11 Signs You Have Toxic Friends

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 
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 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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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. 


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.


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 

Published by Monique Renegado

Monique started Life Begins At Twenty as a 20-year-old college student from the Philippines. In her lifestyle and wellness blog, she shares first-hand experiences and soulful advice about student life, relationships, mental health, adulting, and self-growth. Monique is passionate about literature, music, public speaking, and family. Besides studying and blogging full-time, she strives hard to become a published author with her first YA fiction novel and poems. Monique is the older sister you wish you had to help you navigate your twenties successfully. If you want a constant drive for motivation and pep talks, be a part of her journey.

28 thoughts on “11 Signs You Have Toxic Friends

  1. I think it can be hard to identify toxic relationships when you're in them, because you may not be ready to let go. Thank you for sharing these tips, I've deffinitly realised a lot of my past friendships were not healthy! Em x


  2. Let's just take a moment and reflect on how your parents or family is always the first to spot out those toxic friends in your life. But far too often it's a challenge for us to see what they see. I am well past the point in my life where I have toxic friends lingering around. Thank goodness! I really enjoyed your post. This will bring awareness to so many. xo Erica


  3. it used to take a lot for me to point out a toxic friend. i'm always finding the good in people and honestly not everyone deserves that. as i've gotten older, my friend groups have gotten smaller, but the real ones have stayed. loved this post & all these signs are spot on!


  4. I feel like you don't notice how toxic friendships and relationships are until you're out of them! But these are such useful things to look out for!Katie | katieemmabeauty.com


  5. I've been in so many toxic relationships in the past. Especially that verbal abuse cycle where you basically have to laugh at yourself or you get called boring!Corinne xwww.skinnedcartree.com


  6. This is super important and a great list of signs! I am super lucky that I have the most supportive and amazing friends that I love so much. But there have been times in my life where I have had some not so great friends and I cut them out because it was not healthy. Thank you for this post! x


  7. I have been really good as I have got older at cutting out toxic friends. These are some really thought provoking signs to look out for. Thank you for sharing. Lauren


  8. I have skimmed through the people I thought were friends and realised that the few that have made the cut are the real ones I need to cherish and maintain because they are the ones I want to keep for as long as possible. Thank you for sharing this x


  9. My friendships have definitely changed as I've got older. Also, over time you begin to realise that some older friendships were toxic and that sometimes it's better to move on and begin new ones x


  10. I hope this post is able to help people dealing with toxic relationships. But, I think it's important to remember that toxic behavior isn't always intended to be that way. I've had friends that have done some of the things mentioned in the post, but it's because they were struggling with something. It wasn't a permanent part of their personality in the long run. If it's “just the way they are,” then that is a different story.


  11. Yes, as I've said in my previous blog posts about toxicity in relationships, they may have undergone terrible occurrences in the past which caused them to be this way. Great perspective. Thank you so much for reading! I'm glad you found it helpful.


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