There’s a lot of talk about prioritising ourselves this year. We talk about improving our mindset, our physical and mental health, and saying no to negative friendships. Here at Mental Health Monster, we are loving this movement – we are all about self love! Our time and energy is precious! We all deserve respect, acceptance and mutuality in all our relationships. 

Spotting red flags in new relationships is a booming topic these days, but do we reflect enough on our older friendships? It seems like we tolerate more in older connections, but is it good enough? It’s time to evaluate whether your mate is a good mate!

So let’s talk about ten signs of a negative friendship:

1. Your Behaviour Changes in Their Presence (And Not in a Good Way)

You find yourself doing things that you would not normally do by yourself or with other friends, like bullying others, excessive partying etc. 

Remember, it all starts with self awareness… What is your authentic behaviour and why do you seem to be switching in their company? Make a list of things that do make your authentic self happy and notice which environments you shift in. 

2. They Gossip or Talk badly About Your Mutual Friends

If they bring other people down in your presence, it is very likely that they bring you down in your absence…

Remember, it’s OK to be firm about the things that matter to you. A simple and straightforward request to stop this behaviour can go a long way. 

For example: ‘ I am not comfortable talking about them in this light, can we please talk about something else?’

3. You Downplay Your Achievements When You Are Around Them

You finally finished your course but don’t feel like telling them, because they will not be happy for you? People say ‘if you want to know someone’s intentions, just share good news with them’, and it’s true! 

Remember, you deserve to be surrounded by people who are happy for your growth!

4. They Don’t Accept You Changing

You feel like your growth is not acceptable in this friendship – something you consider as progress is seen as a bad change by your friend. This could be because your progress makes them reflect on their resistance to own growth. If your friend wants you to always stay the same, that’s because they know if you make changes you are more likely to stop being their friend. 

Remember, this is controlling behaviour! You making positive change is a sign of growth, and anyone trying to limit that is not your friend.

5. They Gaslight You

Things go wrong in every relationship – no one is immune to arguments! But when this happens, healthy communication is more important than ever. If you find yourself trying to voice your truth,  but you are made to feel like you are making things up, notice that. This is a sign that your friend has no interest in hearing you or making a change that will improve your friendship.

Remember, if something does not work for you, you deserve an opportunity to be heard and work towards a mutual solution.

6. You Realise The Only Thing That Keeps You Together is Your Mutual History

OK, now it’s time for an all-important question – why are you friends? If your answer is about how you’ve survived a lot together or how you’ve known each other forever, that’s great. But if you struggle to come up with any other reasons, that’s a sign that the cycle of the friendship is over.

Remember, it is OK to grow out of friendships! Not all friends are meant to be together forever – we all change and lose things we once had in common. 

toxic friendship

7. There is a Significant Imbalance in Who Makes the Effort

Friendships are based on mutual effort to maintain connection. If you feel that you are always the first one to initiate contact, make plans, ask about their day or pay, it’s time to reconsider. Similarly, if you find your friend continuously making an effort that you simply don’t want to reciprocate, or if you only hang out because you feel ‘you have to’, it’s not a friendship to keep in your life.

Remember, friendship is about mutuality! You deserve someone who puts in as much effort as you.

8. You Cut off Other Friendships and Relationships to Maintain This One

Your family don’t like them, your other friends don’t like them – everyone is questioning your duo. Even worse, the friend turns you against your loved ones and you have no one else to talk to. Notice that – it is a sign that something is not right and other people are seeing something you don’t!

Remember, if someone is cutting you off from your support network, it is a controlling behaviour that could lead to emotional abuse! Be careful, they are not your friend!

9. Your Boundaries Are Continuously Crossed

You don’t like your friend making sarcastic comments about your appearance and you have clearly asked them to stop doing that. And yet, you know that there will be a new comment every time you see each other. A friend who respects and loves you will also respect your requests for how you want to be treated. 

Remember, you deserve to have and to communicate the limits to what you can tolerate in a friendship! 

10. You Feel Worse After Spending Time with Them 

You look forward to having a good time with your friend, but when it’s over, you come back home drained and in a bad mood. If this happens consistently, it’s a sign of a negative friendship.

Remember, your time and energy are invaluable and you are worthy of relationships that enhance your life rather than drain you!

We have no time for friendships that don’t make us feel respected, loved or accepted the way we all deserve!

What other signs have we missed? Let’s talk!