5 Signs You Have Toxic Friends (And Why You Should Keep Them Away)

Shutterstock / Vladimir Gjorgiev
Shutterstock / Vladimir Gjorgiev

Since I was young, I have always attracted toxic friends. As a child, I was very passive and never, ever spoke up to anyone. I accepted verbal abuse without ever saying a word, because it’s what I thought I had to do. Being the youngest child in my family, I was always very quiet, reserved, and never stood up for myself. This led me into friendships that were extremely unhealthy and up until very recently, I always had at least one friend who was extremely toxic.

I don’t want to get into the messy details of my past friendships. They happened, I survived, and I am stronger today because of them. The toxicity ranged from girls who took advantage of my selflessness, to girls who could never be happy for my accomplishments, to girls who lied to people and gossiped about me. I hit a breaking point with each one of them, and for good reason. Why was I giving my all to these girls who didn’t always have my best interests in mind? I didn’t deserve this treatment and I was simply exhausted from keeping up with pretending I was okay with it.

Toxic friends can be difficult to identify if you are in too deep in a friendship. I spent years and years forgiving and “forgetting.” There is only so much one person can handle. Most toxic friends tend to possess these traits, among many others:

1. They are so negative, you often wonder if they have one optimistic bone in their body.

Being around a negative person can suck the life out of you. My friend and I often refer to these people as “Energy Vampires.” You spend some time with them, and you leave feeling tired and lifeless. Someone who constantly complains and just can’t seem to grasp the positive side of any situation can be difficult to be around. It eventually becomes tiring trying to be a source of positivity for them.

2. They are not happy for you and your accomplishments.

“You got a new job? That’s amazing!”

“You got into grad school? I’m so proud of you!”

If these are not close to the reactions you received from a friend when having similar life events occur, they are not good friends. Regardless of what is happening in their lives, your friends should feel happy for you and what you have accomplished. If they downplay your achievements or just simply ignore them and their significance, it’s time to move on.

3. They are manipulative and take advantage of you.

I am the type of person who would go to the ends of the Earth for a friend, to the point where it may look like I’m trying too hard. Little do they know, I genuinely want to make my friends happy and make their lives easier any way I can. Good friends will appreciate this type of behavior and toxic friends will take advantage of it. A healthy friendship requires a healthy give and take. If you are the designated driver this Saturday, they should at least offer to be DD next week.

4. They are selfish and controlling.

This should seem like an obvious one, but a manipulative, toxic friend can mask controlling behavior with disguising it as being very caring. They make it seem like they have your best interests in mind, but they don’t. They often make decisions for the two of you without ever taking your feelings into consideration. They make all of your plans and give you bad advice, all while putting themselves first. This is incredibly unhealthy and can stop you from growing into your own person.

5. They are overly critical and never supportive.

It is one thing to have a friend who gives you constructive criticism in a healthy manner, but it is another thing to have someone who is constantly putting you down. Friends should be a source of light in an often-difficult world. They shouldn’t make you feel anything less than the beautiful, powerful, amazing person that you. If you’re having a bad day, they should be the person you turn to when you need unconditional support.

You will be amazed by the way your life can change when you begin to attract more positive, happy people. Friendships should be easy and empowering. They should not be exhausting. All friendships should have a healthy give and take.

I have ended friendships and taken them back, as if I was in an abusive relationship with them. It didn’t take long for them to begin acting selfish and abusive again. If you express your concerns about your friendship and they are unresponsive or respond with more manipulative behavior, that is a sign that there could be no hope for change. Unfortunately, it takes a lot for people to change, and most people never will. It will be very difficult to break-up with these friends when you find yourself at your breaking point. There will be tears, heartache, and lonely nights, but you will be grateful in the end. The friends that you will gain when you are a happier person are the friends that will last forever. TC mark

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