When you think of a toxic relationship, most people associate the phrase with romantic or intimate relationships. However, toxic platonic friendships are all too common and can take just as much a toll on your mental health as a romantic partner.
We all have likely come across a toxic person: someone that causes more stress than joy in your life. But what about those that you consider friends? Those with good memories that seem to overshadow the bad times? Those comfortable rollercoaster relationships that are so hard to maintain, yet impossible to escape?
Here’s some news that will save you a lot of stress: sometimes, you have to break up with your friends. And trust me, you’ll only end up better for it.
Want to know the signs of a toxic friendship? Read more below.
1. You come Second. Or Third. Or Eighth. Always.
Here’s the thing about young people: sometimes, they can be selfish. That goes for all of you. But if you find yourself always being put on the back-burner, that may be a sign that they mean more to you than you mean to them.
Do you ever have a serious problem or concern, but your friend just doesn’t ever seem have time for it? That’s not a friend.
Here’s a test: During a conversation with the friend in question, mention that you have some sort of problem that’s been bothering you. Does the conversation quickly steer back to them? Now you know.
Your friends should never make you feel bad about your decisions or guilt trip you into doing something that goes against your instincts. Peer pressure can be annoying, but it is sprinkled in throughout most conversations. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
No, Stage 1 Manipulation isn’t the innocent “Please go out with us!” banter. If your friends always make you feel inadequate because of your moral decisions, then they probably aren’t your friends. If your friends coerce you into taking something or using someone else for their personal gain, or even just for the sake of being “cool”, then they aren’t your friends. They’re using you.
(Also, cool is overrated.)
3. They Make You Feel Like “The Other Friend”
When you’re hanging out with your friends, do you ever notice that you seem to be walking a few steps behind while the rest of the group strides ahead? Do you ever feel like your presence is more of an afterthought?
You should never feel like a burden in any type of relationship. Your presence is valuable and appreciated, and everyone deserves a group of friends that can acknowledge that.
Here’s a Test: Communication. More often than not, communication is the missing factor to any relationship. Tell your friends how you feel. If they brush off your feelings, then you shouldn’t keep them around.
4. Constant Criticism
If every time you hang out with your friends you feel like you’ve summoned a personal roast session, then that’s a problem. Yes, friends are entitled to give criticism. After all, true lifelong friends are supposed to grow and learn with each other. When it comes to the point of feeling patronized, then that’s a problem.
Your friends should lift you up, not constantly tear you down.
Here’s a Test: Call them out the next time they say something hurtful, or anything that strikes a nerve. If they act defensive and accuse you of being “too sensitive”, they’re only validating their actions and covering their tracks.
Also, “too sensitive” is another insult, so they’re replying to your complaint about insults….with another insult.
Have any more tell-tale signs of a toxic friend? Let us know in the comments below.
Cover Image by: Volkan Olmez