Of course, we all have hectic weeks when we’re slammed with work or dealing with personal matters that distract us from time to time. But if you find yourself always doing the emotional heavy lifting, it could be a sign that your friend doesn’t value the relationship as much as you do, Applebury cautions.
You feel obligated to maintain the friendship.
It can be draining to force yourself to maintain a relationship that just isn’t clicking, and oftentimes, people will stay in older friendships that they’ve outgrown due to an underlying sense of obligation, Applebury says. (For example, think of that childhood or family friend that you’ve kept around for ol’ times’ sake, even though you have nothing in common anymore).
This isn’t the brightest of red flags, and it isn’t necessarily indicative of a toxic dynamic. “But if you’re feeling more obligated to be friends versus actually wanting to have a genuine relationship, it’s okay to re-evaluate that person in your life,” Kelaher says. Because at the end of the day, spending time with your friends should leave you feeling refreshed and content, not empty or exhausted.
They’re secretly (or not so secretly) competing with you.
Consider this scenario: You tell that friend (you know the one) that you got a raise at work. Instead of giving you a supportive hug or sending a celebratory text, they one-up you with, “Well, I actually got a promotion last week!” Or perhaps the two of you just got back from an intense yoga workout that’s left you shaking and they say something like, “Oh, that class was way too easy for me.”
Sound familiar? It’s one thing to feel an occasional moment of envy, but the person who turns everything into a game of “who has it better” likely doesn’t have your best interests at heart, Kelaher says. You can try telling them how you feel (maybe they don’t realize what they’re doing) but again, if they’re not receptive, that’s another warning sign, she adds.
They’re unable to truly, sincerely apologize.
In even the healthiest of friendships, you’re bound to fight. Maybe it’s a silly little argument about how you’re constantly late to everything, or perhaps the violation is something more serious, like one of you accidentally revealed something the other wasn’t cool with. Either way, it’s important for both of you to communicate effectively and recognize when you messed up.
“It’s okay to make mistakes in friendships, and obviously that is going to happen with someone you’ve known for long enough,” Applebury says. “But if your friend is unable to apologize or be held accountable for their behaviors, it’s going to become difficult to depend on and trust them down the line,” she explains. This lack of accountability may look like someone who starts off an apology with “I’m sorry that you’re offended,” or “I’m sorry, but I didn’t think it’d hurt you.” As SELF has previously reported, a genuine apology shouldn’t be a debate; it’s a conversation that involves putting someone else’s feelings first, instead of focusing on your own.
They don’t respect the boundaries you set.
“In healthy friendships, people understand that sometimes they will be told no and this is okay,” according to Kelaher. Maybe you don’t want to share what’s bothering you right this second. Or they keep bringing up your ex—even though you asked them a hundred times to stop. Or they’re trying to tell you who you should (or shouldn’t) hang out with. “Every once and again, we may buff up against someone’s boundaries, but if you notice yours are consistently not being respected, then this may be a sign of a toxic relationship,” she says.
You can’t tell where you end and they begin anymore.
Honestly, most of us love our best friends so much that we’d spend every waking moment with them if we could. We tell them our secrets, we share our best (and absolute worst) moments with them, and sometimes, we even find ourselves unintentionally adopting some of their quirky mannerisms. That’s how influential friends can be.
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