4 Ways to Spot a Toxic Friendship
Toxic adj. | tox·ic | \ˈtäk-sik\ | : containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation. extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful.
Everyone desires friends that love and support them but there are some friends who fall into the bucket of being toxic. Lucky for me, I have very supportive friends that help me to be better. Toxic friends can be a huge source of stress because of the ups and downs that come from the "friendship." One minute it can be a beautiful joyous relationship and the next it can be miserable to continue to deal with them. This is a very draining cycle, that comes with the territory of a toxic friendship. Toxic friends use you for what YOU can do for THEM. Whether emotional or financial, they are users. Instead of being supportive of you, it is ALWAYS about what said friend has going on.
Here are four ways to tell if your friend is indeed toxic. It can be hard to let go of a friendship, but if it isn't healthy then that is your best plan of action.
1. Their Emotional Needs Are Always More Important Than Yours
In toxic friendships the toxic friend's needs take the highest priority. Now, we've all had bad days or even a bad week, but this friend has continual drama to the point that seems unreal. Everything is LITERALLY about them. If this friend calls/texts and they are having a horrible day, they expect you to drop everything and comfort them. Of course it's great to be a support system to your friends but if it comes to the point that it's a reoccurring thing then it's a problem. You shouldn't be a dumping ground for your friend to drop their problems off onto for you to fix. Being an emotional dumping ground is both stressful and unfair to you.
2. They are Overly Critical
In any relationship one of the most important things is mutual respect. The toxic friend doesn't possess this trait, for them their needs and thoughts take precedence over any and everything. We all have friends that give us little tidbits of advice about things we can improve upon to be a better person, this is healthy. A toxic friend doesn't give constructive criticism instead they use insecurities to make others feel inadequate. Oftentimes, when a person is overly critical they are merely projecting what they feel about themselves onto someone else. The toxic friend undermines other's growth by being critical of their actions. For example let's say you decided to stop drinking alcohol for health reasons and your friend says, "Oh, so you think you're actually doing something by not drinking. Ain't nothing special about you not drinking." A statement such as this can be deemed as an overly critical statement, it shows a lack of concern and support for the growth of the friend that is no longer drinking alcohol.
3. They're in Competition With You
Jealousy and competition are two underlying characteristics of a toxic friendship. If a friend always tries to "one-up" you, then nine times out of ten they are jealous of you. This can exist in subtle or overt forms. If they try to overshadow an accomplishment you made by boasting about their own, that is a huge sign your friend maybe in competition with you. There is a big difference between healthy competition and unhealthy competition. Unhealthy competition normally takes the form of trying to do something better than the other. The toxic friend is really in competition with others because they feel that they are lacking something within themselves. Friends that that are always discussing their accomplishments while demeaning yours are harmful. This type of action, can make others feel that they are unimportant. People who love you will be happy at the thought of you succeeding.
4. They aren't Supportive of You
Support is a two way street especially in a friendship. The toxic friend expects for everyone to rally around them and support them. Toxic friends expect for the spotlight to be on them at all times, so when they achieve something they expect to have great fanfare involved. Celebrating the accomplishments of others, especially your friends is not wrong. When it comes to the point that it is not reciprocated then it is a problem. An unsupportive, toxic friend undermines everything you say and do. Instead of uplifting and supporting their friends, a toxic friend undermines to steer the friend in the direction THEY think would be better for that particular friend. "Girl, you know you're really good at managing social media accounts since you do it for free, why don't you think about applying for a job in that field since it's something you love", this is an example of healthy advice because it's acknowledging positive attributes of your friend while showing them that you believe in their potential. A toxic friend, on the other hand, says "Uhhhh girl I know you THINK you're good at writing, but you just need to stick to what you been doing because it's just not your thing." The problem in this statement is that they are undermining the other friend's interests and abilities. Even if they may not be the best writer there is a way to properly articulate that to someone.
When dealing with a toxic friend it's important to remember that you aren't the problem, THEY are. These four attributes are only the tip of the iceberg in relation to spotting toxic friends. While you may want to save the friendship, the best plan of action is to let it go as soon as possible. Over time toxic friendships only get worse, they bring more stress than people may realize. If you discussed the concerns of your friendship and they don't change, then they just don't care. If a friend really loves and cares about you then they will make the necessary changes to keep the friendship going.