When Best Friends Become Worst Enemies
We’ve all seen “Mean Girls,” and we know what toxic friendships look like. But sometimes, toxic friends aren’t just in high school, and they can be far more hurtful than even Regina George.
Say your friend makes you feel stressed, powerless and unwanted, but it seems like everything she’s saying is meant to build you up. So why do you feel so put down? Maybe you’re the one who’s just taking things the wrong way. Maybe she’s having a bad day. So you say nothing, and continue being a good friend to her.
Until one day, she turns on you, making you feel like you are the bad person in this relationship. And if this girl is your best friend, it completely breaks your heart. That’s how it felt for me, anyway, and I felt confused and alone.
People talk about abusive relationships, but toxic friendships, particularly among women, is unaddressed. Your best friend is supposed to be forever, so “breaking up” with a friend is almost stigmatized. But the truth is that these relationships are common, and they often grow unhealthier over time and can even be detrimental to your health. So how can you tell if a friend is toxic? How do you know if you need to end the friendship? Do you even want to?
Manipulative, toxic friends aren’t downright evil. Oftentimes they aren’t even realizing that the way they treat you hurts. But it doesn’t matter. If you have a friend who is hurting you more than helping, your relationship has turned poisonous. Here are some warning signs:
- She makes you feel guilty…even when you know you didn’t do anything
You and your friend get into an argument. It’s usually about something completely minor. But she put you down, personally attacks you, or maybe even projects her own issues onto you. She somehow manipulates the conversation to make you feel like you need to apologize…when you know you didn’t do anything wrong. The ability to make you feel guilty is a ruthless manipulation they use so that you don’t challenge her.
- She never makes you a priority
Another sign of a toxic friend is that they tend to be very flighty. This girl is the type of friend that doesn’t bother to hide that you aren’t her first choice to hang out with. She only wants to be with you if there’s nothing better to do. It makes you feel like she doesn’t value you, and it’s like you aren’t worth her time. And it makes you want to please her more, so you’re more likely to do whatever she asks.
- But you always have to be there for her
While it’s normal for friends to rely on one another for emotional support, this girl is just exhausting. She’s got a new crisis every day, and sooner or later you’re feeling her stress for her. And this kind of neediness isn’t just emotional, it can range from asking for advice (which she’ll probably blame you for later) to even financially supporting her. Before you know what’s happened, she’s turned you into her crutch. Not only does this make her dependent on you, but it makes you feel wanted, so you accept it. But the relationship isn’t symbiotic; it’s parasitic.
- Your relationship can be defined by Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold”
You never know where you stand with this girl. One day, you’re besties and everything’s great. The next day, she’s giving you the silent treatment (very mature of her) and you have no idea why. It makes you anxious like you can’t depend on her…because you can’t. And when she’s mad at you for no reason, you might apologize anyway just so she’ll speak to you. Over time you suspect that she’s only mad at you because of something else in her life, and she’s taking it out on you. You’re her personal punching bag.
- If you speak up about her treatment of you, things only get worse.
You can’t talk to this girl rationally about your relationship. If you’re fighting, anything other than an apology is sure to just blow up in your face. If you call her out on her shit, she will personally attack you, and she will probably betray you in the process. Nothing is off limits. She’ll spread rumors, tell your secrets, talk behind your back to people who hate you and just act like a vindictive saboteur in general.
- She has no empathy
If it seems like this girl never cares about you or your problems, it’s because she doesn’t. She has no qualms hurting you and definitely doesn’t feel bad about doing so. That’s why she doesn’t apologize. True friends have compassion, they care about you when you’re hurting. If your friend acts like your problems don’t matter to her, like she can’t feel your pain at all, don’t ignore it. It’s not going to change.
Real friends support you and have your back. They’ll care about you when you’re having a hard time, and they’ll want to see you because they like your company, not just what you can do for them. Toxic friendships only hurt, and you need to remember that you can’t change how people treat you, you can only change how you react. So don’t put up with it, you deserve better. After all, sometimes it’s better to cut off a limb than to let the infection spread.