10 Signs You’re A Toxic Friend

Friends will come and go throughout the years—that’s natural. Usually, one of you gets busy or sidetracked with life, which means people get shifted down to the “acquaintance” category but there’s no bad blood. Other times, friends do something toxic and horrible and rightfully get removed from your group. Are you guilty of the latter behavior? Here’s how you know.

  1. Nobody messages you first. This isn’t always a good way to figure out if you’re toxic, but it’s one of them. Some people are more about being reached out to than doing the reaching out. It’s just part of their personality. But if friends who normally made plans with you at least once a month suddenly start ghosting, you might want to examine the friendship and see if there’s anything you did to turn them off. Self-reflection is good and healthy for everyone every once in a while.
  2. You’ve dated or hooked up with friends’ exes before. And you’ve likely done this more than once. Even if they say it’s OK, you’re not really that concerned about getting their approval. That means that you’re not the type of person to think about feelings. There’s still a girl code that goes into dating an ex, and even if your friend has happily moved on, it’s still worth talking to them about so that nothing gets weird. Next time, try to put yourself in their shoes. Then ask yourself if you even like these guys or if it’s just a power play.
  3. You always forget birthdays. Unless it’s your own, then it’s an all-out party. Birthdays are a great occasion, and even if they lose a little bit of meaning when we get older (is turning 30 really worth celebrating?), it’s a day that truly belongs to the person. The only thing worse than forgetting a close friend’s birthday is trying to suck up all the attention during their outing. Think about whether or not you’ve threatened to go home early, started crying, or got too drunk at the last celebration. If you did, apologies may be in order.
  4. You post gripes publicly. Social media is a wonderful thing, unless you abuse it. Trying to call out specific people in your status messages or tweeting hateful things is straight-up bullying. Even if you’re not a fan of this person, public humiliation is a hard thing to come back from. People will either stop being your friend since they’re scared of you or continue with a false friendship since they’re terrified they’ll be next. You’re a grown woman and should know how to handle disagreements like one.
  5. You’ve pitted friends against each other before. In your eyes, it was the only way to climb up the social ladder. Maybe you were concerned that Friend A and Friend B would get too close and leave you out of things, so you hint to Friend A that Friend B was gossiping, even if you know it’s not true. This is yet another juvenile move. Big group outings don’t happen as much in your 20s and 30s unless it’s to a big event like a convention or a music festival. If you don’t want to be excluded, maybe try being the person who sends the invite.
  6. You’ve ditched your friends for guys before. Ever make plans with your friends, just to abandon them when a guy you’re into finally texts you back? When you’re deep in the moment, it’s easy to choose the guy. But doing this more than once (and even once is a stretch) is just a bad move. For one, you’re telling your friends that they’re placeholders until something better comes along. Secondly, you’re showing that you’re unreliable. Try hard to fix this behavior next time, unless you want those friendly invites to stop for good.
  7. When you do hang with them, you’re always on your phone. It’s tempting to check Instagram while out with your friends, but it’s also rude and sends the message that you don’t care. They’re taking time out of their day to make plans with you, so the least you can do is be present. If you want to stop the phone urge, hide it in a deep pocket in your coat. Or, hide it somewhere in your car that’s not visible from the outside to avoid temptation altogether.
  8. You’ve put their physical appearance down before. As women, we all have good months and bad months. Weight gain and weight loss is just part of life. Mentioning it to a friend is just something you shouldn’t do. It also comes off as being insecure. One of the main reasons people comment on the looks of others negatively is to draw attention away from their own issues. Friendship isn’t about what’s on the outside—it’s about the person they are on the inside. Unless your friend is critically in danger and their health is literally on the line based on a disorder, keep your opinions to yourself.
  9. You can’t be happy for their successes. Your best friend got a promotion—that means it’s time to celebrate. But if you use that time out as a reason to pout about your lack of career growth, you’re showing that you can’t be happy for her hard work. You need to think outside of yourself and realize how much it’d hurt if the roles were reversed and someone you cared about spun your good news into a lament about their own problems.
  10. You always make someone else the butt of the joke. This is bullying—and yes, adults can bully each other too. Picking on one person, in particular, is toxic, and often screws with their mental health in ways you don’t even realize. Your girl group doesn’t need to have a queen bee and a target. And if that’s the way your friend group is set up, consider breaking out and making friends you don’t always feel the need to impress.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.