As a 19 year old who’s been to 4 schools, 1 sixth form and 1 University, I’ve experienced my fair share of new friends. Being quite insecure and a little shy and awkward when you first meet me, it can take a while for me to gel with people, but what I’ve found out over time is that when you meet friends, real friends, you just… click.
I love the friends I have in my life in my life at the moment (Shout out to my group from home, and my best friend of like 2 years, and my group from Uni, and the lovelies that I’m living with next year – I love you all so much and I know that some of you read this and I really appreciate it). However, whilst finding these friends, I’ve also had my fair share of toxic friendships…
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the people themselves were toxic people – some of them are really lovely and loyal to the friends that they have right now. However, when it came to me and the time and situations we were in they just weren’t working out. We all go through mood swings and times of sadness and anxiousness (some more than others… for me they’re quite frequent) but from time to time I’ve found that the people I was hanging around with were passively contributing to these moods, and you don’t need that in your life. I put 100% into the friendships I’m part of, but what I’ve realised over time is that if you find out a friendship is toxic, you need to distance yourself as soon as possible.
You may be asking: How do I know if a friendship is toxic? It can be different in every situation, but I thought I’d give a few examples based on my personal experience...
(1) Everything feels like a competition
When it comes to my friends I am their number one cheerleader – I will support every success they have… It fills my little heart with such pride, and I know they’d be the same way with me. However, I’ve been in friendships where it’s felt like everything’s a competition. If they did well it was amazing and we’re both happy, but if I succeeded in something they were either really stand-offish, had something more important going on, or they had to one up me with something amazing that they’d done. I spent years not thinking anything of it but I realised after a while that friends support each other. That’s not the way that friendships should be.
(2) You live in their shadow
As a person who’s quite introverted around people that they don’t know, it’s not that hard for my friends to be louder/bubblier than I am and there’s nothing wrong with that! However I’ve had experiences in the past where friends have stopped talking to me or accused me of “changing” when I’ve started getting more comfortable around people or have been having a “good confidence day” and have actually been able to talk to people and be a little bubbly and make an impression on others. Everyone loves attention from time to time, but if you have a friend that must always be the centre of attention otherwise all hell will break loose, then there’s no room for you to flourish and grow into the person that you need to be.
(3) They judge everything that you do
We all make mistakes and live to regret some things, and yes, sometimes we need our friends to slap us back to reality. However, if you feel like you can’t tell your friends about big things in your life because they’ll judge you for it, then you need to question whether that friendship is made to last. I’m not talking about highly controversial things like adultery or illegal activity… But if they’re judging you for things like your decision to go to parties/clubs, the outfits you choose to wear, you changing your stance on certain issues (people grow and change, deal with it!), your love life, or anything similar then rethink your friendship. No, friends won’t always agree with every decision you make… But a true friend will find a way to talk to you about it without making you feel like crap.
(4) They passively exclude you
It’s quite easy to tell when you’ve been excluded from something and see a bunch of your friends going out and no reason for why you weren’t invited. I feel like the older you get, the reason becomes less about them not wanting you there and more about them not thinking about inviting you. Sometimes people have brain farts and genuinely forget to include you in something, and you can let this go once or twice… maybe bring it up and talk to them about it maturely. However, if it appears to happen again and again and you end up feeling terrible about yourself as a result of it, it’s time to let that friendship go. Friends should care enough to remember to include you the majority of the time, and you deserve better if they don’t.
With hormones and exams and family life it can be hard enough navigating your way through adolescence, and friends just add this whole other dimension to it. Nobody likes to be alone (I mean, I do sometimes, but I also need people around from time to time) and everybody wants to have friends, but it’s better to have a small circle of people that make you feel good about yourself than to hang on to people that you don’t even realise are contributing to why you feel bad. Toxic friendships can occur at any point – this post was inspired by me figuring out who was genuinely there for me and who wasn’t at University, you just need to figure out how to spot them and to deal with them.
Feel free to share your own experiences of toxic friendships in the comments!
Lots of love,