Friend or fiend?

12 signs your friendship is toxic

Story by Bailey Hawkins, staff writers

graphic by s. rowe

Toxic relationships do not only apply to romantic partnerships. Sometimes, friendships can turn out to be just as abusive and damaging. Rather than bringing happiness and companionship, a toxic friend can make life full of stress and dejection. 

There are quite a few warning signs to tell you that your friend has bad intentions. Some may be obvious, others may be so small they go unnoticed. The following is a list of traits and instances that exhibit an unhealthy friendship. 

They are cheap.

They lack generosity and are quite hypocritical when it comes to things like money. They ask you to pick up the tab and it may take them weeks or even months to pay it back. They could borrow large amounts of money and not give a care in the world about if it gets back to you, but you ask to borrow small amounts of money, and they are basically breaking down your door to re-collect it. 

Who calls whom?

Are you calling or reaching out to them more than they reach out to you? Are you always the one initiating the conversation? Friendships become toxic when one person is not as invested in the relationship as their confidante. They begin calling and texting less. They slowly quit making plans to hang out and begin to drift away. 

You are always in the wrong. 

Whenever you and your bestie get into a fight, is the blame often placed on you? Do they refuse to accept their wrongdoings? When someone owes an apology but instead seeks out apologies from others, we must remember that we are not held accountable for someone else’s mistakes. As upsetting as it may be, we will not always be forgiven for what we have done. And we will not always receive an apology in return. 

They are covetous.

They feel bitter when you acquire things they don’t have instead of being happy for you. This could come in many forms, such as them being jealous of your grades. They don’t want to put in effort to do good in school but expect you to always help them with their work and get angry when you refuse. They may also be negative about your life outside of school. They constantly call you “spoiled” or “privileged” simply because they do not have the same material possessions or opportunities as you. 

You have to compete with their other “best friends.” 

Does your best friend hang out with other people more than he/she does with you? Do people buy your best friend bigger gifts than you do? Does he/she share more interests with their other friends than they do with you? And how exactly do you know this? Did your best friend tell you? Toxic people have quite the obsession with talking to you about their other friends. 

They are short-sighted. 

Even if they are incredibly smart, toxic people lack the ability to look far into the future. This manifests itself in the way they get bitter and resentful over small fights. They will gossip, argue and spread lies just to get the adrenaline rush and thrill of the moment. Their friendships are short-lived and there is no surprise as to why. 

They secretly copy you. 

A toxic person will start to mimic you. They might go and buy the same shirt they saw you wearing last week, or they may pick up on your slang or habits. The copying may even reach the level where they pretend to be you. They start to catfish people using your pictures or send messages to others as if it were you behind the screen.

They cross your boundaries.

Toxic people do incredibly inappropriate things. They may pressure you into doing things you know are wrong or against your values and morals. They don’t listen when you tell them you are uncomfortable with what is going on, or they may even say you are abandoning them for not participating. Just remember that a true friend wouldn’t want you doing anything that is not in your best interest. 

They are flakey.

They are uncompromising and refuse to bend their schedule for you. Making plans is impossible. And oftentimes, your plans are rescheduled because they have a sudden emergency. After a while you begin to become suspicious of how they only have an emergency when you want to spend time with them, or how they never have things come up when they are with their other friends. 

The tension starts to settle in your body.

Stress is a fact of life, and an unhealthy friendship does not make your struggle with stress any easier. Constant arguments or tensions between you and your friends causes your brain to activate its fight-or-flight response. The hypothalamus, a pea-sized gland in your brain, begins to release stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. Constant exposure to these stress hormones can have negative impacts on your body such as anxiety, insomnia, heart disease, high blood pressure and more.

They lie to gain sympathy. 

Toxic people tend to inflate their backstory. They lie about the dramatic nature of their lives to make you sympathize with them. But more often than not, their stories start to change over time. They may leave out details they have previously told you, or they might even mix up the place and time of day where the events transpired. It’s a lot harder to keep up with the details of a lie. 

You are constantly “walking on eggshells.”

At first, it was fun with them. You had the best times together, always laughing and always having fun. Then, something changed. Now they are easily aggravated and it doesn’t take much to get into an argument with them. You are stuck watching your every word to make sure you don’t accidently say the wrong thing.

If any of these apply to your best friend, I highly recommend having a sit down with them and discussing what issues you have. This is not a guarantee that your relationship is coming to a close. Maybe they do not realize they are taking advantage of your friendship, but just remember that if your best friend continues to treat you poorly that you are in no way required to stay with them. 

You should not feel obligated to take on the stress and emotional trauma that comes from a bad relationship. At the end of the day, no one deserves a toxic best friend.