Toxic friendships are tough: You don’t want to just ditch your best friend and start over, right? But sometimes you have to because, well, maintaining a toxic friendship is dangerous, both for your sanity, and sometimes even for your safety. Here’s how to tell if a pal is a bad match.
1. It’s all about her
A sure sign of a toxic friend? Selfishness. She’s quick to call you to brag about her accomplishments or whine about her problems, but doesn’t bother asking how you’re doing. She invites you to her wedding, her shower, her engagement party, her birthday party…and never bothers showing up to any of your events. She’s only focused on herself and her own life, to the point of pretty much forgetting about yours.
2. She’s a Debbie Downer
You got a promotion? Oh, she hates her job. You got a cute guy’s number? She’s dying alone. Your dog learned to roll over? It just reminds her of the cat she ran over with her bike 14 years ago. No matter what happens, she drags you down with her constant negativity. Sure, everyone has bad moods and grumpy spells every once in a while, and you’re an awesome friend to want to help her out during her tough times. But if she makes everything a melodrama all the time, she’s simply going to exhaust you. And for expert-based relationship advice, check out 19 Relationship Advice From Experts that Will Make Your Relationship Last
3. You’re doing all the work
Are you always the one texting first? If you don’t call her on her birthday, will you go a full year without hearing from her at all? Does she constantly cancel plans you make with her and never make any herself? Then you’ve got a problem. Friendship is a two-way street, so if you’re always the one reaching out, take the nearest exit off that one-way street, and find new pals who actually appreciate you.
4. She’s clingy
It’s hard to be the one always reaching out, but it may be even harder to be on the receiving end of someone who just can’t get the message that you want to be left alone. If you’re guilt-tripped into hanging out with her five nights a week, if she doesn’t take “no” for an answer, if she freaks out when you don’t text her back immediately, if she gets mad when you make other plans, or if she constantly reminds you that you’re her only friend, those are all big red flags. Think of it this way: If a guy did that, you’d run for the hills, right? Same idea. Change your number!
5. She’s a mess
If you can’t go out with her without having to console her in a bathroom, bail her out of jail, or break up a fist fight because someone looked at her the wrong way, she’s not just a toxic friend, but probably a toxic person, period. She needs more help than you can give her, and you’re going to drive yourself crazy trying.
6. She pressures you into making unhealthy decisions
When you tell her you’re sticking with water because you have to drive home, she insists on taking shots…then says you’re lame for not wanting to mix pills with it. Even if it’s just eating something super-spicy that you don’t want to suffer for later, she pushes it. We know this sounds very PSA, but any friend who pressures you into doing something dangerous isn’t your friend. And if you want to know how men feel when they are around smart women, check out Research Shows How Men Really Feel When They’re Around Smart Women
7. She’s an enabler
Sure, you want a pal to support your decisions, but you also want someone who’s going to keep you grounded so you don’t sabotage yourself. If you’ve been imbibing too much, a toxic friend will let you drive and encourage you to have another for the road. A toxic friend will say driving past your ex’s house is a good idea. A toxic friend encourages unhealthy behavior, even when it’s not her idea.
8. She makes you insecure
If your friend points out how much thinner she is than you are, how much more money she makes than you do, or how you’ve been single for four years and she’s picking out engagement rings, she’s not your friend. Of course, if she’s close with you, she may be diabolically cunning enough to do it subtly: if she knows you’re insecure about your flat butt, for example, she’ll say you’re the Paris to her Kim. If you’re lonely after a breakup and she’s happily taken, she’ll mention how nice it is to have someone to come home to everyday, any chance she gets.
This friend may also make her digs a little more public. Whether it’s posting and tagging unflattering photos of you, or embarrassing you at a work party with an inappropriate story from your college days, you always dread her comments or actions because they’re never in the least bit complimentary.
9. She’s too competitive to encourage you
If you take up a new hobby or get a new job, she’s not happy for you—she’s scared for herself. If you get an opportunity, she finds every possible reason for you not to take it, whether it’s a cute guy’s number or a high-paying job in your dream city, because she’s insecure about her own status. Instead of congratulating you on expanding your horizons, her thought process becomes: Will you be too cool for her now? Will she ever be able to measure up to you? Will you ditch her for new people? Will she look bad in comparison to you? And frankly, if that’s where her brain immediately goes, then maybe she’s actually right—and you can do better. Don’t forget to check this out If You Stay in a Relationship for This Reason, It Won’t Last, Study Says
10. She uses you
If the only time your friend hangs out with you is when you have concert tickets or if she needs a ride somewhere, she probably doesn’t actually want to spend time with you. This is doubly true if she ditches you as soon as you guys get to wherever you’re going. If she only calls you because she needs to borrow money, shoes, or needs someone to listen to her whine about the guy who dumped her two years ago for the 250th time, she’s not your friend.
11. You can’t trust her
This one is very easy: If you wouldn’t leave your phone, purse, or boyfriend out around your pal, she’s not really your pal.
12. All your other friends hate her—and vice versa
If your pal trashes every other friend you’ve ever had since meeting her, there’s a strong chance she’s really selfish and jealous, which are a toxic friend’s stock-and-trade. Much like an abusive partner, a toxic friend wants to isolate you from anyone and everyone who may help you realize that your relationship is unhealthy. If your other pals side-eye her too, you may want to trust their judgment, especially if they’ve never acted this way with anyone else before.