If you are wondering if your friend is toxic, that should already be a clear indicator of toxic female friends.
Female friendships are wonderful because they make life less dull. I’m all for women supporting each other without the need to be catty or competitive.
There is a more subtle toxic friend that is more covert. This is the type of friend that everything seems to be okay on the surface but you can’t explain why you feel like crap around her.
I think there needs to be more of a discussion around the emotional abuse that goes on in friendships.
I too have had my fair share of toxic female friends and I’ll uncover the covert ways that they can be damaging and how you can learn from this experience by facing the darker parts of yourself that need to be healed.
- Signs of a toxic friendship
- Why you hold on to toxic friendships
- How to heal from toxic friendships
17 Subtle Signs of toxic female friends
This applies to emotionally unavailable men in dating too!
- Toxic friends can be really nice at first, charming even, and you are almost instantly drawn to them.
- They make demands of you early on and have an entitlement to the things you own. If you refuse to bend to their demand, they will often voice out their discontent by making you feel guilty in passive aggressive ways.
- You don’t feel heard or listened to in the relationship. You feel ignored. The conversation is shallow and superficial, you do not feel connected to them which makes you feel lonely and depressed.
- You are constantly walking on eggshells so you dont make them mad or start another fight.
- They are literally unavailable. You are always available for them but they are never there for you. They are very hard to reach, making communication with them almost impossible because they are always so busy.
- You do not know anything about them. They barely share personal details or their world with you so vulnerability is out of the question.
- It’s either hot or cold with them and you dont know where you stand.
- You support their ideas and endeavours with little or no support in return.
- You don’t feel valued and respected. They will ghost you and flake on plans because they don’t value your time.
- The relationship feels unfufilling and you feel drained, heartbroken and empty after an encounter with them.
- It feels as though the relationship is one-sided, in fact, everything is one-sided. They take more than they give and it is never reciprocated as everything is always on their terms.
- You desperately want to connect but find that the more you chase, the more they elude you but when you lose interest they come running back which leaves you feeling confused. You crave the breadcrumbs they give you, becoming happy with just anything they are willing to give.
- When you voice your needs, your friend dismisses them or becomes very defensive. Either way they flip it on you and you end up not getting your needs met in the relationship.
- There is little to no trust because it’s hard for you to rely on them.
- You are always the one apologising and making things work. They never apologise for hurting you and will always play the victim.
- Fake friends use your insecurities against you and make subtle or overt remarks to hurt you. They make you feel insecure, conditioning you to their control over you, that way you won’t feel strong enough to leave. Friends like this want to keep you around because it benefits them. They need you more than you need them in reality because it feeds their ego.
- You asserting yourself and setting boundaries brings out the worse in them.
If you resonate with any of these signs then you have a toxic friendship, if you were thinking of a particular person while reading this then they are definitely toxic for you. You can decide to speak to them about your concerns and probably set some boundaries. If you find that you are always in negative friendships then awareness will be key to breaking the cycle. The positive thing about toxic friends is that they show us ugly dark parts of ourselves that need healing.
Why you hold on to toxic friendships
You are emotionally unavailable
If you find yourself chasing validation and love from others, feeling insecure in your relationships, always wanting the connection more than the other person does, this more than likely stems from a deeper issue with your primary caregivers from childhood.
Emotional unavailability causes you to have toxic female friendships and superficial connections.
You look for love in the wrong places because you have convinced yourself that love is something that is hard to have, so it’s a lot easier to go after other people who are equally as unavailable.
You are seeking acceptance
The main objective children have, is to seek acceptance and have a sense of belonging. Even as adults, It is our way of survival.
Children being so innocent and helpless, have no other choice but to admire and look up to their caregivers, hoping that they will reciprocate their unconditional love. They are in awe with how big their parents are, how they know so much of how the world operates, and they accept that they know best.
What happens when that unconditional love is met with conditional love? Or if you had a parent that was never around? How about if your parents were around but never paid attention to you? Or you had to be a caregiver to your parent?
The abuse/neglect conditions you to want the approval of friends by being on your best behaviour and overperforming for them without taking yourself into consideration.
You dont feel good enough
Children tend to blame themselves for things that go wrong in their households. If you were in any scenario like this, you might consider yourself unlovable. You try harder to gain their validation, you keep trying harder but NOTHING YOU DO IS EVER ENOUGH.
You cling onto the beliefs that you constantly have to win other people’s approval for you to deem yourself lovable. “Maybe I am too stupid, too ugly, too weird”, I need to overcompensate for people to like me”.
This pattern of self-hatred shows up in the friendships we make in our adult life.
You are afraid of being alone
The reason you go back to toxic friendships is your fear of being alone. The fear of being alone with your thoughts can drive you to make irrational decisions that put you in jeopardy. You have somehow managed to convince yourself that this is the best you can have and you don’t deserve better.
Toxicity is familiar to you
The relationship we have with our parents as children impact the relationship we have with ourselves as adults and with others. We seek the familiarity of those relationships in adulthood, attempting to subconsciously fix the relationship, only this time hoping that we would be loved and accepted.
It usually doesn’t work out the way we had hoped. Instead, it reinforces feelings of abandonment and low self-esteem, which can be damaging long term.
You become so desperate that settling for just any chance at love, even when the flags are glaringly red in your face, seems like a good deal. The more you engage in these unfulfilling toxic friendships, the deeper you entrench yourself in the belief ‘I am not worthy enough’.
You can’t force anyone to love you – save yourself from the mixed signals you will likely get from them and move on.
How to heal from a toxic friendship
The role you play in the toxic dynamic
In order to know what part you play in the toxic dynamic, you must be able to self reflect and be aware, so as to take appropriate action towards fulfilling relationships.
Most people show up wearing a mask in society, we need to show up as authentic to have authentic relationships. People-pleasing is a form of inauthenticity that is hardly talked about. I attracted toxic female friends into my life because I was not being my authentic self.
Instead of trying to manipulate or control people into accepting you and liking you by way of people-pleasing, codependency or narcissistic behaviours, we can just be ourselves. And I know it sounds really corny and hell even a cliché too, it really is the best advice there is when it comes to relationships
Being emotionally unavailable attracts toxic friendships
Being emotionally unavailable doesn’t inherently mean that you are a bad person, some people have no idea that they are that way. For a long time, I was emotionally unavailable and was shocked to find out. My people-pleasing ways meant that I would abandon myself and look out for others, which would be considered as being emotionally unavailable to oneself.
For others, it could be their childhood, a recent loss of a loved one, or heartbreak. Whatever the reason, they wouldn’t be in the right space to have a healthy relationship with you.
We need to show up authentically so we can build meaningful connections, and we do by embracing ourselves and being brave enough to let people see the unapologetically flawed parts of ourselves. I am still learning how to do this, but I do believe it’s a process.
When we do this, we are saying to ourselves that we are good enough just the way we are, that we are not afraid of rejection as much as we are willing to risk being loved deep heartedly.
Let me know in the comment section what your thoughts are on one-sided toxic female friends.
This resonated so deeply with me – I recently left a toxic friendship of more than 15 years. I could never see how bad it was, only now in retrospect and with conversations with others that know us both can I see how bad it was. Most of these things described here featured in our friendship, and when I ended it due to her hurting me incredibly deeply due to her (own admissions) jealousies and insecurities she came back to rekindle the friendship. I have told her I will not open myself to be hurt this way again and have ended the friendship
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know how hard it can be when you are constantly giving without reciprocity. She definitely lost a true friend. It’s probably best that you ended it as that can take a toll on your mental health and confidence.