Even platonic relationships can be complex and scary to navigate, and it’s just smart to keep your eyes and ears open and alert for potential signs of a toxic friend or love.
People with certain personality traits are more likely to form toxic friendships and abusive relationships than others, and knowing what to watch for can help you avoid ever being subjected to their abuse in the first place.
Friendships offer so much enrichment to our lives, from support to fun times to celebrating each other’s milestones along the way, but they are also complex and can sometimes be scary to navigate without proper guidance.
Many people find themselves suddenly uncertain whether they ever truly knew someone they’ve once called their best friend, as that person is now behaving in ways they don’t recognize. This commonly leads to feelings of guilt — “I should have known they weren’t my friend!” — followed by additional hurt as that so-called friend denies there’s a problem, or perhaps cuts off communication with you completely without warning.
That’s why it’s so important to regularly evaluate the friendships and relationships in your life and make sure they are truly balanced and supportive.
There are ways to know whether you are heading toward a toxic friendship with someone before it goes so for as to reach a place where there are pieces of your broken heart in need of picking up.
We’ve all been there at one point or another, but knowing which personality types to be wary of can help you avoid making ill-fated connections with toxic friends.
To save yourself from potential heartbreak (and even abuse), watch out for men and women who have these 5 personality traits, all of which are signs of toxic friends with the potential to be abusive in relationships.
Everyone has ups and downs, and it’s perfectly okay for friends to not be your eternal cheerleaders every time something good happens. That would be completely unrealistic of you to expect, because they have lives too, and they do get busy.
Yet, beware of the friends who seem super supportive when times are tough and then, without explanation, go MIA when you do get that promotion, new relationship, car, etc. It’s like they can’t handle the spotlight being on you.
Which brings me to the next trait …
2. Emotionally greedy
As a psychotherapist, I often caution people to be mindful of how much they give in relationships versus take. I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t let your guard down or be generous with your friends, but there is some truth to the saying, “Friendship is a two-way street.”
Stay alert for signs that someone expects you to always be the giver in your interactions.
If you support your friend’s new business launch, but they are nowhere to be found when the time comes to plan the birthday party you asked them to help you with months ago, or they expect you to be all ears while they vent about the boss you share, then ditch work early and leave you behind to finish up the project, you’re collaborating on, there are major problems with your “friendship”.
Similarly to romantic partners, friends who are together long enough will eventually be involved in some type of argument. This is to be expected. But there are healthy ways to disagree that make debates lively and fun ways to expand your moral horizons, rather than debilitating and demoralizing stressors.
Life would be boring if everyone agreed with you, but toxic friends will not tolerate you disagreeing with them. Ever.
After a disagreement with a friend like this, you’ll likely find them sub-Tweeting or vague-booking about the argument — posting motivational quotes on social media about how “true” friends are “eternally supportive.” As you read their passive aggressive message, you can’t help but wonder if that was some kind of a reference to you, as there seems to be a connection between the last disagreement you had and the last time you were invited out, but nothing so specific you could irrefutably call them out on it.
Even the best of friends need to be able to spend time with other people from time to time, so watch out for toxic friends with manipulative personality traits who attempt to isolate you from everyone else you are close to.
Be wary if they exclude others from spending time with you or act possessive or angry when you tell them you are spending time with your college roommate or your family visiting from out of town.
You deserve the freedom to hang out with whomever you choose, and your friends should also have other friendships (and lives!) of their own, and sometimes, those friendships may not include you.
It’s unrealistic, unhealthy, and potentially abusive for someone to assume they should be the only person you spend time with. After all, if you spend every waking moment together, what would you ever talk about?
It’s similar to couples who works together from home, spending evenings together with the kids, and then going to sleep together at the same time every night. At some point, most everyone needs to do some activities alone so they can continue growing independently, then regroup once they’ve had some time to recharge.
Toxic friends are draining because they only care about themselves. They may be financially draining, emotionally draining, spiritually draining, or some combination of all three.
This can be a tough one to spot, since this personality trait may not be apparently immediately and is likely to become more and more problematic over an extended period of time.
Notice how often your friend offers to cover your lunches or activities together. If you are spiritual, do they allow you to discuss your beliefs or are are they just trying to convince you to attend church with them this Sunday? If they’re in a fight with their spouse and not speaking with them temporarily, do they get angry with you when you say a friendly hello to their partner in passing?
Ultimately, you have a right to be who you are in all of your relationships.
Friendships and people do change over time, and arguably, you may change, too.
Just as you would donate shoes that may no longer fit you or clothes that have holes in them, it is always a good idea to regularly reassess your “closet” of friendships, then rid yourself of friends with toxic personality traits that cause you distress.
The friends who remain in your life will propel you forward and uplift you, rather than make you feel trapped, insecure, or exhausted.
Originally published on YourTango by Maxine Langdon Starr
Photo by Morris Fayman on Unsplash