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I think I have a toxic friend, what do I do?

Friendships are an important aspect of our social life and can make our lives more meaningful and fun. Having someone you can confide in and reach out to for support and guidance is an amazing thing to have. Finding true friends is rare but can be worthwhile. However, that’s not always how friendships play out. Some friendships can do more harm than good and even be toxic. It can look different for some people but here are some signs to look out for.

They put you down

Joking around and teasing each other can be a healthy aspect of a friendship, especially if you are both enjoying it. However, it becomes toxic when they are continuously demeaning you. This can be through insults or even more subtle comments. Source

You compete with them

Good friendships thrive when you want each other to succeed, even if you are in the same field of work. Competition can be a great motivator and some jealousy is normal, but if you feel like you are constantly in a fight and you must win, it might be time to reevaluate the friendship. Source

They don’t respect your boundaries

In any relationship, respect is a key ingredient for success. Friends could ignore your boundaries and view it as a sign of being close to each other. This might look like borrowing your clothes and not giving them back, pressuring to go out somewhere you aren’t comfortable with, or even pressuring you to talk about something you don’t want to talk about. This can lead you to feeling disrespected and uncared for. Source

They try to change you

True friends accept you for who you are, regardless of your differences. If there is a trait you would like to change about yourself, they might offer support or guidance if you ask for it. A toxic friend might tell you what you need to change without you asking for advice and turn you into someone you’re not. Source

You don’t trust them anymore

Friendships are built on trust and communication. If your friend has broken many promises, spreads rumours about you, or cancels plans many times, it might not be the healthiest friendship. Source

They rarely apologize

Making mistakes is normal but apologizing sincerely and committing to change that behaviour is how you can be respectful. Toxic friends typically avoid apologizing sincerely when you tell them that they hurt you. They might get defensive or refuse to take accountability for their actions. This behaviour might make you feel like they don’t care how their actions affect you. Source

You don’t like yourself when you’re around them

Toxic friends tend to spread their toxicity to others. You might notice that your friend brings out the worst parts of you. You might be passive aggressive to others, gossip, or just negative. You might also feel like you can’t be your true self around this friend. Source

What can you do about it?

· Set boundaries to protect yourself.

· Be direct.

· Take some time for yourself.

· Reach out to others for support.

· Consider contacting Student Counselling Center, Spiritual Services, or Health and Wellness for more support.


Trevena (She/Her)

Hello! This is my first year as a Healthy U volunteer and the last year of my BSc Microbiology major with a minor in Biology. I’m very excited to build more connections in the university community, as well as expanding my knowledge on various health topics.

If I’m not studying, you can usually find me watching a new TV series, painting, or hanging out with friends!


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