Most of us can recognize a bad friendship fairly quickly, but we may not know if we ourselves are toxic friends. These signs you’re in a toxic friendship will help you see yourself more clearly.
In Toxic Friends: A Practical Guide to Recognizing and Dealing with an Unhealthy Friendship, Loraine Smith-Hines describes different types of toxic friends and helps readers figure out if they should end the friendship or find effective ways to deal with it. .
Here are five signs that you’re a toxic friend, based on inspiration from George Eliot. She was an English novelist who used a male pen name to ensure her words were taken seriously. Her real name was Mary Anne Evans.
About friendship, George Eliot said: “Perhaps the most delightful friendships are those in which there is much agreement, much disputation, and yet more personal liking.”
Good friends agree about lots of things – and, better yet, are able to disagree about lots of things. The good news is that sometimes a toxic friendship can lead to a healthy, strong relationship. For example, learning how to deal with a toxic ex-wife can help bridge the gap between nasty and nice relationships.
Are You a Toxic Friend?
Five signs that you’re the cause of a friendship that is toxic…
You’re negative, and you can’t stop complaining. Do you hate your job, your ex-boyfriend, your mother, and your last vacation? Fine…but stop talking about it! Expressing your negative feelings is fine — good, even — but polluting the air with a nonstop monologue about how terrible your life is won’t help you make and keep lifelong friends.
You talk behind your friend’s back. You’re a toxic female friend if you share info about your friend, her habits, her work, her partner, or anything about her life. Gossip may feel good – but it just ain’t nice. And, it’ll destroy your friendship.
You don’t remember – or know – what’s happening in your friend’s life. How did your friend’s dad’s open heart surgery go? When is her birthday? How old are her kids? What does she want to be when she grows up? What’s her biggest struggle? You don’t know what’s going on in your friend’s life because you don’t ask. Or listen.
You give back-handed compliments. “I love your new haircut! It makes your face seem so slim.” I’m sure you’ve received “compliments” like this. If you find yourself making snide remarks (and let’s face it, ladies, we’ve all done it), cut yourself a piece of humble pie and apologize immediately. You could even explain why you were snippy (my grandma’s word) with your friend. This example of a toxic female friend is from Kelli Zink, host of CelebTV.com — and so is the next one…
You put your friend down in public. If you don’t save your criticisms for private discussions, then you may be the poison in a toxic female friendship. Sometimes we need to confront a friend’s bad behavior – but not in public (the same goes for married couples!).
You don’t call, you don’t write. This may not be a sign of a truly toxic friendship, but if you never reach out, then you’re not much of a friend. Being a good friend can involve a quick, simple “Hey – how are you? Haven’t talked in ages, was thinking about you today.” If you never think to call or email your friend, then you’re not carrying your end of the canoe, my friend.
You drain other people’s energy. Are you an energy vampire? This may be difficult to figure out on your own, but it’s a strong sign that you’re a toxic female friend. Energy vampires leave people feeling drained, depressed, and exhausted. They ignore boundaries and other people’s needs. Energy vampires can be “drama queens” — making the smallest incident a huge deal. If you’re an energy vampire…you’re also a toxic friend.
If you don’t have any friends because you’re toxic, read 3 Ways to Meet New Friends. I wrote it with widows in mind, but it works for all types and ages of women.
What have I missed about toxic female friendships? I’d love to hear your thoughts below! I can’t offer advice or counseling, but writing about your experience can bring you clarity and insight.
If you’re not a toxic friend – you have wonderful friendships in your life – one way to celebrate them is to throw a Goddess party.
May you become a messenger of peace and love in all your relationships.