Friendships can be deeply complex. Our natural dependency on what they represent can cause us to ignore red flags from friendships that have become toxic and unsustainable. If you are feeling stress, anxiety, or other negative feelings from certain friendships, it may be a sign that it’s time to explore setting boundaries or even ending the relationship.
Unhealthy friendships can profoundly affect our physical and mental health and overall emotional well-being. The stress caused by consistent negative interactions with friends can cause physiological and psychological damage including higher blood pressure, increased inflammation, and impacts on your mood and morale. It’s essential to be aware of typical behaviors and effects that indicate a troubled friendship bond and what you can do to invite healthier boundaries and relationships into your life.
Are your friends critical?
In unhealthy friendships, you may notice that conversations can turn negative quickly. There may be constant put-downs and instances of ignoring or degrading you when something positive happens.
Are you noticing an excess of negative or derogatory remarks made toward you? Are they critical of your decisions and belittling the things that make you excited or proud? There are many reasons a person may act this way toward their friends including jealousy, unrealistic standards, and even factors that have little to do with you and are triggered by something within them.
Are you always the first to make plans or initiate a phone call or text?
Are you usually the first one to make contact or plans? Do your friends give you a hard time when the plans are made, consistently wanting to change or cancel them? If your friend group seems rather difficult to get a hold of or nail down when it comes to committing to plans, it shows a lack of respect and balance in your friendship. It can create feelings of lower self-worth and even embarrassment or social anxiety.
Do friendship boundaries seem non-existent?
Do you have friends with seemingly high expectations of you to do things for them, but they do not return the favor? Do they cross boundaries by asking uncomfortable questions about your finances, politics, sex life, or marriage? Or do they pressure you to think or feel a certain way that is more aligned with their views or beliefs? You may be experiencing manipulation that is already unhealthy and could escalate to other adverse outcomes and a feeling of losing yourself and your identity.
Is it time to make a change?
Whatever the reason behind the behavior, it’s never okay, and steps should be taken to create healthy boundaries and balance within the friendship if possible. Know that you are not alone, and you can take action to create a healthier friend dynamic in your life and move on from irreparable toxic friendships with confidence.
The first step is to have a candid conversation with your friends regarding the feeling you are having. This may lead to a better understanding of your mutual needs, and occasionally your friendship could mend itself. Be prepared that it could also lead to an end in the friendship, which could be very difficult to come to terms with, even if it means that the unhealthy behaviors are out of your life.
Occasionally, people need additional support. You can seek professional guidance from Hudson Psychiatric Associates, who are here to help you deal with your feelings and the outcomes of your choices.
Disorders like complex social anxiety can deeply affect existing and future friendships and have become more prevalent in recent years. Our mental health professionals can guide you through numerous treatments to help you heal, attract healthier friendships, and set better boundaries.
Strive for healthy friendships
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously stated that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. When it comes to relationships and friendships, we are influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. If evaluating your friendships is part of a larger goal in evaluating yourself and your goals, it’s a great place to start.
If you have suffered from toxic friendships, you may need to recognize what a typical healthy friendship dynamic should be. In an ordinary healthy friendship, your friends will check in with you, respect healthy boundaries, support a give-and-take interaction, speak to you respectfully and send positive or supportive messages. They will celebrate your victories with you and comfort you when you are down.
If you need support as you reevaluate your close relationships, contact Hudson Psychiatric Associates today to connect with a provider.