A friend is someone you’re close to, who you can count on, laugh with, cry with and share memories with. Your BFF, your bestie or your pal. No matter the label, friendships are the sunshine that make our days brighter.
But what happens if your friendship is bringing more harm than good? What if your so-called friend is toxic?
“Toxic relationships are hard to sustain because they drain your energy, cause you to isolate from your support system and you end up suffering in silence,” said Veronica Perez-Cake, a licensed master social worker at Banner Health. "Toxic relationships contribute to increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which contributes to anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, difficulties with concentration and can cause serious health problems.”
If you believe you’re in a toxic relationship, there are quite a few signs you can look out for to determine whether it’s unhealthy. Some red flags may be subtle—others more obvious. Here are 10 types of toxic people to look out for and six ways to extinguish the relationship.
What to Do About a Toxic Relationship
If you read the above list and thought, “Check, check, check,” it’s time to cut ties with this relationship. You don’t need toxic people or negativity in your life, whether it’s from a supposed BFF or a significant other. You need (and deserve!) people who care and want to spend time with you and lift you up. But, when, where, and how does one do this? Perez-Cake shared these six tips.
1. Evaluate your relationship with this person
You’ll know you’re in a toxic relationship when you don’t feel good about the relationship or your behavior changes and others take notice.
“Start by asking yourself why you are staying in this relationship in the first place,” Perez-Cake said. “Do you feel good about the relationship or does your behavior change and others have taken notice? Friends or partners should contribute to your well-being—not take it. If someone doesn’t have your best interest, then limiting exposure to them is advisable.”
2. Find professional support
Getting out of a toxic relationship is hard, so you’re going to want some professional help from a licensed behavioral health specialist. While you aren’t to blame, you may consistently play a role in relationships that aren’t good for you. Being aware of those patterns and how to break free from them can help.
3. Reconnect with positive people in your life
Surround yourself with those who remind you about all the good things in a healthy relationship. Reach out to close friends and family who can provide you support and help you cope with your feelings and move on. You want to surround yourself with people who are cheerleaders in your growth and well-being.
4. Make a list of your own goals and desires
Create a list of your own personal goals and how the relationship is preventing you from reaching them. Create a list of values and non-negotiables for your relationships. You deserve the best and shouldn’t settle for anyone who treats you just okay.
5. Make a plan to exit the relationship
Decide how, when and where you’re ending the toxic relationship. If you need guidance or support, a mental health professional can help you create a plan.
6. Take a deep breath and just leave
“There is no perfect time to do it,” Perez-Cake said. You may not feel like yourself for a while but give it time. Remind yourself this is temporary and that eventually you’ll begin to feel better. Continue to surround yourself with positive people and speak with a mental health professional if you need additional help.
Get help today
If you’re being physically, verbally or sexually abused, you need to exit immediately and seek help. The following are some resources that can help you safely navigate next steps:
- Contact the Banner Helpline at 800-254-4357, or schedule an appointment with one of our licensed professionals at Banner Behavioral Health.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 (SAFE).
- Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.