How do I recognize toxic friends?

“It took me way too long to realise that you shouldn’t stay friends with people who never ask you how you’re doing.” – Anonymous

“She’s my friend, after all. Her words shouldn’t hurt me, neither her random rants bother me. But, they somehow do disturb me. What’s wrong with me? We’re friends, aren’t we?”

Are you wondering ‘how do I recognize toxic friends?’ If you are stuck asking questions like this to yourself, then you have landed yourself in the right place dear reader!

Not a fact to be denied that not every friend is a ‘friend indeed’. Some are mortifying snipers while some are opportunist backstabbers. There is a very feeble line between a healthy friendship and a toxic one. For that matter, it is not quite an easy task to identify the toxicity hidden within folds of a relationship. Granted it isn’t tough, but for sure ain’t impossible. Here’s a small list of pointers that might aid you to identify whether or not your friendship is toxic.

1- One-sided efforts

It’s not just love relationships that face the issues if one-sided commitment. Any relationship requires an equal amount of commitment, dedication and efforts from both the parties involved. Yes, even friendships do. You might feel the dread that you are the only one rowing the boat of your friendship and that your friend is leisurely watching you toil.

Perhaps, you are always there for them, to support them, to applaud at their achievements and to hold their hand as they walk through turbulent storms. Sadly, it is equally possible that you may find yourself standing lonesome during your tough times. Even at seemingly trivial matters, this can be visible. Your friend showing up late more than often, throwing a carefree attitude to your complaints or disregarding your efforts to keep things smoothly going – are all clearly visible signs of one-sided efforts.

2- You are not yourself when you are with them

To put it simply; with them you feel pressurised to conceal who you truly are. When with them, you keep on changing several masks and hide your real self, all this is done either to impress them or to avoid being judged by them.

A constant apprehension persists, of what they will say or feel if you expose your most candid self before them. A friendship wherein you are forced (though not on the surface) to act someone you really aren’t, is the one slowly turning toxic for you. A healthy friendship is the one in which both of you feel free to be who you are without any hindrances or fear of being judged.

3- There is no scope of constructive criticism 

Okay, it is highly true that a true friend not only appreciates your goodness and virtues but also points out your misdoings and shortcomings for your own good. But these criticisms need to be genuine in nature and not cold mockery. In short, you shouldn’t feel pained when they criticise you.

What if their criticisms aren’t so warm and are uttered with seeming motives to put you down? Some people put pointers on your shortcomings with sole intentions of inflicting pain on you. Beware of such people and their ‘friendship’. They aren’t friends really, but vicious people who savour a voluptuous laughter at the expense of your misdoings.

4- They want you all to themselves

Call it obsessiveness, or call it love, these friends do not wish to share your friendship with anybody else. They feel jealous of your other friends and want all of your time, attention and care to themselves. Agreed that a pinch of jealousy is good and actually healthy in a friendship, but an excess of it starts to spill toxicity in friendships.

So, watch out for friends who are reluctant to share the treat of your friendship with other people. Their obsessiveness with you is charming to an extent, but beyond that, it makes your friendship with them a toxic one.

5- You feel that they take you for granted; perhaps they really do.

There may be times when you feel that the other person takes your presence in their life for granted. This apprehension may thankfully not be true every time, but unfortunately, sometimes it is. Probably you are their 2a.m friend and always available at their perusal.

It might also be a bitter truth that they are seldom present when you need them. Some or the other excuse lies ever-ready to explain their absence when you need them the most. The excuses sometimes would no doubt be genuine; but not always. If it repeats few times, then it can be neglected, but if they do it more than often, I am sorry to say that you are just a ‘for-granted’ individual in their life.

6- Your friend tries to control every little thing- even in your life!

It may not be very easy to identify the controlling behaviour of a friend. Even when identified, it is a tougher task to label or not label it to be toxic. Some amount of controlling-ness can be attributed to their nature. But, not always can such behaviours be side-lined and ignored.

If it is always your friend who decides where you both go for outings, what you order to eat, or overruling perceptions about somebody; and your viewpoint is often subjugated, know that you are trapped in a toxic friendship.

7- Do you find yourself constantly making excuses for them?

Maybe you are too virtuous and soft-hearted to be unable to discern their subtle gestures of putting you down, humiliating you, ignoring your calls, among many other forgiven and forgotten things. They may find their easy escape from clutches of your fury, owing to your generosity and courteous nature.

It is fairly possible that you are the very person giving excuses for their misdemeanours and of contemptuous words and deeds. You shield them from your own anger and stand as their defence.  And in doing so, unintentionally, you get yourself trapped deeper and deeper in the labyrinth if their toxic friendship.

8- Feel something is wrong? Maybe there really is.

Well, if you perceive any or all of the “symptoms” existent in your friendship with one or more persons, then wake up and start acting!

These subtle nuances might not be easily perceivable. You may have to analyse a seeming troublesome friendship till the root level in order to grasp where and what the fault lays. And once you are sure that a certain level of toxicity does exist in your friendship, then wait no more; and start acting upon it as soon as possible.

Do give a try sorting out things with your friend. But, if your friend is too hard-headed to understand what you are trying to say, then please, step out of that friendship, before the poison from it starts to corrode your happiness and well-being!

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you Happy!” – Robert Tew

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