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7 Ways to Identify Toxic Friendships

Friends are the family you choose, and when it comes to families, letting go is tough.

Feeling like you no longer fit into a social circle is a common experience. Despite this, many of us opt to remain in these situations. While no friendship is flawless, it’s crucial to acknowledge when things turn toxic. We’ve all been in situations that make us uncomfortable, yet we choose to stay with the hope that things will get better for the sake of saving the relationship.

Toxic friendships exist but are not talked about often.

Have you ever felt left out in a group? Did you feel like you did not belong in that circle anymore? Yet, you choose to stay. Why? Surprisingly, more than 68% of the global population has seen an impact on their mental health due to toxic friendships.

Often, people choose to accept emotional abuse over communicating their needs. It’s like we don’t see the warning signs, brushing them aside because of love. Yet, negative friendships often start hiding behind deceit. 

Friendships become toxic when harmful patterns start developing. You feel a sense of bad behaviour, but, in the name of long-lasting bonds, you silence your feelings. The fear of losing our best friends is scary, so we often tolerate inappropriate behavior. However, by being complacent in such situations, we inadvertently allow relationships to become toxic.

The Love Central - Toxicx friendships are draining.
Being alone is better than being with people who make you feel alone<br>Image credit freepik

7 signs that portray a toxic friend circle

1. Constant criticism is their love language

There is a fine line between critical feedback and an insult. True friends will find ways to uplift you without putting you down. It is a red flag if you constantly feel belittled and criticized by your friends.  Their entertainment should not cost you your feelings. People who tear you down and are not supportive are not friends in the first place.

2. One-sided efforts

You are the only one taking the initiative. You are always available, always making the plans, while they show zero interest when it’s their turn. They take you for granted. There is also a chance they prefer hanging out with others over you.

3. Zero gratitude

Being taken for granted aligns with zero gratefulness. Real friends never shy away from expressing love for each other. Love languages can be expressed in different ways. However, if it is not being expressed, it means there is no love.

4. Manipulation

They swear by the “my way or the high way” rule. Manipulation can happen in multiple ways in friendships. Passive aggressive behaviour, emotional blackmail, and asking for constant favours in the name of ‘friendship’ are some of the most common ways. And when it is their turn to help you out, they are nowhere to be found. That is when you know.

5. Social Isolation

You find yourself not wanting to be around them anymore. Either they make you feel left out or you feel demeaned by their behaviour. You start having an avoidant personality. Being around them dims your energy.

6. Your gut feeling is aware

Fear holds you back from confronting the situation. You know you do not feel welcomed by them yet you stay. It is that feeling you need to avoid. We know we are being treated badly but choose to stay. Accepting ill treatments means allowing them to hurt your feelings.

7. Selfishness over selflessness

Their demands need to be fulfilled, even if yours need to be compromised. They only take from you and never give anything back. Takers are never true friends.

The Love Central - Good communication can mend broken relationship ties
Talking can solve a lot of problems <br>Image credit Freepik
The word “toxic” has a negative connotation to it, particularly in the realm of relationships. However, let’s shift our focus to the positive aspects of recognizing toxic friendships.

Some important things to remember

1. Choose yourself

Prioritize your feelings over that of others. Friends are supposed to make you feel like yourself. When you start adjusting your behaviour according to them, it is not true companionship.

2. Communicate and evaluate

A friendship turning toxic does not mean it has to end instantly. 99% of the people are afraid of confrontation. One of the many reasons why so many relationships fall apart. Talking can bridge communication gaps. It helps solve problems. Defining and respecting boundaries comes solely through effective communication.

3. You cannot fix all relationships

It is okay for friendships to not last a lifetime. Every relationship cannot be saved. Some friendship breakups happen for good. Time eventually heals you out of it. When you fail to save a relationship after multiple tries, it is better to walk away. 

4. The timeline does not decide true friendships

Childhood friendships are special because of the memories we are attached to. Letting go of old friendships can be one of the hardest. However, sometimes it is the right thing to do. A person you have known for four months can end up making you feel a lot more seen and heard than a person who has known you for years. Do not let the timeline of your friendship influence your decisions.  

5. People change

With time, priorities change. What is important to you might not be relevant to them. Identifying and accepting this change makes friendships easier. You can healthily choose your own path and move on. Mature friendships do not hurt any of the people involved in it. 

In conclusion, 

It is natural and very common for toxic friendships to go unnoticed. Some signs turn up as patterns; however, identifying and addressing these can pave the way for healing within the friendship.

Opening up about these issues can soothe the wounds inflicted by toxic relationships. It’s essential to understand that the duration of a friendship doesn’t necessarily determine its significance; people grow and change over time.

There’s a certain magic in female friendships

Read this article to uncover how to navigate the beautiful and sometimes messy world of female friendships. 

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