Skip to main content

3 Signs of a Toxic Friendship

Richelle is a nerd of all things healing. Topics she loves are: trauma, healing, narcissism & borderline personality disorder.


3 Signs of a Toxic Friendship

When we think of toxic relationships, we usually think of dysfunctional family members or toxic romantic relationship.

However, toxicity can run rampant in friendships as well. Below are 3 signs it is time to re-evaluate and possibly break off a toxic friendship:

1. Your friend spends more time tearing you down than building you up.

If you have a friend who consistently tears you down, it’s probably time to re-evaluate the relationship. Mutual support is important in a relationship, and if you aren’t receiving support it can really damage trust in the friendship.

For example, when having a conversation with your friend you feel misunderstood, attacked, or demeaned - you have a toxic relationship. If you feel your feelings or actions are judged or dismissed, it’s time to rethink the relationship. If this is something that occurs regularly, it may be time to take a break to reflect on the future of your friendship.

According to Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends: “There has to be balance in a friendship for it to be healthy — not one person whose needs get met and another whose needs are overlooked.” — Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends. If your friendship lacks balance, or even worse your friend takes opportunities to break you down, your friendship is not balanced.

2. You have different life values.

While most the time it is ok to have different life values from one another. However, if your friend tries to change your values or consistently judges your values, it is time to take a hard look at your relationship. Your values reflect who you are and what you believe. They are who you are. Never compromise your values to appease a friendship.

Scroll to Continue

It may be possible to communicate your values and their importance to you without having to take a step back from a friendship. However, if he/she still continues to try to change, judge, or diminish your values it’s time to take a break or move on from the relationship.

3. He or she rarely takes accountability for their words or actions, and if they do they become defensive or have excuses for why they behaved badly.

If this person cannot take responsibility for their actions, and doesn’t offer a genuine apology, it is time to take a hard look at your relationship.

For example, if you confront your friend about a comment that hurt your feelings, and their response is “oh I was joking”, or “you’re too sensitive”, your friend does not value your feelings. True friends value your feelings and will apologize to you.

Toxic Friendships Rarely Change

Toxic friendships or relationships rarely change, without serious reflection and change. If your friend is toxic, it may be time to set up some clear boundaries.

For example, let’s say you convey to your friend that you will need to take a time out for a specific period of time if he/she continues to put you down by judging your life choices. The next time he/she crosses this boundary, you must enforce it with a time-out for the specified period of time. When the time has expired, you can reconnect and see if anything has changed. If it hasn’t, it’s time to reevaluate and possibly cut off the toxic friend.

Unfortunately, toxicity is found in every type of relationship, and friendships are no exception. To be the best version of yourself, you will need to have friends that consistently hold you up and support you. Letting go of friendships that are toxic is hard, but will benefit your life and mental health in the long run.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Richelle Marie

Related Articles