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What's The Difference Between Healthy Friendships and Toxic Friendships?

We are products of the people we choose to have in our life. When those people are healthy and supportive, we tend to feel happier and more confident. But when we surround ourselves with toxic energy, we might feel depleted, resentful, or even alone.

Toxic friendships can wreak havoc on your recovery. They can make you question your motives and your core values. They may try to sabotage your success.

It's important to spot the signs of this toxicity. Let's get into what you need to know.

What Are The Characteristics Of A Healthy Friendship?

Healthy friendships are mutually satisfying to both parties.

In a healthy friendship, you feel comfortable to be yourself. Your friends help you grow and develop, but they don’t push you to change who you are. They accept you- even if you both have different values.

Genuine friends listen to you if you need advice and will try to help you when you need support. They aim to be trustworthy and loyal- they are there for you in good times, but they are especially there for you during the rougher times. These friends will celebrate your successes and mourn your failures with you.

Not only will they want to be involved in your life, but they will also involve you in their life. If they respect you and enjoy learning from you, they will reach out to you as much as you reach out to them. Your conversations and efforts should feel double-sided.

Furthermore, if the two of you ever disagree, the argument won’t shatter your healthy friendship. You both should be able to navigate the conflict without offending or harming one another.

What Are The Characteristics of A Toxic Friendship?

Sometimes, toxic friendships are apparent. For example, if the other person blatantly hurts you or other people you love, it's evident that the relationship isn't healthy.

Other times, however, the toxicity is far more subtle. For example, you might notice you feel anxious to share your feelings or opinions with your friend. You might not even be sure why- you just know that they may be critical or judgmental.

Toxic friends don't value your loyalty. They might be untrustworthy and unable to keep secrets. As a result, you may not know whether they talk poorly about you when you're not around. If you feel like the relationship is one-sided- like they don’t listen to you or involve you in their lives- it might be a toxic friendship.

Similarly, toxic friends may manipulate or lie to you. They could be jealous of your other relationships or success in your life. They may want to hoard all your time and energy, and they might get offended if you try to set a boundary with them. This pattern is known as codependency, and it can be emotionally exhaustive for you.

Toxic behavior can manifest through losing their temper, constantly pointing out your shortcomings, or by trying to control you. They might say they just want to help you- but they rarely offer constructive advice. Instead, their advice might be unsolicited and just make you feel guilty about yourself.

Finally, toxic friends often don't prioritize their own well-being. For example, they might continue engaging in illicit or dangerous behavior.

What Should You Do If You Have Toxic Friendships?

If you realize you are in a toxic friendship, you first need to consider: Is this something you want to work through with that person? If you don't know the answer right away, that's okay. Friendship is a complex issue, and it's crucial to allow yourself to reflect on how you want to proceed.

You may decide that you're ready to let go of your toxic friendship. If you have talked about these issues with your friend and nothing has changed, it might be worth considering if it’s time to move on. No matter what choice you decide, your emotional well-being should come first. Assess what’s right for you- regardless of what you think is best for them.

There isn't a single best way to end this kind of relationship. That said, you don't need to share all your feelings about why you're moving on. This disclosure might trigger another cycle of emotional abuse. You're allowed to end a relationship without owing an explanation to the other person.

You may also want to journal about the loss or talk to a therapist or other supportive friend. It's okay to miss your friend- the sadness, anger, or feelings of slight guilt or regret are perfectly normal.

Final Thoughts

Toxic friendships can be taxing on your well-being and recovery. You need people who can support and guide you. Moreover, you deserve compassion and love during this process.

At The Resurface Group, we recognize the importance of healthy relationships. We help our clients build social skills, strengthen their boundaries, and honor their internal needs. We are here for you! Contact us today to learn more.

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