Toxic Friendship Is Real: Five Red Flags To Keep An Eye Out For

We’ve spoken a lot about red flags in relationships, and many of us have become better at spotting red flags. But do we ever think about red flags in friendship? Have we ever tried to analyse whether our friends are adding toxicity to our lives?

Kalyani Ganesan
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Red Flags In Friendship

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By now, we’ve spoken a lot about red flags in relationships, and many of us have become better at spotting red flags—those little hints that trigger our instinct that something is off with the person. But do we ever think about red flags in friendship? Have we ever tried to analyse whether being friends with some people adds toxicity to our lives?

We’ve never looked at relationships and friendships the same way. Just as we don’t really acknowledge the fact that families can be toxic, we also fail to recognise toxic friendships. The truth is, regardless of how much a friend means to us, some of them can be detrimental to our emotional and physical well-being.

Truth be told, it’s harder to spot toxic friends as compared to toxic partners. However, it’s crucial that we don’t let ourselves get drained due to unhealthy friendships because all they do is pull us down.

Red Flags In Friendship

Here are some pointers that can help identify toxic friendships. No matter how close this person is, it’s better to start drawing our boundaries.


If you have a friend who goes on non-stop about their life and issues in it, but never even attempts to ask about yours, it's a huge red flag. For instance, if you start telling them about a work issue, they interrupt you abruptly and begin narrating something similar from their lives. Essentially, it’s all about them. To them, it’s their world. You only play supportive characters like a therapist or a cheerleader. You, as an individual, don’t really matter to them.


One-sided friendship

You’re the one who makes plans, you’re the one who goes to their place, you’re the one who surprises them, and you’re the one who keeps tabs on their well-being, but they never contribute to growing the friendship. The initiative is always yours and never theirs. While everyone leads hectic lives, no one’s ever too busy for the people they care about. So, if you have a friend with whom you have to force a friendship, where you keep giving continuously; it's nothing but a means to drain you.

Unhealthy Competition

If you have a friend who seems to be doing the same things as you, not because they like it but just because you do something or have something, then that’s a red flag. You tell a friend that you’re buying a new phone, and they get one immediately, even if they don’t need a new one. You tell them you’re planning a vacation with your partner, and they will somehow go on one too. It's more like "You've got it; now I have it too; let’s see whose is better," and their envious behaviour can potentially irritate you.

No Boundaries

While they might have strong boundaries, toxic friends don’t like you having boundaries. Even if you do, they don’t respect it. They get offended when you hold on to your boundaries and expect them to take no for an answer. For instance, they want you to accompany them as a third wheel, but you're not comfortable, so you say no, and they get offended. They expect you to share everything with them; they talk about things you don’t like or people you’re not comfortable with but if they don’t stop doing this despite you insisting several times, it’s a big red flag!


Draining You

Sometimes, some friends could use you financially, physically, or emotionally. While it might be easy to pick on the first two, the last one is a tough game. You don’t realise how they are emotionally draining you. Say, for example, that this friend of yours is going through a low phase in their relationship, and they rely on you for support. They are constantly talking to or texting you but the moment things get better, they vanish without a trace. They use you as an outlet during their sad times but don’t share their happiness with you.

Suggested Reading: How To Stop Being Jealous In Friendships And Relationships?

Views expressed by the author are their own

red flags Toxic Friendship