Toxic friendships are extremely damaging. They can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and heartache. But rarely do these relationships go south through some sort of dramatic event, although that’s usually how they end. It’s often the case that people don’t realize they are in a toxic friendship for years.
It’s not always easy to notice the signs. In this guide, you are going to learn about how to spot the signs that you are in a toxic friendship, as well as what to do about it.
They Make You Feel Bad
Everyone has that one person in life that makes them feel bad. It could come in the form of someone who simply makes them feel stressed or who irritates them. Often, it’s an acquaintance that you can’t get away from, such as your significant other’s boss, but sometimes it can even be a close friend.
Take a look at your friend and think about how they make you feel after every meeting. Do you feel a sense of dread before meeting them? How do you feel after meeting them? If the answer is in the negative on both occasions, you are friends with someone who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.
What are You Getting from the Relationship?
It may seem crazy to think about the value of a relationship based on what you are getting out of it, but it’s a good indicator of whether this is a worthwhile relationship to have. You should never feel compelled to continue a relationship simply because you don’t want to be mean to someone.
If they are bringing nothing to the table, you are not feeling energized when you are around them. This is a one-sided friendship that is only taking away from your life, not enhancing it.
The Topic of Conversation
Sometimes you can discover that you are in a toxic friendship simply by thinking about the topics of conversation you tend to discuss. If the majority of your conversations involve complaining about someone or something, this is going to drain you. It’s okay to have the occasional session where you do nothing but complain. This can be cathartic and can bring you closer together.
If it happens all the time, it’s going to make you feel stressed. Studies have shown countless times that continuing negativity can have a lot of ill effects, including health issues and a permanent cynical outlook on life. For example, a study showed that work stress can actually make you physically sick.
You may even be in a situation that within a group of friends you are the punch line of every joke. Yes, you can smile and laugh along, but are you really feeling good about yourself?
Enabling Bad Habits
Sometimes you may be dealing with the nicest person in the world. You would never dream of assuming they are a bad influence on you. But sometimes you can have good friends who are secretly working against you because friends can be enablers. For example, alcoholics tend to have drinking buddies.
These drinking buddies are perfectly civil and good people, but the only activity that happens is drinking. When this happens, you find yourself in a situation where you are enabling your addictions. You want to hang out with these people, but to do so you have to entertain your addictions.
This is not healthy and it can bring your entire life crashing down.
So What Do You Do About It?
Dealing with a toxic friendship is difficult and can lead to a lot of short-term emotional trauma, particularly if that toxic friend is connected to a larger group of friends. But going through the process of disengaging can lead to a better life for you.
First of all, don’t think that you have to go through some sort of dramatic event. You can disengage from a toxic friendship simply by declining invitations and steadily meeting them less and less. They will get the message and gradually drift away.
But what if you do have to tell someone to their face that you no longer want to see them?
Accept that they may be angry or frustrated. The best way to go about this is to not dance around the issue and to tell them straight that you no longer want to be associated with them. Give them the reasons and then walk away. Don’t continue the conversation or turn it into a feud. Do it face-to-face so they truly understand how you feel.
As you can see, toxic friendships are hard to spot. Look closer and you may see a relationship that is no longer serving your best interests. Break free of it and disconnect today!