Free yourself from negativity. Here’s how to know if you’re in a toxic friendship.
Many people try different ways to flush negativity out of their lives. They take a break from social media, meditate or write their feelings in a journal. But the problem may be bigger – the negativity in your life might be coming from the people closest to you. Here are six signs you’re in a toxic friendship:
1. Everything’s about her
A toxic friend never seems to care about your feelings or what you’re up to. Conversations seem one-sided. It’s all about her and never about you. This can leave you feeling unappreciated. Friends are supposed to be people you can confide in. If you can’t confide in your closest friend, you might be in a toxic friendship.
2. She responds to your concerns with “at least”
You express how hard your work load is. She responds with, “At least you have a stable job.” You open up about your recent miscarriage. She responds with, “At least you can get pregnant.”
Responding with “at least” reduces your problems, leaving you feeling like no one understands or that it’s wrong for you to feel bad about your situation. This is a toxic friendship – a true friend will validate your feelings, mourn with you in difficult times and help you come up with solutions when appropriate.
3. She’s only around when she needs something
If your friend only seems to pop up when she needs something, you might be in a toxic friendship. Life gets busy, and maybe that means you both only turn to each other in times of need. But make sure you’re able to turn to her just like she turns to you. Friendship is a two-way street.
4. She constantly criticizes you
Whether it’s your outfit, hobbies or diet, a toxic friend finds something to criticize. A caring friend might also address certain issues, but there is a major difference between criticizing and caring.
Caring confrontation involves respectfully communicating thoughts, feelings and observations in a way that doesn’t put others down, according to mental health and addiction expert Kim Harris. Harsh criticism is communication without respect; it focuses on blame and what not to do, rather than what to do to fix the issue.
A caring friend will confront you about a problem if they’re genuinely concerned. They’re focused on helping you in a kind, supportive way.
5. You’re walking on eggshells around her
You should be able to share your worries, hopes and good news with your friend without feeling nervous about how she’ll respond. A toxic friend is unpredictable. You’re careful about what you say around her in fear one poorly phrased sentence will hurt her. A good friend gets you – she knows you never mean to hurt her and doesn’t jump to harsh conclusions.
6. She betrays your trust
A toxic friend breaks your trust several times. A true friend listens to your secrets, thoughts and ideas and keeps them locked up like a vault. Breaking that bond is a huge betrayal.
If you have a toxic friend in your life, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma recommends being there for them and connecting them with the right resources. If you’re stuck in a one-way friendship, she suggests letting them know how you feel. The best way to help your friend (and yourself) is to be completely honest so you can work together to mend your friendship.