5 Behaviors That Tell You the Friendship Isn’t Worth It

Relationships take work. It’s not always smooth sailing and sometimes there are big speed bumps along the way which need focus and dedication from both sides to get through. Some relationships, however, go beyond repairable bumps and scratches and venture into “toxic” territory. If you find yourself wondering if a friendship or partnership is worth the fight, it may be time to tune in more closely to that intuition.

There are some tell-tale signs that a relationship may be toxic. Sure, there will always be cases where a friend will be unaware they are causing harm, do some serious work on their behaviors and become a better pal in the end. Other times, what you see is what you get. If any of these behaviors describe your BFF’s actions, take some time to decide whether the best choice is to let them know they need to change to keep your friendship, or if you need to show them the door.

1. Not respecting your boundaries

In any kind of relationship, this is unacceptable. Romantic partnerships, family relationships, friendships and even boss-employee relations (we all know it happens). If there is someone in your life who continuously ignores your wishes—whether it’s sharing stories you don’t want to be shared, using your stuff without permission or making unwanted advances—it is a sign that the relationship is unhealthy.

There is no shame in severing ties with someone because they will not respect your boundaries. You do not owe them a second (or third, or twenty-seventh) chance and you do not owe them an explanation. If you feel you need to get out of the situation and move on, then do what you need to do.

2. Invalidating your experiences

This phenomenon might happen more regularly with those who aren’t as close to us as others, but it can happen with anyone. Gaslighting, or denying someone’s reality and influencing them to think there is something wrong with them because of it, is a form of abuse. Plain and simple. If, after explaining why someone’s transphobic or sexist or otherwise derogatory statements/assumptions are hurtful, the person becomes defensive or continues to be abusive, it is fine to show them the door and not look back. You do not owe anyone the emotional labor it takes to educate them on perspectives or experiences different than their own (of course, if you want to take on the task, power to you). Keep space open in your life for people who value who you are.

3. Being manipulative

Self-interest is a biological human trait, sure… but it has its limits when trying to live peacefully with other people. As we grow up, we should become more proficient with asking for what we want directly, instead of resorting to covert tactics or tricking people. At the same time, we all need to live with the frustration of not getting what we want. Sometimes people will turn us down for dates or won’t be able to lend us money or need a break from being a caregiver to us—and it’s okay. We’ll survive. And we all have to—again—respect people’s boundaries. If someone in your life doesn’t seem to understand these concepts, they don’t need to be in your life.

4. Showing an imbalance of taker vs. giver

There are times when we might lean on our friends more than we usually would, and for good reasons. Going through a tough time because of loss, mental illness or other life upsets means we need our supports more than ever. However, we all have to learn where lines need to be drawn once our seas are steadier. This can also be called the “drama” effect—the person who always “needs” you for things they could largely set straight themselves or the person who does not seem to learn from their mistakes. If a friendship is simply too draining to handle—and you notice your own self-care suffering—it might be time to say goodbye.

5. Being a mismatch with priorities

It’s true when people say we are always growing, learning and evolving. Although, the direction and rate at which we all do these things looks drastically different from person to person. There are personality traits and interests that won’t affect the longevity of relationships, and then there are things that just do not mesh well over time. For instance, if you have a pal who lives and breathes for the latest gossip and you much prefer to let people live their lives in peace, perhaps it’s time you have a heart-to-heart. These friendship “break-ups” don’t have to be ugly, either. It is perfectly okay to acknowledge how two people have grown apart and to open up that space for something or someone who matches what you’re all about better.

The overall lesson: Pick people who make you happy.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

145 comments

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