There’s an old saying that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
If this is true, then the people we keep close to us play a critical role in shaping our attitudes, behaviors, and ultimately, our lives.
But here’s the thing – not everyone who crosses our path will contribute positively to our growth.
Some so-called “friends” can drain our energy, affect our mental health, and harm our personal development.
But knowing what to look out for can help you avoid having such people in your life. So, here are 8 toxic friends to watch out for:
1) The constant critic
Have you ever had a friend who seems to constantly find fault in everything you do?
Even when you turn to them with exciting news, they manage to find something negative to say.
“Oh, you got the job! Shame it’s not better paid though. Don’t worry, you’ll find something better soon.”
“Your new haircut looks…nice. Did she mess up the fringe though? It looks kinda wonky…”
This friend does nothing for your self-esteem. They never cheer you on. If anything, it feels like their sole mission in life is to bring negativity and essentially, crap all over your achievements.
Sure, some constructive criticism is good in a friendship, especially for personal development.
But it shouldn’t be cruel, and it shouldn’t be constant!
2) The emotional vampire
Ah, the emotional vampire. The energy sucker. The drainer of all good feelings.
I had a friend like this. Before we’d even sit down and order a coffee, she’d launch straight into a rant about how terrible her life was.
And it would go on for HOURS.
I’d usually get home feeling super tired, negative, and irritable.
Is someone in your life springing to mind?
You’ll probably note how the emotional vampire rarely asks how you are. They’re too busy sucking the life out of you to care.
All they want is your sympathy and attention. And when you give them advice, they rarely listen because they feed off drama.
The friendship quickly goes from uplifting and fun to a burden you begin to dread. This is a clear sign it’s time to cut them out of your life.
3) The green-eyed monster
It’s horrible to think that someone you consider a friend would be jealous of you, isn’t it?
But unfortunately, not everyone who pretends to care is genuinely happy for your good fortune.
That’s where the green-eyed monster comes in.
When you go to them with good news, rather than be happy for you, they tend to dwell on their own failures.
Here’s an example:
You: “Good news! I just got the promotion I was hoping for at work! I’ll be leading my own team now.”
Green-eyed Monster: “Oh, really? I guess it’s easy for some people. I’ve been working much longer than you at my job and I haven’t had a promotion yet. You’re just lucky I guess.”
This is a typical monster response. They diminish your hard work and turn the focus back onto themselves.
4) The one-way street
Here are a few examples to help you identify if you’ve got a friend like this:
- They constantly lean on you for support but never offer it in return.
- They ask for favors but are never free to lend you a hand.
- They expect you to accommodate their needs but will never adjust to accommodate yours.
- They tend to choose where and when you meet up. They may even dictate where you go for dinner or coffee, never considering your opinion.
Ultimately, this is toxicity at its finest.
For them, it’s all about personal gain. But in a healthy friendship, both people should feel supported, heard, and cared for.
So, if you’ve got a one-way streeter in your life, it might be time to show them the door. Don’t allow someone to take advantage of your good nature!
5) The control freak
The control freak believes they know best, even crossing the line and telling you what you should and shouldn’t do.
If you try to stand up to them, they will emotionally blackmail, pressure, or guilt you into doing things their way.
This is super toxic for a few reasons:
Firstly, you might start to feel powerless. If they’re an overbearing personality in your life, you could end up feeling overwhelmed and find it hard to say “no” to them.
Secondly, they could damage your self-esteem. Think about it, if someone constantly tells you that the decisions you make aren’t right, it’ll eventually sink in and you’ll end up believing them.
And finally, the friendship could become codependent. You’ll feel like you’ve lost your independence. They start calling the shots.
Ultimately, it’s not a good situation to be in, or a good “friend” to keep around!
6) The constant comparer
Here’s the scenario:
You’ve finally bought a new car. It’s taken you ages to save up for it. You’re excited to share the news with your friend.
But rather than focus on you and your achievement, they start analyzing:
“Well, my car has a slightly better radio system.”
“I think my car is a brighter red than yours, right?”
“Gosh, the engine is quite loud. Mine’s so quiet you can hardly hear it coming down the street!”
Whether it’s a new car, job, or relationship, this type of toxic friend can’t help but compare.
This stems from their own insecurities, but it can also have negative effects on you.
By making you question your self-worth and achievements, they do nothing to boost your morale or allow you to feel good about yourself.
I say that life is far too short for a friend like this!
7) The backstabber
With a smile on their face, these toxic friends will take any opportunity to talk badly about you behind your back.
They can’t be trusted, no matter how many excuses they come up with.
A clear sign of a backstabbing friend is if they often say things like, “Oh, so and so was talking about you the other day…”
If people feel comfortable gossiping about you to this supposed friend, it suggests that the friend isn’t loyal. A real friend would stop this kind of gossip immediately.
So, the quicker you get this type of person out of your life, the better!
Not only will it save you the humiliation and heartbreak of having a friend spread rumors behind your back, but it’ll also save you the emotional anguish of feeling betrayed.
8) The negativity spreader
And finally, we have little Miss/Mr negativity.
These folks always have something miserable to say. They never see the glass as half full. They can turn a sunny day into doomsday.
Usually, you’ll feel the positivity drain out of you the moment they start talking.
Even if they’re not being negative directly about you, they’ll harp on about how terrible the world is, or how today’s youth are cold, heartless robots.
Heck, these people can even find fault in the cutest of things. I had a friend who went on a rant about how overrated kittens and puppies are. Seriously.
Ultimately, this toxic friendship will put a downer on your mood whenever you meet up.
And negativity is contagious. You might feel less optimistic about life after spending a few hours with such a friend.
So, you know what I’m going to say – it’s time to cut them out of your life for good!
The truth is, you have to pick your friends wisely. They have a big impact on your well-being and overall life.
And in a world of just under 8 billion people, there’s no need to hang onto a few toxic people who don’t bring joy into your life!
How to break up with a toxic friend
So, by now you know what you need to do. But how can you go about doing it?
Here are a few tips that I’ve tried and tested over the years:
- First, consider whether the friend in question is actually toxic or just going through a difficult time in life. Identify the behaviors you don’t like and consider how long it’s been going on for.
- Communicate directly and honestly. Yes, it’s going to be uncomfortable, but it’s important to share your feelings so your friend knows why you’re ending the friendship. Also, by being honest, they may take on board your feedback and change for the better.
- Set clear boundaries. This is if you’re unable to cut them out completely (say if it’s a family member or colleague). Be clear about what behavior you’ll tolerate and what you won’t.
- Stay firm. If you’ve ended the relationship, a toxic friend might try to guilt trip you into making up. Give your explanation once but don’t feel the need to keep justifying yourself.
And finally, take time to heal. The end of a friendship can be devastating, especially if it’s someone you really cared about.
Seek support from people who you trust and who are there for you. With time, you’ll start to realize how much better off you are without toxic friends in your life!