You’d think toxic friendships would be left behind in school unfortunately, they continue well into adulthood. As a 43-year-old, I’m still learning about females and what makes us tick and I’ve had my fair share of toxic relationships. You know, the type that makes you feel like you have to take a 10-hour nap after you spend time with them because you’re so emotionally drained.
But what you may not have ever considered is whether it’s YOU who is the toxic friend. Because we know nobody wants to be, here are the warning signs — so you can take action if necessary.
It’s all about you
Do you feel your life is more stressful or drama-filled than your friends? Let me tell you that it isn’t. Your friends have simply learnt coping mechanisms, like downplaying petty life issues, focusing on the positives, rising above issues or paying to see a counsellor to circumnavigate life’s unavoidable minefields. The number one indicator of a toxic relationship is the ‘one-way street’. If you treat your friend like a like a mute-counsellor, offloading for hours about the dramas going in your life, it’s a red flag. Take the time to listen to them and ask about what’s going on in their life f you truly value their friendship. Pay to see a counsellor to offload your frequent and pressing dramas. It may be more expensive, but it will make your friendships a little sweeter — at least for your friend.
You’re not happy for their wins
The second warning flag a friendship may be toxic is if you feel a pang of jealousy or resentment (rather than happiness) when your friend gets a great job, gets engaged, or buys her first property. This may mean you feel as though your friend’s achievements or life changes are going to take her away from you, or that you can’t have the same things yourself. Often, this comes down to a scarcity mindset — when you feel there isn’t enough in the world to go around for everyone. There are plenty of online courses and resources that will help you shift from a scarcity mindset to a more positive, abundance mindset. It’s also important to ensure you have enough going on in your own life, whether it’s joining new activity groups to widen your social circle or taking on a new project or hobby.
At the end of the day, we can’t just celebrate other people’s wins when OUR life is going well. We have to rise above our terrible day, week or year and be happy for people we care about. Even if you have to fake it till you make it!
We all have things we’d rather other people didn’t know about — whether it’s our creepy doll collection or the fact that Justin Bieber was our most played Spotify artist of 2017. But if you’re keeping serious things from your friends, like an addiction or infidelity, it’s important to ask yourself why. You should be able to talk to your friends about the bad things, not just the good — even when you feel ashamed. We all go through hard times and you should be able to rely on your friends to help you through it — and they may actually feel a little hurt when they discover you didn’t tell them earlier. Note: It’s important to distinguish between bombarding your friend with first-world-problems and confiding in them about genuine difficulties.
You know how it goes, you’re having a great day, no issues, everything’s hunky-dory. Then, you catch up with your friend and by the end of the conversation, you’re feeling bad about yourself. You feel silly, insignificant, upset or self-doubting. However, it’s important to consider your own responsibility in this situation. This kind of behaviour can compound if you egg your friend on. For example, your friend says ‘I look so fat today’ and you say ‘I know, me too — look at my arms!’ it just instigates a negative cycle where you’re trying to one-up each other by talking smack about yourselves. We’ve all seen that scene in front of the mirror from Mean Girls! In the end, you both walking away feeling like total crap when really, the opposite should be happening. That is, you should lift each other up, not help your friend tear themselves down (and vice versa). Nip this kind of negativity in the bud immediately by reminding your friend what’s great about them and refusing to partake in the toxic self-talk.