We’ve all heard of toxic relationships.
Most of us have been there. Some of us are still struggling to move on or leave.
But we rarely come across toxic “friendships.” We assume that friendships might be easier to navigate and figure out. After all, friendships are built on some practices that usually need years to be properly established with a romantic partner—such as communication, honesty, or quality time.
Furthermore, we get to choose our friends (unlike relationships where emotions might cloud our judgment), which makes us think we have made the right choice.
Unfortunately, the odds of finding ourselves in a toxic friendship is high. Although we do choose our friends, we don’t get to choose (or change) who they are or how they might affect us in the long run.
Here are nine signs you’re in a toxic friendship:
1. It doesn’t feel right. You can’t exactly identify what’s wrong, but something isn’t quite right when you think about them, see them, or talk to them. Their manipulative, abusive, or generally annoying behaviors might throw you off balance. They bring your energy down, and you can no longer deny it.
2. You feel the need to proceed with caution. You’re stuck somewhere between their green flags and red flags. Because of this mental confusion, you’re careful about what to say or do around them.
3. It’s affecting your mental health. You don’t look forward to spending time with them because of how they make you feel—either unhappy, annoyed, or frustrated.
4. Those who care about you see it. They see the toxic friendship for what it is, but you don’t. They might even warn you or show you the red flags, but you might find it hard to believe them.
5. There’s a repeated pattern. It might be inconsistency, unpredictability, or manipulation. Whatever it is, it’s not good and you can’t help but notice its presence throughout the years.
6. You feel you’re being used. You don’t know how to put a stop to it. You also can’t deny the feelings of shame and unworthiness you feel when that friend takes advantage of you.
7. They don’t care about how you feel. Although they might show you otherwise.
8. They don’t reciprocate. Although you’ve invested so much into your friendship, you might not like to admit that they give you so little in return without considering your needs.
9. You feel rejected. You can’t help but feel rejected, left out, or forgotten. You’re sick of their excuses; you want actions instead.