Friends are important in our lives, not just because they are fun to hang out with, but because they occupy a sensitive position in our lives. More than family, more than lovers, friends are greater determinants of the quality of our lives.
One can be born without a family and may stay years without a lover, and still go on to lead a very pleasant and fulfilling life as long as their friends are great. But not so much can be gotten out of life without good friends.
And this is because of the very nature of "friendship"; unlike family where you are bound by blood, friends exist because of mutual interest and love for each other. And, unlike romantic relationships which require intimacy and other forms of bond, friendship exists without constraints.
That is, unlike family, you are not forced to be friends because you have the same DNA, and unlike a romantic partner, you’re not bound by law (i.e. marriage), but simply because of mutual love and respect.
And it is because of this realization that your friends are there for you by choice, that makes friendships a perfect net to fall back to when things aren't going so well in the family or romantic relationship department.
Friendships are perhaps the most important and influential relationships one can have throughout their lives – it essentially determines how far one can go and what one can withstand. Hence that relationship must be real and not fake.
Below are 21 signs to help you realize when you are dealing with a fake and toxic friend:
There’s no denying that a true friend is someone who understands, supports, and remains loyal to you no matter the circumstance. Fake friends lack those three essential qualities, hence, a fake friend would:
- Compete With You: Whilst it is good to hang around people who push you to be more, it becomes problematic when they are constantly trying to outdo you – when they are always trying to steal the spotlight, to out-dress you, or even rival your opinions and ideas (rather than complement them).
- Gossip About You: Fake/toxic friends spread sensitive (and sometimes false) information about you behind your back. And whilst it may be hard to detect at first, you should make it a point to note which friend you told what.
- Talk Down On You: Perhaps out of jealousy, or in an attempt to soothe their bruised ego, toxic friends would say hurtful things to you without caring much about how you feel.
- Downplay Your Success: To them, your accomplishments would always seem trivial; they make it seem as though getting a Ph.D., buying a car, or getting married was petty and insignificant.
- Criticize You: Even when you do a great job, they would find ways to poke holes and ridicule your work – their criticism would be destructive and disempowering.
- Judge You Harshly When You Falter: They would torture you about your insecurities, mistakes or poor judgments. In fact, they may even rejoice at the opportunity to do this because they want to see you suffer.
- Get Jealous: They would get green with envy when they can't get what you have.
- Hold Grudges: And when you have wronged them, they would never forgive nor forget. They would keep scoreboards and constantly remind you of this or that.
- Abandon You In Time Of Need: They would not care about what you’re going through and leave you whenever you need them the most.
- Drain Your Energy: They would suck the life out of you. They would exhaust and frustrate you rather than excite and comfort you.
- Fight With You: This could be physical or verbal, or even a combination of both.
- Disrespect And Lie To You: They couldn’t care less about your feelings and with their envy comes disrespect and lies.
- Stay Detached & Self-Absorbed: Fake friends would make little or no attempt to get closer to you and know you more; and if they do, they would only bore you to tears with endless rambling about themselves. In fact, fake friends don’t care about the friendship. They don’t care if the relationship ends or continues.
- Associate With People With Questionable Character: Seldom do well-cultured people associate with hoodlums; hence, having a friend who has friends that you wouldn’t associate with is a serious red flag.
- Get Jealous Of Your Other Friends: This shows neediness and lack of self-worth.
- Are Hypocritical: Whilst they judge you harshly for your wrongdoings, they won’t feel remorse for their mistakes and shortcomings.
- Undermine Your Boundaries: They either interfere too much in your personal life, or they want you to bear their responsibilities and become miserable just like them.
- Won’t Defend You – Both In Your Presence And Absence: They may even share your secrets and stab you behind your back.
- Gaslight You: They would find nasty ways to make you feel paranoid, or make you feel like you're overreacting.
- Use You For Emotional & Financial Support: Or simply seek to benefit from your connection and influence alone. And finally
- Your Gut Tells You Something Is Off: If a friendship doesn’t feel like a safe space, maybe it isn’t friendship. Maybe you should be more honest with yourself and the individual and reevaluate things.
Long story short, the truth is that a healthy friendship all boils down to healthy individuals. If your self-esteem is okay, and you love yourself and have a clear vision for yourself, you would naturally feel irritated by dishonest, two-faced backstabbers.
This is why you must cultivate self-love, and also trust your guts and instincts.
A good friend should make you feel relaxed and lower your guards – not keep you on your toes and make you anxious. In general, if you can't trust them (and their intentions), or dread being around them, it might be time to reevaluate things or end it all.
Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash