Toxic Friendships

Friends are an essential element of emotional health and wellbeing. Having someone to turn to in times of sadness, fear and anger or just to share happy news can make a considerable difference in the way a person feels. Still, many people have friends who may inadvertently be causing more emotional damage than good. A toxic friend can cause serious problems and often, the victim may not even realize the root of the problem is the one person she considers a true friend.

So, how can you know if a friend is toxic?

Friendship, like love, has a way of blinding people. No one wants to believe that a trusted friend is actually toxic. However, there are numerous observations that can help detect the presence of a toxic friend. With this discovery, you can try to work on the relationship or end it, the choice is solely yours.

How do you feel before, during and after time spent with your friend?

It is important to gauge your mood around this friend on more than one occasion to accurately determine if she is the source of your feelings. Chances are that if you often feel drained, distant or stressed after being around her, the relationship may be harmful.

Is there mutual respect and equal effort from both parties?

One of the most common characteristics of a toxic friendship is a lack of balance in give and take. In a toxic friendship, one friend seems to take all she can, without ever really offering anything in return. The toxic friend may constantly struggle with one crisis after another, expecting unconditional support and assistance from you. But at the first signal of trouble in your own life, she is suspiciously unavailable.

Does she value my thoughts and feelings?

A major red flag that a friendship is toxic is the presence of constant cynicism. If it seems that your “friend” always has a negative remark or response to anything you say or do, she may not be a good fit for you.

Is she happy for me?

There are people who, for whatever reason, cannot be happy unless others are miserable. If a friend will drop everything to help pick up the pieces after you experience a terrible breakup or lose your job, but only looks for fault when you share happy news, she may be one of these people. And unless you intend to spend your life dwelling on your sorrows and hiding good fortune, it may be time to cut ties.

It may seem a little extreme, but if any of these situations describes the current relationship you share with someone, it is time to reassess the friendship and determine whether it is worth it to keep this person in your life. It could be that the individual does not realize how her behavior affects you, in which case mentioning it could strengthen your bond. On the other hand, she may resent you for bringing it up and blame you for her behavior. Either way, you deserve to have healthy friendships with people who appreciate you as much as you appreciate them.

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