6 signs you’re the toxic one in a friendship, according to psychology

How would you describe a toxic person? 

They’re self-centered, quick to put others down, and always try to sow discord among the group, just because they can.

Toxic people are tiring to deal with, largely because they don’t think they’re the issue.

But what if you’re the toxic one in the group? As Taylor Swift puts it: It’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me.

Perhaps it’s time to reflect on your actions that have gone unchecked all this while.

Maybe there’s been a shift in the dynamics of your friendship. Your friends tense up when you’re around, and you’ve sensed that they’ve tried excluding you from certain conversations or even gatherings.

Whatever it is, it’s time for some self-introspection, which I’ll walk you through in today’s article.

Without further ado, here are 6 signs you’re the toxic one in the friendship.

1) You’re constantly criticizing your friends.

To you, your friends are never good enough.

They’re never good enough at their jobs, their relationships, their lives, or even, as friends.

According to psychology, toxic friends always find something to criticize or point out. They may label this as ‘constructive feedback’, but there’s always a meanness to it, and never sounds supportive. 

Perhaps you feel that it’s your way of helping them improve as people, where you have yourself convinced that this is ‘tough love’.

But have you ever observed their responses to your jibes, or asked them how they feel about your words?

Because if you do, it may reveal something less positive – that you’re the toxic person in the friendship who is always trying to find fault with others.

It may even position you as someone who thinks they’re better than everyone else.

2) You never acknowledge your mistakes.

Do you feel that you’re never wrong, or that you always need to be right?

Even when the point you’re trying to make doesn’t seem to hold water amid rebuttals from your friends, you remain convinced that they’ve either misunderstood you or you just didn’t bring your point across as clearly as you should have.

But the thing is – sometimes, you’re wrong.

Furthermore, when it’s clear that you’ve hurt someone, you don’t apologize. You may try to make them feel better but you tend to avoid owning up to your mistakes because it bruises your ego.

You’re more concerned about how people view you than your friends’ feelings.

Even when they’ve clearly communicated to you how you’ve made them feel – hurt, betrayed, or even, taken advantage of, your main priority is yourself.

3) You will do anything to get what you want.

Psychology also states that another sign of toxicity is when someone takes advantage of others to get what they want – which could be a form of survival.

Ask yourself – when it comes to getting what you want, will you stop at nothing to achieve it? 

Has there been an occasion when you’ve taken advantage of your friends to benefit from the situation? Were they left unawares or worse, fully aware that their friend betrayed them?

This may be the greatest form of disrespect as there’s the element of broken trust. Since friendships, or any relationships are usually founded on trust, this could be a catalyst for a ruined relationship.

It would be good to pause and reflect on your actions to ask yourself if what you’re planning on doing is worth throwing away a friendship for.

4) You’re nice…only when you need something.

Fake nice friend 6 signs you're the toxic one in a friendship, according to psychology

This is what people call a parasite. 

Psychology explains that parasitic friends tend to appear ‘needy’ and will always ask for assistance or support (and are unusually nicer than normal) but when you need them, they’re never there.

Do you find that you’re always depending on your friends for favors and support? But when the same is asked of you, you either have no interest in helping or feel incapable of doing so.

This imbalance in the friendship will inevitably result in the deterioration of the relationship.

The friend who keeps on giving will end up feeling burnt out and unappreciated – their efforts never seem to be recognized.

On the other hand, the toxic friend may have accepted this dynamic and grown too used to receiving things.

As friendship is a two-way street, effort must be made on both sides to ensure that it succeeds.

5) You thrive on drama.

Another sign of a toxic friend is that drama seems to follow them wherever they go, according to psychology.

While drama is exciting to watch on TV, it’s not as exciting to be a part of in real life. In fact, it’s very draining for all who are involved.

And then there’s you. You love drama and thrive on it, even to the point of creating conflict among the people you know.

You enjoy stirring up emotions and watching how conflict unfolds, just because you can. 

Maybe you whispered something that was told to you in confidence to someone who shouldn’t know about it.

Or maybe you decided to spread a rumor about someone because you thought it would be hilarious.

Unfortunately for the people around you, they now have to navigate sticky and uncomfortable situations because of you. 

The thing is, these seemingly innocent pranks can lead to very serious consequences that you never intend to happen – so it’s better to avoid creating drama altogether so you don’t accidentally ruin someone’s life. 

6) You refuse to change.

The thing about toxic people is that most of the time, they’re aware of it. Someone may have hinted this to you or confronted you directly about your behavior.

But even after your friends share how your actions made them feel, you refuse to change.

And this is peak toxicity because, at this point, you’re basically telling them that you don’t care about the friendship, or them, as individuals.

Maybe it’s a sign of something deeper – perhaps the need to always come out on top.

But the thing about friendships is that there’s always a need to compromise. 

We can’t be right all the time, and it’s okay to accept that we’re in the wrong sometimes. 

If you truly want to salvage a friendship that was wrecked by you, the time to change and apologize is right this instant.

Concluding thoughts

So there you have it – signs that you may be the toxic one in the friendship. Do you recognize any of the signs stated in the article? 

If so, then it’s best to work on yourself now. Sometimes these issues may manifest because of a deeper psychological reason or trauma, which you should work with a professional to unpack.

By doing this, it’ll help maintain the friendships you have rather than go into destructive mode and watch as people start leaving you one by one.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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