Friends come in many shapes and sizes, however, you can’t start friendships with just anyone. Here are five signs to help you spot and avoid toxic friendships before they ruin your life.
1. Manipulative/Controlling Behavior
One sure sign to look for in a toxic friendship is manipulative and controlling tendencies. Toxic people usually want to have complete control in any relationship that they’re in, so if you see this as a commonality in your friendship, that’s most likely because it’s toxic. It’s not okay to feel like you’re underneath or of lesser value than your supposed “friend.” One friend should not feel more in charge of the other unless you’re wasted at the bar; that’s when someone is supposed to take charge. If that is not the case and the person is continuously trying to place themselves above you, then it’s best to remove yourself immediately because these people will always try to have an upper hand over you. Not to mention that they will want you and everyone else in the universe to know that they have the upper hand, which could take place in the form of public humiliation or maybe whispers over the phone with the other toxic friendships that they’ve established.
When someone takes up the role of a friend, they should also be aware they are taking up the role of one of your supporters as well. However, in most cases of toxic friendships, this is not the case at all. Toxic friendships are usually a one-sided transaction: you give them all the support they could ask for, but when you ask, they ignore you and disregard you in return. I have yet to hear a case where a toxic person returns the same support and care that the other person has. In fact, I don’t recall ever hearing if these people have the ability to care about anyone other than themselves. Furthermore, in the few toxic friendships that I have been apart of, I have noticed that it’s a pick and choose process of who they want to support the tiniest bit and who they don’t give a crap about. I have not an ounce of reason why they do this, but I do know that it’s very toxic behavior and should be avoided at all costs.
3. Ownership Over You
Now, there is no limit to what a person can own. But NO ONE should ever have ownership over you! In the case of toxic friendships, the toxic person gets in their head that you’re somehow their property and that they can dictate what you can and cannot do on a daily basis. This person hinders you from creating other friendships and, quite possibly, from building up your existing ones. Heck, this person might even try to manipulate you from having interaction with other people in general, which may include family. This ownership over you somehow gives them some sort of happiness. And don’t get me wrong, I know that most people have some sort of a clingy personality type, but there is a very clear difference between being clingy and someone treating you like property. If you find that you are in this position in one or more of your toxic friendships, don’t be afraid to cut the leash and move on.
4. Mental Abuse
Toxic people are known for bringing constant negativity when they are around. However, on a very serious note, toxic people are also known to cause a lot of mental trauma and abuse. In toxic friendships, all it takes is a cunning seed. That seed can grow into toxic thoughts which then leads to doubt and other kinds of mental trauma. If you see that one or more of your friends are constantly pulling down your mental health by their words or actions, don’t fool yourself into thinking that they don’t mean it. They probably do. Mental abuse is one of the many tools under a toxic person’s belt because a mind can be bent and turned in many different ways just with a few cunning, evil words or actions. Toxic friendships that are built upon mental abuse are doomed to become far worse and harder to get out of. Therefore, if you or anyone you know is experiencing mental abuse dealing with these toxic friendships, it’s best to distance yourself immediately to avoid any danger.
5. You Give, They Take
You give, and give, and give…and give…and keep giving… and on, and on, and on. I’ve heard of and have been involved in a lot of toxic friendships that were all giving but no returning. For some reason, people who have that toxic personality trait stamped in their brains don’t seem to grasp the concept of “give back.” It seems that the only thing they understand is “no takeies backsies.” These people also find absolutely no problem in taking without a second glance back at you, which really blows my mind. I mean, how would you feel if you gave an arm and a leg to someone and they wouldn’t even give back a toe or a finger? Alright, that might not be the most appealing example, but you get the gist. No real friend should ever make you feel as if you are giving for nothing. If you realize that you are the one who’s giving into these kinds of toxic friendships, then you might as well consider giving your life away, because that is what they will expect for you to do.
Now that you understand the signs of what toxic friendships consist of, you know what kinds of humans you need to avoid in life. Realistically (because we always have to ruin the fun and think about technicalities) these signs may not always be prominent at first glance, but by studying their personality beforehand—because you should always get to know someone before you dive into any type of relationship anyways—you’ll understand what NOT to consider when choosing a potentially lifelong friend.
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