Recognizing and Dealing With Toxic Friendships

Here at Freegirl Skincare, we talk a lot about how to break up with toxic skincare — but in life, one of the most significant sources of stress can be toxic friendships. It is so hard to break up with difficult people who are draining time and energy — but sometimes it’s necessary. Here are a few ways to spot the signs of a toxic friendship, deal with unhealthy friendships, and cultivate valued friendships that will last a lifetime.

Healthy Vs. Toxic Friendship

Toxic Friendship Signs

From mental to emotional wellness, there are various reasons why identifying healthy and non-healthy friendships (or any relationship) is so important. 

Your relationships can:

  1. Impact how you feel about yourself and your worth
  2. Give you cause to feel strong or helpless
  3. Make you anxious about issues or calm you down
  4. Cause depression or joy and self-confidence
  5. Strengthen your immune system or make you feel unwell
  6. Lengthen your life or make you suffer through cortisol surges 

Since lowering stress, increasing self-worth, and boosting confidence are all things we strive for daily, we must ensure that the people around us support our lifestyle, decisions, and priorities to help maintain our and our family’s health. 

When you’re considering the question, “What makes a friendship turn toxic?” some of the critical signs of unhealthy friendship would be: 

  1. They call you with all their needs and never offer to help with anything — or over-offer and make you feel suffocated. A hallmark of this trait is saying something like, “Well, I did this for you — why couldn’t you do this for me?”
  2. They don’t respect the boundaries you’ve placed. If you’ve set time boundaries, you need to stick with them. Good friends understand that you have other commitments and relationships that need to be nurtured. If someone makes life - specifically your life - all about them, there’s a problem. 
  3. They don’t make active strides to be accountable for their actions. While they may “apologize,” they never try to change their behavior. 
  4. You can’t trust them because they try to manipulate you. If the person is good at it, you might not realize what’s happening for a while, but a toxic friend may use things they know about you to get you to do what they want. This creates unhealthy patterns and a feeling of dread whenever you see them call.
  5. They criticize you more than encourage you. Friends are supposed to be in our corner, cheering for us unless we need a little motivation in a different direction. But there’s something different when a person is dragging you down, pointing out your flaws all the time, and seeming to compete with you. If you have someone like that in your life, it may be better to strengthen your other relationships that do support you. 
  6. They don’t take your beliefs or values seriously. If you feel strongly about something, but your friend or family member won’t support you — or at least consider your reasons respectfully — it may be a sign that they aren’t able to listen to you. 

How to deal with toxic friendships.

It can be difficult when you realize a friend has changed or you’ve seen unhealthy patterns develop. But some friendships are not intended to last forever. We continue to change as humans, and sometimes the relationships need to change. 

And while we all have things to work on in our personal lives, if you have a friend who is utilizing a couple of these tactics in your friendship, be sure to have a conversation and set the proper limits to help them. But more often than not, an adult who has lived in these patterns for a while may not be in the right place to change their behaviors. 

You cannot continue to be mistreated or belittled — part of creating a “stronger you” is standing up for yourself.

Some ideas on how to create space between you and the person are —

  1. Start accepting that your friendship may be over. Take time to work through the emotions and understand your own feelings before trying to share them with the person. Be strong in your reasons and decisions. 
  2. Create more space and set boundaries. Your friend may not understand, but give yourself the space you need and then pick the right time to discuss permanent changes to your relationship to gain control. Don’t give in to any bullying that starts, and stand firm. Some friendships can be strengthened at this point, but some may not be saveable. 
  3. Walk away if needed. If the extra space doesn’t work and the person cannot handle the new boundaries, you may need to leave the relationship entirely. If that happens, spend the time you need to grieve that relationship and do not feel bad for ending a relationship that is only causing harm. 

How to grow healthy friendships

If you have recently lost a friend or are going through this process with someone, you can take active steps to grow healthy friendships! Some of the best ways to develop a good relationship are to —

  1. Be supportive, trustworthy, and honest. These are all the foundational elements of a good and healthy relationship.
  2. Listen to the people in your life. Instead of automatically jumping to conclusions or formulating answers before the person is done talking, slow down and listen to them! 
  3. Don’t gossip. Be sure that whatever is shared with you stays with you. No one enjoys hearing that something they said to you got spread to others, regardless of how little it may seem.
  4. Forgive and ask for forgiveness. When you have done something wrong or if the other person messed up, be a friend who is quick to forgive and move on! 
  5. Respect the other person’s life and boundaries. Honesty is an essential — and when a person shares their life stage or needs with you, be sure to reciprocate by understanding and respecting their wishes! 

We hope these truths about toxic friendship and healthy friendship help to solidify your relationships and take your joy and happiness to the next level! 

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