Signs Your Friendship Is Toxic

boundaries breakups controlling people emotional health energy red flags Oct 21, 2022

Friends are people that we can share an emotional connection with. Friendships provide us with a connection and feeling of togetherness; it is a mutual interest in one another. We can have friends that are deeply important to us, that we can hang out with all the time and share the deepest, most vulnerable parts of ourselves with. We can also have friends that we enjoy going out for certain activities or share certain interests; it is lighter and fun and just as valid as the deeper friendships. Unfortunately, not all friendships are healthy. We may enjoy their company at times or feel that they may be a confidante, but they can also be toxic. A toxic friendship does not fill us up the way that it should. Instead of feeling supported, we can feel insignificant.


It is not always easy to see if your friends are toxic, especially if it is someone that you feel really close to. Here are some common signs to watch out for if your friendship is toxic:

They Push Your Boundaries

Having anyone disrespect your boundaries can be difficult enough, but a friend disrespecting your boundaries can be even harder to deal with. Whether it is spending time together, loaning them money, or buying things for them, they find a way to push you out of your comfort zone to get what they want from you.

They Always Need Something From You

They always need help with a problem, and you're the one to help them. It could be money, time, advice, or anything else. They always have drama in their life and need the support that “only you” can provide.

They Aren't There When You Need Them

Though they reach out to you for support, they don't help you in your time of need. When you reach out to them, they either don't have time to talk, or they are very dismissive of you when they are there. You will hear phrases like "You just need to get over it," or "I don't know, do what you want." They don't provide you with the support or advice to actually help you.

They Make You Feel Guilty When You Don't Choose Them

They guilt you when you don't do what they want you to do. It can be direct where they beg and tell you all the reasons why you should be there for them. Or it could be passive, where they avoid you or are short with you until you apologize to them. They don't respect your boundaries or other commitments and find ways to manipulate and twist your actions and words to make you feel bad.

They Constantly Tease You

They use sarcasm and make jokes at your expense. They hide their rude remarks as jokes and get defensive if you express your feelings against what they say. It could be teasing you about what you are wearing, how you look, your job, passions, and so on. Some friendships can have light teasing that everyone enjoys, but if it is constant or if you don't like it, that is an issue. A friend wouldn't continue to tease you, knowing that it is hitting deeper, regardless of their intent.

Spending Time With Them Drains You

Even when you are doing something that you love, you find that spending time with them drains you of your energy and happiness. There are some people who just pull the energy from us; they require so much from us that we give and give until we are empty. 

They Talk About You Behind Your Back

They are nice and say all the right things to your face, but they talk about you behind your back. When you confront them, they will either lie or make up an excuse as to why you are “misunderstanding” what they said. This can be harder to learn unless someone tells you, but a good indicator is that if they talk to you about other friends behind their back, then they also talk about you behind your back.


It can be hard to leave toxic friendships because we always keep going back to the memories of good times together. We go back to the image of them in our heads instead of accepting the reality of who they are. So what can we do? If you're not sure, reach out to other friends. The chances are that they have seen the same red flags as you and can help you figure out if there is a pattern of toxic behavior. Next, you will establish boundaries and enforce them. If setting boundaries doesn't work, start to slowly fade them out of your life or ghost them if necessary.