Toxic Friends Are Harder To Detect Than Toxic Guys — But Just As Dangerous

When it comes to toxic men, you usually know ’em when we see ’em. They’re rude, your friends hate them, and you shudder at the thought of introducing them to your parents. On the other hand, you’re so fiercely loyal to your friends that you have a hard time realizing that not all of them might be good for you. Here’s why you need to cut the toxic friend in your life out of it ASAP:

  1. She’ll make you feel guilty for your success. She’s the first person you rush to when you’ve scored a new job in a new city and she’s also the first person to make you feel guilty over landing a new gig. She’ll say things like, “Wow, so I guess this means you really are leaving New York,” or, “Oh, so does this mean you and so-and-so are going to break up?” There’s no congratulations or acknowledgment of your personal gain. She’ll only be bitter.
  2. She’ll always be trying to improve your appearance. “You’d look so much better blonde!” Sure, that might be true (in her opinion), but if you’re happy, who cares? A good friend will always try to help you look your best but a toxic friend is never satisfied with your appearance. She gets a thrill from getting to criticize you every time you’re together.
  3. To be honest, you’ll never be good enough anyway. No matter how funny, cool, and pretty you obviously are, she’ll always find a reason to ditch you last minute or keep you out of plans, depending on who she’s hanging out with. She gets too much of a high reminding you that you’re not cool enough to hang out with her other crew.
  4. She only makes plans with you as a last resort. If you’ve ever gotten a text along the lines of, “Hi, so, Sarah can’t make hot yoga, wanna take her place?” congratulations, you have a toxic friend in your life. No one needs to feel like a second choice, especially you.
  5. It’s all about her. Of course, a good friendship allows room for venting and the ability to help each other out of sticky personal problems. In a toxic friendship, all you’ll get is a constant stream of her problems, with no room to even share a sliver of your life.
  6. You get that gut feeling that you can’t trust her. Every time you go and tell her something even semi-private about your life, you get that pit in your stomach that tells you to stop. Whether your secrets are good or bad, she’s only interested in them if there’s something for her personal gain. The fundamental building block of friendship is trust—if you can’t trust them, get rid of them.
  7. Every time you’re done hanging out with her, you feel exhausted. A good friend helps make you feel energized and reminds you just how lucky you are to have people in your life like that. A toxic friend literally sucks the energy out of you and leaves you feeling like a complete zombie.
  8. She claims she’s always joking, but really, she’s putting you down and it’s hurting your feelings. No matter how many times she tells you to relax because it was just a joke, you just can’t find the humor in it. You’re the butt of all her one liners in private and in front of everyone else. She’s especially toxic if she tells you to lighten up after you confront her. No friend should make you feel inferior or stupid.
  9. She needs to be the center of attention. Even on your days, like your birthday, she needs to be the one on top of the bar, flirting with guys, and making sure that everyone in the room acknowledges her presence. Sure, having a best friend with a big personality is totally normal, but a friend that takes away from how amazing you are is not.
  10. She makes you feel bad for just being yourself. “Oh my God, you actually think Melissa McCarthy is funny?” “Why would you ever wear flare jeans?” “I can’t believe you work in advertising.” If any of these phrases sound familiar, you really need to cut this girl out of your life. If you wanted someone to scrutinize your every move, you’d start asking your ex-boyfriend to brunch, not your “BFF.”
  11. She can be MIA for weeks until her latest problem crops up. Just when you finally think you may have gotten rid of your friendzilla, she pops back in your life when you least expect it… and with a whole new slew of problems for you to solve. She expects you to drop everything and help you piece her life back together. Please, you’ve got problems of your own—and she just shouldn’t be one.
Emily Ann Gutgold—Emi, for short—is a recent graduate of Penn State University. Her social handle @MiSCONGENiEMiLY stems from her one-time stint as a pageant queen where she was unanimously voted Miss Congeniality by the other contestants. In her free time she enjoys running and eating ice cream, but not at the same time. She currently lives in New York City and works in digital media.