Friendships or Toxic Bonds? 6 Tips for Evaluating Them

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Do you know how to tell if you’re in a toxic friendship?

Jessica Baum, founder of the Relationship Institute of Palm Beach and creator of the Self-Full™ method — a therapeutic path to personal wellness and freedom from codependence offers six tips.

When we think about relationships, we tend to focus on our romantic partnerships,” says Jessica, “but our friendships are just as important, and the quality of those relationships is worthy of our attention.”

Jessica says it’s time to let go of friendships that simply aren’t serving us any longer. Here are her tips for discovering if it’s a healthy friendship or a toxic bond?

1. Does the friendship include both give and take? No relationship is 100% equal or balanced at every moment. We all go through hard times and lean on each other when we need to. That said, do you feel that this person is there for you when you need them now, regardless of whether they were in the past? 

2. Are you competitive with each other? Friendships are intended to support you, not to be a battle field of competition. We should be happy about each other’s accomplishments, but what often happens in unhealthy friendships is a battle of “one-upping” each other. This is not the nature of a healthy friendship, and jealousy towards someone is not ever supportive.

3. Can your friend keep a secret? A healthy friendship is built on trust, and you should feel safe. If your friend is the gossip queen or king, be careful. You might enjoy their company, but having a good friend means being able to safely talk to them without the entire town finding out your business.

4. Are you negatively bonding with them? We all occasionally speak negatively about someone or something that bothers us. When this becomes the norm and your way of connecting with your friend, though, it’s a problem. Not only is it very unhealthy, it also keeps you stuck in a negative cycle of toxic bonding.

5. Do they bring out your unhealthy behaviors? Do you consistently end up meeting this friend to partake in unhealthy behaviors together? This is not a healthy friendship; it’s an enabling relationship for unhealthy habits.

6. Can you have hard conversations about your feelings? If you can’t have hard conversations with your friend, who can you have them with? That’s how we work through challenges and overcome obstacles with one another. If you cannot have a healthy argument or disagreement with a friend, that’s a problem.

“We change often,” says Jessica, “and that means our friendships change, too. Letting go of the ones that no longer bring joy, comfort, and safety into your life allows you to open up space for new friendships that might be more aligned with where you are in life now.”