Are you a toxic friend? I can imagine the chagrin on your face as you respond with a resounding “No!” I don’t find your answer the least surprising. Just like you, I don’t see myself as a toxic friend… in fact, I am quite deluded to see myself as the perfect girlfriend a girl could have.
Signs that you are a toxic friend
As stated above, you don’t think you are a toxic friend. You might probably have a list of corrections you think a close friend should effect to be a better friend to you. Well, it’s time for some hard truth and retrospection. What are some signs that you are a toxic friend?
12 Signs that you are a toxic friend:
1. You are overly critical
It is perfectly normal for friends to constructively criticize each other. However, if you are constantly criticizing a friend about everything — it’s time to consider whether you’re a toxic friend.
You may think you are being helpful with such criticisms, but it is important to examine how your friend is affected by such harsh words. The feelings of your friend should come foremost. Thus, you should be able to phrase your thoughts diplomatically without hurting your friend or bringing them down.
Healthy friends can offer and receive honest feedback from one another — but perpetual criticism is definitely toxic.
2. You only call your friends when you need their help
We all have such friends. They only reach out to you when they need your assistance. Are you that type of friend? Think back at all the times you have picked up your phone to reach out to a friend. Was there an end game? If such is the case, you need to reevaluate yourself and do better!
3. You make belittling comments
I used to be guilty of this. It seemed like I was always the first person to point out some negative trait in my friends, albeit jokingly. I eventually realized that even though those statements are made jokingly, they can be quite hurtful.
If you continuously put someone down, try to take a step back and consider how that behavior reflects on you and whether or not it feels good since it most likely does not.
In a good friendship, you should be able to be yourself without fear of your friends making you feel awful about yourself. And if you are the one who makes your friend feel horrible about themselves, you are most likely the toxic friend.
4. You are the needy friend
For someone who deals with abandonment issues, I used to be a needy friend. I used to be the type of friend who wanted to be accompanied for the most minute errand. Eventually, I realized what a big inconvenience I was to my friends by being so needy, and I had to shape up.
How do you find out if you are a needy friend? Are you the type of person that overly rely on a friend to meet your wants, compensate for your flaws, and solve your problems? If you fall into such a category, then it is time for you to make some needed changes.
5. You always make the conversation about you
I somewhat believe that we are all guilty of this. Your friend might be regaling you with some interesting incident, and you cut them off to tell your own story. This is actually quite normal, but when it becomes quite frequent, it becomes a problem. Oftentimes, toxic relationships can be masked by feigned enthusiasm or a quick ‘I know what you mean…,’ which quickly leads to ‘Oh my gosh, but that’s NOTHING compared to what happened to me yesterday.
Emotionally one-upping your friend can make them feel like you barely listened to them or that your feelings are more important than theirs. A healthy relationship connotes balance. And one of the signs of an imbalanced relationship is if most of your conversations are focused on you rather than learning more about what’s going on in your friends’ lives.
6. You tend to give unsolicited advice
Again, sometimes we can be guilty of this. I learned this tip from an old friend, which quelled my propensity to give unsolicited advice. When a friend goes on and on about a dilemma, instead of jumping in to give unsolicited advice, I ask, “So what will you want to do now?” Admittedly, they might give me a vague answer, but it gives me an idea of the type of advice to give them.
7. You are inconsiderate
Adulthood is realizing that healthy relationships come with some amount of selflessness. Recently, a friend canceled a girls’ night out to hang out with her crush. I felt that was a tad inconsiderate, but I had to let it go.
If you are the type of friend that finds yourself blowing off friends, if better plans come up, then sorry to break it to you, you are a toxic friend. You’re a toxic friend if you’re frequently late, don’t return phone calls, or cancel plans with your friend because you’ve been asked on a date,” Dr. Tessina explains. Being inconsiderate shows your friend that they’re not really important to you and that you don’t value them as a person.
8. You talk behind their back
In all honesty, this might be done unknowingly without any form of malice, but the aftereffects might be drastic. I am an extrovert. Thus, I have to remind myself not to divulge my friends’ secrets in a bid to make conversations.
Gossiping may make you feel popular with others, but it’s extremely harmful to yourself and everyone else.
9. You are passive aggressive
I have dealt with my own share of friends that can get passive-aggressive at the slightest instant. From experience, I am coming to learn that a friend being passive-aggressive can be traced to some unresolved issues. Thus, if you find yourself being passive-aggressive to a close friend, it’s time to dig deeper and discover if there are some unresolved issues.
10. You are a jealous friend
In my post about growing up poor, I mentioned how jealousy tends to overcloud your emotions when you feel that others are financially better off than you. This mindset affected me as I grew older. I eventually learned how to deal with jealousy; my relationships have been better off since then.
Jealousy is probably one of the commonest human emotions; even the bible says that God is jealous. However, how we deal with this emotion matters. Jealousy becomes unhealthy when we start lashing out or controlling our friends as a result of it.
One easy way I find myself dealing with jealousy is by just stating it. For instance, if a friend gets a new car, instead of harboring any jealousy, I might just say, “I am so happy and jealous of you at the same time!” I find that such expression dispels such feelings of jealousy immediately.
11. You tend to isolate your friends
Are you the type of friend that grumbles when your friend has other friends or interests? Do you frequently ask your friends to cancel plans just to spend time with you? If such is the case, I hate to break it to you; you might be a toxic friend.
It’s normal to want to spend all of your time with your bestie, but when you start isolating them or keeping them away from their family and the people they care about, you know it’s time to take a step back and consider why you feel so possessive of them.
12. You dwell only on the negative
I hate to break it to you, but your friend will annoy you times without numbers. I used to be the type of friend to dwell on a perceived wrong a friend has done to me. In fact, I would allow such slights to damage my relationship. Recently, after my friend blew me off to go hang out with her favorite crush, I told her how I felt and promptly moved on from that topic.
Are You a Toxic Friend?
Again, I ask, are you a toxic friend? Chances are that you are not one. However, I strongly believe that retrospection is necessary for every healthy relationship. Sometimes, we might be overly focused on removing the specks in someone’s eyes while ignoring the specks in ours. Remember that adult friendships call for honest communication and selflessness.
Conclusion: Are You a Toxic Friend?
As you can see, there are several signs that you may be a toxic friend. If you identify some of these traits in yourself, remember that you can improve. It’s better to consult with a professional, such as a therapist, to help you feel more safe in your connections and approach them more healthily.