I'm willing to bet some pretty good money that within the past six months alone, you've read at least three articles about toxic relationships. Because of that, you probably already know what toxic means ("poisonous"). You are also probably aware of many telltale signs that you're involved in a toxic relationship or friendship.
But here's something that just might surprise you about toxicity. Did you know that some of the very things that prove to be lethal in heavy doses can actually be tolerated in smaller ones? Snake venom is one example.
When I first discovered that, it got me to thinking. With as much poison – "something harmful or pernicious, as to happiness or well-being" – that a lot of us take in our friendships, sometimes without even knowing it (at first), I'd venture to say that the same thing is happening emotionally. We're remaining in friendships that are not even close to being good for us because the poison that we're taking in is in such small doses that it's going undetected. Keeping that analogy in mind, here are five signs that one (or more) of your friendships is toxic and harming you—whether you realize it or not.
5 Signs Of A Toxic Friendship
1. They Don’t Celebrate You.
You know what's dope? The people who use their social media to big up their friends as much as themselves. The individuals who brag on their peeps more than they gossip about them. The folks who recognize when those close to them are trying to reach a goal and they use some of their own time and resources to help them out.
When you're young, you want friends to kick it with. But as you get older, you tend to want more of a support team. People who want you to win. People who are thrilled to celebrate your goals and achievements right along with you.
If you've got friends who are around when you're low but are somehow always MIA during your really good times—something is off. Unfortunately, some people are only around in the bad times because it makes them feel better about themselves. And that? That is toxic. A good friend is going to be there for ALL of the life experiences that you have. They will pull up in bad times and raise you even higher in good ones.
2. They’re Emotionally Manipulative.
This one right here? Chile, don't get me started. Some of us have been emotionally manipulated so much and for so long that we have no clue how to detect the signs. Let me help you out. If you've got friends who twist your words around, are passive-aggressive, give you the silent treatment when things don't go their way, constantly speak over you in a conversation, pressure you to do things you don't really want to do, make you feel bad for having your own perspectives and opinions, constantly criticize you or they deflect from their own issues—yes, you are being emotionally-manipulated and no, it isn't right.
3. They Can Dish What They Can’t Take.
The great novelist, poet, and activist Alice Walker once said, "No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow." Here's the thing, though. A good friend not only gives you the space and freedom to grow, but they also challenge you to grow too. In other words, they call you out on your stuff, tell you when you're dead wrong, and hold you accountable whenever you need it. And you know what? It goes both ways.
If you've got the kind of "friend" in your life who is all about telling you about yourself or pointing out your flaws and weaknesses but, at the same time, they can't receive any insight and constructive criticism you have to offer? Those kinds of people are not looking for friends; they are looking for fans. It can be another subtle sign of being in a toxic friendship situation.
4. You Can’t Give Five Good Reasons to Remain in the Friendship.
I say it all of the time. One of the best movie lines is from Love Jones. It's when Nina (Nia Long) was talking to her ex-fiance' about how things weren't working out. When he said that was hard to believe due to all of the time they had been together, Nina responded with, "All we have are all these years." #itwillpreach
Many of us have confused time for loyalty. In other words, just because you've known someone for years and years, that's not a good enough reason to keep them in the innermost realms of your life.
If you pulled out a piece of paper right now and you can't find five bonafide benefits that come from being in your friendship with someone, while it might not be time to cut them off, it's definitely (past) time to realign your boundaries.
5. The Friendship Is Stagnant.
Everything that's good and healthy in life is supposed to show signs of progress. Our careers, our romantic relationships and, yes, even our friendships. If your friends aren't helping and encouraging you to evolve into a better person – both personally and professionally – no matter how much you like them, something is subtly toxic.
Would you stay at a job or in a relationship for 10 years that showed no signs of growth or moving forward? Then why would you do that with/for a friend? My point exactly.
Do yourself a favor (and your real friends) a favor. Cut out the toxicity in your life.
The Self-Care Of Ghosting Toxic Girlfriends – Read More
My Female Friendships Have Been The Most Heartbreaking Relationships Of My Twenties – Read More
I Was 'Ghosted' By My Best Friends – Read More
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