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Recognizing and Escaping a Toxic Friendship.

Updated on July 11, 2016

In order to understand what makes a toxic friendship we need to understand a little bit about friendships in general.

As humans we have the innate need to have friends and people that want to interact with us. It becomes a quest all lifelong. Looking for people that think like we do and believe the same. Sometimes the need becomes an unhealthy thing. Sometimes the need to have friends causes us to settle for people that are not exactly healthy.

The search for friends begins at a very young age. The need to have a best friend will cause such grief and anguish in the daily life of young children. Have you ever seen children at a public park? They will seek out the other children and attempt to make friends with them. They form small gangs and play well for a few moments then the pairing off begins. The alienation of one or more of the little group starts and before long there are tears and hurt feelings. This repeats every time there are children at play.

Many parents will say, as long as it is the two of them they get along fine, but as soon as a third child joins in there is a fight. This is why childhood is so hard on little ones. They want to make friends and keep these friends to themselves.

As we mature, the ability to have more than one friend is learned and practiced. Some people do not gain that ability and this is the basis for problems in adult relationships.

Adults and Friendships

The same is true of adults. The only difference is adults know how to play nice and not voice their jealousies and insecurities.If you watch the interactions of the adults on shows like Desperate Housewives, you will see that there are the basic playground problems with the adults, but they cover it better. The adults may seethe inside, but they do not let it show. What comes across as over the top and comedic in a television show can be painful and destructive in a real life relationship. What is seen so well in Desperate Housewives is a friendship where one person manipulates the other in order to gain something of importance. Then you see the more healthy friendships that are also characterized in this show.There are examples of friends that come to the aide of another and place a high value on their friendship and it comes through in all their interactions.Just as in real life, these are the friendships that you want to hold onto.

Sometimes toxic friendships are as simple as a clingy friend that does not want you to have any other friends. Other ways a friendship can be toxic is by the stronger personality taking advantage of the weaker personality. No matter if you are the weaker or stronger, you both need something from the friendship and that does not make it toxic. It is when the need is unhealthy that it becomes a problem.When one person manipulates the friendship for their own gain. That is a problem. When a person uses another person, that is a toxic relationship.

When a married person has a single friend, many times in a toxic friendship, the single person sees no value in the marriage of the other and works to cause problems in that marriage . This is done by encouraging the married friend to choose the friendship over the marriage. Many times it is not even noticed at first. It seems that this friendship is new and fun and fills a void in both people's lives so how can it be bad. If one person is expecting to be the most important person to the other and that person has a relationship, it starts to cause friction. This is how the marriage starts to be affected.

Several Clues to a Toxic Friendship

There are a few clues that can be seen when looking for a toxic friendship:

1. One friend clings to the other and refuses to share you with other people.

2. Entices you to do things you normally would not do.

3. Wants you to choose them over your spouse or significant other.

4. Makes you feel bad about yourself.

5. Speaks to you in an abusive or condescending manner.

6. Undermines your self confidence.

7. Makes you question your own importance.

8. Tries to convince you that your other friends are not important.

9. Attempts to change you to be more like them.

10. Makes you feel sad or uncomfortable to be around them.

Curing a Toxic Friendship

If you find that your friendship is unhealthy for you, then how do you go about stopping the friendship or fixing the relationship?

Usually the person that has caused the problem will not allow the friendship to be fixed. The person has typically had a string of past friendships that have ended due to the same reason. If this is a person that has no other friends when they come into your life, you may see it as a clue as to why that is the case. If a person can manage several friends at one time, then they will not be as apt to cause the friendship to become toxic. The art of making friends should have progressed past the playground stage where only one person can be friends at a time. So if you can juggle friends and believe that your friends deserve personal time with their spouse as well as with other family and friends besides you, then you can feel better knowing that you are not a toxic friend.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago


      brilliantly done.

      Plese take time out to read this as well.

      friendship of monkey friends

    • vicki goodwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Sojourner McConnell 

      6 years ago from Winchester Kentucky

      To break that cycle usually comes from recognizing the friend as toxic as a young adult or teen. It is sad to see when adults choose negative and unhappy people. These adults then have to struggle later when they find themselves in friendships that are unhealthy.

      Thank you so much for reading this and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it!

    • alezafree profile image

      Aleza Freeman 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This was a very interesting read. I definitely had many toxic friendships as a child but I feel fortunate that this has not carried into adulthood though I know others who fall into this trap. I love the analogy of playground problems in adults. Thanks!

    • vicki goodwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Sojourner McConnell 

      6 years ago from Winchester Kentucky

      Thank you Fastfreta :) I am reading your hubs as well and am seeing a sisterhood of ideas!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      This sound just like a couple of hubs I wrote. Oops it looks like we're two peas from the same pod.(Smile)! So, so well written, and true. I'm totally enjoying your hubs.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      I enjoyed your hub Vicki and voted it up.

      Childhood is definitely the time when we learn how to make friends, who we'll accept as friends, how to handle rejection from a friend....Toxic friendships can be so damaging to our psyche, it's painful to experience.

      Good information.


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