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Toxic friends are draining, hypocritical, and not worth your time.
They're likely to make everything about themselves, and never celebrate you.
Here are 17 signs that your "friend" is toxic, and you may want to end the friendship.
Toxic relationships don't just apply to romantic partnerships. Sometimes, friendships with people can turn out just as abusive and damaging.
Rather than bringing company and comfort to your life, a toxic friendship will bring exhaustion and frustration.
There are quite a few signs you can look out for to tell you whether or not a friendship isn't healthy. Some of the red flags are obvious, but some can be more subtle. Here are 17 of the most common signs to look out for in a toxic friendship.
2. Everything is about them
A toxic friend will never really listen to you. They will always be waiting for their turn to speak, or to turn the conversation back to them.
"In a novel conversation between people, you can say this thing happened to me too, which is OK because that's where empathy happens, and you form a connection," Neo said. "But then with a toxic person, everything revolves around them. They'll twist it."
A good way to test for this is by bringing up random topics that have nothing to do with either of you. A toxic person will have the uncanny ability to manipulate the conversation back around to them again, whatever the topic, without skipping a beat.
3. They compete with you
Whether it's your job promotion, a romantic partner, or a new class you're doing, your toxic friend will compete with you. They won't like the idea of you having anything that doesn't involve them, and they especially don't want you to excel at something.
"A healthy amount of competition can be great for a friendship as it may push you both to achieve goals and motivate each other," Amber Lee, a relationship expert and CEO of Select Date Society told Insider.
"However, competition amongst friends can become toxic, especially when it is one sided."
If your friend is always trying to "outdo you," Lee said, it may be time to reevaluate the friendship. "Ask yourself if they truly want the best for you or if they are actually happy to see you fail," she said.
4. The conversation is one sided
True friends don't mind listening to each other rant about their problems. But if the natural give and take of the conversation is completely imbalanced, that could signal an issue, Lee said.
"If you find that your friend has lost all interest in listening to you and is only focused on herself or himself, that's a huge red flag," she said. "When you start to get the feeling that the friendship is all about them and lacks reciprocity there's a problem."
5. They secretly copy you
The competition can go one step further, and a toxic person will start to mimic you. They might buy the same bag you bought the week before, or start using the same slang words as you.
"A very common thing I've heard, is this person really likes you, wants to spend all their time with you, and copies you," Neo said. "So it's not uncommon for toxic friends to be very jealous of you, tear you down, and to some extent try to steal your identity. In severe cases, they might pretend to be you and use your photos, like catfishing."
6. They cross your boundaries
Toxic people do inappropriate things. For example, Neo said, they may ring you on your house phone when you never gave them the number, or even show up uninvited.
They won't listen if you tell them something they're doing makes you uncomfortable. Instead, they'll make you feel mean or crazy for even bringing it up. They have no respect for your space, and make you feel like you're abandoning them if you push back.
Lee said a toxic friend may disrespect the boundaries you have with your partner — especially if they are single.
"Your friend may not respect the fact that you have designated time with your significant other," she said. "A lack of respect for boundaries shows a lack of respect for you."
7. Toxic friends are obsessively needy
Neo said you might feel like you've gotten yourself an obsessive boyfriend or girlfriend without even asking for it. They'll call and text you at all times of the day, even if you said you're busy.
"They want all your time, so it's a very codependent kind of friendship," she said. "So they'll text you all the time and expect a reply. Even if you say I'm going to be really busy over the next six hours, they'll text you just before, and throughout. And if you don't reply, they will kick up a storm."
8. They're jealous of other friends
A toxic person will probably start to blame your other friends when you don't respond to their texts and calls. Neo said they're likely to criticize your friends to your face, and try and isolate you from them.
"They are extremely jealous of your friends and will even go so far as to tell you you're their only friend, and you're the only person they care about," she said. "Even if you're on a date they expect you to drop everything for them."
9. They always make excuses when you need their help
Sometimes, you may have a friend you consistently show up for, whatever the hour. But that doesn't mean they'll do the same for you.
Aura De Los Santos, a clinical psychologist, told Insider that if it's always you who takes the first step, and your friend is never there to help you, that is a sign they are toxic.
"When you need their support in something they always say they don't have time, they downplay its importance or that another time they will help you," she said.
"You always have to write or call them to see and hear from your friend," she added. "They never take the first step to make an invitation and ask little about your well-being. The times they seek you out is when they simply need something from you. You are the one who always makes the effort to share with that friend."
10. You feel responsible for them
Even though they're acting unreasonably, toxic people are skilled at making people feel bad for them. Their guilt trips know no bounds, Neo said, because they've probably spun a load of sob stories about how hard their life has been.
"You have this sense of support like you're a lighthouse for them, and if you collapse, they'll collapse," she said. "If you decide to spend your time with somebody else, what if they do something bad? If you don't answer them, what if they hurt themselves?'
11. They constantly put you down
A toxic friend will never compliment you. They'll never pick you up or congratulate you on your achievements. In fact, they're much more likely to kick you when you're down.
De Los Santos said they are likely to compare you to other people, such as those who they consider more successful, to make you feel bad about yourself.
"They don't accept you as you are, criticize you in a non-constructive way, and refer to your personality as something negative," she said. "It is not the same to change certain behaviors that may be negative than to change who you are because your friend just doesn't like it."
A toxic friend's criticism never comes from a place of love or concern, she added. Rather, they emphasize weaknesses and try to minimize your strengths.
12. They're hypocritical
While they make you feel bad for not making enough time for them, toxic people won't ever feel bad for letting you down. But because they're so irrational and dramatic, you'll let them get away with it as you don't want to set them off.
"They might owe you money and pretend they never owed you, and rewrite history," Neo said. "So you may feel irritated and angry, but you don't want to trigger them and their difficulties, so you take a step back."
13. They are immature.
Immaturity and living life with joy are two different things. Someone can be young at heart and still be a responsible adult when they need to be.
Immature friends, on the other hand, are draining. Lee said it can manifest in different ways — they may get jealous of you, hold grudges for random and inconsistent reasons, and ignore you when things don't go their way.
"They may try to influence you to break up with a significant other who takes your attention away from them," Lee said. "These are all things that may be subtle at first as they try to manipulate you. Once you start paying attention, you will recognize this behavior."
14. They lie to get sympathy
Toxic people tend to inflate their backstory. "They may play up the chaotic nature of their lives to get sympathy," Neo said.
"They might tell loads of stories that make no sense, that don't quite add up."
Still, always make sure to support a friend who constantly talks about drug use, alcohol problems, or abuse. Even the most toxic person might be secretly hiding a call for help.
15. You're always set up for failure
Putting on public displays of drama are a toxic person's favorite activity, and they may invent them. For example, they could say you promised to go to the cinema with them and you stood them up, when that conversation never happened.
"They're very dramatic so they might publicly shame you in a place by screaming and shouting at you, so you feel bad and put in your place," Neo said. "They make you feel like it's your fault — if you don't want such behaviors, then don't do it again."
16. You're stressed at the idea of hanging out with them
It's a sure sign your friendship with someone isn't healthy if you dread hanging out with them, or your stomach sinks every time they leave you a text or voicemail.
Kelsey Latimer, a licensed psychologist, told Insider if you always feel down about being around someone, then they are not for you.
"Healthy friendships bring out the best in people, not the worst," she said. "Even if both people are lovely as individuals they may not make a great pair together."
17. You'll feel something is wrong
Neo said your body is good at picking up signals that something isn't quite right. It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that's wrong, but if you are constantly feeling on edge, it could be because there's a toxic person around.
"You cannot figure out what the hell is going on," Neo said. "Your brain runs over time, and your mental energy is being sucked out by this person all the time. You don't only feel responsible, you feel destabilized around them. Some people make the room feel a bit energetically funny. Your body is a barometer telling you that they're trouble."
This post was originally published in February 2018, and was updated in September 2023 to include more experts and information.
Read the original article on Business Insider