Toxic Friends: How to Spot Them and What to Do About It

This is a guest post by Maria Rainier. If you’d like to guest post on this blog, click here.
Friends should be a source of support and positive energy for us. They should be people to count on when we’re Toxic Friendsfeeling down, people we can turn to when we are need of a little fun, and people with whom we can feel free to be ourselves. But sometimes, we find those friends in a relationship who actually make us feel worse after we’ve spent time with them. They drain us of our energy and our confidence. These are called toxic friends. Not sure if you have a toxic friend? Here are the most common types.

The Promise Breaker

This is the friend who says she’ll pick you up from the airport, but after you’ve been waiting by the baggage claim for an hour and you finally get her to answer the phone, gives you an excuse about how she forgot, or how “something came up.” This is the friend who always calls to cancels your plans at the last minute — or simply doesn’t show up at all. This is the friend who doesn’t do what she says she’s going to do. Friends should be reliable.

The Gossiper

Wondering how everyone suddenly knows about that one-night stand you had last month? Or how people are suddenly whispering about your new couple’s therapy sessions? Friends should be trustworthy and able to keep in confidence what you say to them in confidence.

The Competitor

This is the friend who is always trying to one up you. If you just took a vacation to somewhere exotic, then she has a vacation planned to somewhere even more special. If you got a great new job, then he’s talking about how his salary is bigger. These friends try to diminish your accomplishments by touting their own. Friends should celebrate joys and accomplishments with each other, not try to diminish them.

The Criticizer

Criticism can be subtle or overt. Your friend doesn’t have to tell you that you look fat in that dress to be criticizing you. Subtle looks or questioning of decisions can be critical. Implying that what you’re doing is wrong and suggesting that you “should” be doing something different can be forms of criticism. Listen closely to your friend. Do you feel worse when you’re around her? She could be a toxic friend.

The Attention Grabber

The attention grabber is the friend who wants to talk about herself all the time. You might have some great news you want to share, or have some advice you’d like to solicit, but you never get a chance to because your friend is too busy talking about what’s going on in her life. Friendship is about give and take. Make sure you’re not the one doing all the giving.

How to Deal with Toxic Friends

Now that you’ve recognized that you have a toxic friend in your life, there are a few things you can do. Recognizing your toxic friendship is the first step. Now you need to take responsibility in your role in the friendship and for allowing your toxic friend to treat you as she has. Now set some boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say no when you need to. Talk to your friend about her negative behavior and tell her what you would like to see change in your friendship. She may not recognize her behavior, and may not be willing to accept it after you have explained it to her.

If necessary, end the friendship. It may be painful to do so, especially if you have been friends for a long time. But if the friendship makes you feel worse about yourself, then ending it is the only healthy thing to do.

Maria RainierBio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she’s written on online geography programs. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, playing piano, and working with origami.

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