While there’s several posts, articles, memes, etc. on the internet that address toxic romantic relationships, it seems that toxic friendships get a hall pass.
Any type of toxic relationship is not good and should not be entertained. Setting boundaries, whether it be with friends, family members or a significant other, is so important in protecting your mental health and, ultimately, your peace.
So what defines a toxic friendship? Here are a few signs to look for when evaluating if that “friend” is actually a foe to your inner peace.
They don’t respect your opinion
No two people are going to see eye to eye 100% of the time, but part of being in a healthy friendship requires agreeing to disagree sometimes. If the other person belittles you or is downright disrespectful when they disagree with your viewpoint, then you might want to back off a little. It’s one thing to respectfully disagree, quite another to shame someone you call a “friend” for having a different opinion.
I’m not suggesting that you vote them off your friendship island at the first sign of disrespect. Take the time to explain to them that, while you appreciate their input, it’s not necessary that the two of you agree on everything but it is important to be respectful of differing opinions. If their behavior does not change, or they get upset for you even addressing the issue, then I would take a break from that friendship for a little bit. Sometimes absence is an excellent trigger for the other person to reflect on their actions.
Their absence brings you peace
We all have people we encounter in life who simply leave a bad taste in our mouth every time we see them. You know, that person who, when you know you’re going to be seeing them or there’s a possibility of running into them somewhere, the obligatory eye roll happens accompanied by the feeling of having to gracefully tolerate their presence? Yeah, your “friend” should not be the source of this type of reaction.
If you have a “friend” who triggers these reactions/emotions, it’s time to take a look at that friendship and really assess whether it’s best to distance yourself or end the friendship entirely, or have a heart to heart with that person.
In a situation where you’re feeling this toward another person, I caution you to maybe look to yourself first. Sometimes if we’re going through something, we tend to project those feelings on somebody else in an attempt to avoid dealing with them. So, be mindful of your own actions.
They only contact you when they need something
I’m pretty sure we’ve all encountered a person who, as ugly as the term is, a user.
Being there for your friends is important, but if it’s not reciprocated, then it’s a one-sided friendship that needs to be cut off.
Again, before letting go completely, I would have an honest discussion with them and explain your feelings. If there’s no follow up of changed behavior, then, for your own peace, it’s best to end the friendship. You can’t always be there to save them from an emotional and/or financial crisis, especially if they blow you off when you’re in need.
Life is complicated–friendships shouldn’t be. If it feels toxic, then it probably is. Our friends, most of the time, are closer to us than our family; we confide in them about things we don’t share with our family. That’s why it’s so important to choose your friends wisely–they’re a major influence in your life and, ultimately, a reflection of you.