A toxic friendship is very different from a friend needing a safe place to share her hurts, feelings, concerns, and frustrations. Webster defines toxic as, “extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful.” Some of us are engaging in toxic friendships without realizing how unhealthy they are to our hearts, minds, spirit, and emotions.
Admitting that we are engaging in toxic friendships can be challenging because we enjoy their company. We have fun when it’s girl’s night out. They makes us laugh. They fill a need in our lives. Unfortunately, it can be at the expense of our own growth and well- being. We wrestle with feeling stifled, burdened, enmeshed, used, and sometimes toxic ourselves. It might be time to assess “the one” that leaves us drained and frustrated because once we admit that we are engaging in a toxic friendship, freedom awaits.
As dramatic as it might sound, replacing toxic friendships with healthy ones can be life changing. In the beginning, the transition will take courage, effort, and wisdom as we replace old habits and patterns with new ones. However, once we start experiencing the love, joy, peace, and security of our healthy friendships, we will have less space in our lives for toxic ones.
By Melanie Mills
How do I know if I’m engaging in a toxic friendship?
Rate the frequency on a scale of 1 to 10.
1 never 5 sometimes 10 always
_____ I feel that my needs are overlooked.
_____ I feel overly stressed after I’ve been in her presence.
_____ I feel this friendship holds me back from being myself.
_____ I find myself “editing” what I say for fear of offending,hurting her feelings, or upsetting her.
_____ I am the one that rescues her mentally, emotionally,
_____ She does not follow through with her commitments.
_____ I feel taken for granted.
_____ I find myself doing things when I am with her that I am not comfortable with doing.
_____ She cuts me down more than she encourages me.
_____ I feel unappreciated and taken for granted.
_____ I leave her presence feeling worse about myself.
_____ I do not feel “good enough” when I am with her.
_____ I feel pressured to spend more money than I am
comfortable with when I am with her.
_____ I loan her money that I do not have or want to loan her.
_____ I ignore my other friends/family to meet her needs.
_____ She is verbally or emotionally abusive to me.
_____ My other friends express concern over our friendship.
_____ I get “dropped in the grease” when better plans come
_____ I feel trapped in this friendship.
_____ There is never true resolution when there is conflict.
_____ She holds a grudge when I make a mistake or do not do what she expects me to do.
_____ I allow her to degrade, ignore, abuse me.
_____ She puts me down in front of others.
_____ I feel I am in a one-sided friendship.
_____ I am the listener in the friendship.
_____ Drama, trouble, problems often surround her life.
_____ I feel the friendship is all about her.
_____ She expects others to take her of responsibilities.
_____ I do not depend on her when I am sad, upset, or hurt.
_____ I feel that my needs in the friendship do not get met.
_____ I feel guilty asking for helping or sharing my own
77 – 155 It’s highly possible you are engaging in an unhealthy toxic friendship.
16 – 76 Pay attention to your friendship. Start looking at the quality of this relationship. Consider whether or not she is helping become a better version of yourself or if she is hindering you.
10 – 15 No friendship is perfect. There are areas for improvement. Communication, forgiveness, grace, and honesty can help you both related in healthier ways- resulting in a richer relationship.
0 – 10 Continue your friendship as desired. Make an effort to listen, love, share, and care for one another.
Steps to Freedom in Friendship
Step 1: Admit that you are involved in a toxic friendship.
Step 2: Assume responsibility for your role in the friendship.
Step 3: Acknowledge unhealthy patterns of co-dependence, people pleasing, acquiescing, fear of rejection.
Step 4: Decide whether or not this friendship is worth salvaging. If so, share with your friend what you are learning about yourself. Explain your concerns in regards to how you both are relating. Together, decide if you can grow together. Her response will tell you how open or closed she is to your desire to get healthier.
Step 5: Choose to focus on your well being.
Step 6: Start saying no when needed and stand firm.
Step 7: Let go and let grow. Give your toxic friend the space to grow.
Step 6: Pursue new or healthy friendships that will take the place of the energy you invested in your toxic friend.
What are your tips for dealing with toxic friendships?
Dr. Melanie Ross Mills is the creator of the Life Bond book series, which includes The Friendship Bond, The Couples Bond, and The Identity Bond. Through her counseling sessions, books, public speaking, and workshops she instigates insightful dialogue and encourages honest self-reflection. Dr. Mills enjoys serving as a FOX News Radio Relationship Expert. She holds a degree in temperament psychology.