When people think of toxic relationships, they may automatically think about male and female relationships. What about the relationship between two women or men who call each other friends — or even best friends?
I went through a toxic friendship with a woman I declared to everyone was my best friend. The ending of our friendship was disastrous and led to a physical altercation. This was partially because I realized the signs and was no longer under her control.
Many people have toxic friends in their lives and are not aware of it. The signs are sometimes unclear and undetectable.
A sign that hints your friendship is toxic is the lack of respect. The disrespect isn’t always blatant; sometimes it’s subliminal or very subtle. According to thebodyisnotanapology.com, the lack of respect is displayed in several ways.
“They disrespect your appearance, your choices, your preferences, your goals, your interests, or your values. They may [also] gaslight when you try to communicate your hurt, responding with ‘lighten up,’ ‘don’t take it so seriously,’ ‘you know I didn’t mean it that way,’ and thus not only dismissing your valid pain, but refusing to take responsibility and passing the blame onto you,” the website says.
Of course, friends could be joking around, but when it comes to your feelings, you should not feel bad for expressing them.
Another common sign is you not feeling entirely comfortable telling them about your successes and failures in life. When you announce good news to your friends, they should be just as happy for you if not happier. If you tell your friend good news and their body language is off or their response is questionable, that is a huge sign.
“A really true good friend would mirror and match that excitement with you. Someone who’s not as happy for you will come in with dream killer questions. Dream killer questions are when they question your success, they doubt your success, they think of all the negatives,” said Vanessa Van Edwards, a behavior investigator and author of “Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.”
The last indicator of a toxic friendship is the feeling of one-sidedness. When you feel that you are putting the most effort into being the good friend to someone, you begin to see that the friendship is not healthy.
This sign could sometimes be hard to detect because that toxic friend will do just enough to keep you at arm’s length. When you want to go out and party, they will be more than happy to say yes, but when you need this friend to help you prepare for something or you desperately need their moral support, they are nowhere to be found.
Friends should be balanced. If you feel otherwise, it is time to let that friend go.
“Most harmonious relationships work toward a balance; we want to give AND receive. The sign that a friendship is becoming toxic and out of balance is when this give and take becomes overly one-sided,” Van Edwards writes.
All the toxins in the friendship could lead to affecting your health. The amount of stress caused by the friendship takes a toll on the body. You start to experience aches and pains. To you, it is for no reason, but the body says otherwise.
“Instead of feeling bolstered by your connection, you start feeling weakened. Your body continues reacting. You feel anxious, get headaches and stomach upset, you have a hard time getting out of bed… When you’re in a great friendship, it boosts your immune system. But toxic friendships are sickening,” says Susan Heitler of psychologytoday.com.
Do friendships have their ups and downs? Of course, but when the friendship seems to have way more downs, that is a problem. If you are questioning your friendship, look out for these signs and ask yourself: How is this friend benefitting my life in any way?