Signs You're In A Toxic Friendship And What To Do About It

Not every friendship is for life.

Falling out with one of your closest friends can be devastating. If you think romantic breakups are hard, try going through a friendship break-up.

Romantic partners come and go but friends are usually for life. So, when you find yourself in a rut with one of your long-term friends it can feel like the end of the world.

The ongoing feud between ITV’s This Morning presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield has been doing the rounds on and offline. Various reports state that the two popular hosts have been in a ‘toxic rift’, and that their long-standing friendship has been strained.

Most of our long-lasting friendships are likely to have their ups and downs.

However, there are certain occasions when staying in contact with certain individuals can prove to be detrimental to your overall wellbeing and mental health.

If you feel the pressure to maintain a close relationship with a friend or co-worker who is having a toxic impact on their well-being, what is the best way to address these concerns?

Phil Jackman, Addiction Therapist at one of the UK’s leading private rehab clinics Delamere, discusses the impact of a toxic friendship on an individual, as well as the best way to go about ending one for good.

“The impact that an unhealthy, or ‘toxic’ friendship can have should not be underestimated. In fact, they can have a catastrophic impact on one’s long-term emotional health, leading to stress, depression, trouble sleeping, low self-esteem, and anxiety,” Jackman says.

A common symptom of a bad friendship is feeling constantly stressed and anxious over the smallest of things, Jackman explains.

“When a friendship stops bringing you joy and you see a negative shift in your mental health, personality, or self-esteem, it is often considered toxic,” he adds.

Of course, every friendship goes through tough times but if you feel that you’re constantly on the edge due to your friend’s behaviour you might have to reconsider the friendship.

“Trying to maintain a strong friendship while experiencing this ‘fight or flight’ mode can slowly break down your body’s ability to function normally,” Jackman says.

If you’re unsure about your friend’s behaviour, here are some of the most common signs that your friendship is toxic and at risk of impacting your well-being, according to Jackman,

Lack of trust - people in an unhealthy friendship often have limited trust in one other. This is mainly because of personal insecurities, but without trust in a relationship, there cannot be a sense of security or comfort.

Hostile communication - from yelling and aggressive behaviour to the silent treatment, being in a toxic friendship often comes with periods of hostility, in comparison to a healthy one that’s fuelled by good communication. Hostile communication causes tension and further disruption.

Controlling behaviours - manipulation is one of the most common indicators of an unhealthy friendship. One individual often controls the other by threatening them with money, social events, or pressure to partake in such activities as drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

Constantly lying - when a friend repeatedly lies to you, it indicates they don’t have the same respect for you as you might.

Making excuses for their behaviour - you may find yourself making excuses for a friend’s negative behaviour towards others. But an outsider’s perspective from a loved one, such as a friend or family member may help you to see your friend’s toxic characteristics that you don’t initially recognise.

If you recognise some of these signs in your friendship, it may be time to call it quits. But, how do you go about ending a friendship? Jackman believes that clear and concise communication with the individual involved is key.

“Attempting to ghost or ignore the person in the hopes they will eventually ‘get the hint’ that your friendship has run its course is not the most effective way of going about ending a toxic friendship,” he says.

Instead, he suggests making your intentions clear and calmly explaining the specific reasons you no longer feel that the individual is having a positive impact on your life. “It can be helpful to take some time before speaking with them to write down on paper or your phone some specific instances or reasons when you’ve felt hurt by their behaviour towards you,” Jackman adds.

Be prepared for your friend to be shocked but in time it may help them understand some of their own personal issues.

“Ultimately, the people you choose to spend your personal time with will help determine how healthy the rest of your personal relationships become. Identifying and cutting out those who bring you unnecessary stress can be a freeing experience once confronted,” Jackman says.