9 signs an insecure friend is dragging you down with them, according to psychology

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Friendship means joy, companionship, support, and a relentless stream of memes you send each other because you’re too busy to meet in real life as often as you’d like.

Except when it doesn’t.

Sometimes, friendship turns toxic – and it can hold you back from being the best version of yourself.

In even worse news, friendships that went awry are hard to let go of.

You care about your friend and have already invested time into deepening the bond.   

As always, the first step to finding a solution is admitting you have a problem.

Here are 9 signs an insecure friend is dragging you down with them, according to psychology.

It may be time for the two of you to have a serious talk.

1) They are jealous of you

If you have a friend who always seems jealous of you, it’s because they feel bad about themselves.

Jealousy is a part of life.

Even the best person in the world might be plagued with a twinge of jealousy when things are going swimmingly for one of their friends and horribly for them.

Once they recognize the negative feeling for what it is, however, they take a deep breath and focus on celebrating their buddies’ successes.

A friend is only dragging you down if they let that jealousy overcome them. For example:

  • They refuse to acknowledge or downplay your accomplishments
  • They never like your celebratory social media posts
  • They insist that things are “unfair”
  • They question your actions and choices

Don’t let them dim your sparkle.

2) They see themselves as being in competition with you

Another sign that an insecure friend is dragging you down with them is that they constantly need to one-up you.

Friends shouldn’t be in competition with each other. They should support each other as they chase their dreams.

If you have a buddy who tries to upstage you every chance they get, it’s likely due to their low self-esteem.

By upstaging others, they attempt to gain approval and admiration, temporarily boosting their confidence.

I had a frenemy in my twenties who used to do this like clockwork.

Whenever I had a piece of good news to share, she had a piece of even better news we needed to dissect ASAP.

At the time, I simply thought she was a mean girl.

Looking back, I’m guessing she struggled with her confidence, too.

3) They need constant reassurance

Insecure people may need constant reassurance from you, according to psychology.

In other words, they become clingy and demand too much of your time, leaving you overwhelmed.

Or, they become dependent on you to prop them up, which creates an imbalance in the friendship.

Your friend’s needs begin to take precedence over your own.

Before long, neglecting yourself causes your own self-esteem to take a dive.

Don’t let it get that far.

4) They’re overly sensitive to criticism

Friends tell each other hard truths.

Admit when they have opposing opinions on a certain topic.

Help each other grow.

If you’re buddies with an insecure person, though, they probably react poorly to being offered even the tiniest bit of constructive criticism.  

Having to tiptoe around your friend’s sensitivity to criticism creates an uncomfortable atmosphere.

You must censor yourself or withhold honest feedback to avoid upsetting them, leading to a lack of authenticity in the friendship.

If you can’t talk about things openly, are you even friends?

5) They rarely see the positive side of life

Many insecure people spend a lot of time worrying about the future.

Not only that but they have a tendency to filter out positive experiences and zoom in on the negative aspects of life.

They may dwell on past failures or shortcomings, becoming trapped in a vicious circle of perceived adversity.

As you try to support your friend and lift their spirits, you absorb some of their negativity, which translates to increased anxiety in your own life.

Psychologists warn that this can lead to co-rumination, as studies found that people’s stress levels change to resemble their peers.

Something to think about.

6) They put you down to make themselves feel better

According to psychology, insecure people sometimes have the nasty habit of putting other people down.

They do this to make themselves feel important, in a futile effort to increase their self-esteem.

When a friend does this to you, it’s an instant red flag. Friends should lift you up, not the complete opposite.

Everyone is different, but there are common behaviors to look out for:

  • Your friend mocks you or criticizes you, usually in a subtle or passive-aggressive manner
  • Your friend uses manipulative tactics to control you for their benefit (guilt-tripping, gaslighting, and so on)
  • Your friend spreads rumors about you behind your back to diminish your reputation
  • Your friend minimizes your struggles or offers insincere platitudes instead of genuine support

Does that sound like someone you should engage with?

7) They bail on you often

Insecure individuals frequently fear rejection or judgment from others, leading them to avoid social situations where they feel vulnerable.

They may bail on plans or avoid making commitments altogether to protect themselves from potential disapproval.

Ironically, bailing on plans is a form of self-sabotage, preventing them from experiencing new opportunities to connect.

Moreover, their unreliability strains the dynamics of your friendship over time.

When your buddy repeatedly cancels plans with you, you can’t help but experience frustration and disappointment.

This makes it even more challenging to maintain a healthy relationship in the long run.

8) They kill the vibe when out and about

Besides occasionally belittling others, your friend’s insecurity can also affect how they behave in public.

In an effort to fit in and diminish any feelings of inadequacy, they may drink too much or rely on other substances to take the edge off and act erratically.

Since they associate themselves with you, your reputation can take a dive as a direct result of their wrong choices.  

On top of being detrimental to your image, this type of behavior will naturally make you concerned for their safety.

You should address the situation sooner, rather than later.

9) They emotionally drain you

Finally, having a deeply insecure friend can drain you of time and energy.

Insecure friends rely heavily on you for emotional support, turning to you whenever they feel distress.

Since you’re a good egg, you accommodate them and allow them to vent about their worries.

You also encourage them to carry on and comfort them during moments of intense insecurity.

But while offering support is essential in friendship, constantly tending to your friend’s emotional landscape depletes your own emotional well.

You’re left doing most of the emotional labor in the friendship.

And that’s not fair.

Final thoughts

Everyone goes through rough patches in life.

That said, navigating friendships with perpetually insecure individuals is no walk in the park.

If you recognize the signs above and suspect that your friend has become an exhausting presence in your life, talk things through.

Bring up your concerns and encourage them to make positive changes or seek professional help.

If all else fails, set healthy boundaries in the friendship regarding the amount of time you spend together.  

Remember that it’s essential to prioritize your own well-being, especially when you provide support to those you love.

The alternative only breeds resentment.

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