Skip to main content

How to Identify a Toxic Friend

Rosalie is an experienced relationship adviser who dedicates a great deal of time to writing about common complications in relationships.



Here are several things that a toxic friend may do:

  • Talk only about themselves and/or shut you down when you try to talk about yourself.
  • Pretend to listen when you know they aren't actually listening.
  • Never congratulate you on achievements.
  • Talk about you behind your back.
  • Spread rumors about you.
  • Lie to you.
  • Pretend not to be your friend in public or tell other people that they aren't your friend.
  • Try to start arguments.
  • Never apologize after a disagreement.
  • Tell their friends/significant other about personal things you have told them.
  • Ignore you.
  • Show jealousy towards your other friends.
  • Insult you or degrade you, especially if on multiple occasions.
  • Try to control your behaviors and decisions.
  • Request your help but never offer help to you.
  • Make excuses for their behavior, often blaming others and/or you.
  • Break promises.
  • Share/spread secrets.
  • Physically hurt you. (If this is the case, please contact the police immediately.)

How to Avoid Toxic People

If you are close with a person, it's definitely hard to shut them out of your life. Especially when they have known you for a while or have experienced many different things with you. However, there should always be two people contributing to a relationship- whether it is platonic or romantic- and if this person is not as committed to the relationship and is not showing any interest in maintaining the relationship, they should be avoided at all costs.

Here are some steps you can take to rid yourself of toxic people.

  1. Explain to them that you don't want to continue the relationship. Be as assertive as possible, and make sure they understand why you are ending things.
  2. Block them on any social media or delete their number from your phone. This eliminates most forms of contact with them and will save you from harassment.
  3. Delete any pictures you have of them on your phone. This will help you to forget about them and help to erase any bad memories.
  4. Ignore them in public. If you hear from someone that they are talking about you, ignore it. If they try to speak to you, turn them down.
  5. And finally, don't let yourself think about them too much. That is just what they want from you, and it won't do you any good.

Avoiding Drama

Drama is what toxic people live for. They thrive off of rumors and scandals, and one of the most effective ways of cutting them out of your life is to starve them of it. If they try to start an argument with you, end it immediately. If they try to start a rumor about you, ignore it. The one thing that they will most likely try to do after you end things with them is create problems.

What is Harassment?

According to FindLaw, harassment "generally entails targeting someone else with behavior meant to alarm, annoy, torment or terrorize, and creating reasonable fear in the victim for their safety or the safety of their family." If a person is consistently harassing and/or stalking you, you may be able to obtain a restraining order. Please check this for more information.

Staying Safe

Although it seems most toxic people are simply nuisances, there is a possibility that they will try to "get revenge" on you for ignoring them. If you suspect someone is following you, harassing you, or you are afraid for your life, please do not hesitate to call the police.


Kate on March 23, 2020:

Scroll to Continue

I believe that one step towards having a good friendship is reciprocating. One example of that is to give my friend a thank you note if they give me a birthday present. I also try to make a point of showing up on time when I’m expected to meet a friend for say coffee and to call them if I have to cancel. I do not consider it polite to just not call someone you’re expected to meet and leave them wondering whether or not you’re coming unless it’s an emergency of course. I also do like it when someone strings you along... Agreeing on a plan/outing for weeks or days in advance to cancel at the last minute with no explanation.

Lauren on August 08, 2018:

I had a friend that did a few of the things on the list of things toxic friends do he ignored my texts sometimes he waved at me when he saw me but didn't stop to talk to me he wasn't there for me when I had anxiety he made me say something personal in front of his girlfriend who I didn't know

dashingscorpio from Chicago on February 27, 2017:

Anyone who does not have your well being in mind or doesn't care what (you) want is most likely a toxic person in your life. That includes family!

Each of us gets to (choose our own) friends, lovers, and spouse.

Everyone should have their own mate/friend selection or screening process complete with a "must have" list of traits they want in those they associate with.

Choose wisely!

Natural compatibility trumps compromise.

Have you been in a toxic relationship before? (Yes, of course!)

In a manner of speaking every (failed relationship) was to an extent toxic!

People don't normally leave happy, healthy, and loving relationships .

Related Articles