I’m pretty sure that at this point, everybody has heard the term “Toxic Friendship”. It's thrown around a sh*t ton these days, but it’s a real, serious problem that more people need to understand. I had a best friend when I was younger, and she became so toxic I ended up being afraid to leave my house on most days and had to force myself to get out of that friendship altogether. It was terrifying, but I learned a lot about the nature of toxicity in friendships and relationships through that one difficult one. I learned that no matter what your ‘friend’ says to you and about you, it’s not your fault for needing to take care of yourself first and foremost. I learned that despite feeling guilty, you’re making the right decision to leave that relationship. Here are the 10 most important red flags that alerted me to get out of a toxic friendship, because no one deserves that sh*t.
1. You’re no longer happy.
This is simple. If someone no longer makes you happy, you shouldn’t feel obligated to stay in any sort of relationship with them. Don’t force yourself to pretend to be happy in a friendship, or any relationship for that matter, just for the sake of the other person. We are all grown-ups, you shouldn’t have to make yourself unhappy just so someone else can be- trust me, I learned this the hard way in a few friendships of mine.
2. You're emotionally drained after spending time with them.
Toxic friends start out being really normal, but something may trigger them to turn really negative, which in turn leaves you more stressed out than you should be over a friendship.
3. They become obsessed with you.
The toxic friend that I had to deal with became really obsessed with the idea of me. They changed their entire lifestyle to match mine, down to the people that they were attracted to and the types of Instagram selfies they would take (mind you, I was 17 and selfies were my obsession. I KNEW when someone was copying me). This friend would write in her journals about how ‘cute’ and ‘fragile’ I was, and at one point told me that since my eating disorder ‘worked’ for me, she would try it too. Not cool. Not healthy. Not okay.
4. They get jealous.
My toxic best friend would constantly compare herself to me – to the point where she became obsessed with it and obsessed with me. Jealousy is a totally normal human emotion, don’t get me wrong, but once it starts controlling your daily behaviour and affecting your friendships, it’s a problem. Jealousy can lead people into doing really f*cked up things, so if your ‘friend’ is showing signs of extreme jealousy towards you or anyone else, get out of there.
5. They become possessive.
You know you’re in a toxic friendship when they start to obsess over where you are and who you’re with. It’s actually terrifying. My ‘friend’ managed to snake her way into my closest relationships, even within my family. Weird, right? They hate not being a part of whatever you’re doing and whoever you’re with, and that’s a really big red flag, in my opinion.
6. They rely on you for happiness.
This was a huge problem in my situation. My ‘friend’ relied on me to fix her depression. How was I supposed to do that when I was 17, going through my own problems? Normal friendships are a balance of making yourself happy and making the other person happy, but this friendship, like most toxic friendships, was the complete opposite.
7. They self-deprecate…all the time.
A toxic friend will constantly put themselves down in front of you so that you have to build them up. They’ll constantly put you in a situation where you have to assure them so many times a day that they’re pretty, smart, funny, etc. Anything to boost their ego.
8. They’re manipulative.
This can get really dangerous too. A toxic friend can manipulate you into thinking and act certain ways in order to make them happy, and they can manipulate other people into thinking that everything is okay between you two, so they ignore any signals you might be trying to give other people, making you look like the bad guy when you finally decide to leave.
9. In an extreme, they threaten you.
This is dangerous. If nothing else is a red flag to get out of that friendship, this definitely is. I had a really toxic friend when I was younger threaten to harm herself if I wasn’t her friend anymore. It was wild, and I knew I had to get out of there, ASAP because it got to the point where it became extremely unhealthy and scary for me. Toxic friends will do whatever it takes to keep you in their life and continue to control you, and that’s how you know when it’s time to get help leaving that relationship.
10. They play the “victim."
This usually happens after you remove yourself from the friendship. Your toxic friend will feel defeated by you choosing to prioritize yourself and things will probably get messy- or at least they did for me. I’ve been in this situation twice now, and both times, the friend told people untrue, and really negative things about me in order to have the upper hand. It has been years, and there are STILL people who hate me because my ‘friend’ made things up about me. I'm over it.