5 Ways to Spot a Toxic Friendship

I recently ended a very toxic relationship with a life-long friend of mine… deep breath.

It is hard to walk away from any relationship after so much time spent together.  When it comes to friendships, I often feel a great sense of duty towards those I call friends, mainly because I do not throw that term around lightly and it takes a long time for friend status of deep meaning to be attained. That’s just how I roll.

Regardless, I ended it. The most shocking part about this relationship ending was not the end but perhaps the fact that I felt nothing during the process. I did not feel sad, or angry, resentful or depressed. I felt relieved? A sign to me that I should have walked away a long time ago.

But why didn’t I walk away? The signs were always there, all the signs that pointed to this person being a negative influence in my life. But I still stayed, duty bound to a relationship that took too much and gave so little in return.

Now that the clouds have parted and I feel free of that burdensome relationship I feel my heart is more open, less strained. I feel ready to receive new friendships in my life, it truly is a great feeling. Maybe if I sat and looked at just how toxic this person was to me in the first place I would have had the strength to walk away sooner. You live and you learn.

I have done the unfortunate legwork when it comes to this post.

I hope that if you identify with any of these warning signs then this may serve as the push you need to walk away from that relationship. Also read carefully, if you have some of these traits yourself, take accountability for them, be brave enough to grow and change, because like it or not everyone has been guilty of at least one of these actions in their life at some unfortunate point or another.

 Get to Know me

1. Their life is more important

When it comes to friendships and relationships there is a fine line between looking out for number one and placing your needs above those whom you care about. Each person’s life and time are as equally important to them as it is to you.

With that being said it is not fair or a sign of an equal healthy relationship to have the other person always placing their time, needs and life above yours. That is the line. Your life is important also. As a friend, it is a beautiful thing to care for another’s needs almost as much as your own.  If you have a friend who is always talking about themselves with the exclusion of you, dismissing your feelings or needs, then this is a sign that they may be crossing that line. You’re important too! Do not feel selfish for wanting to assert that! Any relationship should be equal.

2. They stunt your growth

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”
― Alice Walker

Do you feel smothered by your friend’s demands and expectations of you? Do you leave after your interactions with them feeling unmotivated and confused? That is no way to grow in life, or within a friendship.  When a friendship that was once supportive turns into a smothering fire then there is no real shock that the fire is burning out.

If you feel judged, unsupported, and stunted by the company you keep and their potential negativity towards your own personal growth… then yes. You should drop those people right away.

3. They have jealousy or resentment towards you

“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”
― Albert Camus

Jealousy is a very real ugly thing in this world. The saddest truth about jealousy is that it often plagues many friendships, especially in women. Superficial things like appearance, your clothes, the amount of money you make, the car you drive, your boyfriend, family, you name it. All can cause jealousy in friendships.

The signs? Well, they seem to be unable to be happy for you or others unless it benefits them in some way. This is a tricky trait to pick up on sometimes so it may take some insight, but unfortunately, there are a lot more people like this out there then I myself originally believed. One-upping, petty gossip, and indirect insults are all signs that a friend may be more jealous than it appears on the surface. The easy thing to ignore right? Well maybe for you, not for them. Jealousy turns into resentment very quickly, resentment into anger. All the right ingredients for a very ugly relationship or situation in the future.

If you have a friend who may be jealous of you, perhaps addressing that situation right away might be your best option. Rather than enable unhealthy habits and feelings.

4. They do not appreciate who you truly are

Every single person has an equal amount of awesomeness and shittiness within. A maturity is a tool we use to assess which traits we will act on. Being confident enough to accept those uncomfortable personality traits in another is difficult but a beautiful part of friendship.

When you open up to friends and share with them your innermost insecurities and they exploit those insecurities as a weakness ( this has legit happened to me ) then that is a HUGE warning sign. Your failures in life do not make you less of a person. Your flaws do not make you any less complex and amazingly unique, and if you have someone in your life who feels the need to constantly remind you of the hard times in your life in an attempt to box you in and bring you down then walk away. Actually, run.

5. They insult rather than address

Fights happen, friction happens. But never in any relationship should anyone ever belittle you as a person, drag your personality or feelings through the mud. If you are exposed to a person who commits themselves to personal attacks and slander when the more negative parts of life are involved then you need to remove those people from your life. That type of behavior is abusive and disrespectful.


You are a beautiful soul who is always deserving of love, attention, and happiness. Do not be afraid to end something because it is comfortable. Once you remove negative people from your life I promise more beautiful people with like minds, interests, and aspirations will enter.

You will grow and be happy as the newest best version of yourself. Cheers!

85 COMMENTS

  1. Emily Sankuer | 28th Jun 16

    I went through this same thing about five years ago. It’s definitely difficult but well worth it for yourself in the end!

    • StephJ | 28th Jun 16

      So worth it. Clear of negativity and able to open up to new relationships 🙂 Like a breath of fresh air!

  2. afternoonofsundries | 28th Jun 16

    Great post!

  3. afternoonofsundries | 28th Jun 16

    Reblogged this on Afternoon of Sundries and commented:
    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Insightful!

    • StephJ | 28th Jun 16

      Thank you so much!!

  4. Hearts Lane | 28th Jun 16

    I can appreciate your situation. Years ago I had a toxic friend and when I finally ended the relationship I felt so much lighter. The stress and guilt I had struggled with disappeared. Such a great lesson in putting my needs in their proper place. Not every thing has to be about other people. What I needed and wanted in a relationship was also important.

    • StephJ | 28th Jun 16

      I think to many people have to go through this type of thing in life. But it is the best way to assert your own self worth and to learn to appreciate the true friends in your life. Thank you for commenting. It is nice to hear that others have gone through similar experiences. 🙂

  5. live_a_life_less_ordinary | 28th Jun 16

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been thinking a lot about these kinds of things with certain “friends” of mine, and I can relate to many of these with people in my life both past and present. #1 especially seems to be a problem with the people in my life. It’s hard for me to cut ties with someone, because if they’re in my life the first place, then I’m remembering a time when they did enrich my life somehow, and I’m hoping to get that back someday. But that’s not realistic… it’s often either based on fantasy or on a past that isn’t coming back. 🙁

    • StephJ | 29th Jun 16

      It’s very true. I think a lot of people hold onto the fantasies of the future when it comes to these relationships. Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. dragonflylady77 | 28th Jun 16

    I found your post via Afternoon of Sundries and OMG it spoke to me. Thank you!!

    I had to end a 20+ year friendship last year (the year before? I forget) because it had become toxic and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I started to write about it to post on my blog but couldn’t finish.
    While I don’t regret ending things, I still have my memories and sometimes I miss parts of that friendship. But then I remember the bad stuff…

    • StephJ | 29th Jun 16

      It’s hard to let go. And the memories will always be there to remind us of why they were out friends in the first place. But people and relationships change its a unfortunate part of growth sometimes. You are better for it and I hope you hang onto that feeling 🙂

      • dragonflylady77 | 29th Jun 16

        I sent a long detailed email with my reasons for ending the friendship to this now ex friend, then I blocked her on email, FB, Twitter… Last year in January she sent a DM to my wife on FB wishing me a happy new year and saying she didn’t know why I wasn’t talking to her anymore. Last year in September I got on Whatsapp and she sent me something, a memory from when we were in high school. I blocked her and didn’t reply… It’s hard. <3

  7. rfdumais | 28th Jun 16

    What a fantastic post! Everything you said is so true and I’ve had to go through this myself but I’m better off having done it than being with someone who brings me down!

    • StephJ | 29th Jun 16

      I am happy you enjoyed the post. It’s a unfortunate part of growing I think. Positive vibes always!

  8. Alka Sharma | 29th Jun 16

    Gosh u r spectacular ! Way to go!

  9. thewallandthem | 29th Jun 16

    I am so sorry you had to go through that. I have always believed that one of the hardest things to do in life is to let someone go.
    I congratulate you on being able to do that and send in a warm hug.
    I myself went through something similar about four years back. It was extremely difficult.
    At the end of the day I needed to let her go because it was toxic and did more harm than good.
    Looking back it was a blessing in disguise.
    Thank you for this. Take care and have a great day 🙂

    • StephJ | 29th Jun 16

      Thank you for your comment. It’s all part of the growing process 🙂

  10. Jacky Dahlhaus | 30th Jun 16

    There is a time and a place for everything, this includes friends. Remember the good times, but don’t forget the bad times. Surround yourself with uplifting people. If they don’t make you feel better, steer clear from them. My mother always said ‘if somebody has to cry, make sure it’s not you.’ This is helpful in any relationship. I would add to this ‘no regrets.’ Do what you want, but make sure you have no regrets. If it took you so long to get rid of this negative person in your life you probably got something out of it. Don’t bash your head about thinking it was too late, think positive! Make the most out of life :).

    • StephJ | 30th Jun 16

      I fully agree, there are definitely lessons to be learned and I am excited to learn what those lessons are after some time. Perhaps I will share them here 🙂 You live and you learn! Thank you for reading!

  11. Go Natural | 1st Jul 16

    Thanks for sharing! I really need this .

  12. Jay Colby | 1st Jul 16

    Great post very insightful!

  13. A J | 5th Jul 16

    I’ve had to let go of so many friendships that turned out to be toxic. Another way to spot a toxic friendship, in my experience, is that when I meet these friends, after the meeting, I always feel so negative and drained. At first, I thought it was just me but it later turned out that that wasn’t the case. Being around these toxic friends had an overall negative effect on me. They had ceased to be friends.

    When you didn’t have any feelings when the friendship ended, that is a sign that that friend had ceased to be your friend too. It takes courage to be the one to end things. Glad you had that courage.

    • StephJ | 5th Jul 16

      Thank you for reading and for sharing a bit of your own experience!

  14. magickmermaid | 9th Jul 16

    Yes, been there! We (hopefully) learn something with each person we meet. And sometimes that means someone will not be a ‘forever friend’.

    • StephJ | 9th Jul 16

      Very true! Thanks for reading 😊

  15. Alien Meo | 3rd Aug 16

    The first sight of jealousy is the last breath of friendship.
    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Alisia | 5th Aug 16

    I must thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this blog.
    I am hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you later on as well.

    In truth, your creative writing abilities has
    inspired me to get my own, personal blog now
    😉

    • StephJ | 6th Aug 16

      Thank you so much for reading! You should start one for sure. It is a wonderful outlet, it is great to share with readers and a perfect way to get your creative juices flowing.

  17. Life of a Mama | 10th Aug 16

    Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • StephJ | 10th Aug 16

      Thank you for reading!

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  20. life in a nutshell | 19th Aug 16

    I totally agree with this. Everyone experiences it at some point in their life’s but you are sometimes blind to it. It’s hard to admit that you need to let a friendship go

    • StephJ | 22nd Aug 16

      It is hard. In a world heavily centered around working out our problems sometimes we forget that distance is sometimes the best and only option!

  21. livelaughhlovee5 | 14th Sep 16

    I agree with some of the statements you said above. I think I was honestly in a toxic friendship with my one friend we would always bash on one another and I don’t let things bother me or get the best of me and she is different so she comes harder at you, but we haven’t seen each other in months and I tend to keep it that way.

    • StephJ | 14th Sep 16

      That’s probably the best thing to do. Thank you for reading!

  22. Being Leanna | 14th Sep 16

    These were all such great points! I’ve gotten rid of some toxic friendships myself so it’s good to know I can spot the warning signs. You’re much better off without that friend!

  23. Shirley | 14th Sep 16

    No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow. Well said. I think this will happen in everyone’s life. When I am reading there is feeling which I have gone through. But one should be very positive and move ahead.

    With Love
    Shirley
    http://thestyletraveller.com/

  24. Chels (@InspoIndulgence) | 14th Sep 16

    I was actually just thinking about writing a post like this. I’ve had plenty of toxic people in my lifetime…

  25. Andrea Bai | 14th Sep 16

    This has been so heavy on my heart. I just ended a friendship with a long time friend. She was great to me, but wanted to leave her kids. I just can’t be friends with someone like that…

    Glam Hungry Mom

  26. The Editor | 14th Sep 16

    Hello Stephanie,
    It is truly sad and sometimes depressing ending a very long friendship. But just think that everything happens for a reason, and it is your opportunity to embrace these changes, coz there will always someone knocking on your door – whose much better!

    – blairvillanueva

    For Urban Women

  27. Postcards To Seattle | 14th Sep 16

    Great post! I’ve only had a few people I’ve had to take out of my life, but I didn’t realize how much they were dragging me down until I did. It’s hard, but worth it for your own well being.

    • StephJ | 14th Sep 16

      Very true! It is a weight that is lifted that sometimes you didn’t even know was there. Sometimes you just have to start fresh with new people in your life who love and support you!

  28. MyYellowApron | 14th Sep 16

    I think all of us, have a toxic person in our lives and its time to break free. Great read.

    • StephJ | 14th Sep 16

      It is certainly scary how relatable it is to many!

  29. MegOhKay | 14th Sep 16

    Sometimes it’s refreshing to know that others are able to handle similar situations. I think these five things also apply to toxic family members and work situations. You’re stronger and happier for making the choice. I’m sorry it was a situation you had to be in.

  30. Esther | The Cuteness | 14th Sep 16

    These are great tips, so true! Sometimes you just have to let friendships go, even when it’s so hard to do.

  31. The Golden Girl Diary | 14th Sep 16

    UGH, this post was right on. I totally agree with everything. Glad you were able to make the right decision, even if it was the more difficult one.

  32. lovinglittledixie | 14th Sep 16

    I had to do this a couple of years ago. It was painful for everyone because our husbands and kids were friends too. I tried and tried to make it work, but in the end, I had to let the friendship go. So sorry you’re going through this, but like you said, life is better on the other side.

  33. nlampert | 14th Sep 16

    This is a great post. I think we talk a lot about leaving bad relationships but there isn’t a lot of discussion out there about toxic friendships… which is unfortunate because it’s more common than we think. Thanks for starting the discussion!

  34. Anamika Ojha | 15th Sep 16

    Your post makes a nice read and can totally relate to it! I also went through such toxic relationship last years after a friendship of 5+ years but glad that we ended it on a good note!

  35. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy | 15th Sep 16

    I cut out a toxic friend from my life a couple of years ago and it was the best thing I ever did.

  36. The Trophy WifeStyle | 15th Sep 16

    Ahhhh I just had to let go of a toxic friend not to long ago! It was so hard, but it had to be done. Friends lift you up and this person just made my energy all sorts of negaitive!

    • StephJ | 15th Sep 16

      Yes exactly. You should feel light and happy after seeing a friend not heavy and negative.

  37. Kyleigh | 15th Sep 16

    Truth, truth, truth! It’s hard to do and sometimes harder to realize when you’re in it, but these relationship have Got to Go! Thanks for the post, it’s awesome!

    • StephJ | 15th Sep 16

      Thank you! I am glad you liked it!

  38. Wanderlustkyla | 15th Sep 16

    Ending long term friendships is so hard. Good for you for recognizing the toxicity and getting out! I can definitely relate to seeing some of those signs in some previous friendships!
    Kyla
    Wanderlustkyla.com

  39. marymakeup | 15th Sep 16

    I went through the same thing not long ago. I feel better now. Great post 🙂

  40. Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes | 16th Sep 16

    It may be hard, but so great to not have that negativity around you.

  41. stylishgalcarryn | 17th Sep 16

    This was a great read… I literally just walked away from a friendship bc of some of these things they were doing

  42. Valerie | 17th Sep 16

    I had to do this recently and it was hard. You hit the nail on the he’d w your advice.

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    I know this is an older post but I just had to comment! I ended a toxic friendship this week and I am so glad that it’s over. If I had read your article before today, I likely would have ended it sooner.

    • StephJ | 21st Oct 16

      Thank you! That is exactly why I wrote it, I wish I knew then what I know now. Its nice to have a fresh start. Thank you for reading 🙂

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  47. scribbleserendipity | 5th Mar 17

    I just went through this earlier this year. I feel like it is one of those things that you don’t want to see. You want to try to keep the friendship, but you finally realize enough is enough. I had this friend who was constantly not a good friend to me, but because of how long we’ve been friends before problems arose, I wanted to ignore it. Finally at the beginning of this year, I said enough was enough, and I feel so much better now. I only wished I made the decision sooner instead of wasted my time trying to make the friendship work. Great post! xx

    • StephJ | 6th Mar 17

      I can relate %100, sometimes it is hard to see how a relationship has changed for the worse when you have known someone for so long. You hang onto the way things used to be in some ways and it fogs your reality. I am happy that you were able to cut ties and I hope you feel much lighter because of it. Cheers!

  48. arv! | 1st Jun 17

    Your post is insightful! Its always best to walk away from toxis people. They are like leeches who will such your goodness out without returning anything good.

  49. anhistorianabouttown | 1st Jun 17

    I’ve had a few friendships kind of blow up- one actually posted about me several times on a message board that I found by accident. I’ve been incredibly hurt by different people, so unfortunately I do tend to keep my distance for quite some time with friends now!

    • StephJ | 1st Jun 17

      I am kind of in the same boat. I now have such a bad taste in my mouth it is hard for me to make new friends. Ugh.

  50. Kait Around The Kingdom | 6th Jun 17

    This list is so accurate! I’ve unfortunately lost a friend or two, usually not by choice and these were some if their very qualities

    • StephJ | 6th Jun 17

      I think everyone has been there at some point. Or has even been guilty themselves.

  51. Nicole of What Nicole Wore | 6th Jun 17

    So glad you were willing to open your heart and share this. I’ve had some longtime friendships that I’ve had to end due to them becoming toxic. It never gets any easier but is such a breath of fresh air once you get through them.

    • StephJ | 6th Jun 17

      It isnt easy but you are right after some time things feel so much better. I can’t imagine being as happy as I am now with that person still around me,

  52. NM | 6th Jun 17

    I have had my fair share of toxic friendships and I always end up getting burnt before realizing its time to burn the bridge instead of myself.

    These are some clear warning signs but sometimes we make 10 excuses for the people we love just to keep them in our lives..

    http://www.nmdiaries.com

    • StephJ | 7th Jun 17

      I could not agree more. I often make excuses instead of listening to my gut because I dont want to be too harsh. Learning to know the difference has been helpful though!

  53. discoveringnina17 | 6th Jun 17

    Toxic friendships can really leave you with emotional baggage, it’s always better to stop it at the root. Great tips

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  55. Highlights and Hemlines | 7th Jun 17

    I love what you wrote. Toxic relationships are usually easy for me to recognize, but not always easy to pinpoint what exactly is going on. Jealousy is definitely a big one and a really unfortunate one!

    • StephJ | 8th Jun 17

      It is hard to figure out what is going on, especially if the communication between two friends has diminished. I guess if that happens it’s time to call it quits anyway, I can’t imagine having a friend that held the truth from me.

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