Toxic Friendships: Identify, Evaluate and Exit!

Did you know 8th June is National Best Friend’s Day? But is your best friend truly your friend? Identify if you are in toxic friendships and preserve your mental health.

National Best Friends Day really does exist

 Friendship is a mutually beneficial relationship, in fact, it may be one of the selfless relationships-right after the bond between parent and child. Being bonded by interests and compassion to someone who is not related to you by blood is a powerful feeling. Unfortunately, all relationships have their pros and cons. Toxic friendships is one of those negative influences you need to cut out of your life.

What is toxic friendship?

When the bond of friendship is used to make you feel insecure, hurt, anxious and bring damage to your identity- those are toxic friendships. This friend or friends will make you question your decisions, they might even be the one controlling your actions by demeaning your opinions.  They will use your insecurity to shun you out of certain conversations or gatherings. 

Can’t see the toxicity but you get the vibe

Oftentimes you won’t be able to notice that your friendship is toxic. And it’s not your fault for not seeing the red flags before. This person has been the closest to you. You have shared your secrets and sorrows with them. You have confided in them over the years and it has turned into a habit. The attachment is on a personal level and it’s quite natural to overlook what could be harmful to you. Regardless, you have probably always felt anxious. Your mental health may have been in the rough waters. And you had no idea that your depression could be linked to these toxic friendships. 

Identify toxic friendships in 5 steps

Hesitate to share:

 You have to think before you tell them how you feel? Red flag #1. If this is your friend then you shouldn’t be so scared of sharing your honest opinion. Not sharing some stuff is a different matter. That’s your personal choice. But being hesitant to really say how you feel, without feeling bad about it cannot be tolerated. 

Making you apologize first:

In arguments you are the one apologizing? Red flag #2. So when you have a heated argument or playful debate they take it too seriously and get offended. Then the situation turns sour. So you apologize. What for? And you end up agreeing to their opinion. Just for the sake of keeping them calm. Ultimate loss is yours. 

Using your vulnerability:

Everyone has their own weakness. A friend should never use that insecurity to hurt you. Neither should you. If they do use stuff like that to demotivate you- Red Flag #3!

Shares your secrets:

You tell them a lot of your secrets. The boy you kissed in the park when you were 17. The money you stole from your mother’s purse. Your first crush who rejected you to your face. How you text three different girls and call them your girlfriend. I’m not judging. These are YOUR secrets. You shared these in the context of fun and trust. Because this friend is your best friend, right? This friend is your close friend perhaps. Then they go and tell other people that you did this and that. Red flag again!! Now where does all that trust and loyalty go? 

They make you the competition:

All that obvious activity of spilling your secrets, attacking your weak spots, shutting you out of conversations is easy to detect. But then they use subtle ways to always compare their stories to yours. Even if the conversation started off because you were dealing with a problem and wanted your friend’s opinion, it will shift to become their story. And it’s always their pain that’s more important. It’s their story that you HAVE to listen to and agree. You just have to console them all the time and feed their complex. It must be tiring…

However, it’s not always easy to identify the toxicity in friendships. There could be so many small problematic issues that you didn’t notice before. And it’s okay to have been oblivious about it. Maybe that was your coping mechanism. 

Best Friends Forever #BFF

A myth. It does not exist. Because forever is a myth itself, no one has experienced “forever”. But its nice that we can express our emotions as forever. So the endearing term “best friends forever” doesn’t happen for everyone.


We all lose a few good friendships and gain valuable emotions and experiences. Sometimes being detached from the people you once loved but got hurt by can be therapeutic.

Deal with toxic friendships- DON’T

Don’t Tolerate It

It’s just not worth it. It never gets better. Speak up and confront them. And if you’re not going to speak up about it, at least let the friendship see its end. You are much more precious than the fake comfort they bring. You will heal from it after it ends.

Don’t Feed It

When they tell you to do something against your will, don’t do it. It only adds to their power. It only brings you more pain. Insecurities build on this behavior. Prioritize your mental health and seek your way out.

 Don’t Hide It

If it hurts you, it hurts you. Stop apologizing when you are hurt because they did something wrong. Don’t hide what makes you YOU. Don’t protect their negativity by thinking you did something wrong.

Value the person, not the behaviour

The friendship is great! You have a lot of laughs and memories together. The person is not always toxic. Your friend probably doesn’t even know that they are being controlling and toxic. Their behavior is what hurts you. The person could genuinely be a nice person. Maybe they are dealing with their own problems you are unaware of. There could be so many possibilities.

And maybe this is why you can’t just end the friendship suddenly. You cant confront them and leave. But there has to be a line drawn between. The limit of the toxic behavior you can handle only because this friend probably has some personal problems of their own. Identify the steps and proceed in a gentle manner. Mental health is very important for each individual. And you can always try these activities with your friend. 

Get closure from the toxic friendships

Fade out friendship

If you have decided to let go of this toxic friendship but you’re not sure how to confront them, fading out is a good process. Try talking less to them. Don’t meet them too often as you used to. Maybe give a couple days to contact them. Try holding yourself back from sharing too much. 

Try not to end on bad terms directly, it harms your mental health more

If you do decide to go on a rant and speak up, that’s great. But if it brings you more guilt than it does relief, we suggest not to be so straightforward. You might even accidentally hurt them. Which you shouldn’t do even if they have been the absolute worst! Remember, mental health first. 

Reassess the relationship 

Your friendship could have been this way right from the start. Missing those red flags could have been a misjudgment. You may have known them a few weeks, months or even years. Assess what made your friend show all those red flags. Which situations got a rise out of them. What could you do to keep your mental peace and also save the friend from being negative?

Chances are you will lose the only person you were so invested in. The bright side is you will find a lesson from toxic friendships. Friendship is a pure bond. We all seek friends wherever we go. And the world is full of people just waiting to find that connection to another human being. To be friends. So you will not be alone just because you have distanced yourself from someone hampering your growth. So let’s Toxic Endship.

Each friendship has its beautiful story too. Be grateful to your true friends and reward yourself for meeting those wonderful people. Now, toxic friends are still humans. So don’t go barking mad for their actions. Identify and isolate so that you can have your peace of mind. We suggest this helpful article mentioning the 3D’s of Mental Health to give yourself that boost of self confidence.

Shara Marium
Part time student, full time coffee addict