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How to recognize a toxic friend: 9 warning signs your friendship isn't good for you

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If you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, it’s hard to imagine your life without them. However, it’s wise to take a close look at your friendship every once in a while. Does it still help you grow? 

If your friend stopped listening 

Sure, you’re willing to listen to their stories about the nagging new colleague, difficult family situation or physical discomfort. But if they hardly respond to the things you tell them, or immediately relate everything to themselves (no, my relationship isn’t exactly the same as yours), it might be time for change. Friendships have to be two-way streets. 

If they’re not there for you

Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes and there’s nothing wrong with friends you simply watch movies with or go to the gym with. But the best friends should be there for you. If they’re not, you might wonder what use the friendship is to you. 

If you feel relieved or tired after they’ve left

This is probably the #1 sign that something’s off in your friendship: if you’re happy they’re leaving again. One thing’s for sure: this friendship only costs you energy, it doesn’t give you any. 

If you fight over the most ridiculous things

Fighting doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Just like in a relationship, the occasional explosion can clear the air. But this only happens when a fight is about something substantial. If you guys keep fussing about little things, all this negativity gets under your skin. 

If your friend can’t handle criticism 

Some people are sensitive. There’s nothing wrong with keeping that and mind and being careful with criticism. But in the end, good friends need to be able to tell eachother they are making a mistake – simply because they wish the best for eachother. 

If they can’t keep a secret 

‘Oh, by the way, me and that other friend talked about your relationship trouble.’ Wait a minute – did she just talk about this sensitive issue with someone else? Good friends know when to keep things a secret. 

If they don’t care about your family and other friends

Good friends care about you, and want to know about your background. If they meet your friends and family, they want to get to know them, because they are important to you too. If they don’t, they may be jealous or they simply don’t care. Which isn’t a good sign. 

If they don’t pay for things

It may seem like a small thing, but admit it: it does get annoying if your friend’s a cheapskate. (Of course, if they’re having money issues, it’s different. Although it’s always unpleasant if they keep letting you pay all the bills or ‘forgetting’ to pay you back). 

If they judge you

There are a few important elements in every friendship, and respect is probably the most important one. How can one ever feel safe with a friend if they don’t respect them? Many unpleasant aspects of a friendships are surmountable (no one is perfect), but this one means code red. 

Text: Dorien Vrieling - Photo: Greg Raines