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5 Signs You’re a Toxic Friend

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.

Are You a Toxic FriendIn 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. If you’re confused about what it means to be or have a toxic friend, you might want to learn more about how to deal with unhealthy friendships.

These five signs that you’re a toxic friend are inspired by author 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, and she had some solid ideas about friendships. She 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?

Here are 5 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!).

Do you know what the number one cause of negative attitudes and behavior in people? Self-hatred. Read How to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Good Enough.

You don’t call, you don’t write

toxic friends

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.

To learn more, read Dealing With Toxic People Before They Take You Down.

May you become a messenger of peace and love in all your relationships.


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4 thoughts on “5 Signs You’re a Toxic Friend”

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on these signs of a toxic friend! It’s so important to be honest with yourself, and to allow yourself to see what you haven’t wanted to see about your personality or attitude towards people.

    What are your biggest strengths, and how can they help you become a better friend?

  2. I feel i’ve been draining other people’s energy in ways that i’d like to improve. I have this awful job for a crazy boss–and i don’t mean that lightly since I don’t tend to hate on people just for being an authority figure. but i always vent to my boyfriend and close friend about it, and then chastise myself afterwards because i know it’s bad for those relationships. the only answer is to improve the situation that is causing me to complain and suck other peoples energy.

  3. Hi,

    I have been looking into more info on toxic friends. This was a good article.

    I wanted to add to the when someone doesn’t call/listen, that’s a sign of a toxic friend. I have delt with someone who likes to remind me of when she called last. To me when i hear this it shuts me down. She doesn’t remember that i tried to call her back or that i have alot going on and do the best i can. She likes to act like she’s perfect in this sense. I used to take an hour to 2 each night to talk to her about her life. When it came to mine i learned to keep it short b/c her comments where short.

    I started learning it didn’t matter what advice i tried to share or how much time i spent it wasn’t enough. I have tried to grow and understand being a pleaser person and low self esteem can pull me into trying to please women in my life.

    Anyhow i just appriciate knowing that their are others out there that deal with toxic friends.


  4. Hi,

    I am looking into frenemy. The passive-agressive part has really been a part of the “friendship”.
    I realize now i have taken this kind of abuse over the years that i didn’t recognize it. I didn’t do anything to deserve being made to feel i was less then a good friend/person. Since i have a very giving nature and try to please i see now how i allowed behavior to continue without calling her on it. As i’ve been able to read more on this and have gone to therapy i am standing up for myself.
    One of the hard parts was i worked with this person so if i didn’t do something she wanted outside of work then i paid for it with looks and snippy comments.
    I moved to a different city and work in a different place now and i am so amazed how much better i feel. I also am able to stand up to her without the backlash of being in the same office.
    I am greatful for others writing and sharing about this. Its really helped to know i wasn’t going insane.
    I’m learning how to set boundries also. To think if i want to do something instead of just thinking of the others wants and needs and not mine.
    Its amazing to me that we don’t have more info on these issues growing up. Instead we stumble and bumble till we get help or someone comes into your life who helps you see it from a different perspective.
    I’m so glad that the hope is there to live a more full life and not be drained by others who claim to be a friend.