Coming into college, I thought I was going to make the best friendships to last a lifetime. I had already known my roommates before coming to campus and was excited to join new clubs and organizations meeting new people to form relationships with. Good friends are vital for our well-being and give support in times of need. However, once a friend starts sapping your energy and undermining your self-esteem, it might be time for an honest conversation. Below are some warning signs of toxic friendships and how to address difficult situations.
1. If they attempt to control you, it's better leave them now.
I've always found it difficult to leave friends who wanted me to conform to certain standards of society in order to "fit in". Wanting to be popular in high school, I remember girls placing unreasonable demands on me to control what I wore, which classes I took, and who I hung out with. Realizing that my time was more important than meeting other's demands, I cut off toxic friendships in order to be myself.
It was hard. I became lonely.
While controllers can be hard to spot and confront, it is better to be open and honest with a friend about how you feel than to start believing lies and stories. If a friend insists on being in charge of what you do or where you go, he or she is not worthy of your friendship. You are in charge of your life choices and deserve the right to make your own decisions. Real friends will respect the choices you make no matter if they agree or not.
Being in college, I have realized that freedom and independence are a luxury. I enjoy having free time to myself and hanging out with people who have the same values as me. On the other hand, if a friend starts to be demanding or acting entitled, I will choose to leave an unhealthy relationship to keep my own personal opinions and values in check. You should never feel inferior because of your own beliefs, and true friends should be understanding of your viewpoints.
2. If you begin to feel isolated, something is up.
On a similar note, controlling friends can also try to stop you from making new relationships. An easy way to find out if you're engaged in a toxic relationship is to evaluate if you're hanging out with the same people all the time. As for me, when I find a group of people I'm comfortable being around, it is hard for me to reach out and form other deep relationships when I have a close group of friends. Sometimes I don't even notice this isolating influence until I realize that other friends and family members have drifted away.
Don't get me wrong, having a close friend group is perfectly OK. However, when one person decides to take charge and leave out other members of a group, things may start to change. True friends seek to include everyone in a conversation to form close, unique bonds and grow closer to one another. Controllers look for ways to manipulate you into spending all your time with certain people and get angry when you have other friends. Some may even resort to peer pressure and take advantage of you to get what they want. If this is happening to you, seek out help and get out of the toxic relationship.
3. If they don't listen to you, they aren't worth your time.
I'll admit I like to take charge of certain situations and be a leader when it comes to making plans for a large group of people. What makes me upset, however, is when participants decide not to respond or choose to ignore what I have to say. Toxic friends, rarely, if ever, listen to one's problems or concerns. When I am trying to form new friendships, I look for people who will be loyal and listen. Friends share their worries with one another and believe in mutual understanding.
This can also go along with one-sided friendships where one person is initiating most of the communication or has never returned a favor. If you're the one making most of the plans to spend quality time together and go out of your way to show love and affection for another friend, chances are you're in a one-sided friendship.
4. If they envy your success, they'll never be truly happy.
Everyone likes to be praised for what they achieve, and true friends should be the first to congratulate you on your successes in life. Toxic friends can't and won't share your happiness with other people because of their own jealousy. You are not responsible for your friend's successes and can only achieve what dreams you set out to come true. Success does not come easy. I have to work hard to make good grades and pay for my finances to attain my goals. I wish my true friends would be happy for my successes and inspire me to keep moving forward.
5. If they don't keep in touch, it's their loss.
While it's impossible for friends to always be together, it's imperative to keep in touch with one another. Sending a simple text or agreeing to make a phone call once a week makes a huge difference. I regret not keeping some of my friendships because I decided to isolate myself from certain conversations I didn't want to have with another person.
When involved in the conflict, however, it is important to be upfront and honest so that the situation doesn't get worse. If the toxic friend has no interest in maintaining his or her relationship with you, it is his or her loss. You shouldn't feel ashamed of your own decisions and there will always be more people to form relationships with.
To the toxic friends that bring you down: thank u, next.