5 Signs You Might Actually Be the Toxic Friend
Most of us have, unfortunately, had a toxic friendship at some point in our lives.
The experience can be different for every case, but generally toxic friends make us feel pretty bad about ourselves and create endless uncomfortable situations. While the subject of these friendships and how to deal with them is thankfully talked about a bit more often these days, less talked about is what to do if you might actually be the toxic friend in the group or situation. So, with that said, here are a few signs that this might actually be you, as well as some advice on how to be a better friend instead:
1. You Gossip About Your Friends
A little venting here and there is normal, and sometimes even healthy. Gossiping constantly about your friends, on the other hand? Not so much. One of the clearest signs of a toxic friend is that they speak poorly about you behind your back or spread rumors about you, so if you find yourself doing those same exact things to others then it may be time to take a step back and think about your words or actions.
2. You Peer Pressure Them Into Doing Things They're Not Comfortable With
It's easy to want to be that "cool girl" who gets close to the edge on just about everything, whether that be by skipping class or with any other less-than-recommended behavior. What you choose to do is your own problem, but it gets worse when you drag others down with you. Even if they choose not to participate (or even if what you're doing isn't even that bad), it's still not okay to pressure them or make them feel bad about not participating, no matter how uncool you think it may be. Respecting boundaries is integral to friendships, and anything less can quickly become toxic.
3. You Criticize Them More Than You Compliment Them
Are your comments to your friends building them up or bringing them down? You may have never stopped to actually think about it before, but what might be some "light roasting" in your eyes could actually be super triggering or confidence-depleting to someone else. If you truly want to help your friend and not lie to them when they ask your opinion, there are gentle ways to do so that don't come off as pure criticism. Remember, psychologically it takes a whole lot of positive comments to make up for even just one negative comment, so there's always room to spread some good vibes instead of bad ones—especially when it comes to your friends.
4. You Make Most Conversations About You
We all get excited when talking about ourselves sometimes, but if you're genuinely incapable (or at least not great at) letting other people talk about themselves without jutting in with your own story or comment, you may be the toxic one in the situation. Listening is at the core of every friendship, and while it may be difficult, getting good at it is important. Of course, you can talk about your own thoughts and experiences, but if you're always making everything about you, it's time to stop.
5. You Use and/or Manipulate Them for Your Own Gain
Your friends should be your friends because you have things in common, enjoy spending time together and overall share some of the same values. You don't have to be carbon copies of each other—after all, people's differences are what make them interesting—but you also shouldn't be friends with them simply out of convenience or for your own gain. For example, if you have a friend that you've never had a truly deep conversation with, but they have rich parents who always treat you to a nice dinner when you hang out? That could be one example. Or, a "friend" who always offers to drive you to school since you live close, but who you practically ignore once you get to campus. The examples could go on, but no matter what this situation is not okay or fair to either party involved.
If you've noticed that some of these signs ring true for you, it's okay. Recognizing your behavior patterns is the first step towards changing them, and your friends will surely appreciate any efforts made.