Your friends are probably one of the most important relationships to maintain in your life. After all they're the ones to steer you away from f*ckboys & listen to you cry for weeks on end when he dumps you. They're allowed to make a few mistakes but when it becomes regular and the friendship becomes a exhausting, chances are they're toxic.
Let's start by saying its okay to cut someone off if you feel the effort from the person you're friends with doesn't reciprocate. Don't stick around because you're lonely or scared you're being too demanding of the friendship. The fact you have to question it should give you enough of an idea that this is the kind of person you shouldn't be putting your energy into. There are so many other people worthy of your time who would make better friends.
Usually friendships like this start as any others do, filled with mutual love & joy that you guys are getting on so well. Unfortunately these types of friendships tend to creep up on you after a while so there's no easy way to tell at the beginning, all I can say is trust your gut instinct. Us women have them for a reason! A toxic relationship in any form "emotionally harms you, rather than helping you" says clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior. You can tell a friend is toxic when they cause you more frustration, anger or anxiety than they do support. "Friends" like that can also make you doubt yourself, which for me is the last straw before I hit the block button for good.
For some reason you seem to be able to spot the signs nowadays on social media rather than IRL. It could include short texts whenever the conversation switches to you (for once); passive aggression if they don't get their own way; being online for hours but not being able to send a simple reply back to you. They're all red flags and if you experience this you should probably provoke a conversation about it.
You're giving more than you're getting
This is probably one of the most tiring aspects of a toxic friendship. Always having to listen to your friends problems but when it's your turn suddenly they need to be somewhere else, hmm very strange. It's frustrating as hell but as soon as you bring it up the manipulation starts and you seem to be the "Crazy" one. People hate to be called out especially if they're being made to be the bad one but again those types of people are destructive to themselves and everyone around them. Typically they're unhappy with themselves & their own lives which may be one of many reasons they don't wanna hear or see you being successful in the slightest. It's probably one of the easiest things to spot IRL and in person, if you recently accomplished something you're proud of but they don't seem to be the tiniest bit interested, its super easy to spot how shitty of a friend they're being.
Remember you need to be able to tell difference between someone who can't be there for you all the time and a flexible healthy friendship. Of course if someone is going through a tough time themselves they mightn't be the most perfection friend but if the pattern is so ingrained that you feel like you're giving everything it's a sign that it's not very sustainable.
There's no trust
I think we can all agree relationships of any kind are built on trust and if you don't have trust then what do you have? Not friendship that's for sure. Your friends should always have your best interests in mind, they should hype you up when you're looking good, make sure they're encouraging only the best and support you through just about anything. Trust isn't just about telling them your darkest secrets and hoping they don't spill, it could be them promising to pick you up from somewhere and backing out at the last second (not very reliable) and no one likes to be let down constantly. Some people have to back out for a legit reason but when they don't its hard to keep a level of affection for them that could truly keep a good friendship going.
You dread checking your phone
Technology makes it so much easier to keep up with your friends. Whether that's a good thing or not, I'm not sure. You know it's not good when that friend calls or texts you and all you feel is your heart sink and that voice in your head saying "not again". A good friend should not have that effect on you whenever your phone buzzes so its probably time to turn those notifications off.
You don't enjoy spending time with them
If you sighed with relief and did the happiness dance the last time they cancelled plans it might be because you're tired of the zero reciprocation policy that you guys seem to have between each other. Like I said before if the relationship become a chore you might also notice an increase of headaches, anxiety & stomach disturbances whenever you're with that person. (If I were you, I'd run the opposite way).
You know they talk sh*t about you
Whilst there's a spectrum of talking about people behind their back, if your friendship is starting to resemble an episode of keeping up with the kardashians, chances are its probably toxic. You need to realise if your friend is talking out of genuine concern for your best interests or just being a bit of an ass. It takes one thing for friends to look out for you about a certain guy but when they start generalising that you date idiots etc...it's kind of like they're making fun of you.
You can't depend on their advice
Everyone hates the generic advice you get from someone when you really need them. Yeah, I mean the whole "you'll be fine" crap. Nothing is more frustrating, and that's why we need good friends to help figure things out but when you ask for a friend's advice and instantly regret it, it might mean they're toxic. If they do listen, it's usually to give one-sided advice that makes them sound more confident or smart, often they'll insist on an expensive or impractical fix where you feel like you have to go along with it even though you know its not realistic.
So there's no doubt about it: your friend is toxic. Now what?
It's a difficult call when it comes to deciding whether you should end the friendship, but talking to others and getting an outsiders opinion can generally give you a reality check on the relationship. It can draw your attention to red flags you didn't notice or have brushed under the rug. If cutting off the friendship isn't really the road you wanna go down then you can try setting boundaries. Once you establish boundaries, stick with them. If your toxic friend has no clue they're radioactive, they might push back harder, get offended, become accusatory, or just totally miss the hint so if you have to be more straight up, so be it. No one wants to do the dirty work, its totally awkward but you have to be clear to protect yourself. Of course you can still still say things in a respectful & mature way, just stay firm and straight to the point.
In the best case, the other person will accept your decision to back away but we are talking about a toxic relationship here so all bets are off. The person could start a huge argument, play the victim and completely flip the blame to you (it happened to me recently) but you need to go into this conversation with a clear picture of what you want to get out of it, it'll help you keep your emotions in check if it starts getting into a confrontation, as easy as it is to go off on someone all you need to say is "This discussion is upsetting to me. I've told you where I stand. I'm not going to be able to spend much time with you in the future. I am not going to be in touch". This makes you the mature one, you have the right to cut them off after this. You can't have a constructive conversation with this person, so the ordinary rules of engagement no longer apply, you need to exit as gracefully as you can and realise that's your answer.
Never let anyone take your time & energy for granted and trust your gut if you think you have a toxic friendship or relationship. Much love, Umi ♡