The friendship that I have is poisonous
8 signs you're in a toxic friendship
As a friend researcher, I learn a lot about how our friends affect us and how much they can influence the course of our lives. Most of the time it's extremely positive. Feeling social has a very real and important impact on our overall health and happiness, and our friends have the potential to bring out the best in us.
But the same closeness that makes our friendships so special and meaningful also makes us vulnerable. Sometimes our friends can influence us in ways that are not in our best interests. And when there is conflict, instability, or a mismatch of needs, our friendships can be stressful or even toxic.
While much has been written on some obvious signs of an unhealthy friendship, here are eight more subtle signs that your friendship may be detrimental to your well-being:
1. It's inconsistent
Everyone has their good days and days off, but the quality of our friendships is a matter of consistency. We expect our friends to be there for us no matter the situation we find ourselves in or the people we are with. Because of this, it is annoying, or at least confusing, when a friend behaves differently than one-on-one in public, or when they are inconsistent in the way they treat you. It's not always mean, of course, but even carefree teasing, unsolicited feedback, and subtle distancing or ignoring can be painful and make you feel insecure about your friendship, especially if it occurs repeatedly.
2. There is a lack of trust
Doubting a friend's trustworthiness is a clear indication that your relationship is not as strong as it could be. Of course, the feeling of being betrayed by a friend (as you learn to chat about it or share personal information) will affect how much you trust them. However, there are minor issues and conflicts that add up over time and can make up for a fairly destructive friendship. When you are feeling like a friend, you are not listening to or respecting your needs, or you have to keep asking them to do something that is important to you (like taking calls, cleaning up yourself, paying you back ) and affect what you actually get from your friendship.
3. Things don't feel the same
Friendships should feel balanced and fair. Usually we expect reciprocity or some kind of give and take. This applies to emotional and practical support, but also to the effort we put into our friendships. When a friend takes a lot more than he gives you back, e.g. For example, if conversations feel very one-sided, or if you are always the one to reach out to you or make plans, you may find yourself being taken advantage of. Like all signs, it goes both ways. And it helps to keep an eye out for clues that your friend is feeling this imbalance, too.
4. Competition is alive and well
A little healthy competition is something that is expected even in many close friendships. But having a friend who is constantly trying to find you is a completely different situation. It's frustrating and can make you jealous or even insecure. While these feelings are perfectly normal, they can get in the way of a healthy friendship. Everyone reacts differently, but it is not uncommon to respond to the competition with a defense, a boast, or a standoff. It can also keep you from sharing what you are really experiencing and make it harder to be present in your conversations, which affects the quality of your connection. If you find yourself in excessive competition, the dynamics of your friendship may need to be reevaluated.
5. You are caught in the middle
It's easy to forget that our friendships take place in a larger social context. And sometimes our relationships with others can create problems in our friendship. Time is precious, especially as we get older. It's normal to feel torn between the different people in our life - our friends, family members, romantic partners, and even co-workers. But receiving ultimatums or feeling guilty about hanging out with someone is a sign of a fragile friendship. Of course, you should ask yourself whether you are really putting enough time and effort into your friendship before you conclude that it is toxic. However, in general, things work much better when friends are realistic and empathetic about how hard it is to balance different relationships and responsibilities, and when you don't see yourself being forced to see each other but rather feel like you are decide.
6. You don't feel like your real self
At the end of the day, we all want to feel loved and valued by our friends. But the validation we get from our friendships is only beneficial when we act like our true or authentic selves. Sometimes you feel pressured to act in a certain way because you are afraid of being judged or of losing your friendship. If you find yourself hiding your real likes, dislikes, or views (both from your friend and yourself) because of worrying about how to get there or that it will lead to conflict, it is detrimental. If you feel that your identity is at odds with the success of your friendship, it puts a strain on your self-esteem and ability to make meaningful connections.
7. Things are turbulent
Even when friendships change and people come and go, stability is an important part of a healthy friendship. We each have our own ideas about how this looks in practice. See or talk to each other every day, week or month. Don't speak for several months, but pick up right where you left off. Therefore, the real marker is the general feeling that your friendship is unstable or fragile.
Sometimes this instability comes from conflict. But it is also possible to have a friend who seems to deal with a new crisis every week. While it may feel good to support a friend in need, the constant support during difficult times can make the friendship shaky and affect your wellbeing. It can also make you feel like a therapist rather than a friend. Ultimately, your ability and willingness to be there for them and the closeness you feel may decline.
8. There is no openness to feedback or changes
Neither of these signs necessarily confirms that a friendship has become toxic. The most important thing is the overall pattern. This is why it is so important to deal with these problems before they become major problems. It is also helpful to think about how we can add toxicity to our friendships. This applies to our behavior and special weaknesses that can lead to misunderstandings or conflicts (e.g. difficulties in generally trusting other people or in being quick to judge).
Realizing that a friendship is unhealthy doesn't mean we have to break off the relationship completely. Changing behavior or friendship dynamics is not easy. But the best sign of healthy friendship is the ability to communicate your own feelings and needs, the openness to hear your friends, and a willingness to work on things together.
What are the signs of an unhealthy friendship that you have encountered in your relationships? Let us know in the comments below.
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