What’s a Bad Friend? How to Finally End a Toxic Friendship

Friends are a wonderful and important aspect of our lives. They are there when we need them to laugh with, cry with and share incredible memories together. But just like relationships, friendships can be complicated, and they can often leave us with heartache when things go wrong. But what is a bad friend? Not all friendships are beneficial and some can even be downright toxic. If you suspect you may have a bad friend, keep reading for signs to look out for and how to end a toxic friendship.

One woman whispering to another, thinking about how to end a toxic friendship

What are the Signs of a Bad Friend?

Realizing you have a bad friend can be hard to accept. Especially if they’ve been in your life for a long time. You may have shared special experiences with them and even grown up together. While every friendship will have its fair share of rough times, a truly bad friend will often repeat the same toxic behavior. Here are some signs of a bad friend to look out for. 

They Take Advantage of You

A good friendship is a give-and-take, two-way relationship. Does it feel like your friend is only talking to you when they want something from you? Don’t get me wrong, it feels great to be able to help our pals! But if your friend is only coming to you if they get something out of it, they could be taking advantage of you. If they constantly come to you for favors, or to get ahead and never actually show interest in your life, that’s not right! I know it’s hard, but never let your friends take advantage of your generosity or kindness. 

They Put You Down

A quick way to identify a bad friend is if they put you down, mock you, or diminish your achievements. This is a major red flag and is not something you should have to tolerate in your friendships. Has your friend ever put you down and played it off as a joke? Or said things like “you’re too sensitive” or “don’t take it so seriously”? They may put you down in subtle ways, but that is never an excuse. Friends should be there to support and lift each other up, not tear us down. One thing to remember is, the comments that your friend makes are a reflection of them and their insecurities, not you! 

They Judge You

There’s nothing worse than being shamed, or judged, especially by those closest to us. While we can expect some judgment from those we don’t know, but what do you do when the people judging you are your friends? Being berated and judged by your friends is a solid reason to end a toxic friendship. There are some fair reasons your friends may question your behavior, such as if you’re putting yourself or others in harm’s way. But if they judge you on what clothes you’re wearing, what shows you watch, your favorite music, they might not be a true friend. 

They Aren’t There For You When You Need Them

If you patiently listen to your friend vent about all the details of their relationship, you should be able to vent to them too! Ask yourself, are you always the shoulder to cry on, but they don’t provide the same support in return when you need it? While you don’t have to be joined at the hip 24/7, you should feel secure knowing that they’re always a call away. Friends should be there to get us through the lousy parts of life. If you can’t count on them to support you, listen to you and be there for you, it’s okay to cut it off.

You Make all the Effort to Sustain the Friendship

A healthy friendship is all about balance. When you’re the only one contributing the effort to sustain the friendship, the weight falls on your shoulders. Does your friendship feel a little out of balance? Perhaps you’re the one constantly organizing the margarita nights or being the one to spark a conversation? If so, take a step back to see if your friend makes an effort to reach out. If months have gone by, and you haven’t heard from your friend, consider this is a sign to end a toxic friendship. 

Wondering if a toxic relationship in your life is causing you anxiety? Check out our article here to find out.

A couple facing away from each other considering of toxic relationships cause anxiety

How to End a Toxic Friendship Gracefully

Deciding to end a toxic friendship is an extremely difficult decision to make. If you are considering whether to break up with a friend, ask yourself: Does this person bring me joy? Are they there for me? Do they bring me up rather than tear me down? Does the friendship feel balanced?

The sad truth is that friendships don’t always last and sometimes ending a friendship that no longer serves you is for the best.

Have the Conversation in Person

So you’ve identified a toxic friendship and have decided it’s best to call it quits. Now what? While it may be temping to ghost them, to end a toxic friendship gracefully, it’s best to have the conversation in person. I know confrontation can be difficult, so it helps to plan out the conversation beforehand. Practice in the mirror, write down some notes, or even your whole speech if that helps!

Remember, this will be hard on your friend too, so try to approach the situation with empathy and kindness. Maybe don’t write down of all their toxic traits and list them off one by one. Instead, let them know how you’re feeling, and how the friendship isn’t serving you at this point in your life.

Ending a friendship, especially a long time friendship is tough and if you’re not ready to completely cut this person off, that’s okay too. Why not ask for a break? If your friend exhibits toxic behavior, they probably have some work to do on themselves, and they may not be an all round bad person. Take some time away from each other and ask your friend to respect your boundaries. Who knows, a little space may do them some good!

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