(Watch the above video before you read ❤️)
Over the past few months I’ve really had to re-examine some of the people I considered a friend. They smiled in my face, but truth be told, they didn’t really care about me the way they said they did. I didn’t know if it was jealousy, insecurities, or whatever- but I knew it was time for me to start cutting ties with people who were beginning to impact my life in a negative way. So I did.
It was tough, but it’s important to remember that not everyone who calls themselves your friend is really looking out for you. Even the bible speaks on this. Isn’t it crazy how fake friends was an issue 2,000 years ago? Proverbs 26 (I recommend reading the entire chapter!) warns us that our enemies will shake hands and greet you like a friend -all while conniving against you. It reads not to fall victim to their tricks.
Your “friendship” may have started off on what you thought was a good note, but often time that person was never your friend to begin with. Not every person who comes into your life is meant to stay. Some are just meant to be there for a season and that’s ok. I learned the hard way. Cutting off people I developed a bond with over the years wasn’t easy initially, but it was the best decision I could have made.
Since then I’ve had no drama or silly altercations and I feel a peace I haven’t felt in a long time. That’s what happens when you release toxins from your life. It’s important for women to have other women in their lives they can confide in- but it’s more important to have discernment over who you allow to stay in your life. A toxic friend has a skill of spreading their toxicity to others so be careful. Whether you’ve been friends with someone for a few months or a few decades, here are 10 signs (in no particular order) that your friendship is toxic.
1. You don’t feel at peace around them: This is the friend who drains your energy. Every time they come around they have the same old drama. They go through the same cycles with the same problems and most of the time they need you to help them out of it or be the ear to take it all in. I used to have a friend that I was close to but I had to take vacations from our friendship sometimes. It just seemed like every time we got together she was in more turmoil and was some how dragging me into it too. I wanted to always be there for her but it was tiring. No matter how much you may want to be there for that person, constant negativity will take a toll on anyone. It’s contagious. We must protect our spirits so any friendship that makes you feel exhausted due to constant dilemmas is toxic.
2.) They constantly gossip: This is the friend who always has something to say about everyone. Even you. Please believe, if they’re constantly gossiping with you, they’re also gossiping about you. If they’re telling you about someone else’s relationship problems, they’re spreading your problems too. A busy body is a busy body, period. If every time you come around this person they want to give you “tea” about someone else, it’s a major red flag.
I used to be close friends with someone who always had the tea on everyone’s situation. And she loved to tell it. I honestly didn’t mind it every now and then, but it became a regular thing. She would even talk about people she called best friends. Especially if she was upset with them. I would see her hang out with people she just finished having full conversations about. I even started to look at people a little different because of things she told me about them, but she would still act like everything was all good when they were around. It made me look at my ‘friend” funny too because I wondered if she talked about me too, and sure enough she did.
I’m not going to say I’ve never gossiped or partook in hearing it. But it’s definitely something I try to avoid as much as possible. When I’m with my girls, I want to do something other than talk about what the next person is doing.
The bible teaches us to be aware of what comes out of our mouths. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says that when we speak we should build each other up, not continually spread negativity. Titus 3:10 tells us that if a person is constantly gossiping and stirring up division we should warn them, and if it doesn’t stop- the bible says to cut them off. Exodus 23:1 warns against spreading rumors. Proverbs 20:19 tells us to avoid people who talk too much. Ephesians 4:29 says that everything that comes out of our mouths should be edifying and up-lifting. Proverbs 23:20 tells us that there’s peace when there’s no tale-bearers in your circle. And the list of scriptures to support this point goes on and on!
3.) They try to control you: This is the friend who wont let you be you. They want you to like who they like and dislike who they dislike. They want you to do what they do and talk about who they want you to talk about otherwise it’s a problem for them. They make a difference of opinions an issue because they think they know everything. For some reason they feel threatened by you having your own way of doing things. It’s almost as if they’re afraid that if you think for yourself you’ll start to see the truth about them. Be careful about having people in your life who are only okay with you experiencing life through their lenses. A healthy friendship allows room for two people to grow individually rather than just one friend following behind the other. Being influenced by your friends isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the only person who should be controlling your every move is God.
4.) They never clap when you win: This is the friend who is in competition with you. By clapping I don’t mean a round of applause. Clapping is a metaphor for genuinely being happy for you. Whether it’s a new man, a car, hair style, social media likes, a business venture or whatever- They want you to do good, but just as long as you’re not doing better than them. That’s a big problem because how can you trust someone who isn’t happy to see you reach your greatest potential? They fake support you. They’ll clap if you get a Honda because they have an Acura. But God forbid you get a Benz. Or they’ll like a new style or venture you’ve done but instead of complimenting you or giving you kudos they’ll go do the same thing as if they weren’t inspired by you. They won’t subscribe to your blog, but they’ll go start their own. Pay attention to those things. It’s okay to have the same goals, but if a “friend” isn’t happy just because they didn’t achieve it first, that’s a problem. Your friends should always be happy to see you achieve goals and fulfill your highest level of potential.
5. If you ever have a disagreement, they make it a mission to turn everyone against you: This is the conniving friend. Have you ever had a disagreement with a “friend” and instead of that person being an adult and keeping the situation between the two of you they run and tell anyone who will listen? Most of the time they will tell the story in a way that portrays them as the victim and try to get as many people on their side as possible before the truth is discovered. A person who feels the need to do this is obviously guilty and the ones who fall for it are normally people who are just as toxic as them. They never had the common sense to listen to both sides before rushing to judgement and they’re enabling a person they think they’re being loyal to, to continually scheme and connive to get their way.
This happened to me recently. I decided to cut off a ‘friend’ because she carried most of the toxic traits mentioned in this blog post. There was absolutely no talking through it. The friendship just needed to be cut off and given to God. So that’s what I did. But instead of her going her separate way in peace she spread lies to her family and people who were friends with her first. She created a ‘beef’ and made me out to be an enemy. She even took it as far as to befriend someone who she knew had ill will towards me just to have another person in her posse of fools.
Any “friend” who would lie on you just to get a few people on their side instead of righting their wrongs and attempting to mend a friendship or problem never cared about you in the first place. The relationship was all about them making sure they came out on top.
6.) They don’t defend you when you’re not around: This is the friend who plays both sides of the fence. “Don’t tell me what a person said about me. Tell me why they were so comfortable to say it in front of you,” –has always been one of my favorite sayings. It’s cool when a friend has your back while in your presence, but it’s most important that they can still have it when you’re not watching.
I had a friend who decided she wanted to be friends with someone who had an issue with me. We were all once friends at one point so it wasn’t a big deal to me. All of my friends are adults so I can’t tell them who they can and can’t associate with. As long as they can remain neutral, it’s not a problem. But that didn’t seem to be the case.
I could tell over time that my friend was starting to let this other person get in her head. It was obvious. We were dealing with one of those toxic individuals who felt the need to try and turn everyone against me since we weren’t speaking- and it was working. The friend I once told I trusted with my life switched up on me.
Our friendship started to suffer because instead of her defending me or shutting down the conversation all together anytime it turned negatively about me, she listened to what the other person was saying. It was obvious by the way she would be too busy for me yet every week she would chill with the other person and the posse she had convinced I was the enemy. It hurt but no weapon formed against anyone with God truly in their heart will prosper.
Luckily our friendship was strong enough for us to talk about it like adults, sort through our issues and realize where the real issue was. Not honoring the code of defending me 100% of the time when I wasn’t around almost cost us our friendship. In this case I gave her the benefit of the doubt, but what your friend says and does when you’re not around is a tell-tell sign of whether that friendship is toxic.
7.) You’re only friends because of how long you’ve known each other- This is the friend that you only keep around because of your history together. This is the friend you wouldn’t be friends with if you met her today but because you guys ‘go back’ you let their toxic traits slide. I don’t know who needs to hear this but you’re allowed to break off friendships with people you’ve known for a long time. Let me re-phrase that. You SHOULD break off friendships with people you’ve known for a long time if you see that the relationship toxic. Time doesn’t obligate you to stay in any form of relationship. Most people you meet in life are meant to stay only for a season so you’re most likely carrying around a friendship that expired a long time ago. Very few people are destined to be in your life forever so don’t let time blind you from recognizing and taking action against toxicity in your life and friendship.
8.) You can’t be real with them: This is the friend who is easily offended. No matter how nice you try to put something, they react with hostility towards anything you say that’s contrary to their belief. For example, if your “friend” is wrong about something, you can’t tell them without them causing a spectacle. Toxic friends don’t appreciate realness. They expect you to ride on their bandwagon even when it’s headed off a cliff. Healthy friendships are based off understanding and trust that the other person has your best interest at heart when they tell you to do better. Real friends don’t just cheer you on. They also let you know when you’re messing up so any person who only wants the praise is toxic. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that only a fool despises wisdom and instruction so be weary of people you can’t be real with.
9. You’re unequally yoked– This is the friend who has a completely different set of morals and values than you. For example, you’re trying to abstain from sex and get closer to God- but your friend is hopping from bed to bed and encouraging a different lifestyle. You’re trying to graduate college and study, but she’s trying to drag you to the club every night. You believe that God is the way, the truth, and the light but they believe otherwise. It just doesn’t work. You are who you hang with so being equally yoked with the people you surround yourself with is essential to achieving your goals and becoming the virtuous woman God designed for you to be. The further you go down your journey to virtuous, the more you’ll see how important it is to be equally yoked with those around you.
10.) The friendship isn’t contributing to your overall growth: This is the dead weight friend. Growing means that you’re maturing, achieving your goals, volunteering to be the bigger person in different scenarios, spending time planning instead of partying, getting closer to God and so on. Are your friends helping you do that? If you’re wrong are they telling you? Or are they continually encouraging you to go down the wrong path? Does your friendship revolve around drunken nights and night clubs or do you guys talk about your future goals? Do you hold each other accountable for the things you say and the goals you set? Do they push you? Are they encouraging? Are your friends good influences for you? Can you trust them? Does the friendship add peace or drama to your life? These are all questions you should ask yourself about everyone you call a friend. The bottom line is that you should surround yourself with friendships that will contribute to your overall growth and if it’s not, it may be time to lay the ax to the root.
So those were just 10 signs of a toxic friendships based off my own experiences, but the list can go on and on and on. As you read this blog you probably had a certain “friend” in mind and you’re deciding whether or not the friendship is toxic. You may have even recognized some toxic traits within yourself. So what’s next? If you thought of someone while reading this and they fit a lot of the description, depending on how important the friendship is to you, I recommend having a civil conversation with them. Come clean about how you feel in a respectful way. Tell that friend what bothers you and what you would like to see change. Maybe there’s a deeper issue for your friend like their own insecurities. Talk to them about it. If you try and it doesn’t work, let go, and put it in God’s hands. At that point it’s above you. Again, not everyone is meant to have a permanent place in your life. It could be time for a curtain close.
Also, if you read this and you recognized toxic traits within yourself– do what you can to change it. The first step in doing better is admitting that you have a problem. So if this post caused you to self-reflect, that’s awesome! None of us are perfect friends, but if you can admit when you’re wrong and do better, there’s nothing a little prayer can’t fix.
I hope this helped! (If you read this whole thing drop a comment below to let me know!)