Finding a good friend is difficult, especially as we get older. Friends from school move away, start careers and stop initiating contact. Therefore, when we find a friend or manage to keep a friend from school, we’re motivated to maintain the relationship even when it’s not healthy. Sometimes we stay in relationships because we don’t think we’ll find anyone else. We may also find ourselves in in a bad friendship without realizing it. People often become so accustomed to certain behaviors that they don’t notice the negative impact. Some signs you have a toxic friend:
One of the most common toxic behaviors in a relationship is a backhanded compliment. A person will disguise an insult as a compliment. For example, “It’s so amazing you got the promotion without having a college degree”. They say something that seems nice on the surface, but when you examine the comment it contains an insult or diminishes an accomplishment. You may think you can brush them off, but over time they can wear away at your confidence.
A good friend will show up for planned events or let you know if they can’t come. Toxic friends leave you hanging and don’t care about being unreliable. This lack of consideration for your time shows they don’t really care about you as a friend. A flaky friend leaves you frustrated, embarrassed and/or stressed. One time is excusable, but if it’s a pattern of behavior you need to move on to better people.
Negative Talk About Others
Sometimes friends need to vent and that’s okay. But if you find your friend constantly talking negatively or gossiping about someone else they consider a friend, chances are they’re also talking about you behind your back. You may feel honored to be their sounding board when they are complaining about a mutual friend but it’s likely that friend is hearing complaints or gossip about you too. A good friend will be honest about issues in the relationship and won’t spread gossip or personal information they know the other person doesn’t want shared.
Only Around When They Need Something
A true friend is around through the good times and bad. They are there to support you and understand that the relationship involves giving as well as taking. A bad friend will only pop up when they want something from you, like money or a ride. When you need them, they’re nowhere to be found. If you have a “friend” like this start saying no and you should be able to get rid of them easily.
Using You as a Back-Up Plan
If you’re friend always calls or texts to make last minute plans, it’s likely they’re using you as a backup in case their first choice falls through. It’s fine if this happens only occasionally and they are honest about other plans falling through. However, if they always want to do things last minute and don’t explain the lack of planning, you’re being used. A good friend will make you their first choice and won’t take you for granted. When someone contacts you and it’s obvious that you’re the second choice, ignore them or say you’ve already made plans (even if it’s just watching Netflix!).
If you find yourself in a bad friendship, you have two options for exiting. First, you can be honest about why you think the friendship isn’t working out. You don’t have to go through all of the dirty details, but point out something that is not right without blaming the other person. For example, “I don’t think we share the same interests or lifestyle anymore. It’s best we go our separate ways.” Your second option is to just stop initiating contact with the person. This will be easy with a friend that never initiates contact, uses you only as backup or is flaky. You can easily make excuses not to come with them to events and they will likely stop contacting you.