9 Ways To Tell If Your Friends Are Emotional Leeches

9 Ways To Tell If Your Friends Are Emotional Leeches ©iStock/Anchiy

Just like romantic relationships, friendships can go stale, too. You outgrow each other, your needs don’t match up, or something gets broken and can’t be fixed. If you’re feeling drained and unhappy after spending time with them, it might be time to move on. Here are 9 signs your friends are emotional leeches:

  1. You’re relieved when you don’t have to spend time with them. It’s one thing to enjoy your own company, but another entirely to enjoy cancelled plans. If you find yourself dreading checking your phone for messages and letting their calls go to voicemail, it’s time to ask yourself why you make plans with them in the first place. If you’re relieved when you get to clock out of a get-together early, it’s a sign that you’ve lost that loving feeling.
  2. Their conversations are full of negativity. It’s natural to share both your failures and your successes with your friends, but when the majority of your conversations turn into negativity, bitching and mean gossip, you’ve got a bunch of red flags going up. This kind of conversation is fine every one in a while, but when it’s the main course at every meet up, it can drain you of positivity, motivation and compassion. Ditch it.
  3. Your problems don’t exist. You’re there for everyone else, but when it’s time for you to get a shoulder to lean on, it’s nowhere to be found. This kind of selfish, self-important friendship is parasitic and exhausting. If the road’s not going two ways, it’s time to take the off ramp.
  4. They undermine or downplay your successes. Anything you can do, they can do better —at least, that’s how they want you to feel. When your friends are undermining your accomplishments and finding ways to cut down any heights you reach, you need to be wary. This kind of behavior can have a huge impact on your self-esteem and can change the way you see yourself. Make friends who take pleasure in building you up rather than tearing you down.
  5. They pressure you to do things you don’t want to do. Good friends challenge us and make us try things we didn’t believe we would ever do. However, when this goes into dangerous or uncomfortable territory, it can easily feel like you’re being manipulated, pressured and pushed into behaviors that you don’t want to take part in. It can be hard to stand up to a group, but valuing yourself and standing your ground is always the better option.
  6. You’re not allowed to have other friends. Throughout high school, college and into work life, you’re bound to have a number of different social groups. If a group of friends can’t handle this duality and make reductive comments about your other social groups, you have to ask yourself why. This kind of childish, manipulative behavior is about control and their own self-esteem issues. Don’t get bogged down in it.
  7. They gossip so much that you’re not sure you can trust them. We’ve all got complaints about our good friends — nobody’s perfect, after all — but there has to be a hard line. When your group is so bitchy that you don’t know who to trust anymore, it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Find friends who revel in singing each other’s praises, and you’ll find a difference in how you relate to others and to yourself.
  8. They’re quick to criticize. If you find yourself on the receiving end of pointed comments and back-handed compliments, it can often seem like you’re being ganged up on. At the same time, it’s carried out in a way that makes it seem like you’re making a mountain out of a molehill if you complain. Being criticized constantly can be painful and difficult to confront, especially when all you want is a group of supportive friends. You don’t owe anyone an explanation — cut these people out and rebuild your self-esteem from the ground up. It’s the kindest thing you can do for yourself.
  9. They’re unwilling to grow. Like people, friendships need to grow and adapt over time. If your group is stuck reminiscing about the good old days and is unwilling to try new things and create new memories and experiences, it can be hard to find a good reason to stay in the same circle. You deserve a dynamic, supportive group of friends that would rather give than take, and reciprocate your kindness and compassion. Cut your losses and start fresh.