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5 red flags in a toxic friendship
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5 red flags in a toxic friendship

Not all friendships are nice and healthy. Some can also be toxic or harmful to us, as these five signs show
Signs of toxic friendship
Representational image | Canva

Friendships should be a source of endless happiness, encouragement and personal development. But not every friendship is good for us; some might even be harmful. Maintaining our well-being and developing healthy relationships depend on our ability to spot the warning signs of a toxic `friendship’ – the term in itself being a contradictory combination of words.

However, identifying these signs is not enough. One should address the issues openly and honestly with the particular friend. If attempts to improve the friendship are futile, we may need to consider whether it is worth continuing the relationship.

Five signs of a toxic friendship

  1. Constant negativity

    One of the most prominent signs of a toxic friendship is a consistently negative atmosphere. If your friend always focuses on the negative aspects of life, constantly complains, and drains your energy with pessimism, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship. “Healthy friendships involve a balance of positive and negative discussions, and when negativity becomes the dominant theme, it can affect your own mental and emotional well-being,” says Gupta.

  2. Lack of support

    A supportive friend celebrates your success, offers encouragement during challenges and stands by you in good times and bad times. When there is a sign of a toxic friendship, Gupta says, “You may notice a lack of genuine support. Your achievements may be downplayed, or your friend may be dismissive of your struggles.” If you consistently feel unsupported or invalidated, it is a clear sign that the friendship is not contributing positively to your life.

  3. Manipulative behaviour

    Toxic friendships often involve manipulation. If your friend uses guilt, passive-aggressive comments or other manipulative tactics to control your actions or emotions, it is a red flag. Manipulation can manifest in various forms, such as making you feel obligated to put the “friend’s” needs over your own or using emotional tactics to get their way. “Healthy friendships are built on trust and open communication, not
    manipulation and control,” says Gupta.

  4. One-sided effort

    Friendships should be a two-way street, with both parties trying to nurture the connection. In a toxic equation, according to Gupta, you may find that you are the one consistently putting in effort while receiving little or nothing in return. If the “friend” is available only when they need something but is absent when you require support, it is a clear indication of an imbalanced and unhealthy relationship.

  5. Boundary violations

    Respecting each other’s boundaries is important in any healthy relationship. “Toxic `friends’ may consistently cross your boundaries, ignore your needs or disrespect your limits,” says Gupta. This can be a sign of toxic friendship and can manifest in various ways. For example, it could be consistently borrowing money or things without returning them. It could also involve invading our personal space, or pressurising us into situations we are uncomfortable with.

According to Gupta, healthy friendships thrive on mutual respect and understanding of each other’s boundaries. That leaves us with the choice — of either continuing such a relationship to our disadvantage, or ending it for peace and emotional health.

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