Story Time: 3 Signs of a Toxic Friendship and How it Affects Our Personalities

Note: Feature Image is of my best friend and I – we are NOT in a toxic friendship 🙂

At some point in everyone’s lives, we all come across that one toxic person who, due to our lack of better judgement or bad luck, we’ve unintentionally invited into our lives to the detriment of our personalities. After all, there’s that saying that you are ⅕ of all your friends – That’s why it’s so important to have healthy relationships with people that foster growth. And while no one is perfect, we should try to detect the early signs of someone who probably isn’t the best person for us to be hanging around. The following 3 signs are the major red flags according to my own experiences:

1. They Enjoy Talking Bad About Others

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It’s really easy to talk bad about people who you feel have wronged you or that generally annoy you, and though I think the occasional ranting session is actually quite healthy, anything more than that could be a sign of deeper insecurities. If talking bad about people is a constant behavior your friend exhibits, try to gauge if what he/she is saying is truly bothering them or if it’s born out of a natural habit – If bad stuff comes out of their mouths as naturally as breathing, who’s to say they don’t talk bad about you to others?

Have you ever had a friend warn you about someone, and you didn’t heed their advice?

Something like this happened to me during my first year in university, though, in my defense, I was a freshman trying to distinguish my friendship base. It was evident that this person had a difficult time being content and whether it was due to insecurities or an overly ambitious drive, I wasn’t sure. Drama seemed to fuel her, at least from what I could gather on our conversations. There was always something awful to say about somebody and though, it often bothered me in the beginning, I had difficulty redirecting these conversation as she was quite the persistent type. Naturally, I let her rant. Regretfully, I began to join in.

2. Everything is About Them and If It’s Not, They’ll Make It So It Is

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I personally don’t have any issues with people who like attention- I think it’s great and shows that that person has a lot of confidence. Where I draw the line is when that need for attention becomes displaced. I’m talking about that person who calls you to hang out on a regular basis only to talk about the happenings in their lives without any regards to those in yours. Relationships are a two-way street and you have to meet each other in the middle.

My relationship with the girl from college was quite draining and I never felt good after a hang out. This was largely due in part to feeling like I was at a therapy session where she was the patient and I, the unwilling therapist. I think the awkward part was not knowing how to respond – I wanted to record some of the things she was saying just to play it back to her – Instead, I nodded and agreed if only to get on with the end of the story, however awful or ridiculous it was. Even worse, it seemed I was one of the few nice enough to allow her to do this, so she would come to me in trust while I would sit there wondering if I had the right to tell her the truth.

3. They’re Not Genuinely Happy When Good Things Happen To You

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True friends are happy for you when good things come your way. They’re on your side, they root for you, they encourage growth, and want the best for you. A win for you is a win for them. Normal little jealousies may arise from time to time, but it should never result in negative actions. These may include displaying indifference, downplaying a victory, or as mentioned in warning #2, trying to transfer the spotlight.

My story with the girl spanned the whole of university. By the end, I realized that I was beginning to exhibit signs of her personality and bad habits, and to avoid any dramatic scenes, I slowly separated myself from her. Our very last interaction would be at my 23rd birthday party. All three red flags were blatantly exhibited – so much so that my other friends approached me after the party to once again warn me. This time, I listened.

The Effects of Our Relationships on Our Personalities

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(Pictured above: Me and My BFF, Bubbles – Still going strong after nearly a decade of friendship <3)

Whether you like it or not, it’s true that our experiences shape us – including those experiences with people. I’ve also been told that you are ⅕ of all the people you know. Perhaps the fraction is more so tilted towards certain loved ones such as your parents, but your friends, especially when you’re going through periods of intense internal changes (such as high school and university), also play a huge factor to who you may become. You’ll take on little quirks from these friends which, if prolonged, turn to habits engraved into your personality.  

Why I Don’t Regret Going Through the Experience

I confess that I caught myself taking on certain traits from the girl during my time in college. I definitely was not being my best self, but I also don’t regret going through it. The experience taught me important lessons such as how to be a better friend and that you shouldn’t have to put up with someone who makes you feel bad because you feel obligated to do so. I also learned not to expect anything from anyone because everyone has a different way of showing they care – what you might do for one person may not be something they’d do for you and vice versa. Overall, it’s important to catch the signs, heed warnings, and surround yourself with people who will bring out the best in you.