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Toxic Friends ~ When to Pull the Plug

Updated on September 27, 2008

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Henry Earl, 58, 1,333 arrests dating back to 1992

Toxic Friend?
Toxic Friend?

Linda Hogan

Toxic Mom?
Toxic Mom?

David Blaine

Thrill Seeker or Toxic Friend?
Thrill Seeker or Toxic Friend?

Amy Winehouse

Misunderstood Songbird or Toxic Bud?
Misunderstood Songbird or Toxic Bud?

Sarah Palin

Alaskan Babe or Toxic Future VP?
Alaskan Babe or Toxic Future VP?

President George W. Bush

Caution: Extreme Toxicity
Caution: Extreme Toxicity

A toxic friend can be defined as someone, who after leaving their presence, drains, exhausts or leaves you gasping for air. Knowing when and how to end this type of friendship can be a sometimes difficult and heartbreaking experience. After all, there must have been some good qualities this person possessed once upon a time, or else why would you have ever had them as a friend to begin with?

But, alas, as sad as it may seem, a toxic friend will always undermine your true potential for happiness. It may be time to consider bidding adieu to this curse and put your own well-being and sanity at the forefront of a less stressed life.

The truest friendships are those that inspire, motivate and elevate you to higher ground. Great friends should build lasting memories, share hopes and dreams and always show up when you need them most. This should be a mutually binding and common goal. In the deepest friendships, you should always have the utmost confidence that your friend seeks only your best interest. Ultimately lasting friendships entail wishes of triumph, success, and bountiful bliss.

If you were surrounded by more of these types of people, and less of the toxic variety, life would be richer, always supportive and genuinely everlasting.

Levels of toxicity ~ toxic friends that need to pack their bags.

Poisonous friend #1 ~ The Faker

This person gives the impression of being supportive and sincerely concerned for your well-being, yet all the while gently shooting down every new idea that excites you. Contemplating furthering your education? Poisonous friend #1 will tell you 101 reasons why this is not such a good idea, sweetly smiling and taking joy in explaining how taking more classes is a waste of time and pointless. Said friend will revel in dissecting why this silly plan would never work and is not meant for people like you and them.

Poisonous friend #2 ~ The Pessimist

This person doesn't just see the glass half-empty, but thinks paranoia is a golden rule to living one's life. A depressing theory to live by, but their reality nonetheless. They didn't get the promotion because the company is corrupt. They didn't get invited to the party because the host has an ongoing vindetta. They can't find true love because all the good ones have left the country. The constant complaining that goes along with this sad person releases pure exhaustion, ususally setting in the moment you hear their trembling voice.

Poisonous friend #3 ~ The Addict

This person is on the road called self-destruct. A friend who always seems to be dodging warrants, feeding an addiction or jumping from one abusive relationship to the next. These friends will constantly bear their souls, tell you the latest scandal they've found themselves in or ask your advice on what to do about their current lovers. Of course, they don't really want your advice, but love the idea that you will put effort into thinking of ways to cope. As you ponder different avenues, choices or possible solutions, they'll be lulled by the undivided attention they are milking, only to call you again when they're in need of the next attention fix.

Poisonous friend #4 ~ The Mooch

The borrower is slave to the lender be? With this type of person, it's the other way around. You get a call, as your about to sit down for dinner, whe said friend calls, frantically explaining how they need to borrow 500.00 immediately. It's a matter of life and death and if you don't lend them this money pronto, they just might jump into the nearest lake. True friends will and should help each other in times of need, but if you seem to always be on the giving end, it's time to cut ties.

Poisonous friend #5 ~ The Whiner

The chronic complainer, the poisonous friend who finds fault in every aspect, facet, and minute detail of their waking life. Nothing is ever good enough, nothing they ever appreciate and nothing in life worth valuing. They will suck the living life out of you, especially when the calls seem to become more panicked and increasingly frequent. This friend is especially insidious because you're trapped from the moment they had you at "hello".

Poisonous friend #6 ~ The Narcissist

The all about "me" syndrome that follows this poisonous friend is probably not as destructive as the previous 5, but nonetheless, one toxic friend worth discussing. The conversation you share with this hopeless shmuck is riddled with their inability to understand they are actually talking to a real living, breathing, human being. Their voice dominates every subject as if to say you don't matter, and the only reason you may get a chance to get a word in edge wise, is to give them a chance to swallow air. They don't even hear you. They are so completely self-absorbed that every sentence becomes a chess match of how they can top you or relate their own experiences. The longer you give these friends a soapbox, the more time they have to chip away at your self-esteem.

Poisonous friend #7 ~ The Squealer

This toxic friendship delves into the psyche of one that is not able to keep your most personal secrets. Confiding in this person is dangerous and to be taken at your own risk. The reasons are not clear why this person feels the need to divulge your private worries, but they inappropriately feel as though they must. Perhaps they gain a thrill of superiority, a moment of their own confidence lifted or just simply lack a conscious. Never seeming to take into account the "friendship honor" bestowed upon them. This friend is to be limited to mindless chatter about the weather and where to find the best ripe kumquats.

Poisonous friend #8 ~ The Critical Hound

We all know this toxic friend. It can be a relative, a co-worker or your basic annoying friend. They seem to find fault in everything you say and do from the moment you open the door and see their domineering faces. The color and style of your hair, the way you raise your children, to how you manage your money, all seem like fair game in their obscene world. The critical hound chooses to cross that fine line of caring, well-meaning advice and dives head first into the valley of mean, irrational nit-picking. Unfortunately this group sometimes fall into the family realm, which means their instant demise is not so easy. If this is someone you can't eliminate as soon as possible, then take the calmer route and lessen your time with this toxic friend.

Hopefully by identifying toxic friendships early and often, you will eliminate needless stress and unnecessary pain. If your current roster of go-to friends contain some of these annoying characters, free yourself, shed their poison and move on to a higher class of comrades.



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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, summer10,

      This is an excellent piece of writing. Amazing, to be precise.

      I loved every word of it. Voted up and all the choices because you deserve it.

      You have such a gift for writing. Just use it without a selfish motive and no telling at how far you will go

      and how many people you will touch.

      I have just left you some fan mail and become a follower.

      I cordially invite you to read one or two of my hubs, and be one of my followers.

      That would make my day.

      I am so honored to meet you and follow you.


      Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

    • profile image 

      5 years ago

      This hub is a hit! No doubt about it - thanks summer10 for these great insights into toxic friendships - voted up, fb and emailing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Candycane,

      I had exactly the same problem. I fell in love with my friend's brother - she instantly showed disrespect and hatred and a lot of toxicity; as a consequence I was sick only to see her, but I considered to be my duty to still be friends with her. After a lot of years of drama, I decided to finish our toxic friendship. She is my sister-in-law, but not my friend. I give her very little information and I feel eliberated. The fact that we live in different countries eases the problem. But in your case, you could slowly and deliberately limit her access to your secrets and give her only the surface data, still invite her at family reunions, continue to be a lady, but less secrets and intimacy. In end you will be happier. It is not our fault for how these people act, we cannot chance them, but we can change our reaction to them. Good luck!

    • Hollanda profile image


      7 years ago

      I used to have toxic friends, before I was savvy enough to realise what they were doing! One of them was the constant "bad weather friend" who only wanted to be around me when her life was bad. She seemed to want to drag me down into the mire with her, and never wanted to know when my life was good. Another was the "me, me, me" type, who would stop me in the middle of a story to tell me all about her life. Now I can tolerate that behaviour sometimes, but when it's all the time I have to start to wonder why I am spending time with these people. Also, there are "psychic vampires" who just exist to sap people of their energy. I've known a fair few of them as well! Good hub! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It's hard to tell where to put my "toxic friend" She's very critical of me, nothing I do is ever good enough. A few months before I got married I had a lot of wedding tasks to get done. Instead of helping like I asked she ignored me because she didn't approve of me living with my then fiancé. She later told me that she ignored me because she felt if she came over to help she'd be supporting my 'bad habits'. She also tells my secrets to everyone else... I wanted to call it quits for over a year now but since she is my sister in law its a little more difficult. I feel if I end it it will cause a lot of problems in my husbands family...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Song Title: Time will tell

      Subject: an R/B song about cutting ties. based on the infamous saying "time will tell" with a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Twist.

      Video URL:

    • profile image

      suze q 

      8 years ago

      toxic friend type 8 has been killing me forever. i think i finally may be rid of her, but i lost so many friends in the process. if you encounter who of these specimens, get rid of them ASAP!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We had been " best friends" for 36 years. My 50th birthday is around the corner and really started evaluating my life. I have a wonderful husband and family. But my so called "friend", that is a different story. She repeatedly used me and trapped me in uncomfortable positions to get what she wanted. She was a whiner, disloyal, pessimist you name it. She always had the money to shop but never contributed to me chauffeuring her around everywhere. One incident that really hurt me was when I had been diagnosed with cancer and was going through chemo treatments. It was Easter weekend and I was expecting company. She had the nerve to call me to take her convicted criminal boyfriend to the hospital because he claimed he had been beaten up by the police for no reason. She whined and cried until my husband and I took her. There were many instances like these. I am so relieved it's over but also mad at myself for allowing this to go on for so long.

    • donotfear profile image

      Annette Thomas 

      9 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Wow, I'm glad I stumbled upon this article. I've had a few of these "friends"; some with characteristics of more than one! Can you imagine a Narcissist/Squealer? The thing about this "friend" was she/he would act totally concerned and counsel me, etc. but it was all about HER/HIM in the end. Ended up borrowing money from me...still hasn't paid it back. I write it off to 'a lesson learned'.

    • profile image

      D. L. Blanco 

      9 years ago

      I am so happy that I came across this webpage! A little over a year ago, I went through a horrible time with someone I considered my best friend. She had some jealousy issues which I was always aware of but was never really affected by. That was until I got back in touch with some friends I had lost contact with over the years. Well that's when the straw broke the camel's back. I found out that she had been lying to my friends by telling them that I wanted nothing to do with them so that she could keep my friendship to herself. She was confronted by her lies and started acting really crazy and this is when things started to spin out of control.

      Alot happened. Too much to go into detail here but in the end we wound up in court and she finally was out of my life. This whole experience inspired me to write the book, Single Latina Female: Tale of a Toxic Friend and have it published because it was my way of telling the story for others to know that they are not alone. I learned the hard way not to avoid the obvious warning signs of a toxic friend. Now I feel like novice in the friendship department and would love to help anyone out with advice I could give.

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 

      9 years ago from London

      Aw, great hub. And I love the photos!

    • trish1048 profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Summer10

      Yes, it did make a huge difference.  Not only was she what I described above, in addition she betrayed confidences. My now supervisor, who had to work closely with her, would leave work every day feeling sick.  That person was spoken to several times but she never learned her lesson.

      Anyway, yes it makes a huge difference.  We all enjoy and respect each other, and everyone in my group is a teamplayer.  It makes the days we endured in hell a walk in the park now :)

      Feel sorry? I'd have to think on that one lol

    • summer10 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from my happy place :)

      Hi Trish, Thanks for sharing such a personal story. Doesn't it make a huge difference to be surrounded by positive, even-keeled temperaments then those who insist on bringing in the drama? I'm sure you and your co-workers instantly felt the negativity lifted. It's sad that these people have such a hard time seeing their own behavior. You almost have to feel sorry for them... almost :)

    • trish1048 profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Summer10

      I once worked with a person who pretended to be my friend.  She was totally into the latest gossip, bad-mouthed anyone who she thought had done her wrong, and was extremely moody, I could go on and on.  You knew the minute she walked through the door that she was in a bad mood.  She wouldn't say hello, she would stomp her way to her chair, and put on her headphones.  If I needed to ask her something she would pretend I wasn't even there.  She would put down the way I did things, stating that her way was the right way, grrrrrrr!  The sad part was, she not only behaved this way with me, but with our coworkers as well. I worked with her for 15 years, and she used to threaten to leave our company cause in her words, it sucked.  Right, that's why she remained for 15 years.  The good news is, she finally made good on her threat, and found another job.  It has been two years now and I now work in a cooperative, friendly atmosphere.

      Great hub, thanks for sharing.

    • summer10 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from my happy place :)

      Hi Misty, sometimes you have to just let go in order to save yourself. I'll be checking out your hub now :) Thanks for commenting!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Toxic friends are a pain, read my hub, if you are interested in why I dumped a friend who became too high maintenance. :)

      Great Hub by the way!

    • summer10 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from my happy place :)

      I agree with NYLady, people these days have such a difficult time just listening... I get the feeling though, that life is about to change, drastically and for the better.. Thank you for commenting :)

    • NYLady profile image


      9 years ago from White Plains, NY

      Great hub -- I really, honestly believe that narcissism is at the root of many problems today. Sometimes I feel surrounded by narcissists, and it's not pretty. This was a very interesting hub, and thanks for the information!

    • summer10 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from my happy place :)

      talented ink, learning from and moving from toxic roles proves consciousness is always evolving. Your gifted writing possesses thoughtful introspect always. It's quite apparent you come from the rare breed that actually learns from the past and soars on into the future.

      Christoph ~ I hear you and have made changes. Forgive me for my oversight. Actors are amazing players, mirroring our deepest issues, what would we do without them? Thank u so much for sharing your thoughts. :)

    • summer10 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from my happy place :)

      Capalynn ~ Yes, many toxic people mix and match. Thank u for commenting :)

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      10 years ago from St. Louis

      I think you have identified the "types" very well, and you're right, one needs to rid oneself of these poisoness people. I'm sure everyone will recognize several as past and current aquaintances and come to the realization that they must leave them behind.

      One problem, though. As a professional actor for most of my life, did you have to call #1 the actor? It's the only one named after an "occupation". Maybe call #1 the Iago or something!

      Great hub!

    • talented_ink profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      This is a good hub about a serious issue. I know that I have unfortunately played the toxic role in some past relationships, but like other cases can be, I didn't play the part on purpose, but I was toxic nonetheless. What it takes to avoid being the toxic friend or investing in a toxic friend is deep introspection and self awareness to judge whether you are helping or hurting another person and vice versa. Thanks for sharing.

    • capalynn profile image


      10 years ago from Roseville, CA

      You forgot to mention those who have multiple toxic disorder, HA! JK. Anyhow, I love this hub, and can for sure relate. I think that all of these have a bit of narcissism in them.


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