Photo by Michael Discenza from Unsplash
Toxic friendships can be difficult to identify or resist when a third party confronts you about it, especially when you’ve known someone for so long. Of course, your first instinct would be to defend your friend (whom he calls toxic) in the name of your friendship for how many years. You wouldn’t immediately believe it when somebody says your friend is toxic to you. You need to give your friend the benefit of the doubt.
You would need to consider his upbringing, family issues, past life choices, and every little factor that can justify why he’s the way he is. You need to be a friend. After all, this third party wouldn’t possibly know everything that happens in your friendship, right? He doesn’t even probably know how you two became friends, where your favorite hangout spots are, what the first three secrets you told each other, etc. Long story short, he wouldn’t know the nitty-gritty of your friendship. So his opinion is basically irrelevant and baseless. So he wouldn’t know what he’s talking about…or does he?
There you are, looking dumbfounded, bothered by what that someone had to say about your friendship. You ponder on the several times when you had huge fights and said mean things to one another; thinking whether either of you meant it. Unfortunately, no matter how much you say you know someone, you never do. What you love about your friends is only what they let you see, which is usually just the tip of the iceberg.
The truth is, sometimes you need an outsider’s point of view to your relationship to see the exterior parts of your friendship that are invisible to those who are in it. And when you finally meet that outsider’s perspective, you’ll get hurt by the crushing truth about the impact that your toxic friendship has caused on your life, but eventually, you’ll finally see it through your eyes.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CHOOSING YOUR FRIENDS WISELY
The people you surround yourself with withholds a huge impact on what you’re going to be in the future. What your friends are (their qualities, habits, priorities, point of view), if you continue to spend time with them, will most likely become what you are. Everything they are will rub off on you. For instance, if you hang out with ambitious people, you will more likely become ambitious as well.
On the flip side, if you hang out with mediocre people who have no dreams for their lives, you will more likely be led astray from your own. Sometimes it’s going to be too late until you realize that your friends have a hidden personality that you don’t like. Some of your friends may have problematic lifestyles, and your connection to them will lead you towards further danger.
Their mindsets will skew your own and will lead to poor decisions. Don’t allow them to drag you into the sinkhole of their miserable lives. It’s okay to help them to a certain, responsible extent, but do not compromise your dreams, especially when they’re not worthy to be a part of it in the first place.
11 SIGNS YOUR FRIENDS ARE TOXIC:
THEY DISMISS YOUR FEELINGS
Toxic friends do not listen to you or your feelings. They show to you in many ways that you do not matter as much to them as another person. When you tell them a dilemma you’re having, they usually give harmful advice that ends with you in deep regret. Many times, they blatantly show they don’t have your best interests at heart.
For instance, if you’re going through a tough time, they will make you feel embarrassed or needy for sharing it with them. They make you feel like whatever you have to say is irrelevant and unimportant, and that it’s better for you to be quiet. They overlook your times of need and don’t pay attention to what you say and what you don’t.
THEY VERBALLY ABUSE YOU
It all starts with a few “harmless” jokes targeted towards your body or mannerisms then ends with you being so sensitive that makes you boring. Toxic friends love to torment you so much to the point of embarrassing you (plus points if surrounded by a crowd). They don’t say thank you nor please when asking for a favor. They call you names and push you against the wall when you get offended.
Toxic friends do this over and over but then gain back your trust when they gaslight you. Suddenly, they turn like angels who had never done a single mistake in their life. This is how they wrap you around their finger and keep you the target of their negativity. Sadly, unless you cut them off, you get used to this treatment and wouldn’t notice anything wrong about it.
THEY ASK FOR TOO MANY FAVORS
Toxic friends can be too clingy with your time and attention. They’re too dependent on you because they take advantage of your eagerness to help. They ask you to do an endless list of favors for them and pair it with award-winning, top-notch acting explaining why they can’t do it. Of course, it isn’t complete without some feel-good speech about how blessed they are that you came into their lives. Don’t let their sweet act fool you. If they are your friend, they wouldn’t bombard you with a majority of their problems that they can easily fix for themselves. They wouldn’t want to bother you at all because they know you have a life of your own. If they had to ask for your help, they wouldn’t do it so blatantly like they’re entitled to your help.
THEY ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY
Toxic friends are usually huge gossipers and liars. They are friends with many people, and it’s hard for them to declare who they are loyal to. When you’re going through something, they pretend like they care for you but they are only there to gather information and manufacture their own story. They get so good at earning your trust because they seem like good listeners but they’re not.
You notice the secrets you’ve been sharing only to your friends are spreading like wildfire to people whom you barely know. People who don’t know how to keep your secrets and not even feel an inch of guilt about it are not your friends. Toxic friends are not being truthful with you when they should be, and it gets clearer once you start to notice it. They always do sketchy things that make you doubt them more.
THEY ARE NOT SUPPORTIVE
When you start to shine, toxic friends ignore you in front of your face but lurk in the shadows around you. They don’t show genuine support like attend your shows, share your content or not even an appreciative message about how proud they are of you. They will change the subject when someone in the group brings up your name and your achievements. They will even drag more people by brainwashing them. Toxic friends want the limelight so bad, regardless of who they step on (because usually, they are very self-centered). They blatantly make you feel like you will never have their support and will even discourage you in any chance they get.
THEY USE YOU
Toxic friends only know you on the surface because they don’t think they need to know you inside and out. Their judgments are already too big; they don’t have the energy to know you on a deeper level. They only like you for what they can gain from you, but they never accept you for you. They need you for your reputation, connections, talents, and anything else you can bring them. Most times, they only befriend you to gain access to someone you’re close with. Your friendship is barren from the start, because trust is not there. To them, you’re just a bridge, a lane to cross to, but not the destination.
EVERYTHING IS A COMPETITION TO THEM
Not only are toxic friends not supportive, but they also treat you as competition. They go closer to you so they can study your weaknesses and find a way to make it your loss. They downplay your achievements so subtly that your other friends or even you would barely notice it. Just by simply shifting the conversation when the topic starts to center around your successes, that’s a sign that they are uncomfortable to see you shine in other people’s eyes.
THEY WANT TO STAND OUT AMONG THE GROUP
Toxic friends love to get all the attention all to themselves. They can’t bear to see someone being talked about more than them. So as a desperate act to be noticed, they do something foolish (even when they have to hurt you) to get what they want. When someone wants to stand out among the group all the time, they limit the potential of his other friends and so they wouldn’t grow. Toxic friends like this use you to propel them in their career and personal development but leave you ten times behind them. When you’re with them, you’re restricted by the low morale and support in your friendship.
THEY TAKE CREDIT
They take credit from you so often and so much that it feels like you’re under their shadow. Whatever you do should always be second to what they do. Their names must always be affiliated with your successes, even when they had nothing to do with it and all the effort was entirely your own. When you’ve accomplished something, they always bring up their names and say that it’s because of them that you have done such. You can never truly bloom with them with you because they always take away every opportunity from you. Toxic friends constantly put this barrier between you and them that gives you an unfair stance.
THEY DON’T RECIPROCATE YOUR KINDNESS
Toxic friends almost never repay the goodness you give them. If you’ve experienced having to be the only one who does the role as a friend, then you would know the feeling of unrequited friendship. There’s nothing worse than showing effort and intention to your friend and doesn’t reciprocate it. Someone isn’t truly your friend if he does not recognize your effort and reciprocate it to you. You may have noticed that you’re always the one initiating the conversations, inviting people over to your house, making plans to hang out, and the like. You should never strive to be a martyr in a one-sided friendship. To keep a friendship going, both of you should meet halfway and compromise. Otherwise, it would end.
THEY BLAME YOU FOR THEIR MISTAKES
When something goes wrong, toxic friends automatically pass the blame on you. They don’t include themselves in the taking of accountability because they don’t want to look like the bad guy. But when it’s a matter of praise and recognition, they couldn’t get enough of themselves. Toxic friends almost never admit when they are wrong because they always think so highly of themselves. When you surround yourself with people like that, you will also become a narcissist like them.
Toxic friendships are common in our twenties, or at any age, for that matter. Sometimes, you involving yourself to them, along with their problematic lives, baggage, and tied strings, you’re only putting yourself in more harm. Just like a romantic relationship, a true friendship can’t be forced or coerced. If it flows, it flows. Beware of friendships that drain you more than it uplifts you; that’s a clear sign that they are toxic. Stay away from people who make you feel inferior, especially those who act that you owe them for being their friend.
“Keeping bad company is like being in a germ-infested area. You never know what you’ll catch.”Frank Sonnenberg, Listen to Your Conscience: That’s Why You Have One