I realized I was in a toxic friendship after understanding my exhaustion came from her constant insults and unpredictable mood.
I made a friend my first year of college who I loved because of her fun and bubbly personality. She was confident, stylish and persuasive—getting pretty much whatever she desired at the snap of a finger. Her positive and spontaneous personality made her a great person to go out with on a Saturday night. Once I started to get closer to her, however, I noticed a few red flags in our friendship.
She would consistently point out my flaws and tell me things like, “Well, you know I’m way hotter than you.” We would somehow stir up arguments over the smallest things like fashion trends or our favorite musicians—things that were supposed to be enjoyable. When we had plans to meet up, I never knew what version of her that I was going to run into. I’m sure I wasn’t the perfect friend either, but I knew one thing. Our friendship was taking a toll on our mental health.
Fortunate for me, the situation ended on a nice note because she left for Europe to study abroad in which we were able to grow apart. However, not everyone is as lucky to have a smooth ending to a toxic friendship or even realize their friendship is destructive to their mental or emotional health.
Red Flags When Identifying a Toxic Friendship
You’re Constantly Dealing With Insults
If you can expect being insulted the next time you’re hanging with your friend, that is a huge warning sign of a toxic friendship. Your friends should be your backbone for support, not a source to receive verbal abuse or make you feel insecure.
You’re Always Engaging in Arguments
It’s one thing if you bicker every now and then, but it’s another if you’re constantly getting into unnecessary or massive fights. Does he or she constantly put you down or disregards your feelings? Arguments can be emotionally draining and have a negative effect on your health.
The Friendship is One Sided
From my personal experience, I felt like it was some type of game to keep her attention. I had to do or say something extremely interesting or shocking, otherwise, she wasn’t listening or didn’t really care what I had to say. If he or she makes you feel like your opinion doesn’t matter, that is another sign the friendship needs to come to an end.
You’re Being Manipulated
Does he or she ever persuade you into doing things that you did not want to do? Whether it be simple tasks or huge favors, manipulation is a sign that your friend may enjoy having control over you—which is never OK.
How To Move On From The Friendship
Realize The Friendship is Toxic
It’s a great step accepting that your friendship is toxic. This way, you’re able to set boundaries for yourself and eventually move on. Know your limits and point out the red flag behavior. If you are being insulted or feel that your opinion is being undervalued, speak out and let that person know how that makes you feel and why that behavior is not OK.
Spend More Time With Other Friends
Surround yourself with positive people who make you feel at your best. Because you’re giving yourself some distance from the toxic friendship, you will most likely find yourself in a better mood. You’re also able to use this opportunity to discuss your toxic friendship with someone whose opinion is in your best interest.
End The Friendship
Depending on the situation, there are several ways to end a friendship. Sometimes you’re able to drift apart by naturally spending less time together. If that is not an option, it’s recommended to be upfront and let them know why you need your space.
Just like a breakup in romantic relationships, a friendship breakup can be just as (if not, more) overwhelming. Make sure you have uninvolved friends that you can fall back on for support through the hardship. Although it may be difficult, a ending a toxic friendship will ultimately benefit your mental health.