You can meet toxic people in all walks of life – in romantic relationships, at work, and in friendships.
Toxic friends are energetically draining, hypocritical, and not worth your time.
But it can sometimes be difficult to pick up on the fact they are causing damage.
Here are 13 signs that your friendship is probably toxic and you should get out of it as soon as you can.
Letting the wrong kind of people into your life can be incredibly draining. You’re not likely to find enough time for yourself if another person is constantly on at you about things and won’t give you room to breathe.
Toxic relationships aren’t just the romantic kind. Sometimes, friendships with people can turn out just as abusive and damaging too.
Rather than bringing company and comfort to your life, a toxic friendship will bring exhaustion and frustration.
Psychologist and therapist Perpetua Neo told Business Insider there are quite a few signs you can look out for, which will tell you that the relationship you have with a friend isn’t healthy.
Some of the red flags are obvious, but some are much more subtle. Here are 13 of the most common signs to look out for:
There’s a whole lot of drama
One thing you can guarantee from a toxic person is drama. Chaos seems to surround them somehow, either because they’re always arguing with someone, causing problems, or unbelievable things keep happening to them.
“Drama is a very big thing when we talk about toxic friends,” Neo said. “A toxic friend tends to be someone who sucks us in either by being very amazing, very grandiose, or by being this sad creature that needs our help.”
Whatever their story, you can guarantee you’ll hear about it, or worse, get dragged into it.
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.
They put you down
Neo said 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.
You’ll realise you’re never actually happy or relaxed around them because they don’t make you feel good about yourself, Neo said. No friendship should be transactional, but if someone is draining all your energy, you should ask yourself whether you’re getting anything out of it at all.
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.
“They want to compete with you, even if you’re not competing with them,” Neo said. “Even if you’re in a completely different field, they want the same things you do.”
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.”
They cross your boundaries
Toxic people do incredibly 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.