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20 Signs of a Toxic Friend to Instantly Recognize the Rotten Ones

It can be hard to spot the signs of a toxic friend when you’re holding onto the friendship, but it could be time to purge those people from your life.

Signs of a Toxic Friend

Having a toxic friend is immensely draining. Not only are you emotionally exhausted, but you may feel guilty about it as you review the signs of a toxic friend. Many toxic friends aren’t new and that’s the problem. We tend to be friends with these people for a long time before they become toxic or before we notice it. It makes it a whole lot harder to end the friendship.

Because this is someone you’re used to having in your life, it can be hard to spot the signs of a toxic friend. You get used to how they treat you and may even think it isn’t a problem because their toxic behavior has gone on for so long.

But, deep down, their manipulation, guilt-tripping, or flakiness gets to you and is not adding positivity to your life.

[Read: The different types of toxic friends who make you miserable and drag you down]

What is a toxic friend?

A toxic friend is just like a toxic boyfriend or girlfriend. They add more negativity into your life than anything else. You find yourself feeling more annoyed with them, frustrated at them, or disrespected by them than anything good.

A toxic friend will not add to your life. They may have in the past but for some reason or another, they are draining your energy and emotional wellbeing. 

A toxic friend can make you feel guilty, make you feel bad about yourself, or even be jealous of you. 

[Read: 10 ways to recognize a selfish person and 5 ways to get away from them]

The signs of a toxic friend

To remove a toxic friend from your life and move forward with a much more positive outlook, you need to be able to spot the signs of a toxic friend. You should ensure this isn’t someone going through a rough patch who needs you now more than ever.

Knowing how to spot the signs of a toxic friend will help you to realize why you have been feeling resentful or down lately and help you decide what to do about it.

#1 They’re bitter. A bitter friend can become toxic very quickly. If a friend is jealous of you for any reason, it can come between your friendship. Whether they are upset you are in a relationship while they’re single or that you got promoted and they have been in the same position for years, bitterness can take over.

A friend who is jealous will resent your successes rather than celebrating them which can make you doubt yourself over time and even cause you to hold back so they feel better about themselves. [Read: How to calmly deal with a jealous friend]

#2 They are negative. You want people in your life who bring light and positivity. Surround yourself with friends that encourage you, not ones that second guess you. You want a friend to support you, not doubt you.

Having someone close to you doubt you, says more about them than you but can really drain your self-esteem.

#3 They tell you what you want to hear. We all have acquaintances that tell us what we want to hear. This could be a coworker or mutual friend that doesn’t want to get into it so they nod along with you. But, a true friend will tell you what you need to hear, even if, especially if, you won’t like it.

If a friend doesn’t want to bother saying something that might upset you, they may not care as much as a friend that would risk you being upset with them to ensure you’re happy or making the right choice about something. [Read: The qualities of a good friend that set them apart]

#4 They’re always late. We are all late sometimes. But if you have a friend that is constantly late, they are not appreciative of your time. A sign of a toxic friend is someone that doesn’t feel bad for making you wait.

#5 They cancel or bail on plans. Again, we all cancel once in a while to stay in and binge watch TV, but if a friend has been continuously bailing on plans, especially at the last minute, they are toxic. 

A friend like this can make you question yourself. You wonder if you did something to upset them and ask yourself why they may not want to see you when in fact it has nothing to do with you. [Read: Here’s why you need to ditch all of your flaky friends right away]

#6 Their actions and words don’t match. This can go for many situations. Maybe they say they’ll be at your party but don’t show up. Maybe they say they care, but when you really need them, they are nowhere around. You rely on someone you trust, and expect something, only to be let down. Going through that, especially repeatedly, can cause trust issues.

#7 They belittle you. A little teasing between friends is harmless, but when they push the buttons that really hurt you, they are no good for you. A toxic friend will metaphorically hit you below the belt. They don’t want to tease you but want your self-confidence to waiver. [Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the selfish things they do]

#8 They mooch. If you are happy to help out a friend at dinner or for coffee, that is so sweet of you, but if you are paying every time you go out with one person, they may be using you. Even if they aren’t doing it directly, they don’t care enough to say anything.

This person will likely promise to pay you back or offer to get the check next time or even change the subject or leave the room when the bill arrives. [Read: Do you see the signs of a fair-weather friend in your life?]

#9 They spread lies about you or others. A friend that gossips to you will often gossip about you to others. If you are uncomfortable with the types of things this person says about their coworkers or even other friends, they are probably saying those same things about you behind your back. 

It isn’t easy to admit this. You may think they never would, but a gossip is a gossip.

#10 They only talk about themselves. This is one that can really make you feel emotionally drained. If you meet up with a toxic friend and leave feeling empty or confused, this may be why.

Toxic friends often catch up to brag about themselves or just talk about themselves. Every time you bring something up about your life, they will turn the conversation back to them almost immediately. You may not notice this in the moment, but you will leave feeling like you didn’t vent to a friend but were bombarded with them. [Read: When and how to end a toxic friendship if they’re holding you back]

#11 They don’t lift you up. Our friends should inspire us and encourage us to be better. A friend that has no investment in your success or happiness may not be actively toxic but think of it as a slow leak. A subtle sign of a toxic friend is a lack of interest in your life. 

#12 They aren’t there for you. When you think about the signs of a toxic friend, they are the absent ones. Friends don’t just show up to celebrate when times are good, they show up when things are bad. They are there for you when you’re no fun. They will sit with you in silence and go out of their way to make things better for you.

A toxic friend will be there for the good stuff but disappear when you’re going through something like a job loss, a breakup, or even a death in the family. [Read: These are the types of friends you need to let go of in life]

#13 They don’t appreciate you. Everyone shows appreciation differently. Some show it with words, others with gifts, or actions, but some not at all.

If you find yourself driving a friend to the airport, investing in a thoughtful holiday gift for them, but they didn’t even reach out when you had your appendix out, they are not equally involved in the friendship which makes it toxic for you.

#14 They hold grudges. Friendships go through ups and downs. You may fight. You may not talk for a week. But true friends find their way back and are stronger for it. They forgive and move forward.

A toxic friend will throw your mistakes in your face. They will bring up the worst thing you’ve done, nearly blackmailing you to get something they want. [Read: 15 signs a friend is using you and draining the happiness out of you]

#15 They judge you. A judgmental friend is one of the most toxic you can have in your life. Think Charlotte on Sex and the City. If someone did something she didn’t approve of or that she wouldn’t do, she could barely look them in the eye. But, Samantha supported her friends in everything they did whether she would do it or not.

#16 They make you feel bad about yourself. You should leave a hang out with friends feeling confident and happy. But if a friend leaves you feeling bad about yourself, that is no friend of yours. A friend shouldn’t make you want to curl up in a ball and cry. This is one of the key signs of a toxic friend.

#17 They make you hold back. Friendship is something that cannot be replaced. Friends are people you can be yourself around. A toxic friend is someone you feel nervous around. You may hold back parts of your personality or even not tell them things because of how they’ll react.

You should not have to walk on eggshells around a true friend. [Read: How to get rid of a toxic friend and let them go for good]

#18 They make you tired. A toxic friend is like a toxic fume. They seep into your pores, mouth, nose, until slowly you are ready to collapse. They drain you of all your energy physically and emotionally until you are too tired to stand up for yourself.

#19 They think they’re better than you. A toxic friend may not openly bash you and your lifestyle, style, or anything about you. Instead, they may just brag about themselves. 

Whether this is due to their own low self-esteem or a truly large ego, if a person boasts about their amazing life with the intention to make you feel bad about yours, it is a sign of a toxic friend. 

#20 They sabotage you. A friend will give you a pep talk before an important interview or first date. A toxic friend will bring up your biggest insecurity or most recent failure to psych you out. [Read: How to spot a fake friend hiding out in your life]

What to do about a toxic friend

Now that you know how to spot the signs of a toxic friend, you can decide what to do about it. You have endless options but the most popular and useful tend to be, talking, removing, and separating. 

You can talk with them and hope they hear you out and work on their behavior. You have to be hesitant here because many people who are toxic will get defensive. Others may just need a wake-up call. [Read: How to make up with a friend when you just don’t want to lose them]

Sometimes the best choice is to cut them off. I know it can feel harsh but you have to look out for your own wellbeing above all else. You can’t be productive and happy if you have someone in your life who is toxic to that. You may just need some space from them temporarily. 

It is up to you how to deal with a toxic friend, but just sitting back and living with them the way they are can be detrimental to your happiness.

[Read: How to get rid of a toxic friend and make them walk away for good]

The signs of a toxic friend can be both subtle or obvious, but whatever they are and however you spot them, it is important to address them.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...