11 Important signs you need to break up with your toxic friend
Of all the different relationships we have throughout life, friendships are probably one of the most important. They're sort of a neutral ground between family and partners: people with whom you can discuss anything without judgment, but also rely on for advice.
Unfortunately, much like familial or romantic relationships, friendships can also deteriorate over time, and there comes a point where a decision has to be made: cut ties, or stick with it? Neither decision is an easy one, but you can't have it both ways, either.
If you're debating whether or not a friend is worth your time, here are 11 toxic behaviors which should not be tolerated in a friendship...
1. You've stopped hanging out
Pretty much the core part of a friendship is spending time together - be that in person or, if you guys are long-distance pals, having video chats and staying in touch via the web. If they don't have time for you anymore, though, what's the point of keeping the relationship going?
2. Or, when you do hang out, you dread it
Going to see a friend should fill you with excitement and anticipation, not fear and dread. If you find yourself already wanting to back out of a meeting before it's even started, that's probably a sign that your buddy is a pretty toxic influence on you.
3. It's all take and no give
This doesn't apply to just physical things like Christmas gifts or buying drinks (though that matters a little bit, too), but also emotional exchanges. If your friend loads up all their issues on you, but has no time for your problems, then they've stopped treating you like a mate and started seeing you more as a free therapist.
4. They feed your bad habits
But what if you do still hang out, and your friend does actually seem to have time for your personal needs? Well, there are still other ways they can exhibit toxic behavior. Perhaps they encourage your drinking, or persuade you to skip important events, or tear you away from other pals. All these things are just as damaging as the previous points.
5. You feel like you're competing with them
One of the most important elements of a friendship is mutual support: you should foster their good qualities, and they should do the same with yours. So, if one of you achieves something great, and the reaction the other has is anything other than happiness, you guys have a problem.
6. Or that you're responsible for them
However, the opposite is also possible. Maybe your mate is having a hard time at work, or they've got issues with their partner, and they just keep weighing it all on you. Asking for help is no problem at all, of course, but if you're made to feel like their problems are somehow your responsibility - or worse, your fault - you've got a problem.
7. You can't share personal details with them
Have you ever met someone who, on the surface, seems like a perfectly nice person but, once you get to know them, turns around and exposes their true, horrible self? Those kinds of people will use private details and trusted confessions to manipulate you, so avoid them at all costs.
8. The only common ground you have is negative
There are tons of things that bring people together: a similar taste in music, a mutual love of food, a shared interest in stupid memes. All kinds of stuff. But if the only thing tethering you to your buddy is a bad trait - say, a dislike of another shared 'friend' - they're probably not worth keeping around.
9. They don't respect you
A lack of respect can be expressed through varying extremes. In the worst cases, a disrespectful friend will openly trash-talk your loved ones, mock your life choices, and disregard your feelings. Obviously, these people should be cut loose immediately. But there are other, more subtle ways of lacking respect. Not showing up for a planned meet-up without saying anything, ignoring your messages, and essentially not giving you any time are also indications of disrespect.
10. They make you feel guilty
One of the most toxic behaviors of any relationship is gaslighting - making you doubt yourself, and apologise for something you didn't do. If your friend does this, or tries to make you feel responsible for something that wasn't your fault, you need to get out of there.
11. The past is the only thing keeping you together
If you find yourself defending or justifying your friendship by saying something like, "but we've known each other since we were kids," or, "it seems a shame to throw away so many years", it's a sign you should drop it. You wouldn't suffer a bad romance because it had lasted a long time, so why put up with a toxic friend?
If you find yourself dealing with any of these things, remember that you have the power to distance yourself from a toxic friend. Your well-being should always come first, so don't let somebody else get in the way of it.