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Identifying toxic friendships

Relationships are complicated. One day you get along with a friend perfectly, and the next you find yourself in a silly spat. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when a friendship starts to feel like it’s filled with more negatives than positives, it may be time to consider a change. If you have a person in your life you feel might be doing you more harm than good, ask yourself some of these questions. You may find that keeping that toxic friendship going just isn’t worth it.

Toxic friendship

Does time together make you feel poorly about yourself?

Although all relationships have their ups and downs, for the most part, spending time with a friend should make you feel good about yourself and how life is going. If, instead, you find you feel poorly after spending time with someone, that person may not be the best friend to have around. He or she may be subtly or overtly putting you down, and that can weigh on your self-worth and well-being over time.

Are you in constant competition?

Competition can take on many forms. It may mean you are constantly battling for speaking time whenever you two are together. Or it could be that you feel the other person is always trying to one-up you. Both are challenging issues to deal with, and if undealt with, can wear on you over time.

Are you able to speak openly and honestly?

The best thing about a friendship is having someone you know you can talk to about whatever is troubling you. If you find you’re constantly having to censor yourself around someone or feel as though that person is being untruthful, it can make communication difficult. And when that trust is gone, establishing a meaningful friendship is virtually impossible.

Do you feel upset or tired after your time together?

Spending time with a friend should be an enjoyable experience. It should make you feel lighter, not weighed down with anxiety. If you find you constantly replay things your friend said or did in your head afterward, that friendship may be causing you unnecessary stress.

Do you find yourself trying not to think about that person?

Repression or denial is one way we as people attempt to cope with experiences in our lives that are not going as well as we would like. Friends should be people you think of fondly and look forward to seeing. If you find yourself trying to ignore thoughts of a friend, he or she may not be treating you as well as you deserve. Pushing these feelings away could cause you to put up with being mistreated longer than you should. Instead of ignoring negative feelings toward that person, acknowledge them and try to understand why you have them. When you name the emotions and where they come from, it is easier to work through them and come up with solutions for how to deal with them.

Does your friendship often feel one-sided?

No buts about it: A good, solid friendship has to go both ways. Do you constantly feel as though you’re giving while that other person only takes? This is a sure sign that something has to change. Putting in so much energy and receiving nothing in return is exhausting and will only cause you to feel resentment. If possible, try talking to your friend. You may find out she’s been blowing you off lately because she’s dealing with trouble at home or discover she’s been talking non-stop about her problems without listening to yours because she has no one else to talk to. Try to get a better sense of why the relationship is feeling one-sided, and go from there.

What can be done?

When it comes to toxic friends, the only sure thing is this: Something has to change. Putting up with a toxic friendship can last only so long, and the longer you put up with it, the harder it will be on you. The first thing to do is to get a sense of what makes the relationship unhealthy, and then go from there. Your best option is to talk to your friend and see if something can be done to change the situation. If that doesn’t work, you may need to take a break from that person and focus on your own needs and the positive friendships you have in your life. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself suffer unnecessarily!

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Do you have a best friend?
Keeping in touch with friends overseas

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