Toxic Friends Bringing You Down? Here’s What To Do

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It's not a good sign when you don't feel good about yourself around someone you consider a friend.
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Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

When you spend time with friends, would you say the time is joyous … or draining?

Friendships are an important aspect of our lives. They affect how happy and healthy we are. But all not friendships are equal. Sometimes, friends can be toxic. They leave you feeling frustrated, moody or exhausted.

If you have people like this in your life, you might just reconsider who you call a friend.

What does a toxic friendship look like? Psychologist and therapist Perpetua Neo discussed some characteristics and signs to look out for with Business Insider. Here’s a recap:

1. They’re Surrounded By Drama

The toxic friend seems to encounter problems everywhere they go. It might be an argument with a family member, you or chaos at home.

2. They’re Self-Centered

When you tell a friend a personal story, you likely expect a response that shows your friend cares about your situation. But if your story is met with this person reverting the conversation back to their own experiences, they might be a toxic friend.

3. They Act Like A Bully

A toxic friend kicks you when you’re down, tries to belittle your achievements or otherwise act like a bully. It’s not a good sign when you don’t feel good about yourself around someone you consider a friend.

4. They’re Overly Competitive

A toxic friend is one who strives to steal the spotlight. Just bought a new home? The toxic friend might give you a list of why it wasn’t a good choice. Go out on a fantastic first date? The toxic friend might undermine your confidence by saying it probably won’t last. No matter what the situation, the toxic friend constantly tries to one-up you.

5. They Copy You

Competition might even go a step further, and this person will actually begin to mimic you, like buying the same purse or car you have, or using the same slang terms you use. In a more severe situation, the toxic friend might even try to steal your identity.

“They might pretend to be you and use your photos, like catfishing,” said Neo.

6. They’re Weight On Your Shoulders

Heard one too many sob stories from one friend? Toxic friends make you feel like the weight of their drama is on your shoulders and if you don’t do something about it, you feel something bad will happen. If this is your case, it might be best to guide this person toward professional help and leave it at that.

7. They’re Hypocritical

When a friend makes you feel bad for not spending enough time with them, yet, has no empathy when they let you down, that might be a sign you’re dealing with someone hypocritical – that’s not the best person to call a friend.

8. They Lie

Neo notes that the toxic friend may play up the chaotic nature of their lives to get sympathy.

“They might tell loads of stories that make no sense, that don’t quite add up. Sometimes they go far as to hurt themselves just to convince you,” Neo added.

If you get the sense your friend is telling stories that don’t add up to any truth, try searching his or her public record and social media profiles. The true stories of people’s lives are sometimes discovered with a little online sleuthing.

9. They Shame You In Public

Have you ever been out with a friend, perhaps at a café or a movie theater, and they made a dramatic scene about something you may or may not have done? This is what the toxic friend does to try to set you up for failure.

10. Your Intuition Is Telling You They’re No Good

Even if you can’t pinpoint what makes this person toxic, you might just sense it. Perhaps you always feel on edge, or like you’re walking on eggshells around this person. Don’t underestimate your intuition.

Replacing Toxic Friends With Good Ones

You might be surprised to know that, on average, humans can only maintain about five intimate relationships at once. And really, it’s the quality of these relationships that matter most.

If you want to cultivate healthy, meaningful friendships, one thing you can do is try reconnecting with people you’ve already shared laughs, hard times and deep conversations with. If that doesn’t work, there are more tips to help you have good friendships in our post, How to Make Friends as An Adult.

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