These are the major signs that you’re the toxic friend in your group

You have a fight with your friend over something you find ridiculous, and you walk away shaking your head, thinking, “What is wrong with her? Why is she so crazy?” But sometimes, when we’re the toxic friend in a relationship, it’s hard to look in the mirror and see what we’re doing wrong. Instead, we shame and blame our friends when they call us out for behaving badly.

If you’ve been losing friends lately, or you find that your tribe has started to exclude you from events, you might be a toxic friend, even if you never thought about it before. Read on for some signs to look out for, and if reading this list feels uncomfortable, sit with that emotion and really think through why that might be.

Here are five signs you might be a toxic friend.

1You withhold your feelings, and then blow up over little things.

In friendships — as in all relationships — people sometimes hurt each other. It’s a natural part of being close to and vulnerable with another person. But talking through those unintended slights when they happen is a critical part of maintaining a healthy friendship.

Writes Dr. Irene S. Levine in Psychology Today, “No one likes to be with a friend who is intense, unpredictable, and seething, or who is unwilling or unable to work out little problems (before they become big ones).”

If you find that you bottle up your emotions until you can no longer hold them back and then explode over a tiny incident, you may be a toxic friend.

2You’re always critical.

Do you snark at your friends’ outfits, restaurant choices, even who they’re dating? Do you offer only backhanded compliments? That’s some pretty toxic behavior. Friends should be supportive of each other’s choices, and if you see your friend doing something dangerous, you should say something out of genuine concern, not critique for the sake of critique.

3You see your friends as competition.

Whether it’s for jobs, lovers, physical fitness, or otherwise, seeing your friends as competition — and not close confidantes, partners, or allies — is a sign you may be a toxic friend. Cultivating a loving, supportive bond is the foundation of a solid friendship.

4You spend more time talking about yourself than listening to your friends.

Friendship is a give and take — sometimes that means you need more, and sometimes your friend will. But if your friendship is all about you, and you don’t care to change that, you may be a toxic friend.

“A friendship is between two peers,” said Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends, in an interview with WebMD. “There has to be balance in a friendship for it to be healthy — not one person whose needs get met and another whose needs are overlooked.”

If you’re not interested in hearing about the ups and downs in your friend’s life, consider the reasons for that — and think long and hard about why you’re in the relationship, and what you’re bringing to it.

5You gossip about your friends behind their backs.

If you’re struggling with insecurity or identity issues, you may find yourself more likely to gossip about your friends behind their backs — and that could be breeding toxicity in your relationships.

Said relationship coach Julie Ward in an interview with Canadian Living magazine, “A [gossipy friend] is someone who has low self-esteem and focuses more on the negative in other people. They want to make themselves look better by talking about other people’s problems or issues.”

If this list resonates with you, it may be time to do some soul-searching. Counseling is a great resource, and so is an open heart and mind that can accept your friends’ feedback without judgment.

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