Ask James: How Do I Know If My Friendship is Toxic and How Would I Break One Off?

James Newman, Advice Columnist

How Do I Know If My Friendship is Toxic and How Would I Break One Off?

– Toxicity

Dear Toxicity,

Friendships are hard especially when they are not true friendships. So let’s start off by identifying some toxic traits and remember these are not the only signs but the easiest to identify. This can also be used to help identify some of your own personal toxic traits and correct them.

  1. Is it all about them and their problems: Now I am not saying talking about themselves is toxic, but if it’s all they ever talk about and never bother to care or ask about what’s going on in your life then some questions should arise. Also if they throw out a random “how are you?” and then quickly turning the subject back on themselves is definitely a red flag. You can also ask yourself, have they been there for me like I’ve been for them? Or do they bother asking how I’m doing?, and if the answer is no then it’s definitely time to reconsider this friendship.
  2. They don’t respect you or your boundaries: It is pivotal that if you are in any relationship that there is mutual respect, if there is not any then it’s definitely not healthy. Now what do I mean by this? Maybe you said “hey I really don’t like you wearing my jewelry” and then they still go and take or use your clothes without asking you if it’s okay. Now this can be also chalked up to just being close to your friends but that doesn’t mean boundaries don’t exist. Your friend may not be doing this with malicious intent but their ignorance still needs to be addressed.
  3. They constantly put you down: They constantly are saying mean things or never uplifting you: If you’re dealing with toxic friends they most likely rarely compliment or praise you. They never really congratulate you on your achievements and accomplishments, they also kick you down when you’re feeling up and make you feel bad about yourself. They could also get annoyed when other people compliment you.
  4. You don’t necessarily like hanging out with them: When you hangout with them, are you waiting to go home or after hanging out with them you always feel upset. These aren’t things you should be feeling constantly when dealing with a close friend. Generally they should be making you feel happy or good, not negative feelings. Now if you are feeling uncomfortable around them ask yourself why it is.
  5. They rarely own up to their mistakes or apologize: When they do something wrong do they ever apologize? Or acknowledge their part in the wrongdoing? Now we all make mistakes but it’s important to apologize for those mistakes with a genuine apology not just a fake “sorry” and then do it again. Also if they say things like “I’m sorry that you feel that way”, “Well i’m not going to apologize because im right”, or something along those lines\ alerts should definitely go off.
  6. There’s constant drama: Is there always some problem when y’all are out or when they are around? Do they always start arguments with others or even you? These are signs of a toxic person and you need to know when you have to leave the situation and ask them to do the same.
  7. Your friendship is unpredictable: Are you constantly on edge with your friend? One moment y’all are the best of friends and then you forgot to grab a pen for them and now y’all are sworn enemies. On and off anything isn’t good, and this unpredictability on where y’all stand, is definitely a sign that something isn’t right and should be checked.
  8. They try to constantly change you: It is important to have things in common with your friends but it is even more important to celebrate and appreciate the differences between each other. They might ask you to act differently, wear different clothes, talk differently, etc or even put you in uncomfortable situations when they know that’s not for you. Now this is different from trying to push you out of your comfort zone and challenge your fears to elevate you. When they are trying to change your character and compromise on your values that’s when the toxicity starts to come out.
  9. They pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do: This can go in tandem with the previous sign. But do they keep on pushing you to do things that you aren’t comfortable with, even after you express that discomfort? Are they begging and pleading with you until you give way so that you will do the things they want you to do? It’s important to recognize the difference between pressuring you to do things that you aren’t comfortable with and safely trying to expand you into different things.
  10. They are very possessive: Now jealousy is a normal thing in relationships. But when you’re in a toxic one it becomes more possessive and manipulative. Do they get angry when you hang out with other people? Or do they try to drive a wedge between you and your other friends? They may become more aggressive in their approach and do more things to keep you to themselves. Like said above jealousy is a normal thing but if not dealt with you or your friend could become that green-eyed monster that everyone fears.

Well now that we have identified some signs that you could be in toxic friendship…what should you do now? You most definitely want to bring this up to your friend if you feel like it’s worth it and that they might be willing to make a change. But if not it’s okay you need to tell them that you don’t want to be friends with them anymore and express why. Most times we have been conditioned to not put ourselves first especially when we need to, and this right here is a good way to put your mental health and well-being before others who are harming it. Now, I also understand that it’s scary cutting someone off, “how will my life be without them?” “what do I do now?” but you need to remember to always do what you need to do to help yourself. Don’t worry about the future, worry about what you need to do now to help your health. Make sure you take this advice and apply it to your situation and make it work for you!

I hope this helped you <3.
See you again. XOXO.