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3 Signs of Toxic Friendships

There are many definitions of a friend, and these definitions vary from person to person. We also have different types of friends, and we confide different things to different friends for different reasons. 

The truth about friends, regardless of how you define it, is that most of us do not keep the same people as friends throughout our entire lives. We are constantly moving and growing, both physically and personally, and it can be difficult to bring friendships with us as we grow.

The difficulty is knowing whom to let go of and when.

Many of our friendships will drift apart due to these temporary circumstances. High school friends go to college in different states and become different people with new interests. College friends get jobs in other cities or countries. Work friends get different jobs and time with them is no longer built into our lives. We no longer see them, and we all become different people. It’s simply inevitable.

Then there are the friends that we need to let go of immediately due to drastic circumstances. Whether it’s serious drama, lack of respect, or physical danger, we should cut ties from these people as soon as possible. However, our friends are our friends, and it can be hard to see past negative behaviors when we are close to them. It’s not always obvious that things are falling apart when they are.

Here are three signs of toxic friendships that let you know it’s time to let go of someone in your life:

1. They don’t support you the way you support them.

When you trust someone and put in the extra effort for them, you expect them to do the same in return. You expect them to come through for you and have your back, but somehow, they never do. There is always an excuse when you counted on them to be there.

Looking back, I’ve trusted people like this to be there for me during late night parties and killer hangovers and the worst breakups. I wanted them with me through birthdays and weddings and promotions. When I realized they weren’t always going to be there for me, I knew I had to let them go.

It doesn’t mean that it’s easy to let go either. Even when things are absolutely terrible, the familiarity of a bad friend or relationship is less terrifying than the uncertainty of moving on.

Familiar pain can be easier than an uncertain future because there is no guarantee that the uncertain future will be any better. If anything, it looks lonelier because you’ll have to leave your friends behind.

2. They don’t put any time or effort into the relationship.

If your friends don’t make time for you, then your time is better spent elsewhere. If your friends don’t make the effort for you, then they are not worthy of your extra effort for them. If they don’t let you be yourself and appreciate you for your strengths and your flaws, then they don’t deserve you.

You shouldn’t be anxious or nervous around your friends. You shouldn’t have to watch what you say or do for fear of offending your friends. You should be able to be yourself around them without reprimand. They should support you through your accomplishments and your struggles; expressing happiness for you when things are going well and having your back when things are not.

3. They don’t inspire you to be a better person or to grow.

Your friends should inspire you to be better. That’s not saying that they won’t have their flaws. Everyone has their flaws.

But despite that, something about them still inspires you to be better. It can be their ambition, their easy-going outlook, or their perspective on life. Maybe it’s their workout ethic, or their high standards of morality. No matter the case, being around them inspires you to be a better version of yourself.

Anything less should not be tolerated.

3 signs of a toxic friendship

When life is so short, we need to chose our company wisely.

Whether we like it or not, we pick up on the habits, mannerisms, and perspectives of those we spend the most time with. Our friends will impact us, influence, and change us.

These are the people that inspire you to be the very best version of yourself. They help you realize that you can be better, and they encourage you to do so. They don’t stop you from pursuing your dreams, and they don’t try to bring you down in any way. Their energy alone is infectious. They simply want you to be happy, and you want the same for them.

You know you’ve found a true friend when you want to be the best you can be when you’re with them. These are the people we need to be friends with. They are the only people we should be friends with.

About the Author

Lindsey Zawila

Lindsey graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015 with a B.A. in Global Studies and Communications. She studied abroad in Austria (Summer 2013), Switzerland (Spring 2014), and India (Winter 2014). Her previous internships include the World YWCA in Geneva, Switzerland, the Foreign Service Institute at the U.S State Department in Washington, D.C., and CNN International in Atlanta, GA. In her free time, you'll find her reading, writing, making jewelry or friendship bracelets, sewing or refining her photography skills.