Having friends is an integral part of living a happy, healthy life. While good friendships act as a support system and help you grow into a better version of yourself, it is unfortunate to say that not all friendships are going to have a positive effect on your life. Sometimes the very people we call our friends can be the cause of all kinds of anxiety and insecurities. Since friends are such a huge part of our lives; they have a huge impact on how we view ourselves and the world around us. This means a rotten friendship will lead to us having a rotten perspective of ourselves and our environment.
There is a false concept of being friends with people despite their faults. This true to some extent but it shouldn’t apply when their negativity and toxicity starts rubbing off on your life. You need to have the strength to acknowledge and let go of such friendships. An abusive friendship is talked about very little and most people tend to ignore it since it might not seem like a big deal but abusive friendships can be just as, if not more, harmful as abusive relationships. It is important for us to be able to recognize such friendships and end them before they have a chance of affecting our mental and emotional health. The following are some ways to recognize abusive friendships…
1. You find that cruel jokes are made at your expense!
Lighthearted teasing is a part of all friendships, and it can be a way for friends to show just how close they are to one another; certain people tend to take jokes way too far. While it is one thing to be teased by your friends every now and then but if every conversation or interaction you have with a person is them making cruel jokes about you, then something is definitely not right.
You might even notice that when you call these people out on their behavior, they’ll call you a spoilsport with no sense of humor. Even in friendships, it is important to keep boundaries in mind. Being friends with someone should not give anyone a free pass for humiliating and taking cruel jabs at you. If your friend uses humor as an excuse to constantly point out things that you are insecure about or to publically humiliate you then this is, most definitely, a major sign of an abusive friendship.
2. You seem to face constant and uncalled for critique!
Honesty is an important part of any friendship. Honest friends can help you learn from your mistakes, they are always ready to provide constructive criticism to help you become a better person but some friends might take this honesty a little too far. Toxic friends often use the excuse of honesty and constructive criticism as an excuse to insult and belittle the people around them. If you notice any of your friends constantly pointing out the things that they believe are wrong with you, then know it is not normal in a healthy friendship.
These friends will make degrading and hurtful comments about your aspirations and appearances. You might hear things like ‘I don’t think you are good enough for the job’ or ‘you really think posting THAT picture is a good idea’. You might not notice how these comments impact you but in the long run, such friends aren’t worth it and you should either talk to them about this or let them go. The latter is better because most of the time, such people will put the blame on your mindset because, in their minds, they cannot be wrong.
3. You find that you are always on the edge around them!
You might start to notice that being around them is not as fun as it used to be. It seems as if everything you do offends them. They start getting upset with over the most insignificant of things. They get angry with you over seemingly nothing and lash out without giving a proper reason. Suddenly every conversation, every interaction you have with them is like walking on eggshells.
It seems as if anything can make them flip out and now you have to be mindful of what you say and do around them. Suddenly being around them has become so suffocating that you feel like you cannot be your true self anymore. When you notice such aggression in friendship than that is a red flag signifying an abusive friendship.
4. You feel as if they are emotionally blackmailing you!
A major sign of an abusive friendship is emotional blackmail. Abusive friends will not hesitate to use your feelings against you. Sentences like ‘am I not important to you?’ or ‘you don’t care enough about me’ are constantly thrown around. Toxic friends make you feel bad about disagreeing with them. They use your sense of guilt to get their way and to make you do things you would normally be uncomfortable to do.
They twist your words and use them against you. You must keep in mind; one of the biggest ways people abuse others is by using their empathy and guilt against them.
5. Practical jokes & inappropriate touches
Friends are supposed to be the people around whom you feel safe. Unfortunately, we trust people way more easily than we should. Trusting people is similar to handing them a weapon and letting your guards down because ‘you trust that they won’t ever hurt you intentionally’. Even though trusting people is the basis of building a healthy relationship, it can also backfire if given to the wrong people. Physical abuse between friends can be in a number of ways from practical jokes to inappropriate touches. If you ever feel that your friend is abusing boundaries and playing out unacceptable practical jokes or touches that isn’t normal between friends, that’s certainly a sign of toxic friend that you need to either talk to or let go of.
6. You start feeling physically stressed!
Though it might be a little hard to believe, abusive friendships can have major effects on the physiology of your body. The negative effects of stress and negative emotions have now become a well-known fact. Stress can lead to all kinds of physical problems; headaches, chest pains and upset stomachs are all cited as common physiological effects of stress.
When a friendship starts becoming toxic it is going to leave you stressed. Your muscles start feeling tense; you are always in a state of constant anxiety, the thought of spending time with your ‘friend’ gives you a headache. Toxicity in a friendship leads to a stressed mind and a stressed mind ultimately leads to a stressed body. the Feeling drained and having zero energy after hanging out with such a friend are one of the initial signs that you will be able to see before the toxicity spreads so watch out for such signs and have the courage to put an end to it.
What to Keep in Mind!
We love all our friends dearly and would never want to believe that they can cause any harm to us. Wonderful memories and experiences make us view people through rose-colored glasses. We become so used to excusing and ignoring negative behavior from our loved ones that we do not even realize when certain friendships start hallowing us from the inside. Let’s be honest, we never want anyone we have dubbed important in our lives to have any negative qualities. The idea that someone we have been giving so much love and affection to, hurting us in return can be more than a little hard to handle.
Unlike an abusive relationship in which you are intimate with the other person, it is easier to cut off a friend. Try to create distance from such friends. Refuse to give in to their manipulations, and call them out on their nasty behavior. Still, if despite all your efforts, the abuse does not stop; cut them off from your life because while recognizing and cutting off toxic and abusive friends can be both extremely painful and frightening, you must always remember that no amount of memories and so-called friendships are worth having your mental peace taken away from you.