No one likes to think they’re the toxic friend or toxic partner in a relationship.
But sadly, some of our habits can be less than healthy for the people around us. They can even negatively impact ourselves and our own happiness.
Stopping to evaluate your habits and how they affect others is the only way to grow as a person.
If you’re slightly concerned about some of the habits you have – or want to check whether you really are a good friend to others (or part of the problem), keep reading.
In this article, we’ll explore the 7 innocent habits that are actually quite toxic if they happen too often.
1) Crying when someone is hurt by your behavior
When someone gets annoyed with you, it doesn’t feel nice. This is particularly true if it’s someone you care about and they’re upset because of something you’ve done.
No one should be shouted at, especially by their other halves (and you shouldn’t have to tolerate it either!).
But if someone is genuinely upset by your behavior and your response is to cry or get upset, this can be somewhat toxic.
Say you tell your partner they’re getting chubby, and they (understandably) get upset about it. They tell you that what you said hurt them. So you cry and get very upset.
They end up comforting you and trying to make you feel better, even though they were the ones upset by something you did.
It may seem innocent, but it can lead to issues not getting resolved. It can also be seen as you trying to get sympathy for something you did, rather than apologizing.
2) Going silent when your partner upsets you
Giving people the silent treatment is (according to experts) one of the worst things you can do to someone you care about.
It’s one of the most common traits of a narcissist in relationships – often done as a form of punishment, emotional manipulation, or control.
Now I’m not suggesting that just because you go quiet when you feel hurt, you’re a narcissist.
But talking through your issues with your partner is the only way things will ever get resolved. Going silent when they upset you won’t resolve anything.
Instead, it can lead the other person to feel invisible, shut out, and like they don’t matter. When it happens frequently, it can even become a form of emotional abuse.
3) Offloading all your problems to someone
Friends should be there for one another – that’s just a fact.
If you don’t feel like you can talk to your friend or partner about problems in your life, they probably aren’t a good friend/partner.
But there’s a difference between talking about your problems and offloading all your issues onto someone else – especially if they’re going through things themselves.
Like do you only ever call that friend when you need to vent?
Are your texts always about you and your issues?
When you meet up, are you the one complaining all the time – or do they get to talk about their issues, too?
Your friends aren’t your therapists, and you never know what’s going on in their lives.
They may not be able to deal with your problems all the time, especially if you make your problems their problems.
And expecting them to always be there to listen to you vent can be somewhat toxic.
4) Expecting help all the time
Similar to the above point, the people you love should be there for you. But expecting their help all the time can become quite toxic for the other person.
There’s a general expectation that you should be able to ask for help from certain people you trust – and be offered help from them sometimes.
Like if you’re moving house and ask any friends if they’re free to lend a hand. Or if you’re going for a rough time and want to call a friend.
But there’s a difference between asking for help and expecting help.
Expecting your friends to drop everything and be there for you at any given moment is not reasonable. It’s also not fair on them and their lives – and it doesn’t make them bad friends.
Getting upset with your friends for not being able to help sometimes can be a normal reaction when you’re feeling hurt yourself.
But if you don’t want to be a toxic friend, give yourself a reality check that your friends have lives, too, and they can’t always help you with your problems.
5) Feeling hurt by other people’s boundaries
Some people have boundaries that are completely different from yours.
Even though you may give your all to someone who needs it, not everyone is willing or able to do the same for you.
Does that make them a bad friend? Sometimes, yes, but not always.
Having good boundaries is important if you want to maintain a healthy relationship that benefits both parties.
I remember when a friend was going through a bad breakup, she called me every night because she couldn’t sleep.
At first, I was happy to help (if a little groggy). But after the fifth night in a row, I told her I needed my sleep, and she couldn’t call me late at night anymore.
She was pretty mad at me to begin with and didn’t speak to me for weeks. Which made me feel bad for a moment, like I was being a terrible friend.
But once she was in a better place, she apologized, thanked me for my help, and was appreciative that I had said no – as it helped her get through things on her own.
The moral of the story is, everyone has boundaries, and you can’t burn the candle at both ends. It doesn’t work for you or the person you’re trying to help.
And just because someone sets a boundary with you, you can’t get mad about it if you want to keep their friendship.
Because everyone has their limits, and getting mad at them for it is pretty toxic.
6) Poking fun at people and their past mistakes
When you have a good relationship with your friends, family members, and partners, you probably laugh a lot together.
After all, laughter always benefits your relationships positively.
But poking fun at people and the things they do too often can quickly become toxic.
Especially if one person is always the butt of the joke. Or if you’re playing on people’s insecurities just to make everyone else laugh.
Like mocking a friend for the fact that they’re losing their hair. Or constantly bringing up something embarrassing someone else did years ago.
All friendships and relationships are different.
But, more often than not, people don’t like being made fun of – and too much joking can become toxic in the long run.
7) Complaining and seeing the negative side of everything
I think I speak for all of us when I say we all love to complain sometimes.
When something goes wrong, letting it out can be therapeutic. It can help you move on with the issue and your day.
And it feels good to do sometimes, right?
But this innocent behavior can quickly become toxic when it’s a little too frequent.
And the complaining isn’t about something specific – it’s about absolutely everyone and everything.
Whether you’re complaining, venting, or playing the victim, these types of negative behaviors can quickly bring others down.
New research has even shown that being around negative people rewires your brain to be more depressed and anxious.
So, ditching the negativity and being more positive can benefit both yourself and the people around you.
Sometimes, we all need to give ourselves a reality check. If we’re going through a tough time or have a lot going on, it’s easy to get caught up in toxic behaviors.
Like asking for too much from other people sometimes or letting your emotions get in the way of other people’s feelings.
But the first step to being a better friend, partner, and person is recognizing which of your habits may be toxic.
And working on changing your habits is the best way to feel better about yourself and develop healthier relationships with the people around you.