10 Signs Your Friendship Is Toxic And Needs To End

Hey, nobody's perfect, but sometimes that friend that makes you feel absolutely terrible about yourself might be more than just occasionally imperfect — they might be toxic.

Yes, that's pretty harsh, but if you're reading this, chances are you've had a friend or two that left you off worse than before you met them. It might be hard to recognize and admit that an old friendship has turned toxic. It doesn't happen overnight; it's usually a slow process, and before you know it, you're in over your head. As clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., tells Women's Health, feeling anxious or sad because of your bestie's actions all the time is a pretty good sign that the friendship is no longer healthy. Throw in a good dose of self-doubt, and you'll probably find yourself questioning whether you're the problem. If you find yourself no longer enjoying a friendship you once cherished, Psychologist Erin Miers, Psy.D., says it might be time to end it. You owe it to yourself and your mental health.

Of course, recognizing a toxic friendship isn't always as straightforward as the internet makes it look. We get it; it's complicated. Before you decide to leave your friend in the past along with those terrible low-rise jeans fashion outlets are trying to sell you again these days, you'll want to make sure it's the right call. We put together 10 telltale signs that indicate your friendship is toxic, which will hopefully uncomplicate things so you can make the best decision for yourself.

Your friend always needs something from you

A telltale sign of a toxic friendship is when your friend constantly seems to need something from you, but when you need them, they're always missing in action.

This could mean that they are always asking you for favors, money, or simply expecting you to be available at all times, no matter what. When you aren't able to meet their demands, they'll resort to making you feel guilty in order to manipulate you to do what they want, licensed therapist and coach, Karina Aybar-Jacobs told Today. She also warned that these types of friends could keep a mental list of the things they've done for you in the past, simply to bring it up when they need you to do something. They don't really do anything for you out of the goodness of their hearts; they always expect something in return.

Another sign that the friendship is toxic is when you find yourself dreading checking your phone out of fear that you might see a message from them, or feel like running in the opposite direction when they call you, psychologist Jill Squyres, Ph.D., told Women's Health. A good friend won't make you feel scared of your own phone, and their messages or calls will excite you and make you feel happy, not anxious and worried. Feeling nervous about what your friend might demand of you next is a clear sign that you're caught in a toxic friendship.

They don't apologize for their bad behavior

Everyone makes mistakes, but a friend who constantly messes up and doesn't bother to apologize is a big red flag.

Healthline warns that a friend who dismisses your feelings and apologizes without sincerity, only to continue their bad behavior, isn't worth sticking around for. Other signs to look out for are when they apologize but then proceed to follow it up with a defense of their behavior or when they constantly tell you that they were just joking when you get upset about something insensitive or rude they said. This is a clear sign that they don't care about your feelings at all and aren't interested in how their actions and words affect you.

A friend like this might make you feel like you're a lesser person. This is a sure sign that the friendship is toxic. A good friend will make your life better, not worse. Psychologist Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., told Bustle that a friend who constantly criticizes you without any empathy isn't a friend at all. Typically, the worse that person can make you feel about yourself, the better they feel about themselves. That's the definition of toxicity. Martinez added that there is nothing wrong with criticism in a healthy friendship, but then it is accompanied by understanding and compassion, not malice and judgment.

You feel like you're the only one who really cares about the friendship

Another sign that your friendship is toxic is when you seem to be the only one putting in all the effort with no return whatsoever. Psychology expert Vineet Tripathi told Psycom that friendship, like any other relationship, requires both parties to give and receive. If you're the only one giving and never receiving anything in return, it's time to end the friendship. Constantly feeling like your friend is taking advantage of you and that you always have to compromise isn't right or healthy. If you start feeling like you have to hide your feelings so your friend won't get mad or get locked into an argument with you, the friendship is definitely toxic.

Another telltale sign is when your friend constantly asks for your help, but when you need them to do something minuscule for you, they refuse, Andrea Bonior Ph.D., told Women's Health. Another red flag is when they always talk about themselves, but when you want to tell them what's going on in your life, they couldn't be less interested in what you have to say. Of course, friends sometimes go through hard times and that can affect their ability to be there for you when you need them. Bonior says that you'd be able to tell if it's a sign of a toxic friendship if you constantly, over a long period of time, find yourself doing all the giving and caring without them ever returning the favor.

You can't be yourself around them

One of the perks of having a best friend is that you can be yourself around them. Having to pretend you're someone you're not to keep your friend happy is definitely not a healthy situation to be in.

Licensed therapist and coach Karina Aybar-Jacobs told Today that a huge red flag to look out for is when a friend pressures you to do things that don't align with who you are or your personal values. Aybar-Jacobs says that this sort of pressure from your friend could present itself in different ways. They might try to force you to share something with them that you're not ready to talk about, or they could try and bully you into drinking more than you want to or try to pressure you into dating someone you don't even like. You'll realize that, basically, they couldn't care less about your values, Aybar-Jacobs says. This is a clear indication that the friendship is toxic.

Speaking to Bustle, relationship expert Audrey Hope said that how you feel around a friend is a clear indication of whether that friendship is healthy or not. If you notice that you feel unsettled or that you don't like yourself while you're with them, chances are you're putting on a facade because you probably feel uncomfortable or even scared in their presence. Hope says to trust your intuition and cut that friendship short because it's very likely that those feelings will only get worse.

They demand to be the center of attention

Having a friend who is a bit of a drama queen isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you find that they always need to be the center of attention no matter what, chances are they're an emotional vampire that's going to suck you dry.

If your bestie seems to have a more eventful life than the characters on the "Bold and the Beautiful" and you find that you're basically their on-call therapist, you're caught in a toxic friendship, according to Verywell Family. While you might try your best to help them, chances are there will always be fresh drama to deal with because they thrive on it and don't have any intention to change. You'll likely also notice that this type of friend is very self-centered, and while they expect you to offer help and advice when they're sad or angry, they won't return the favor. When you need a friend to talk to about your own life, they'll almost always redirect the conversation back to themselves.

Always wanting to be the center of attention can also present itself in the form of unhealthy expectations. Your friend might expect you to always be there for them and give them your undivided attention, regardless of what might be going on in your own life. This is another sign that they're toxic, and you either need to set strict boundaries or end the friendship for good.

They constantly criticize you

Constructive criticism isn't a bad thing, but a sure sign that a friendship is toxic is when your friend constantly breaks you down for no good reason.

Some toxic friends will be sneaky with the way they criticize you and disguise it as a joke, Healthline warns. While good-natured teasing and jokes are a normal part of a healthy friendship, a sure sign that they're actually using this tactic to be mean to you is when they're the only one laughing, and you're left feeling embarrassed, hurt, or miserable. Some toxic friends would go as far as to compare you to their other friends and point out how you don't live up to their standards. They might say that their other friends have bigger apartments, better-paying jobs, or better taste in clothes. A real friend would accept you just as you are and will appreciate your unique traits. Erin Miers, Psy.D., told Women's Health that "a true friend speaks with respect," and they won't try to purposefully shame you in any way.

Choosing Therapy suggests you call out your friend on this kind of behavior and let them know that their constant criticism is hurtful. How they react will tell you everything you need to know: A good friend will feel bad and apologize, while a toxic friend will tell you that you're being way too sensitive or accuse you of overreacting. They'll likely insist that it was a joke and simply continue their behavior.

They make you question yourself

Most of us already overthink everything as it is, and we most certainly don't need a friend to add to that. Speaking to Women's Health, Erin Miers, Psy.D., said that true friends will support you, while toxic friends will intentionally only make you more confused. This leads to the feeling that you can't trust yourself or your judgment. "They lie or misrepresent information to create confusion and stress. They do this intentionally to mess you up and mess with your head," Miers explained, adding that this kind of behavior is the same as gaslighting. She warned that friends like these typically don't take accountability for their actions and will instead pass the blame to you. And make no mistake, they are crafty: They'll make up false stories to justify their behavior or to avoid taking responsibility for it entirely.

As a result of this treatment, your self-esteem will likely take a hit, and you'll find that the glowing confidence you once used to have has turned into constant, nagging self-doubt. Speaking to Bustle, psychotherapist Claudia Sigala, L.C.S.W., warned that toxic friends can really hurt the relationship you have with yourself, and you might end up isolated and dissatisfied with life, and no friend is worth that kind of unhappiness.

If you find that your friend causes you to constantly second-guess yourself, you're likely caught up in a toxic friendship and need to bounce. Stat.

You can't trust them

We don't need to tell you that trust is everything in a relationship, and the same goes for friendships. If you find that you can no longer pour your heart out to your bestie without worrying that she'll tell the whole world, it's time for a breakup.

According to Choosing Therapy, your gut will tell you when you can't trust your friend, and subconsciously, you'll stop sharing things with them. Toxic friends tend to use the things you tell them in confidence as ammunition later on or end up sharing what you told them with others, even though you specifically asked them not to.

Of course, misunderstandings happen, and some friends will accidentally share something you asked them not to because they didn't realize that you asked them to keep it a secret. If they regret their slip-up and apologize, they're likely sincere. However, if this becomes a pattern, it's time to find a better friend. Suzanne Degges-White, a professor and chair of the department of counseling and higher education at Nothern Illinois University, told HuffPost that you need to be wary if you notice that your friend is a repeat offender in the confidentiality department. "When a friend spills information that was only meant for her ears, that's a sign that she either didn't truly understand the confidential nature of the information shared, she doesn't respect you, or she's sharing the 'insider info' for her own benefits," Degges-White warns.

They drain you of energy

A good friend usually makes you feel happy and content, but if your bestie is sucking all the energy out of you, it might be time to reassess your friendship.

If you're always feeling emotionally drained after spending time with a certain friend, it's time to take a step back and figure out why. Speaking to Bustle, Clarissa Silva, M.S.W., said that a healthy friendship will encourage you to become a better version of yourself. Your friend will also cheer you on and support you in your endeavors. "If that's not happening, it might be that you are surrounding yourself with toxic people," she warned, adding that toxic friendships can really chip away at your self-esteem and even create "maladaptive patterns and cycles." In short: It's better to pack up and leave.

Choosing Therapy warns that being caught in a toxic friendship can have a negative impact on your other relationships as well because emotionally you don't have anything left to give. Constantly worrying about what that friend will do or say next, or having to deal with their drama every five minutes can lead to relationship burnout. This can have an adverse impact on your overall mental and physical health. Silva says that feeling fed up with and worn out by a friend is a sure sign that they are toxic. You're better off ending that friendship and investing more time in the relationships that bring you joy.

They don't support you being in other relationships

Jealousy can wreak havoc on relationships, and while it's normal to experience it from time to time, a friend who wants you all to themselves is most certainly of the toxic variety. We have only one piece of advice: Pack up and leave, friend.

When you have a fight with your significant other, chances are you have a trusted friend you turn to when you need to vent. A good friend will listen to you and offer some balanced perspective, marriage and family therapist Sarah Spencer Northey told HuffPost. They would want to see you happy and fulfilled in your other relationships, but a toxic friend will do the opposite, filling your head with even more negativity. Northey says that a toxic friend might even encourage you to do or say things that will permanently damage your relationship with your partner.

Another sign that your friend is toxic is if they make you feel guilty about spending time with other people, licensed therapist and coach, Karina Aybar-Jacobs told Today. She warns that toxic friends tend to get jealous and even possessive when you make plans with others that don't include them, and they'll proceed to manipulate you into feeling guilty about it. This is a terrible cycle to be stuck in, and it's best to get out. A real friend wouldn't want you all to themselves, and they'll give you space to spend time with other people in your life.

How to get out of a toxic friendship

So, you've established that your friendship is toxic. What now? Ending a friendship isn't exactly easy, especially if you deeply care about the person.

Healthline suggests you speak to them first and tell them how you feel. Your friend might not realize how their behavior is affecting you. If you can see that they truly regret their actions, you might consider giving them a second chance, however, if they tick most of the toxic friendship boxes, it might be better to rip off the band-aid and end the friendship for good.

The good news is that you don't necessarily have to break up with that friend, depending on the kind of relationship you have. "A slow decline in seeking them out is oftentimes enough for them to 'get the message,'" psychotherapist Deborah Duley told HuffPost. However, if you've been friends a long time, the break-up talk is necessary, Professor Suzanne Degges-White says. She advises you to choose your words wisely. Don't accuse them of anything, but rather use "I" statements to tell them how you feel and that you're ending the friendship because of those feelings. Pointing out their wrongs will only end in a fight. Degges-White says to be prepared for an outburst from your friend, but to keep your cool. If you can end the friendship on a good note, it'll make life much easier later on when you inevitably run into each other again.