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healthy debate or toxic friendship? 5 red flags to watch for

July 11, 2022

We all have that friend that we confide in. The one that we tell our deepest and most intimate secrets to. This is the person that has seen you at your best, worst, and  everywhere in between. Your best friend is a constant in your life. Dependable and trustworthy. Laughs when you laugh, cries when you cry, and is the first one looking to punch the boy that just broke your heart.  A mutual and healthy friendship where both people are equally invested and are there for each other. But what happens when the friendship is one sided? Or you realize that they’re not laughing at things you’ve done but instead, laughing at you. Being disrespectful and hurtful. Jealous of your other friends or boyfriend.  Instead of having your back you suddenly begin to wonder if they can be trusted at all. Are you in a toxic friendship or just being overly sensitive? Here are 5 red flags to watch out for:

1. They insult you or put you down

How many times have you heard your friend say ‘you’re too sensitive’ or ‘oh, I was just teasing you!’ directly after saying something hurtful or disrespectful to you? Once they see your reaction, they try and play it off as nothing.  A little banter back and forth never hurt anyone and some even say it’s good for the soul. But, when it happens daily or multiple times a week, it’s not a laughing matter. What if in fact, it is hurtful to you. Take notice if these incidents happen when you and your bestie are alone or if they tend to happen more when you’re with a group of people. This is not a  normal relationship between two people. Most people are surprised to know that this is a form of abuse.

2.  Competitive behavior

Most of us can agree that a little healthy competition amongst friends is healthy but, what if it’s more than that? If your friend is over the top with competing with you, especially in every single aspect of your life, it may be time to take a step back and reevaluate things. Unhealthy competition and a need to prove they are the best, often gets out of hand and can turn malicious if they happen to lose to you. Getting ahead by stepping on people isn’t healthy, in fact it falls in the same category as narcissistic personality disorder.  When the competition gets to this point, it’s time to forfeit and move on.

3.  Other friends are not allowed

Does your friend put everyone else down? Do they always have something negative to say about the other people in your life? What about getting mad or jealous when you spend time with someone other than them? This is another sign of an unhealthy friendship. The biggest reason for this behavior is jealousy. The toxicity is often felt and seen by others on the outside. The behavior that has become almost normal to you is anything but. Your toxic friend knows that they’ve pulled the blanket over your eyes but will get extremely upset and almost obsessive when they think someone from the outside sees what’s going on. They will bully the other person, make fun of them, point out all of their flaws and weaknesses. This is in hopes that you will see these too and keep the focus off of what they are doing to you. If this becomes an issue, end the friendship sooner rather than later.

4.  You feel drained after interacting with them

Friends are supposed to bring out the best in each other. They help keep you up when you’re feeling down. Having a good friend means being a good friend in return. If you have a friendship that you feel you are the only one that participates in, makes all the plans, always there for them without asking anything in return, you probably need to rethink the friendship. You should never feel emotionally drained or exhausted after talking to  or spending time with them. If you’re feeling as though you have nothing left to give, give yourself a break and start being a little more unavailable.

5.  They don’t respect your boundaries or values

Peer pressure is a constant issue in people of all ages, especially teenagers. The right clothes, the right car, saying yes to something you would normally say no to….the list is endless. In a mutual and healthy friendship, two people respect one another’s choices and decisions, even when differing from their own. However,  watch for signs if you feel that your BFF is starting to pressure you into things you aren’t comfortable with.  If even after you’ve voiced your opinions or let them know why your opinion differes from them, they still don’t back off, then it’s time to put some distance between the two of you.

No two people are going to get along 100% of the time. We all disagree with each other at some point. Just remember that there is a difference between constructive criticism, healthy deabates, and toxic relationships. The signs are always there even when we don’t want to see them.


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