By Autumn Bippert
When heading into college, most people have the expectation of meeting life-long friends.
With having those hopes so high, many people fall into toxic friendships without realizing because of the exceptions of lastings friendships. There are many signs of a toxic friend. Taken individually, they don’t indicate a bad friend. But combined, they make for an unhealthy relationship.
Everyone does things for their friends because they care about them. But sometimes maybe a line needs to be drawn when it comes to what you will do for people when you’re getting to know them.
I’m a very caring friend, so when a new friend of mine was stranded in downtown Lubbock, in the middle of the night, I dropped everything and drove to take her back to her dorm. I love doing things for other people, especially if it’s an emergency. But for me, that set a bad precedent. This friend continued to use me throughout our friendship, from rides, to food, to help with homework. I even gave her a ride to the hospital and stayed with her for two days. To me, doing those things was being a good friend, and I didn’t expect anything back from her. But I was treated badly with other toxic traits and ignored when I needed anything.
Toxic friends will be nicer and more polite to you when they need you or need something from you
Everyone wants to tell their closest friends and family their good news. But a toxic friend won’t be there to cheer for you. Everyone has ups and downs in their life and can’t always be a cheerleader for your accomplishments. But toxic friends might belittle your accomplishments or even fail to acknowledge them. They may seem supportive when you’re going through a hard time, but when you’re the one in the spotlight, they may act out. They might be moody, dismissive and negative, which could be a normal mood swing. But if it happens often, then it’s a toxic trait.
Following being an unsupportive friend, that same person will probably also be emotionally greedy. An emotionally greedy friend always wants the focus on them, whether it’s for praise or sympathy. They will often dismiss your stories, or try to top what happened to you, to draw attention back to themselves. Some people make up stories or exaggerate actual stories to maximize the attention on themselves. After awhile, you find yourself questioning whether what they told you was true or just a way to get sympathy. After my toxic friendship ended, I replayed all the stories she told me that seemed to be for attention and the details that didn’t add up. Sometimes you’re not able to recognize everything that is truly toxic in a friendship until after the fact.
A good trait to have is the ability to express when you are upset to the people in your life. Most of the time, when you go to someone in your life and express a concern you have, you will be able to work together to get past the problem. But in a toxic friendship, the person will take your issue and turn the blame on to you. In this particular friendship, the person would follow up with “Well, I only did that to you because you did these things to me.” Instead of working through our problem, she would put the blame on me, when she had seemingly never had an issue with me until I had addressed something she had done. In order to have a healthy relationship with your friends, you both need to be able to communicate and not push blame on the other person when problems are addressed.
Another trait that a toxic friend could have is an inconsistent personality. Some days they will be nice to you and want to hang out with you, and other days they act like they couldn’t care less about you. You should never expect someone to always want to spend time with you, and everyone has their off days. But if it seems like they only care to talk to you when they need something or want something from you, it’s probably a toxic trait. I used to live with my friend in the dorms, and some days she would be happy and talk with me. Other days, just asking her a simple question would annoy her, and she would be rude to me. It’s hard to stay in a friendship when you’re not sure how the other person will treat you day to day.
Talks about you behind your back
The last toxic trait to mention is when your friends talk about you behind your back. Everyone does this to some extent, and it’s not always to be mean. Sometimes it’s to vent and get advice. But when they continually say negative and even untrue things to other people in your life, you probably don’t want to stay in that friendship. In my case, near the end of our friendship, I went to my other friends to vent and figure out how to fix the relationship. But what I found out from my other friends is that since our friendship began, she had been talking about me to our other friends, telling them I was awful and a bad person, making up stories to get sympathy from our other friends. You don’t want someone in your life that only ever talks negatively about you.
Just because a friend displays toxic traits does not make them a bad person. But it might be a friendship that may not be best for you.