18 Tell-Tale Signs You’re in a Toxic Friendship

We all need good friends to keep our social lives healthy and maintain a solid support system. But unfortunately, some friends aren’t always as well-intentioned as they should be. Here are 18 tell-tale signs you’re in a toxic friendship.

Constant Criticism

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A little bit of constructive criticism every now and then can be healthy if it is asked for and welcomed. However, if your friend is constantly criticizing you against your will, this is a likely sign that they do not respect you, or may even want to make you feel belittled.

Lack of Support

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Healthy friendships are ones in which both parties feel valued and supported. If it seems like your friend is nowhere to be found when times are tough or you need them the most, they may not be showing you the care or support you deserve.

Disrespect for Boundaries

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As noted by Psych Central, boundaries are extremely important in all forms of relationships, including friendships. Friends who constantly dismiss or overstep your boundaries will probably wear you down or make you feel bad about yourself over time, which can be very unhealthy for your self-worth and well-being.

One-Sided Effort

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Does it seem like you’re always the one reaching out and making plans? If so, your friend may not be putting enough effort into the friendship. It’s important to communicate with your friend if you’re worried they are not as invested in the friendship as you, and you could potentially consider making new friends if you’re not on the same page.

Manipulative Behavior

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Obviously, manipulative behavior is never a good sign in a friendship. Counselling Directory lists manipulation as a common trait of toxic friends. Forms of manipulation can include guilting, shaming, flattery, or playing the victim in an attempt to get you to act a certain way or make certain decisions.

Frequent Conflicts

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It’s healthy to have disagreements every now and then. But if it seems like you’re always in some sort of conflict with your friend or they seem to get overly upset over trivial things, this may be a sign that you’re in a toxic friendship.

Lack of Trust

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There are many reasons why we may end up with trust issues, so a minor lack of trust doesn’t always mean you’re in an unhealthy friendship. However, if your friend has let you down several times or shown you that they cannot be trusted, you may want to reconsider the friendship.

Jealousy and Envy

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It’s normal to feel a little jealousy and envy sometimes. However, if it seems like your friend is always downplaying your achievements or acting jealous in other ways, this is not fair to you and is not a sign of a healthy friendship.


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When a friend’s feelings are hurt or they’re sharing something vulnerable, it’s important to make them feel heard and validated. If you are vulnerable with your friend and they react by shutting you down, downplaying your experience, or lying about their actions, they may be gaslighting you.


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We all get upset, sad, or angry sometimes when life gets us down. However, excessive negativity is not good for any friendship. It’s important to strike a balance between honestly expressing negative emotions and finding joy and positivity in life.


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Healthline notes that toxic friendships will often leave you feeling isolated. Some toxic friends will attempt to gain more control over you and your life by isolating you from other friends and family members. A common sign of this is if they frequently make you feel bad or guilty for hanging out with other people instead of them.

Emotional Drain

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Do you find yourself feeling emotionally drained after spending time with your friend? If so, this is a likely sign that your friendship may be toxic. Spending time with friends should make you feel happy and energized, even if you may need a rest from socialization afterward.


Friend talking to her best friend feeling anxious
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Toxic friends can sometimes make it feel like we never know what to expect from them. Perhaps they constantly cancel plans for seemingly no reason or are nice to you one day and mean the next. This kind of unpredictability can easily leave you feeling drained and anxious over time.


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As social creatures, it’s healthy for us to depend on one another for help and support. However, this becomes unhealthy when one person is overly dependent on the other for validation, help, or other forms of assistance. According to Talkspace, this may even be a sign of codependency.


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Passive-aggressiveness takes many forms. For example, your friend may frequently make hurtful jokes but disguise their critical comments through sarcasm or “banter.” If your friend often makes you feel bad through comments such as these, it’s probably a good idea to have an honest conversation with them about how it makes you feel.

Sudden Disappearances in Times of Need

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Fairweather friends are no good for anyone. If it seems like your friend always disappears when you need them most, you may be in a toxic friendship that does not properly support you or your needs.

No Apologies or Accountability

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Everybody makes mistakes, but it’s important to own up to them and take accountability when you’re in the wrong. Toxic friends will often fail to do this, deflecting the blame or downplaying their harmful behaviors to preserve their own sense of rightness.

Undermining Your Other Relationships

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Does your friend mock or belittle your other friends, romantic partners, or family members? If so, this may be a sign that they are jealous or attempting to gain more control over you. This is a toxic behavior that should be discussed if you want to continue the friendship.

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