“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as friends and family” – this saying is perfect for describing fake friends and a toxic friendship. Having a toxic friendship in your life is equal to getting your happiness sucked out with every passing second.
Thank you to one of my good friends—Sharon Livingston, Ph.D., author of Get Lost, Girlfriend!: How I Found Myself When My Best Friend Dumped Me—who co-wrote this article with me.
A best friend can bring great joy, comfort, solace, and fun to your life. People are pack animals. They love to roam together and need friends to thrive—friends that share the good times and offer support in the bad.
Great friendships extend life. A 10-year-long Australian study showed that participants with solid friend groups were 22 percent more likely to live longer.
Unfortunately, a bad friend can have the opposite effect, yielding increased vulnerability to all the stress-related body signs—higher blood pressure, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), lowered immunity, higher blood sugar, depression, anxiety; the list goes on.
But how do you know if you’re in a friendship that’s affecting your health and killing your spirit? (In the following examples, “her” applies equally to “him” if your best friend is a guy.)
Here Are 8 Signs Of A Toxic Friendship
1. You find yourself in a competition with her other “best friends.”
What? Her other best friend gives her more? Does fun things you can’t? Has things in common with her that you would never want? And why do you know this about her other friend, anyway?
2. There’s an imbalance in talk time—all for the friend, none for you.
You call her and she tells you about how lousy her day has been, or how great her day was. Then you start telling her about what’s happening with you and… she apologizes but has to get off the phone because—well, she has many reasons why. But the reality is that she leaves without having listened to you, your concerns, or your joys.
3. Your best friend blurts out criticism with a self-righteous attitude.
Honesty is important in any relationship. But what happened to kindness? What’s this idea about brutal truth being something to aspire to? It’s still brutal—and damaging.
She tells you, “You know, you are just too needy. It’s like you’re a stalker always coming after me.” What? No wonder you feel awful. Be sure you realize that her mean words probably are projections—that is, more accurate as descriptions of how she is than as descriptions of you.
4. Who calls whom?
Are you calling her, or texting her far more often than she reaches out to you? Do you feel like you’re more interested in talking and getting together than she is?
Relationships get toxic when the other person isn’t as invested in you as you are in them. The opposite—feeling stalked by a friend’s incessant demands on your time—can be disturbing as well.
5. Your best friend tells you that you need to change.
But what about her? She sees no need to even recognize her own shortcomings, never mind changing them. It’s about what’s wrong with you. If only you changed, it would be fine. She’s not interested in seeing what she brings to the party—just in pointing fingers of criticism and blame on you.
6. You’re walking on eggshells.
At first, it was so fun to be with her. You laughed, you commiserated, it was such an enjoyable connection. Then, something changed. She flipped. It’s so easy to get into trouble with her now. Better be careful. But then you start being overly careful, watching every word to avoid saying the wrong thing.