Beginner’s Guide to Toxic Friendships

By Elena

Toxic friendships can often be hard to spot, and even harder to leave. However, they can be rather common, and it’s important to learn how to deal with them. Luckily, I’m here to help with past experience and with tips that I’ve learned along the way!

Image: Mike Blake/Reuters

Spotting Toxic Friendships

There’s a couple of telltale signs you’re in a toxic relationship with a friend, and I’ve made the following list for you of signs. I’ve outlined the four main ones I’ve noticed from my experience, which are rather extensive. I think that if you notice any of the following, you should consider if your relationship is healthy, and if it’s not, get out.

You feel like you’re putting in more effort

The first sign is that you feel like you’re putting in a lot more effort than your friend. If you’ve noticed you only start the conversations and are the only one actively engaged, or they get annoyed at you for simply trying to have a conversation in the first place, then you’re almost certainly in a toxic friendship.

You feel like they treat you with disrespect

The second sign is you feel as though your friend treats you with disrespect. This is a sign that always means you’re in a toxic friendship. Now, disrespect can mean a couple of different things in this case.

Respect can be complicated, but you should be looking for friends you know will make you feel as though you matter, and a good friend won’t make you cry because they’re making you feel as though you’re a terrible person. 

Furthermore, it isn’t respectful to push your problems onto others. You should always feel comfortable talking about your problems with your friends, but you don’t want to be in a situation where you feel as though it’s your burden to carry them through all of their problems.

They make excuses for disrespecting you

Another big sign is that when you confront them with your feelings about disrespect, they make an excuse. If they’re going through a lot of stress it can be understandable, however a good friend shouldn’t have to constantly make excuses for disrespecting their friends. 

If you feel like you’re disrespected by your friend and they brush you off, you should really take a step back from the friendship until they’ve had a chance to grow and are ready to respect you.

Everything is about them

A common sign of a toxic friendship is whenever you go to ask for advice or to rant, they turn everything around to be about themselves. For example, if you say a problem you’re having, and they respond with at least you aren’t and then a problem they have or something they’re dealing with, it’s a toxic friendship.

A real friend takes time to acknowledge your struggles and help you through them, however friendships do go both ways. You can’t expect someone to be friends with you for the sole reason of listening to your problems

Dealing With a Toxic Friend

The first step I would recommend taking is thinking about how much this friendship means to you. If you don’t really care all that much, I would say just go ahead and leave. You lose nothing, except for a toxic friend.

Contrastly, if this is a friend that means a lot to you, the second step you should take is to talk to them and tell them how you feel. All relationships require communication, and without communicating your feelings to your friend, nothing will get better.

Sometimes communication will work, but other times it won’t. If talking to your friend ends up being more harmful and doesn’t help, start to distance yourself. You can still be acquaintances with them, however you don’t need to deal with them as much, especially if it’s harmful to you.

What I would recommend is to stop reaching out to them to start a conversation. If they reach out to you, be concise and don’t engage in the conversation too much. Remember, they’re a toxic friend and it’s harmful towards your mental health to be friends with them.

If they ask why, just tell them you need some space and you need to work on yourself a little. Say you’re going through something and you don’t want to talk to them about it.

Eventually, they will give you some space and some time to heal. They won’t want to talk to you if you’re not completely invested in them, or they’ll realize you need time. Some of these friendships will never resurface again and that’s ok. Part of life is knowing who to let go out of your life and who to keep in.

If, after some time, they come back and apologize, and you can tell they’re a different person now, sometimes it’s ok to start a friendship with them again, but you have to remember the past. Keep out for signals of toxicity, and if they resurface again, say goodbye to the friendship for good.

Other times, if you feel as though they haven’t changed, don’t let them back in. You don’t need to be in a toxic friendship, and it’s ok to refuse to be someone’s friend. It’s completely up to you, however do keep in mind all of these signs and the reasons why you ended the friendship in the first place.

Thank you so much for reading my article! Please follow our blog and our social media accounts to stay up to date with when we post. As always, feel free to contact us with any information or any suggestions you have for future articles. If you aren’t sure if you’re in a toxic friendship, send us an email or leave a comment down below and we will be more than happy to help you out! Stay tuned for another collaboration by Lily and I on a Beginner’s Guide to Feminism coming next Monday!

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