Look anywhere for the definition of a ‘friend’ and it is likely you will see the same themes overlapping: A person whom you like and trust. One who is not an enemy or foe. Someone who supports you. In real life however, we often meet people who we think are our friends, but are eventually revealed to be harmful to our well-being. So how can you identify toxic friendships?

They insult you or put you down

A certain amount of good natured ribbing happens in (and is part of) every healthy relationship. It adds familiarity and comfort, and keeps things light. However, if your ‘friend’ consistently insults you or puts you down, or says something mean, well knowing that it will hurt you, you need to rethink this relationship.

They constantly criticise you

An honest relationship allows room for criticism, provided it is constructive. We often rely on our friends’ opinions for everything from what to wear to family problems. Criticism, however, should not be used to crucify someone under the guise of ‘being helpful.’ Using this as an excuse to pick on your insecurities is not acceptable.

Lack of reciprocation for support, affection...you name it: 

It’s easy to say, ‘don’t expect anything from anyone, or you will be unhappy.’ The truth is when we are invested emotionally in any relationship, we want the other person to care for us or help us. This feeling also amplifies when we have done the same for them. If you find yourself frequently overstretching for a ‘friend’ who won’t budge an inch, maybe it’s time to dump the fair-weather friend.

They manipulate you for personal gain

No one likes to be used or controlled in any way. If you feel like a marionette with your ‘friend’ pulling the strings according to their whims and fancies, cut the cords and free yourself from this malevolent theatre of manipulation.

  • You cannot trust them: Trust is the fundamental basis of any friendship. A ‘friend’ who lies to you, badmouths you to other people, or spills your secrets is the very definition of a toxic friend. Shut it down.

They pressure you to do things you don’t want to

Any ‘friend’ who forces you to do something that you are not comfortable with or morally against, needs to be kicked to the curb. There’s already enough pressure from peers, society, critics, etc... you don’t need your friends to add to it.

They are never happy to see you succeed

Some people will only want you around as long as you don’t do better than them. They need you around to feel good about themselves and boost their egos. The moment you become successful in any way, they feel threatened and can never be happy for your good fortune. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that such ‘friends’ are bad for you.

They are always negative. About EVERYTHING.

Everyone has their own ups and downs, good and bad days, cheerful and cranky moods. However, to be surrounded by a person who always sees only the worst in everything, or is pessimistic, self defeating or cynical can drain your energy significantly. Stay away from such energy vampires.

They don’t keep in touch

It’s not easy with busy work schedules, family responsibilities or time differences to stay in touch regularly. In this current age of electronic devices, it is not very difficult to drop a message, send a text or video call, if you really want to stay in touch. It all comes down to priorities. If you find yourself time and again taking the effort to remain in touch, without any response, it’s time to hang up on this ‘friend’.

They are inconsiderate of your feelings

A true friend would consider how what they say or do might impact you. They would not intentionally hurt you, or overlook your feelings. Toxic friends don’t care about what consequences you have to face because of them, as long as they get what they want.