Staying in an unhealthy friendship can be unhealthy for you mentally and physically. It can also hinder progress in your career and personal development.
Some unhealthy friendships are easy to spot. Others are difficult to identify. Sometimes we just become accustomed to them. This type of relationship may seem normal to us if we were treated in an unhealthy way by a parent or guardian. We may also believe unconsciously that we deserve to be treated badly, so we allow it.
If you have matured or made significant advancements in your personal development, you may come to realize that a particular friendship is unhealthy. If you suddenly take a stand with your “friend,” they may interpret this in an unhealthy way and respond inappropriately. Or they may just become uncomfortable in a friendship where they are no longer able to control and manipulate it and run away.
Here are 12 signs of an unhealthy friendship.
- They lie to you and others about important events that involved you or to hide or pump up issues in their life.
- They criticize you regularly in direct or indirect (clever, stealthy) ways.
- They find fault in your work, your home, your personality, your clothes, your hairstyle, and more.
- They do not share your joy when exceptionally good things happen to you such as getting a new car, new home, or new job.
- They “use” elaborate compliments as a way to keep you hooked on the friendship and under their control.
- They manipulate the friendship to feed unhealthy aspects or holes in their character or personality.
- They make fun of qualities in you that they lack in themselves like being organized, reliable, or honest.
- They always seem to be competing with you even on the smallest details of your life.
- They ask for much more than they give.
- They frequently argue or debate issues with you to succeed in being right and not to succeed in having an interesting conversation.
- They expect or even demand that you play by their rules and not by respecting yours.
- They try to make you wrong and/or strike back with excessive force when you take a stand with them about their criticism of you or other inappropriate behavior.
Taking a stand and setting boundaries is about committing to your values and principles and letting people know what they are with conviction at the appropriate time as required. If violations happen in the future, they are met with greater firmness, excommunication, or an end to the friendship.
It’s important to understand that there are unusually three causes for an unhealthy friendship.
- Your friend has low self-esteem, unresolved problems, and they may also be jealous of you.
- You have not taken a stand with them and communicated what behavior is not acceptable and what your boundaries are.
- You have allowed the friendship to establish, develop, and continue without deliberation, input, or guidance by you.
The above is a stance of taking personal responsibility for our relationships.
If you have been in an unhealthy friendship for many years, it will be difficult to renegotiate it. You’ll need to take a firm stand for quite a while. The truth is your friendship may never develop into a healthy one. However, once you learn to take a stand and set boundaries you will be able to create future friendships that are healthy, productive, and fulfilling.