It’s been complicated for me in my life to be able to identify toxic friends. I always love to give people the benefit of the doubt and second chances. For the majority of my life, I’ve been a very people-pleasing kind of person. I continuously strive to make other people happy, and I tend to meet shame face to face when I realize that I’ve made someone upset or hurt. I’ve always been someone to pour into relationships and have struggled with not being poured back into. Over the years, I have noticed some signs of toxic friendships and hopefully, pointing them out will help you discern what’s healthy for you and your friends!
Here are 5 ways to know if your friendships are toxic:
Your wins are their losses
When you are celebrating success in your life, it’s the worst to have your friends drag you down. Your friends are supposed to be there to lift you up and celebrate with you! That’s what friends are for. If you constantly find yourself regretting telling your friends good news, you may want to rethink if your friends are genuinely there for you or if they want you to succeed. If you notice that your friends are always in a “competition” with you, that is a red flag.
You only ever fill THEIR bucket
It’s hard to be someone that is constantly pouring into other people without being filled up, yourself. Friends are supposed to be people that are able to pour into you while you pour into them. Friendships are mutual! You should be ready to pour into one another as a way of caring for each other. If your bucket is constantly empty by the emotional demands of your friends, but they are not reciprocating, that can be very draining. It’s not a bad thing to be cared for and think about what you need in return from your friendships.
You’re afraid to be vulnerable
Being vulnerable with your friends is a really big deal! If you’re not able to be vulnerable with them, there are other issues rooted in your friendship. This might be a judgement or a lack of trust. Trust is very important in friendships and crucial for growth. Being vulnerable leads to accountability and a deeper level of friendship. You should be able to talk about tough stuff with your friends and be there to support one another. If you find yourself not wanting to talk about the things you’re going through, it might be time to find people you can turn to and trust with what’s going on in your life.
They avoid constructive criticism and accountability
This is a big one. One of my friends from a while ago told me that because she was trying to work on stuff within herself, she didn’t want other people to give her feedback. This created a big divide between us. Although I understand working out things within yourself, we need other people to lovingly help point out our blind spots. Rather than coming from a place of judgment, we should come from a place of love and wanting to hold each other to a higher standard. Not only do friends have fun together and joke around, but we should be able to encourage each other to be better people. Finding people that will accept constructive criticism that comes from a place of love is a good thing!
You bond more over negativity than positivity
A lot of the girls I know bond over hating the same person. Ugh. This hurts! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on the other end of this. Bonding over negativity makes a friendship negative. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true! If we’re supposed to be calling one another to a higher standard, as I said in the point above, then we shouldn’t bond over the negative stuff. Sometimes you need a good rant to your girlfriends, but this shouldn’t be the only thing that you agree on and talk about. If you’re the type of person that is seeking deeper relationships, I recommend rethinking your friendships if you only bond over negativity.
So what do I do now?
All of the things I’ve said are FIXABLE! Communication is one of the most essential things to relationships, whether they’re romantic or just platonic. No matter what, if you’re unhappy in a relationship, talk to the person to try to figure it out. It’s always a good thing to give them a chance. Also, chances are, they’re unhappy, too. Make sure that you’re open to what they’re saying and can take constructive criticism as well. If, after addressing these kinds of problems that you’ve seen, and they still don’t change, it may be time to think about how it’s affecting you. Being in a toxic relationship is draining and I understand that. If you notice that you’re in an exhausting situation, I would suggest talking with someone that knows your situation that you can trust. I would highly recommend an adult, like your mom, dad, or mentor. Because they know you and the person that’s maybe not so good for you, they can speak more directly to what you should do.
Personally, I go about addressing toxic relationships by trying to slowly work my way out of the relationship. I try to reduce the amount of reliance on the relationship, and it usually works pretty well. However, I am a different person than you are. I can go about working through relationships different than you. Ultimately, you know you the best (besides God), and you know what’s best for the people you interact with. Trust your instinct and trust that you will make the best decision for your mental health and happiness.