How to identify a toxic friendship

It can be hard to know when you're caught in a toxic friendship. If you feel yourself questioning if you are, consider some of these signs.

Issy Koziol
23rd October 2021
Image: Mean Girls, IMDB
Toxic relationships don’t always apply to romantic relationships. Yes – in a romantic relationship there are certain precautions and expectations engraved from the beginning, meaning you’re more aware to spot the red flags. With toxic friendships, however, you’re stuck in cycle of gaslighting and compromise that seems never ending. 

It is a commonly known fact that friendships evolve, and people change, but how do you recognise that a friendship has turned toxic? If you’re feeling doubtful about the future of your current friendships, here are a few warning signs to be watchful of. 

They aren’t all evil 

No. You can’t tell apart a toxic friend by how similar they are to a Hollywood villain. They are much harder to identify. Although they make you second guess things through the form of manipulation, they simultaneously don’t put much effort into staying in contact and building trust. This starts an unhealthy pattern of making excuses for them to save the supposed friendship. 

Everything’s about them 

You are giving more than you are getting. There comes a time where you share personal stories about yourself which leads to creating healthy friendship. However, this only works when it’s fifty-fifty. In a toxic friendship, you’ll find yourself being ignored and therefore made to feel belittled, like your problems don’t matter when they do. 

Image: @Mohamed Hassan from Pxhere

Constant drama and gossip 

“It’s not my fault you’re in love with me or something!” - From Mean Girls (2004) to Legally Blonde (2001), gossip has been rooted within us through these classic films, almost normalizing the relentless arguments and betrayal involved in friendships. Indeed – bickering with friends is only natural, however, when this is a reoccurring issue, it exposes the toxicity of the friendship. 

Isolation 

The main principle of a friendship is to have someone you can rely on without any doubt or bargain. Without that, you are left in an endless paranoid state of mind. So, if your friends aren’t reliable, they cancel most of your plans, or simply don’t invite you to certain events with other friends, don’t second guess yourself, as this hurtful occurrence is a part of a toxic friendship.

If you recognise any of these warning signs in your friendships, now would be a good time to sit down face to face and have a conversation about how their actions have affected you. Whatever happens, your mental health is valuable and real friends will be able see this and help you reach your fullest potential. 

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