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Here's how to recognize toxic friends (and eliminate them)

By Priya Alika

Girlfriends are like bubble wrap: they keep you from breaking. Or at least they should. The friendships we cultivate as we get older are often our lifelines. We trust that our friends have our best interests at heart – which is why it can be difficult to identify toxic or unhealthy friendships.

Here’s a handy guide on figuring out which friendships you should let go in this New Year. 

Pay attention to how you feel around them

Do you have that one friend who often makes you feel unattractive, or ugly, or stupid? Does your friend often brag about how she’s never single (while you haven’t been on a date since 2017)? Does your friend regularly moan about how fat she is while picking out croutons from her salad (although she’s three dress sizes smaller than you?) Does she never congratulate you on your successes (and does she minimize your accomplishments)? 

Do you not look forward to hanging out with her for these reasons? Do you tell yourself she doesn’t mean any harm by it? 

These are toxic patterns, sis. She may not mean to do it, but she’s consistently making you feel shitty – which the opposite of a good friendship. You need to surround yourself with people who make you feel like a queen, people who are happy for you and who lift you up the way you deserve to be lifted up!

Life is often shitty enough as is: a billion small things chip away at your self-esteem daily. Don’t let a frenemy add to them. 

Ask yourself whether they’ve supported you in the past 

Run the mental reel of your entire friendship together. Were they there to hold your hand when your dog got sick? Did they offer to come over with ice-cream and bourbon when some terrible dipshit broke your heart? Are they loving and giving, and have they demonstrated that to you consistently over time? 

Toxic friendships are essentially one-sided and selfish ones. Your toxic friend will not be able to put your needs above her wants, ever. Remember that time she left you wasted at a bar because she wanted to go home with a cute stranger? Yeah. She’s showing you what she’s really like, and you’re ignoring it out of good faith. 

So don’t be afraid to sit down and look coldly and objectively at her actions (especially at the times she’s left you in the lurch)! Hell, make a list if you need to! Sometimes we don’t recognize patterns till they’re set down in writing.

Do they try to gaslight you or dodge accountability?

There’s no such thing as a perfect friend. We all fuck up – a lot – at our friendships, just as we do with other relationships! We’re bound to hurt each other in small thoughtless ways. What matters is how we respond to being called out. 

If you told your friend candidly that she hurt you, how would she respond? This is the acid test of whether someone is a decent person. Would she be concerned? Would she listen and try to make amends? Or would she refuse to change her behavior and insist that it’s your fault, or that you’re too sensitive? Toxic people are deeply unwilling to recognize or admit to their own toxicity. That’s what makes the friendship not worth salvaging. 

Yes, it can be difficult to cut out friends, especially old ones. But you have nothing to lose by gracefully exiting a toxic, twisted friendship. What better start to 2019 than by focusing on yourself? Loving and respecting yourself means removing negative influences – and making space for positive ones to enter your life. Good luck, girl!


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