When we think of friendship, we typically connotate it with encouragement and positivity. However, we’ve all been in a relationship with someone – whether it’s a friend, family member, or partner – that’s considerably more toxic.
Just from their appearance, we know toxic friendship aren’t good. However, what many don’t consider is the implications it has on our mental health. By being around someone who causes more harm than good, you’re putting yourself in a position where you have no choice but to question yourself.
Throughout this article, we’re going to look into how toxic friends affect your mental health. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
What is a Toxic Friendship?
Toxic friendships can appear in all kind of shapes and sizes. Generally, they are an unhealthy relation with another individual. As mentioned, this can be between friends, family members, or intimate partners.
Gillian Needleman says you know when you’re in a toxic relationship when, “you’re unable to have a meaningful and positive connection with the other person and this often leaves you questioning yourself.”
Many of us may be in toxic relationships without even being aware of their toxicity. Often, it takes some time and maturity to truly understand the negative impact a friendship is having on us.
What Are the Signs of a Toxic Friendship?
As mentioned, toxic friendships can come in all shapes and sizes. With that, not everyone will notice the same signs within their toxic relationship.
However, some key signs to keep an eye out for include:
- Always Critical – Do you find that your friend or yourself are always being critical towards one another? While criticism can be beneficial, too much of it can be a sign of self-doubt.
- Destructive Patterns – If you find your friendship is always a one-sided relation, it’s natural some destructive patterns are bound to appear. A common example is one side always giving while the other only receives. This may appear in the form of helping when the other person is in need (i.e. giving advice, financial help, etc.). However, when you’re the one in need of help, it’s likely they won’t return the favor.
- Emotional Manipulation – Does your friend use things against you in order to get what they want? For example, they may make you feel guilty about a past action in order to obtain something now.
The ultimate sign of a toxic relation is when the other person isn’t helping you become a better person. If you find your relationship with them is only making you feel exhausted and neglected, it’s likely you’re better off without the individual.
How Toxic is Your Friendship?
It’s likely that you’ll experience some toxic traits within each of your friends at one point or another. It’s almost impossible for even healthy relationships to always have a positive outcome.
The key difference between toxic relationships and healthy ones is how much the toxic traits outweigh the good traits. While this can be difficult to measure, it’s important to take into consideration.
If you find you find that the good traits of your relationship outweigh the bad ones, it’s likely any difficulties your run into will be resolved. However, if you find that there isn’t often a resolution, you’re likely in a toxic friendship.
If you’re having a hard time figuring this out when it comes to a certain individual, consider how they make you feel after you’re with them. If you feel drained with heavy emotions – to the point where you’d prefer not to be with them – it’s likely you shouldn’t be around that person.
How to Move on From a Toxic Relationship
Even if you’re in a toxic relationship, there’s a good chance you don’t necessarily want to break boundaries with that individual. This is understandable and there are ways to develop a toxic friendship into a healthy one.
However, it’s important to note that even through your efforts, it’s vital you don’t expect the best of all outcomes. The reason we say this is because the outcome is quite out of your control. The steps you take to get to this outcome are all you have in your power and, if a healthier friendship fails to prevail, it may be in your best interest to simply walk away.
But before you give up so suddenly, here are a few things to consider:
- What are your emotions?
If you’re questioning whether or not you’re in a toxic relationship, chances are you’re experiencing some negative emotions. Identify these emotions and remove them from the relationship. While your friendship may be triggering them, there’s a likely chance they could also be coming from a deeper place within you.
- What are your boundaries?
If you think the friendship is worth rectifying, you’ll want to establish some basic rules between you and the other person. Obviously, these will vary from friendship to friendship – however, they most often always revolve around the triggers mentioned above. Consider when your friendship brings about negative emotions and what can be done to overcome these circumstances.
- Keep true to your word.
While it’s easy for some to understand their emotions and develop some basic rules, the real challenge comes in making sure these expectations are met. It’s common for people to become unfocused and give up at some point. Stand your ground and stay true to your word.
When to Move On
If you’ve followed the above and still find yourself in a toxic friendship, it may be best to simply walk away from that individual. This can be quite difficult as some may find their toxic friend doesn’t want them to leave.
However, it takes a certain level of maturity to understand that a friendship just isn’t working out. And that the best thing for both parties is to simply walk away.
It should be noted that this shouldn’t be your initial move. When dealing with a toxic friendship, it’s likely there’s a lot going on in the other person’s life as well. If you at least attempt to overcome the barriers, you’re showing that you’re still willing to give the friendship a chance.
We hope this article helped you identify how toxic friends affect your mental health and what you can do to overcome these relationships. Of course, the process of rectifying or simply walking away from a toxic friendship is never easy.
We understand that there will be a lot of bumps in the road and plenty of emotions going around. With that, it may help to identify your struggles with another individual – preferably, one who also knows the toxic friend.
Still have questions concerning how toxic friends affect your mental health?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.