How to Spot Toxic Behavior in Your Friendships
By Molly Borman
While friendships shouldn’t feel like arduous work, even the strongest of bonds needs a little maintenance from time to time. That being said, in healthy friendships, just like in a strong romantic partnership, pushing past the hard times will bring you two closer together, not farther apart.
If you suspect you’re in a toxic friendship, you’re probably right — the biggest sign being how you feel in relation to this person. You might feel anxious before seeing them, feel surprisingly shitty while together, or regret time spent in their company once you part ways.
If something’s not sitting well with you or if you’re unsure whether a friendship is worth investing so much time in, read on for some classic examples of healthy behavior as compared to toxic behavior and see where you stand once and for all.
When you get promoted at work:
The true friend says: Wow! I’m so proud of you. You deserve this so much. Next up, corner office CEO!
The toxic friend says: I got promoted too — you just don’t hear me telling everyone about it.
When you have “The Talk” with the person you’ve been seeing and it goes really, really well:
The true friend says: Omg, I’m so excited to see where this goes for you!
The toxic friend says: Woah, I don’t see a ring so what’s the big deal? Chill.
When you lose those last 5 lbs and are fully feeling yourself:
The true friend says: Even though you didn’t need to lose any weight, you look amazing and I’m so glad you’re feeling awesome. You’re such a babe.
The toxic friend says: I lost 10 pounds last year on that cleanse I did, and I’ve kept it off ever since. Can’t you tell?
When you decide to start a side-hustle:
The true friend says: This is so exciting! How can I help? When do we start?
The toxic friend says: Ha! That was totally my idea. We’re not going to have a Zuckerberg/Winklevoss situation on our hands are we? Just kidding. But I did think of this like two years ago, remember?
When you’re going through a tough break-up:
The true friend says: I’m on my way.
The toxic friend says: God, remember when I broke up with John? Now that was a breakup. You’ll be fine. I mean, I wasn’t fine for a few weeks, but mine was way worse. Do you remember how bad it was? Phew, I need a drink.
See the difference? It’s easy to recognize how one-sided a relationship is when your feelings or accomplishments are constantly being undermined no matter the scenario.
If you feel like you’ve done everything you can to salvage the friendship — including having a direct conversation, communicating your feelings, or seeking guidance from a trusted confidant — and you still don’t feel like any progress can or will be made, rest assured that you did your best and it’s time to move confidently forward.
Finally, examine your other friendships — the ones that leave you feeling fulfilled instead of deflated — and invest your time and energy there instead of in areas of your life that drag you down.