Other people have a huge impact on our lives. The people we spend time with can change our mood, change how we spend our time, and change our perspective on the world – even our perspective on ourselves. Therefore, it’s important to invest in relationships that are beneficial to you, with people who support you as you are and even help you to become better.
Sometimes this means being critical about who you spend time with and who you invest your emotions in.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a relationship has become toxic. Once we’re invested in a relationship, whether it’s with a friend, significant other, or family member, we’re reluctant to pull away. Our feelings, particularly when we think we need someone, cloud our judgment. Even if the effects are obvious to others, you may not fully realise the negative impact someone is having on you. Even worse, you may blame yourself and rationalise the other person’s behaviour.
Warning Signs You’re in Bad Company
YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE YOURSELF
A toxic relationship can be draining in many ways, and one of the most damaging is when it drains you of your authentic self. If someone wants you to be someone else, then they don’t truly care for you as the person you are. If you constantly feel pressure to change things about yourself or suppress your natural interests to please someone, then they are not a healthy person to be around.
THEY ARE OVERWHELMINGLY NEGATIVE
There’s nothing wrong with some complaints or sarcastic jokes, but be wary of friends who never take a break from being negative. Are they constantly insulting others (or you)? Do you feel like you have to be negative too in order to get along with them? Negative people are often projecting their own problems onto the world around them. If this is a close friend, you may choose to help that person work through their problems and regain a more balanced perspective.
Make sure you never let someone else’s negativity alter your perspective, though. If you need to, give yourself some space from this person.
THEY DON’T MAKE TIME FOR YOU
A good relationship requires regular interaction and some effort from both sides. A friend or romantic partner who doesn’t make time for you isn’t providing either of those. If someone can only fit you into their schedule when it’s convenient for them, they’re not making you a priority. You shouldn’t need to make an effort or sacrifice time for someone who will put in no effort for you.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM
When you have conversations with this person, are they balanced? Do they listen to your feelings and opinions? If a person only wants to talk about themselves and has no empathy for your feelings, they’re not really in a relationship with you; they just want a sounding board. You’re probably not getting anything out of this kind of relationship.
A good friend or partner will support you in your goals and will be happy for you when you succeed. If they don’t seem to care about your achievements or, even worse, if they downplay things that are important to you, you’re probably in bad company.
A good friend will share in your excitement and pride, and they’ll encourage you to keep doing great things.
THEY’RE ALWAYS ENVIOUS OF YOU
There’s a difference between praising good things that you have or that you’ve done and acting envious. If a friend is acting jealous without seeming happy for you, they can make you feel guilty instead of happy about positive things and experiences. This is a toxic behaviour that will add negativity to your life.
THEY’RE POSSESSIVE OF YOU
In a good relationship, whether it’s with a friend, family member, or significant other, the other person will want you to lead a full and rich life in which you try new experiences and broaden your horizons. When someone else becomes possessive of you and your time, they’re not doing that. In fact, possessiveness is one of the top signs of a toxic relationship.
If they don’t want you spending time with other people and are constantly suspicious of other relationships, there’s a strong chance that you should be ending that relationship.
THEY LIE TO YOU
Trust is an important element of a healthy relationship. If someone repeatedly lies to you, they’re violating your trust and disrespecting your relationship. They may also be covering up something about themselves. There’s no need for you to continue giving your trust to someone who has repeatedly violated it.
THEY MANIPULATE YOU
Some people are very perceptive and know how to manipulate you to do what they want. They may only be kind to you when they need something, they may make you feel guilty so that you help them, or they may even emotionally blackmail you. If you notice that you’re doing things you don’t want to do for someone else, this is a toxic relationship.
THEY’RE A BAD INFLUENCE
Someone who pushes you to try new things and grow as a person can be a great friend. However, that shouldn’t be confused with someone who pushes you to make choices that you aren’t comfortable with. After you’ve done something at the urging of a friend, ask yourself: “Am I glad I did that?” “Did I feel comfortable?” “Was that something that fit my morals and beliefs?” If you find yourself answering “no” to those questions, then your friend is likely a bad influence.
You should never let someone pressure you or guilt-trip you into making bad choices or doing things that aren’t comfortable for you. If your friend can’t respect your right to make your own choices, then they’re bad company.
YOU FEEL EXHAUSTED AROUND THEM
A toxic relationship can take a lot out of you. You may feel constantly on edge around that person, and you may feel relieved when they leave. This is because in a toxic relationship, you often have to make a constant effort to please that person, and you likely feel like you can’t relax and be yourself. If this is the case, you need to listen to your feelings and recognize that being around this person isn’t good for you.