What a Toxic Friendship Looks Like and How You Are to Respond the Right Way
Not all friendships are the same. Some are good, some excellent, and some not so good. Friendships, the good kind, are important and valuable. Sometimes necessary in our walk of faith. There is encouragement, biblical counsel, and strong connections that are rewarding.
But have you ever been in an unhealthy friendship to where it becomes toxic? Is it even a friendship at that point? Catching unhealthy traits between yourself and another person from the beginning is a great way to weed out toxic people.
Knowing what to look for will help you identify signs and you can act according to the situation. It may be possible you are in an unhealthy friendship right now and do not know it. It is never too late to set boundaries. But the earlier you do the better. Scripture gives us examples of what a bad friend is.
The Bible doesn’t say anything about “toxic” people per se but we can find the components of one.
Bible Verses on Bad Character
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
Proverbs 20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.
What Toxic Traits Look Like
A person who tells other people’s business when they are not around. These people love to share others' personal problems. How can you confide in someone like that? If they gossip often there is a very good chance they talk about your business to others.
They have shown you many times over they are unreliable. They never keep any promises. Or they don’t show up for you when it matters most. They lie often and have been caught in lies. It makes it difficult to believe anything they say.
This friend always tries to outshine you or top whatever you have to say. If that’s the case then this is a competitor, not a friend. This is harmful and can result in an unhealthy cycle. Knowing what they do you may feel like you can’t share accomplishments with them. It could be there is underlying jealousy or envy.
Brings you down
What’s one of the first things you want to do when you have exciting news? You tell someone, right? But you are shut down with negative remarks when you share good news to with them. They also try to change the subject or not react to the news at all. Friends are for sharing good things with. But if they do not rejoice with you, again, there may be hidden jealousy or envy. What a downer. This is not a true friend.
Walking on eggshells
The friend may have done something that bothers you, but you cannot talk to them about it. They may get annoyed or angry with you. Or they brush you off as sensitive. To avoid conflict, you try to brush it off and move on. You should be able to talk freely and honestly with a friend, always.
This goes without saying. You don’t want a friend that is going to trick you into doing what they want. Or try to make you feel guilty so they can have their way. If the direction always goes to their benefit and to your expense they are manipulating you.
What you can do
You should always pray for your friends. Ask God to bring in godly friends and remove the bad ones. It would also help if you learn to communicate well with all people you associate with. Effective communication is the backbone of every relationship.
Talk to that toxic friend. If they are not willing to change, or at least acknowledge your feelings, take a break from them. Or even cut them off altogether. Even more so if it is affecting you in an emotional way. If trying to talk to them may be a difficult thing to do, do it anyway. You can at least say you tried.
Surround Yourself With Good People
All in all, if a friend leaves you with feelings of anxiety, exhaustion, or depletion perhaps it’s time to walk away from that friendship. Part with the best of terms. As a Christian that doesn’t mean you should stop loving them. Sometimes at a distance is best.
It may not be easy. Trust me, I have been there before. As much as it pains to cut off a friendship it may be a necessary step to take. Let’s hope you are not the toxic one in the friendship. But if you are it would not hurt you to make some improvements on yourself.
What else could you add to this list? And what advice would you give someone in a toxic friend situation? Let me know in the comments. Or take the poll below.