in your life?

Toxic Friendships - gossiping

5. It’s a one-sided relationship.

Another big red flag that you may be in a toxic friendship is when you have a one-sided relationship. You do everything: initiate hang outs, buy them gifts, tell them you appreciate them… and the affection is not reciprocated.

Consider what you bring into the friendship and what the other person brings. If your side is waaaaaaaaay longer, ask yourself why you want to be friends with someone who is a total dud?

Toxic Friends - one sided

6. They tease you constantly.

There’s a big difference between friendly teasing and being straight-up insulted. If you’re struggling with feeling like your friend doesn’t respect you or care about how they make you feel, you could be dealing with a toxic friend.

Toxic Friends - sad girl

7. They are jealous of your other friends.

When you’re in an unhealthy friendship, oftentimes that person expects to be the most important individual in your life.

If you have a friend who questions the value of your other relationships, they could be trying to isolate you. This is a huge red flag. Your friends should be supportive of any positive relationships that add value to your life!

Toxic Friends - jealous friend

How to Get Out of Toxic Friendships

Now that we’re clear on what constitutes an unhealthy friendship, you might be wondering what to do next. There are several options when dealing with toxic friendships.

1. Speak up.

Communication is key, right? If you think the relationship can be salvaged (and you want that), talk it out.

Sit down with them one-on-one so they don’t feel attacked, and tell them exactly how you feel. Establish clear boundaries and suggest ways to improve your friendship.

Most importantly, stick to your guns. If they continue disregarding your boundaries or make themselves the victim during this conversation, own your standards and cut them off.

Toxic Friendships - arguing

2. Take a break.

Consider this the “slow-fade” option. Start to limit your time with them. Establish that you’re a busy person and can only see them once in a while, or in groups of friends. Eventually, they’ll get the hint and exit the friendship stage-left.

Not only should you limit time with them, but you should especially limit alone time with them. This gives the negativity nowhere to stand. Less time with a toxic friend can sometimes be enough to put your mind at ease.

Toxic Friendships - gossiping

3. Cut them off.

The most extreme option is sometimes necessary. If you’ve tried working on the friendship and realized you just can’t tolerate it anymore, break up with them.

We’re talking cold-turkey. Cut them out of your life for good. You can do this in one of two ways: give them a proper goodbye, or simply just vanish into the wind like your last Hinge date.

The option you choose depends on the type of friend they are. If they’re the kind of person who can’t listen to reason, do the ol’ Irish exit.

However, if you need closure, go ahead with a conversation, but make it brief. Don’t give them room to convince you to stay once your mind is made up.

Toxic Friends - lonely girl

More Resources

  • Listen to the Adultescence podcast episode where we break down toxic friendships: what they are, how to stop them and how to get out of one.

By Erin McConville

Erin is an avid dog mom, a vegetable lovin’ Netflix junkie, Yogi by day and pizza enthusiast by night.

She has a degree in Fashion Studies and Business from Montclair State University and works as a Wedding and Event Planner for Kyle Michelle Weddings. When she's not in the yoga studio or planning dream weddings, you can find her cuddled on the couch, writing.

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