Written by Riley’s Way Council member Estefania Alba in partnership with the One Love Foundation
This summer, the One Love Foundation and Riley’s Way Foundation teamed up to highlight the roles empathy, kindness, and respect play in healthy friendships. Together, One Love and Riley’s Way trained a dedicated team of interns to write inspiring advice articles for the next generation of kind leaders! Each week their work focused on fostering authentic connections that build bridges (not barriers) in friendships rooted in empathy and compassion. Visit Joinonelove.org/learn and RileysWay.org to support our dedicated team of summer interns as they spread awareness about the importance of empathy, kindness, and healthy friendships with a new post each week on our blog.
You may not realize it, but you might be acting in ways that are toxic to your relationship. For instance, have you ever been intensely jealous of your friend for hanging out with someone else? Or have you tried to sabotage an opportunity for a friend because you were afraid that it would take them away from you?
If you answered yes to any of the above then you may be the unhealthy one in your friendship. It’s natural to want to protect your friendships but lashing out is not only unfair (and unhealthy) but can seriously undermine your relationship with a friend.
Read on to learn more signs that you’re the toxic friend and didn’t realize it.
1. You Are Jealous of Your Friend
Jealousy is an emotion we all experience from time to time, but it’s not inherently wrong. Jealousy becomes unhealthy when we begin to lash out or control our friends because of it. Think about the last time you felt jealous because your friend hung out with someone else. It doesn’t make you a bad person or an unhealthy friend but it does mean that you need to think more deeply about this before you react impulsively. If the scenario above sounds familiar, ask yourself this, why do you feel jealous when your friend hangs out with other people? Do you think it threatens your relationship with your friend? Getting to the root of your issue may keep you from unfairly taking your frustrations out on your bff.
2. You Isolate Your Friend
Have you ever asked your friend to skip class, practice or some other activity to hang out with you instead? Have you ever guilted them into sitting with you at lunch even though you knew they wanted to sit with other people? No, this doesn’t make you a bad person but it does mean you have some really unhealthy friendship habits. It’s natural to want to spend all of your time with your bestie but when you begin to isolate them or keep them away from their family and the people they care about, then you know it’s time to pause and reflect on why you feel so possessive of them.
3. You Make Belittling Comments
Although you might play it off as a joke, you often make rude remarks about your friend even when you know that it hurts them. If you are constantly putting someone down, try to take a step back and think about how that behavior reflects on you and whether or not it feels good because chances are it doesn’t. In a healthy friendship, you should feel comfortable being yourself, not worried that your friends will make you feel bad about yourself. And if you are the person making your friend feel bad about themselves, you’re probably the unhealthy friend.
4. You Blame Others To Hide Your Bad Behavior
Do you ever lash out at your friends when you’re angry and then blame them for your behavior? Uh oh. Of course, friends have arguments, but there’s a difference between healthy disagreements and unhealthy arguments. And if you lash out or behave inappropriately you should be able to own up to your mistakes without blaming anything or anyone else. Also, even if your friend does something that makes you angry, how you handle your emotions is your responsibility no matter what.
5. You Betray Your Friends Trust
So, you and your friend are chatting at the lunch table, they see someone at another table and get up to say hi. As soon as they leave you turn to someone else and begin gossiping about them. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, betrayal is a pervasive part of many friend groups. Betrayal is when you do something (anything) to betray your friend’s trust, this includes spreading rumors and making your friend feel left out. The best way to change this behavior is to figure out why you’re doing it in the first place. Are you lashing out because you’re angry with them and you don’t feel like you can speak to them about it? Is your friend group unhealthy and is everyone talking behind each other’s backs? Either way, betrayal is a super unhealthy behavior that can ruin the best friendships.