We’ve all had friendships that have ended up a little pear-shaped and it’s unfortunate that most of the time, we all have to get burnt before we can spot a bad friend from a good one.
We’ve pooled together our own experiences and come up with 15 of the most common signs that somebody isn’t your friend for the right reasons.
If any of them apply to your friendships, we would encourage you to think twice about them and try to determine whether they are really a friend, or whether they are a toxic friend.
The 15 toxic friendship signs.
1. They only call when they want something
All friendships should be equal – which means that you should receive as much as you put in, it’s all based on reciprocation and mutuality. If you’re putting in more than you’re getting out, you should think twice about what they are asking from you.
2. The conversation is never equal
Do you find that you just spend your whole time focused on them when you’re hanging out? Yeah, that’s not cool – we all have problems and things we’d like to talk to somebody about.
3. They put you down or make fun of you in front of others
A definite no-no. Usually, people do this because they feel bad about themselves and want to use somebody else as a distraction. Draw a line over any friendships like this immediately.
4. You feel bad about yourself when you’ve spent time with them
Sometimes it’s difficult to analyse behaviour, but your emotions never lie. Friends should make you feel good, empowered and uplifted.
If you leave them and then feel like crap, then you should probably re-evaluate the benefit you’re getting from the friendship. Some people, unfortunately, just like to bring others down and this is a big sign of a toxic friendship.
5. They are aggressively competitive
It’s good to be a little competitive now and again, but like most things – you can have too much of a good thing. A friendship based on competitive behaviour is never healthy or a sign of a true friendship.
6. They aren’t happy for you when good things happen
This is one of the most common tell-tale signs and it’s also based on competitive behaviour. A true friend will want to see you succeed and be happy.
7. They bring drama into your life
It’s usually the people who spend their time moaning about drama who are the ones causing it. You don’t need that negativity and toxicity around you.
8. They bitch about you behind your back
An absolute no-no. Friendships need to be based on mutual respect and trust. Don’t put up with that crap.
9. Your relationship feels like it’s built on conditionality
This is likewise for all relationships in your life. You should feel like they are unconditional and not based on you being or acting in a certain way.
10. They bail on you
Sometimes it happens and that’s fine, but if it’s consistent then it obviously shows that your friend is unreliable and much less invested in the friendship than you are. Maybe it’s your turn to bail on them, permanently.
11. They use your secrets against you and share them
This is malicious and absolutely nothing a true friend would ever do.
12. They are a bad influence and make you do things that get you into trouble
Nip this in the bud before you end up getting yourself into trouble. Friends don’t make friends do bad things… or text when drunk, but we’ll turn a blind eye to that one… for now.
13. They talk about their other friends behind their back
If they do this, the chances are, they do it to you too. It’s fine to have a moan occasionally, but anything malicious would probably indicate that they aren’t as genuine as they’d like you to believe.
14. They bail when you need them the most
So there are friends, who are, well… friends and there are friends who are still your friends at 3am on a Wednesday morning in the midst of your breakdown.
The latter are your friends for life and it’s important to know that you can rely on a few select individuals to be by your side through thick and thin.
15. They exclude you from things with mutual friends
If it’s on purpose and happening often, despite you bringing it up, then we’d suggest you created some distance.
It is important to remember that sometimes it can happen accidentally so try and talk to them first about it before jumping to conclusions.
It’s not me, it’s you: breaking up with a friend
Firstly, speak to somebody about it, make sure your response is rational. If it is, then deal with it, accept that it isn’t your fault and mentally move on. Once you’ve done this, you have 1 of 2 options:
Let the friendship naturally fade out
Stop making arrangements, stop replying and distance yourself from them. Eventually, you’ll become increasingly distant until you’re officially no longer friends on Facebook.
There are 2 schools of thought surrounding this: confrontation can be good if you’d like to hopefully try to resolve things, but on the opposite end, confrontation can be incredibly empowering if you’ve felt particularly suppressed or upset by somebody.
Arguments can be healthy, provided that they don’t put anybody at risk and won’t make situations worse. We’d recommend a mediator to help keep an argument balanced.
Worried about talking to them? Read our guide on conflict resolution for more advice.
People come and go and it is rare that a friend will be by your side for life. It’s hard to go through but it’s just part of growing up.
It can be scary confronting or walking away from somebody who you once considered a friend but your esteem and integrity are much more important than trying to keep somebody happy who doesn’t give a damn about you.
Still Unsure? Talk to us.
Get help from a digital mentor at Ditch the Label or chat with other people who may have similar experiences by joining our community. You are not alone.