Red Flags To Watch For In Friends Who Might Be Manipulating You

Toxic friendships can feel even more draining than unhealthy relationships at times. After all, your friends are supposed to be your outlet and sounding board when you need some extra support.

Some friendships are actually causing you more stress than they might be worth. If you suspect that you might have a toxic friendship in your life, there are some tell-tale signs to watch out for.

Toxic Friendships Are Harder To Spot But Can Still Be Damaging

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Photo Credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions / Unsplash
Photo Credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions / Unsplash

Even though they might be harder to spot, the signs of a doomed friendship will start to surface over time.

When getting together starts to feel more like a chore than an escape, it’s time to do some reevaluating.

A Toxic Friend Takes More Than They Give

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Photo Credit: Liza Summer / Pexels
Photo Credit: Liza Summer / Pexels

Friendships, like any relationship, are always going to have some give and take. As long as there is a healthy balance between the two, things run smoothly.

When you start giving more than you are getting in return it can become exhausting. Remember that if you’re going to drop everything to help your friend move or give them a ride somewhere, they should be willing to do the same in return.

They Monopolize The Conversation

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Photo Credit: ELEVATE / Pexels
Photo Credit: ELEVATE / Pexels

The same goes for socializing with them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be favors or physical things that they are taking, it could be as simple as your time and attention.

For example, a person who controls the entire conversation to make it about themselves but immediately loses interest when you share something about yourself is not a great person to confide in.

They Always Have Ongoing Drama In Their Life

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Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels

Toxic friendships are drama-heavy, even when the drama doesn’t directly involve you.

If your friend is always ranting about other people in their life who have caused conflict, burned bridges, or been “toxic,” there’s a good chance that they are the problem.

You Find That You Can’t Trust Them

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Photo Credit: Tim Douglas / Pexels
Photo Credit: Tim Douglas / Pexels

Like in any solid relationship, friendships are built on trust.

You need to be trusting that your friend has your best interests in mind. Say for example they offer to pet-sit for you on the weekend only to cancel last minute.

They Let You Down More Often Than Not

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Photo Credit: John Diez / Pexels

Maybe they said they would pick you up at the airport only to bail hours before your flight lands.

If you’re constantly being let down by your friend, whether it’s something as small as forgetting to text you back or as big as bailing on your birthday party, there’s a good chance the friendship is not benefiting you much anymore.

You Get Anxious Or Stressed When They Call Or Text

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Photo Credit: Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels
Photo Credit: Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels

Cell phones and social media have made it easier than ever before to communicate with friends.

However, if you start to notice an awful feeling in your stomach when you have a message or missed call from a certain person, it’s a strong sign that the friendship is affecting you negatively.

Ask Yourself Whether You Even Enjoy Spending Time With Them

Woman sips wine at friend's dinner party
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

It’s easy to fall into a routine of hanging out with certain people because you feel like you have to.

Next time you’re together, ask yourself whether you’re actually even enjoying the time you’re spending with them. Or are you watching the clock and waiting to go home and detox from the drama?

You Don’t Like The Person You Are When You Hang Out With Them

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Photo Credit: Karina Tes / Unsplash

The thing about negative people is that they have the ability to radiate their bad energy onto the people around them.

Without realizing it, you may even find that you’re taking on some of their worst personality traits.

You’re Embarrassed By Their Behavior

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Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

If you find yourself embarrassed by how your friend treats the waitstaff at a restaurant, the retail worker in a store, or even a stranger on the street, it’s a major red flag.

Who you spend your time with can become a reflection of you as a person.

They Are Rude To People You Care About

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Photo Credit: Christian Erfurt / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Christian Erfurt / Unsplash

This is especially problematic if they are rude to the people you care about, like your SO, your family, or your other close friends.

If you have to hang out with them separately from everyone else to avoid any drama, you’re looking at a red flag.

They Are Always Trying To Compete With You

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Photo Credit: Meghan Holmes / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Meghan Holmes / Unsplash

Friendly competition can be fun, especially if you play sports or do some kind of activity with your friend.

That being said, if you find they are always trying to compete with you over the smallest things, they may not have your best interests in mind.

They Should Cheer You On Instead Of Dragging You Down

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Photo Credit: Diva Plavalaguna / Pexels

Friends should always want the best for you, and that doesn’t mean “one-upping” you whenever possible.

They shouldn’t ever belittle your accomplishments or try to beat down your achievements to turn around and celebrate their own.

You’re Making Excuses For Them

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Photo Credit: George Milton / Pexels
Photo Credit: George Milton / Pexels

If you catch yourself repeatedly making excuses for their behavior, it’s because you’re in the uncomfortable position of trying to rationalize staying friends with them.

It’s obvious when you start saying things like, “That’s just how they are…” or, “You get used to it,” instead of acknowledging their behavior might actually be a problem.

You Don’t Really Know Why You’re Still Friends With Them

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Photo Credit: 胡 卓亨 / Unsplash
Photo Credit: 胡 卓亨 / Unsplash

At one point in time, your friendship really may have been great for both of you, but as time passes, it can feel like you’re two different people.

Maybe you have even watched other friends come and go from their life only to realize that you’re still sticking around without any good reason.

Create Some Distance Between Yourself And The Toxic Friend

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Photo Credit: George Milton / Pexels
Photo Credit: George Milton / Pexels

Recognizing a toxic friendship in your life is one thing, but dealing with it in a mature way that is the least likely to hurt people’s feelings is harder to accomplish.

Creating some general distance is always a good first step. If you don’t make plans, you won’t have to worry about canceling them or dread going to them.

Set Limits In Your Friendship

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Photo Credit: George Milton / Pexels
Photo Credit: George Milton / Pexels

Setting limits is a good way to control a controlling friend. Tell them exactly where you draw the line and how flexible you’re willing to be, if at all.

For example, if you have a friend who always calls asking for help with various projects, you should commit to saying no and stick to it.

We Should Choose The Friends Who Make Us Happiest

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Photo Credit: Tim Douglas / Pexels
Photo Credit: Tim Douglas / Pexels

It’s always best to avoid a massive blow-up fight that will burn the bridge of your friendship. As an adult, you don’t really have to justify your friendship decisions to anyone other than yourself.

It’s possible your toxic friend could even take a hint and grow as a result of you distancing yourself.

Put Your Own Mental Health First

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Photo Credit: Zen Chung / Pexels
Photo Credit: Zen Chung / Pexels

It’s quite possible that your toxic friend may have a terrible reaction to you pulling away and try to drag you into some nasty drama of your own.

Just be clear, respectful, and remember you’re putting your own mental health first.