Signs Of Being In A Toxic Friendship — And How To Change It

Signs Of Being In A Toxic Friendship — And How To Change It
Image: Twenty20

Signs Of Being In A Toxic Friendship—And How To Change It
Twenty20

We'll be the first to admit that we've gotten involved with some toxic people. And whether it's with friends or a romantic relationship, it's a hard situation to go through. Often, toxic people end up making us feel like their friendship is the only one that really matters, and so it's especially hard for us when we realize we have to get out of that relationship, given that we've been manipulated into thinking it's really the best part of our lives. Fortunately, this isn't the case, and getting out of a toxic relationship isn't just doable, it can be incredibly relieving in the end. Here, we're going to lay out the signs that someone may be dealing with a toxic person -- and how to get out of the situation. 

It's so sad when a friendship turns out to be toxic because friends really are the best part of life when it's going well. But much like how we want enough water to drink but not so much to drown in it, balance is key. And we don't just believe that with our hearts -- it's a scientific truth, really. Don't believe us? Check out some scientific facts about friendship, which can be a great way to think about the other people in our lives who aren't toxic. And for anyone out there who is ready and willing to make new friends -- and new mom friends who can relate about mom stuff -- take a peek at ways to make new mom friends. In that same vein, take a look at why some women broke up with their best friend. If a friendship breakup is imminent, know that it's going to be OK in the end. A lot of women have broken up with their best friends before, and many will again. And to double down on the good, supportive friendships in our lives, take a look at ways to make friends and keep them.

  • They Make Us Tired

    1
    They Make Us Tired
    Twenty20

    When we spend time with people who are truly toxic, we don't leave our interactions with them feeling refreshed and energized, the way we usually do when we spend time with our nontoxic friends -- instead, we leave feeling emotionally drained. 

  • They Don't Support Our Ambitions

    2
    They're Unsupportive Of Our Dreams And Ambitions
    Twenty20

    Toxic people will belittle what we want to do in our lives, either openly, saying something like, "It's dumb to try to apply to grad school -- why would anyone do that?" or more subtly, saying something more along the lines of, "Isn't it very hard to get into grad school, though? Are you able to do that?"

  • They Find a Way To Be the Person in Charge

    3
    They Always Find A Way To Be The Person In Charge
    Twenty20

    Whether they always insist on driving, they demand that we come to their home instead of letting us host them at ours, or they want us to engage in activities we're not comfortable with but they feel good about, their power trip is meant to keep us in check. 

  • We Come Away Feeling Negative About the World

    4
    We Come Away Feeling Negative About the World Around Us
    Twenty20

    When we hang out with a toxic person, we don't just leave feeling drained and exhausted, we also leave feeling more negative about the world around us. Why the world certainly has problems, it's also got good things in it -- and spending time with our friends shouldn't make us feel worse.

  • They'll Nitpick Our Behaviors

    5
    They'll Nitpick Our Behaviors
    Twenty20

    If someone constantly notes and complains about every little thing -- not just our tendency to leave water glasses out on the counter, say, but also the kind of slang we use, our posture, and everything else -- then that person is trying to manipulate and control us. 

  • They Always Want Us To Be Available

    6
    They Always Want Us To Be Available
    Twenty20

    Want to spend time with another friend, go for a walk by ourselves, or take a vacation without that person? Maybe... but she won't be thrilled about it, and may even try to "punish" us for engaging in activities without her. 

  • They Make Us Think Their Opinion Is More Valuable

    7
    They Make Us Think Their Opinion Is More Valuable Than Our Own
    Twenty20

    Toxic people make us think that our own opinions and values aren't as real, important, or valuable as theirs. They often make us become dependent on them for their advice and want us to crave their validation. 

  • They Make Us Feel Bad About Ourselves

    8
    They Make Us Feel Bad About Ourselves
    Twenty20

    Toxic people don't just make us feel bad about the world around us and belittle our dreams and ambitions, they also whittle away at our own feelings of self-worth in the present. They want us to become dependent on their opinion, so they try to disrupt our feelings about ourselves. 

  • They Want Us To Feel Responsible for Their Problems

    9
    They Want Us To Feel Responsible For Their Problems
    Twenty20

    Even if the problem doesn't have to do with us -- for instance, their problem is that they have a husband who travels for work regularly and they're lonely -- they want us to take responsibility. Not just sympathize with the problem, but solve it for them. 

  • They Make Us Feel Anxious

    10
    They Make Us Feel Anxious
    Twenty20

    When spending a lot of time with a toxic person, we may end up feeling more anxious than usual. This can manifest itself by our feeling tense and nervous in their presence of afterwards, or in signs like increased stuttering around that person. 

  • They Encourage Us To Do Things That Feel "Not Us"

    11
    They May Encourage Us To Do Things That Feel
    Twenty20

    It's common for a toxic person to try to manipulate his target into behaving in ways that are directly counter to what the person wants. Good friends will often help us stretch our boundaries, but toxic people in our lives will encourage us to go way past these for their sake, not ours -- and may convince us to do things we wouldn't otherwise. 

  • They Rarely Apologize

    12
    They Never -- or Very Rarely -- Apologize
    Twenty20

    It doesn't matter how bad a fight we got into with them or how hurt they made us feel, they rarely apologize for their actions or how their actions impact us. Instead, they're likely to avoid accepting that their actions have any impact on others. 

  • They May Also Flip the Blame Around

    13
    They They May Also Flip The Blame Around
    Twenty20

    If they do something that we find hurtful, toxic people will often react badly to being called out on it. For instance, instead of apologizing for hurting us, they'll flip the script and make us feel bad for having called them out on their bad behavior. 

  • They'll Be Passive Aggressive To Get Their Way

    14
    They'll Be Passive Aggressive To Get Their Way
    Twenty20

    Rather than just telling us that they have a problem with something we've been doing, they'll go about it another way, telling another friend that we're mad at them or engaging in other passive-aggressive behaviors. 

  • They Want Us All To Themselves

    15
    They Want Us All To Themselves
    Twenty20

    If the toxic person in our life is a friend, she may want to make us feel bad about spending time with other friends. If it's a partner, he may want to separate us from our friends and even our family, too, saying or implying that the only people we should spend time with is him. 

  • They Will Cause a Scene Out of Nowhere

    16
    They Will Cause A Scene Out Of Nowhere
    Twenty20

    Instead of letting something go with relative ease, toxic people will turn even the smallest, most unintentional slight into a reason to get mad at us. This can happen in person as a screaming match, or turn into a series of increasingly angry text messages. 

  • Set Some Boundaries

    17
    Set Some Boundaries
    Twenty20

    Once we've established that we've been dealing with a toxic person in our lives, we know we need to make some changes. One of the first things to do: Set boundaries that can keep us from getting wrapped up in their emotional games. 

  • Avoid Contact

    18
    Avoid Contact
    Twenty20

    Of course, this can be hard if the toxic person is a close co-worker or we share a home with the person. But it's good to recognize that we need separation from them -- and that we deserve it, too. If the person is truly toxic, we may want to consider alternatives from our present situations. 

  • Don't Expect Them To Change

    19
    Don't Expect Them To Change
    Twenty20

    While it can be tempting to hope and believe that the toxic person may be willing to and interested in growing and changing, the truth is, that's really rare. People don't change unless they want to change, and that doesn't happen often. 

  • Accept That It's Not Our Fault

    20
    Accept That It's Not Our Fault
    Twenty20

    It's also tempting to blame ourselves for other people's behavior. We can often think that we deserved how they treated us or that we're the ones who cause them to behave this way, but that's not true -- their behavior isn't our responsibility. 

More Slideshows