Friendships are an important part of life. They can motivate you to follow your dreams and teach you how to be a better person. But when you have the wrong type of friends in your life, your friendship with them may do you more harm than good. And it might even be downright toxic.
What is a toxic friendship?
Toxic friends stress us out and make things more difficult than they need to be. These are friends who drain us more than they uplift us and make us regret the time we spent with them (Brown, 2019).
One obstacle that people have when identifying a toxic friendship in their lives is doubt. This is because, our first instinct is to naturally see the goodness in our friends (Brown, 2019) so, when we believe to have spotted behaviours that we think are toxic, we would be the first ones to defend them by brushing it off as “oh they’re just probably having a bad day”. Everyone has good and bad days. And on a bad day, it is true that kindness does not always come easily, even with friends. However, a good friend having a bad day might snap at you or seem distant, but they will likely apologise once things settle down. Toxic friends, on the other hand, tend to follow a pattern that never really dies down. They would not show much regret or inclination to change, even when they realize they have made you feel bad (Raypole, 2020).
As a result, it is important to choose your friends wisely. Be sure that the people you are closest to are the ones that make your life better and not worse.
So here are the 5 different types of toxic friendship to look out for
5 Different types of toxic friendship
Meanness disguised as humour. These are the type of friends that would tease you about almost everything, from your hair to your outfits and even your opinions. When you confront them about it they will say that you are being “too sensitive” and that it was only a “joke”.
It is important to note that being funny is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for saying mean things, and if a friend truly cares about you, they will stop when you say “enough.” Teasing is not always toxic, but it is up to you to decide how much of it are you comfortable with. And if you tell your friend that something they said crossed a line, they should try to at least respect your boundaries (Kaminski, 2019).
The Bad Influence
These are the type of friends that would tell their parents that they are spending the night at your place but head to the club instead, cheats off on you on tests or even pressure you into doing things that are dangerous or just harmful.
This behaviour is toxic because friends are supposed to bring out the best in us and not the worst. Furthermore, the instability and unpredictability of this friend can get draining after a while. Ask yourself “would I be acting this way if I wasn’t with this friend?” if you do not like the choices you make when you are with them, they might not be that great a friend after all (Kaminski, 2019). Even though hanging out with them will seem exciting at first, in the end, this person’s lack of responsibility will start to weigh on you and you could even end up damaging your own life in the process (Gordon, 2020)
These are the types of friends that would always need to feel superior. They would pry about your grades then brag about theirs and often undermine your accomplishment (Kaminski, 2019).
Jealousy in friendships is normal. In fact, a bit of ‘healthy competition’ can even be a positive factor in a friendship. However, if you have a friend who is constantly envious of your achievements, relationship, clothes, then you might need to start looking into what is maintaining your friendship. When you have to emotionally “manage” a jealous friend and avoid mentioning certain topics around them, that is a classic warning sign of a toxic friendship. Real friends are supposed to celebrate each other’s wins, not losses.
Sometimes jealousy can lead to controlling behaviours and these are the types of friends that seems to need to be the first to know everything that is going on in your life and they expect you to drop everything whenever they call you. They would also go to the extent to put a stop to your other friendships that do not involve them. Although it is good to be a caring friend, if their behavior is consistent, this type of friend will drain your energy and your time.
With this friend, you are just a friend of convenience. These are the type of friends that never text unless they need something from you and will go missing in action when you need one. This friend is someone that looks for ways to improve their social status or is just plain out using you to get something out of it (Montano, 2020). And once you have served your purpose to them, or when someone better comes along, they will be gone.
Friendship is a two-way street where parties involved learn to give and take. You deserve a friend who knows how to be friends with you, without having to get something out of it.
These are the friends that seem to be aware of other people’s life, capable of spreading rumours and often seem to always be engaging in some type of gossip, they also usually start sentences with, “not to be mean, but…” or they would tell you the secret of others while also insisting that you can trust them with yours.
Gossiping can be hard to resist but it is not the basis for a solid friendship. If a friend’s idea of fun is putting other people down, the odds are, they are probably doing it to you too (Kaminski, 2019).
What to do now that you have identified that you may be in a toxic relationship?
Confronting a toxic friend can be a tricky situation to be in. On one hand, by confronting them, it could change your friendship for the better but on the other hand, they may also be unresponsive to your efforts which could result in irreversible damage to your friendship.
Before harshly cutting them out of your life, try to evaluate if your friendship with them is worth saving in the first place.
Here are a few questions you could ask yourself to evaluate whether or not your toxic friendship is worth the effort.
- What are some of our common interest?
- What are some of our common values?
- Is your friend reliable and trustworthy?
- Is our friendship transactional?
- How have we helped one another through tough times?
However, in situations where you have confronted your friend about their toxic behaviour and still nothing has changed, it may be best to consider how much energy and involvement would you like to have with this friend.
Camellia Wong (MA), Demi Ng
Kaminski, M. (2019, November). The 7 Types of Toxic Friendships. Retrieved from
Gordon, S. (2020, March 26). 7 Types of Toxic Friends to Watch Out For. Retrieved from
Raypole, C. (2020, May 19). In a Toxic Friendship? Here’s What to Look For (and How to Handle It). Retrieved from
Montano, S. (2020, August 27). 7 Types of Toxic Friends You Should Avoid. Retrieved from
Brown, L. (2019, November 25). Toxic friends: 10 common signs and what you can do about it. Retrieved from https://hackspirit.com/toxic-friends/