15 signs you’re the toxic one in your friendship group

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Did you notice your friends answering fewer calls and messages lately? Were you wondering what’s up? 

Well, maybe it’s not them. It’s you. If you’re the one that’s regularly spreading gossip, competing with them, or even manipulating them, why would they hang out with you? 

But let’s dive in further and see exactly what signs point toward you being the toxic one in your friendship group. 

1) Constantly seeking attention and validation

Insecure people are constantly asking their friends for validation or seeking attention. They nag and nudge, call and text… it simply never ends.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great having friends you can talk to and share your daily mishaps, funny things that happened, as well as your triumphs. 

But imagine you have a WhatsApp group with your friends. If you’re the one sending messages 90% of the time, there might be something wrong with the friendship group dynamics. 

This behavior can be draining for your friends as they feel like they must constantly boost your ego.

Especially if you’re asking them to reaffirm your looks, actions, relationships, etc. 

2) Dominating conversations

The same goes for dominating conversations. It’s never a good idea for one friend to dominate the group. 

The others will be fed up with you sooner or later as they start to feel they’re the side characters in the group. 

So if you tend to dominate conversations and steer them toward your own experiences and interests without giving others a chance to share, it can make your friends feel unheard and undervalued.

It can also make you highly toxic. As can this following behavior.

3) Gossiping and spreading rumors

Gossiping is fun. But if you gossip about others, there’s a huge chance they’re talking s*it about you behind your back, too. 

Gossiping and spreading rumors leads to a toxic environment within your friendship group. It erodes trust and causes unnecessary conflicts among friends.

I describe gossiping as eating hot chili. It’s incredible on its way in but terrible on the way out!

4) Frequent criticism and belittling

I’ve written about constant criticism in many of my articles and how incredibly harmful it can be for relationships. Any relationships. 

Sure enough, constantly criticizing and belittling your friends is emotionally harmful and damaging to their self-esteem. It’s also something that creates a negative and hostile atmosphere in the group.

So, if you’re the one doing it, your friendship group is going to get smaller and smaller. You’ll notice a friend or two often missing your get-togethers because they can’t stand being around you anymore. 

Until eventually, you won’t have anyone answer your texts or calls anymore. 

5) Constantly competing

Viewing everything as a contest creates toxic comparison and rivalry within the group

For example, whenever someone in the group shares a personal struggle or difficult experience, you respond by sharing an even more extreme or tragic incident.

I can already see them rolling their eyes as this makes your friends feel unheard or diminished.

If you can’t understand everyone is on their own journey and not everything is a competition, there’s little hope for you. 

6) Creating drama for attention

Drama queens. These two words send shivers down my spine. When you hear them, what associations do you get in your mind?

Instability? Insecurity? Self-centeredness? High-maintenance? Attention seeking? 

You’re the toxic friend in your group if you deliberately create drama or exaggerate situations to gain attention and sympathy from your friends.

Playing the victim, refusing to take responsibility for your actions and blaming others instead, public emotional outbursts or meltdowns – they all create drama. 

As does this next toxic behavior.

7) Jealousy, resentment, and envy

Feeling envious or resentful of your friends’ successes or happiness also creates a toxic dynamic and leads to competition rather than genuine support.

Just because some of your friends are smarter, happier, more beautiful, etc., doesn’t mean you have to be jealous of them. 

Focus instead on how you can improve yourself and get ahead in life. 

8) Manipulative behavior

A toxic friend maintains friendships based on what their friends can do for them instead of genuine care and connection.

If you’re using manipulation to get what you want from your friends, it means not just that you’re toxic but also a terrible friend and human being. 

It hurts the trust and authenticity in your friendships, as people feel used or deceived. And rightfully so.

9) Difficulty apologizing sincerely

Why is it so difficult for some people to say they’re sorry? To admit they were wrong. 

No one’s perfect. Do they believe they are? Could be. 

But if you struggle to apologize sincerely when you hurt someone’s feelings or when you did something wrong, it shows a lack of empathy on your side. It also leaves your friends feeling shunned and disregarded.

As does this following sign of toxicity

10) Poor active listening

If there’s one thing that’s important for maintaining friendships besides consistency, it’s listening to them actively

If you struggle to listen to your friends’ concerns and feelings with the care and respect they deserve, they’ll feel invalidated and not valued as friends.

When you listen actively, you also start remembering little details they share with you. This means you can even surprise them with a thoughtful gift or message the next time you see them. Or for their birthday. 

11) Projecting your insecurities

Another sign of toxicity is projecting your insecurities onto your friends, expecting them to cater to your emotional needs without considering their own struggles.

For example, you misinterpret your friends’ actions or words, assuming they’re criticizing or judging you, even when they have no such intentions.

Or if you apologize frequently, even for minor things, projecting your fear of making mistakes or being disliked onto your friends.

12) Excessive pessimism and negativity

Just like some people project their insecurities on their friends, others bring down the entire group’s mood with their excessive pessimism and negativity. 

It’s okay to be negative at times, but frequently dwelling on all the negative stuff happening isn’t fair to anyone, let alone you.

Yes, you.

You can always find awful things happening all around you. But hanging out with your friends should be escapism. 

You should focus on more positive aspects of life unless you want to focus on finding solutions instead of always talking about the problems.

13) Passive-aggressive remarks and backhanded compliments

Passive-aggressive behavior is a terrible way for a grown-up to behave. You simply cause confusion and hurt feelings among your friends with your backhanded compliments, sarcastic comments, gaslighting, etc.

This leads to a breakdown in communication because you hid the intended message behind sarcasm or veiled anger. Friends on the receiving end feel hurt, frustrated, or unsure of how to respond.

This, in turn, leads to an unhealthy cycle of passive-aggressive behavior.

14) Breaking promises and betraying trust

Breaking promises and betraying your friends’ trust is yet another form of toxic behavior that results in long-term damage to the friendship, making it difficult to rebuild trust.

Of course, that’s the result, right? 

If you can’t have trust in your friends and family, who else can you trust? So please don’t break that sacred bond because, more often than not, there will be no going back. All the bridges will be burned.

I know far too many people that have broken all contact with their friends because of one wrong move on either side. 

In the heat of the moment, they let 10, 15, or 20 years of friendship go down the drain. It’s really a shocking (and frustrating) sight. 

15) Frequently canceling plans or breaking commitments

And lastly, if you repeatedly cancel plans or break commitments, you’re frustrating and hurting your friends in more ways than one. As with all toxic behaviors on this list, you’re making them feel unimportant or undervalued.

I always think of the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want them to treat you. It’s that simple. 

If you need to cancel something they were looking forward to for days or weeks, make it up to them tenfold. 

Final thoughts

Maintaining friendships shouldn’t be that hard. Just make sure you don’t take your friends for granted. As you grow older, finding new friends will be increasingly difficult. 

Cherish your friends and make them happy. Don’t be toxic but also be prepared to talk to them about how they’re behaving. Don’t be a doormat. 

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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