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How to Tell If a Friend Is Toxic & Brings Unhappiness to Your Life

Toxic people bring drama, frustration, and negativity to life which is why we avoid them. Here’s how to tell if a friend is toxic. Protect yourself.

How to Tell If a Friend Is Toxic

Regardless of the type of toxic person they are, learn how to tell if a friend is toxic and identify them with the right signs. Then, you can easily figure which friends you should rid from your life.

How to tell if a friend is toxic

Toxic friends usually fall into two categories. The first genuinely considers you their friend but have developed toxic behaviors that they are unaware of.

The second is more devious. They keep you around because of ulterior motives. They keep a façade of friendship to manipulate you into getting what they want. [Read: 15 signs of a fake friend you can spot from a mile away]

#1 They gossip a lot. Gossiping about other people is one thing most friends have done at some point. But gossiping is the only kind of conversation a toxic friend starts. Your interactions become shallow and unproductive. As the saying goes, great people talk about ideas while lesser ones talk about people.

Besides, if one of your friends constantly shares gossip about other people, chances are that they are sharing gossip about you to others. [Read: Why some attention seekers just go looking for drama]

#2 Constant freeloading. You know the friend who always needs to borrow some cash, always takes your food, always borrowing some of your stuff, or crashing into your place at random moments, reconsider if you want to stay friends with them.

You are not your friend’s caretaker. Everyone is expected to at least be responsible for their own needs. An overly dependent friend will forever be a burden until you get dragged along with their irresponsibility.

#3 Being overly critical. They are harsh in giving you criticism and judgement on the slightest mistake you make against them without hearing your side of the story. Instead of extending understanding first, they will be quick to place the blame on others. Having this type of friend will make your life toxic and full of unnecessary conflict so you’d better watch out.

#4 They embarrass you quite often. Good natured teasing, trash talking, and banter is a pretty common type of interaction with friends. However, true friends know the right place and time to do this and won’t cause embarrassment. Deliberately humiliating a person you consider your friend in public is a big unforgivable slight and a form of bullying. [Read: How to stop negative people from dragging you down]

#5 They flake on you or your group a lot. Friendships deepen through the quality time people spend together, and without this, they lose the motivation to seek out the company of those people. Invest some quality time to spend with their friends and deepen your bond. A person who constantly flakes on your get-togethers only shows how little they value the time you allot for them and are underserving of your friendship. [Read: Got a flaky friend? Here’s why you need to ditch them now]

#6 They’re only there when it’s convenient for them. Simply put: they’re available when it’s all fun and games, but they’re unavailable when you or your other friends need them. They’re quick to put up an excuse or even display hostility when you point this out to them. They complain a lot about exerting effort on the most simple and basic of things which is why we suggest that you purge yourself off these parasites for your own sake.

#7 They’re overly needy. Instead of a friend, you find yourself with a child to take care of. Needy friends are the most toxic type. They are stressful and exhaustive to keep around. A slight mistake or the idea of responsibility will easily bring them down and need you for constant reassurance or company. They rely on others too much without taking personal responsibility for their own needs.

#8 They take without giving back. In other words, they are selfish. No matter how many times you’ve been present when they needed you most, they won’t reciprocate your acts of friendship. They essentially don’t know how friendship works. Sooner or later, these parasites will evolve into a burden you’ll carry around unless you get wiser. [Read: 10 ways to recognize a selfish person and 5 ways to get away from them]

#9 Lack of empathy or insensitivity. When it comes to knowing how to tell if a friend is toxic, we need to keep in mind that empathy is the first thing we extend to someone experiencing pain and distress. As a friend, we are compelled to extend this further to our friends than anyone else.

Toxic friends on the other hand, can’t seem to take a hint that their friend is experiencing loss, depression, or is visibly struggling with their life. They will make insensitive comments and act as if nothing is happening around them.

#10 They don’t listen to good advice. They keep making the same mistake over and over again. For some reason, they don’t listen to good advice and even if you push your patience to great lengths, they still stick to their old ways and refuse to change. As much as it pains us to see them suffer, you shouldn’t be dragged down by people who shoot themselves in the foot. [Read: 17 types of bad friends you need to unfriend from your life]

#11 They can’t keep information shared in confidence. Failing to keep a secret is one thing. Spreading information that you shared in confidence is a serious breach of trust. A friend who deliberately breaks their pledge of confidentiality will be a person you must constantly watch and be wary of, keeping you in a perpetual state of paranoia. The only logical choice? Stay away from untrustworthy friends.

#12 They’re moody and inconsistent. Like a rollercoaster, they switch quickly between emotions of happiness, sadness, and hostility. They’re quite stressful to deal with because you can’t predict how they will respond to different situations.

If you’re wondering how to tell if a friend is toxic, pay attention to their general mood and their reliable nature. A toxic friend’s inconsistent mood is always a threat to an otherwise cheerful environment. You feel you walk around eggshells when they’re around due to their emotional volatility. [Read: 15 types of toxic friends that make you miserable]

#13 They drag drama into the scene. A toxic friend overreacts and overthinks and ensures no end of the drama. At first you’re unsure if they crave attention or are just narcissistic. Once you observe how they provide a disproportionate emotional response to a simple issue, they essentially become a threat to you or your group’s peace of mind. Normal people lean towards avoiding drama. This toxic type of friend thinks that drama makes their life interesting and meaningful.

#14 They encourage you to make bad decisions. A real friend will never sabotage their friend with bad advice. However, you’ll sometimes be unlucky enough to be friends with a person who’s known for being a bad influence.

These types are typically happy-go-lucky. They avoid the realities of adult life and responsibility. They basically live in the moment without a care for the consequences and have a knack for impulsivity. [Read: These are the bad friends you should be unfriending from your life]

#15 They’re stagnant and want you to be the same. Real friends encourage you to become the best version of yourself even if you surpass them. On the other hand, toxic friends will drag you down to a state of complacency until you realize it’s too late.

They have no clear ambitions and never dare to plan for their future. These are types that end up freeloading from you in the future. Steer clear of them while it’s early.

[Read: 15 signs a friend is using you and subtly making you an unhappy person]

Toxic friends bring significant emotional and mental baggage which wear you down.  Hence, identify how to tell if a friend is toxic, and take steps to rid them of your life.

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Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul aka Morty is a keyboard-pounding cubicle-dweller based in Manila where he occasionally moonlights as a writer for anyone in need of his mediocre word-strin...
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