Sure, we all have to vent sometimes and talk about ourselves. Certain situations warrant this type of behavior such as a break-up, a loss in the family, or any other traumatic event. However, if this happens quite often and you rarely get a chance to have a reciprocal conversation with a person, you’re acting as their audience to a monologue and not as a friend. You also deserve to be listened to and deserve to talk about any problems in your life.
Don’t let these toxic friends convince you otherwise. Stand up for yourself and tell them this is an issue. If they continue to do this despite you establishing that boundary, it’s time to forfeit the friendship altogether.
These toxic friends drain you and your ability to engage in self-care because they are emotional vampires whose only focus is them, their lives, their wants, and their needs. You don’t exist, or if you do, you only exist in relation to them. For example, if a friend hears your traumatic story and uses it to turn the conversation back to her life constantly, this is a red flag for narcissism, so be careful.
Real friends would listen to your story and make sure to give you feedback that is helpful to you before turning the conversation back to them. Stay away from any people with whom you don’t feel there is an equal, reciprocal exchange of conversation, validation, compassion, and respect.
4. They Are There For Your Good Times, And Never For The Bad.
I mentioned in #1 that you should stay away from people who don’t celebrate your accomplishments. One caveat though: watch out for toxic friends who are only there to piggyback on your success.
These friends only appear when you’re doing very well, and rarely show up when you need them during hardships. They use your presence to associate themselves with you, for the sole purpose of seeming more important via affiliation to your success.
Or they enjoy your presence only when you’re in a good mood and they need you. Otherwise, when you have a health scare or someone in your family has an accident, they are nowhere to be found. Real friends help each other through tough times and are there for each other even when times are challenging.
5. Not Emotionally Responsive, Validating, Or Helpful.
What is the point of having friends if they can’t even respond to your emotions? If you find yourself dealing with a friend whom you can have great intellectual conversations with, but only hear the sounds of crickets when you tell them you’ve had a bad day or you just had a breakup, this friendship is a no-go. Feel free to keep those types of people for your LinkedIn, but not for your real-life crises.
At most, they are a professional or academic connection because all they can do is talk about things related to the mind but not the heart. Sure, some situations lead to a loss for words, but friends should be capable of basic emotional support, even if it’s a hug and the words, “I am here for you.”
If your friend happens to be very emotionally invalidating, constantly telling you to “get over it” or gets angry at you expressing your emotions, leave them forever and don’t give them access to your life in any way. They don’t deserve to be your friend. Real friends validate each other’s emotions while still empowering each other’s personal growth.
6. They Don’t Stand Up For You.
When an outsider or mutual friend makes a snide or insulting comment about you or does something hostile or horrific to you right in front of these toxic friends, you rarely see these toxic friends jumping to the rescue. They don’t advocate on your behalf even if they are the only ones who can. They don’t support you when you most need it.
Real friends come to each others’ aid; they don’t have to “pick sides” in order to point out wrongdoing and consider your feelings. And also, when did we become so resistant to “picking sides”? Why shouldn’t friends advocate for victims or call out inappropriate behavior when they see it?
These toxic friends will more likely either stay silent or even participate in the belittling behavior on your behalf. That’s when you know it’s time to stop making excuses and stop defending people who won’t defend you.