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I’m a relationship expert and here are the top red flags that indicate your friend is toxic – & how to distance yourself


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IF YOU have a friend that you sense might be toxic, you’ve come to the right place.

It can be difficult to spot if one of your closest pals isn’t as nice as they say they are, but here are some top red flags you should look out for.

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If you are worried if your fried might be toxic, you’ve come to the right placeCredit: Getty

Some might be more obvious than others, but don’t ignore the small things – if they are constantly copying you and are always bringing the mood down, it could be a sign that you need to put a pause on the friendship.

Pippa Murphy, the relationship expert at condoms.uktold Fabulous her top eight red flags that indicate your friendship is toxic.


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1. The friendship feels one-sided

If you feel as though you are putting in a lot more effort than your friend, it’s highly likely that you’ve got yourself into a toxic friendship.

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Pippa said: “It can be draining to constantly feel like you’re giving and never receiving, especially in a friendship.

“So, if you notice that you’re the only one who reaches out or tries to plan things, you may be in a toxic one-sided relationship.

“While it’s important to check with your friend that they’re not going through a personal struggle before coming to this realization, it’s still important to be open and honest about how the friendship makes you feel.

“If it starts to impact you, you should take a step back from your friendship.”

two. They belittle you

While a laugh and a joke is important in a friendship, if you feel as though your friend is constantly putting you down, you might want to re-think about the value they add to your life.

Pippa added: “If you have a friendship full of banter but often find yourself feeling belittled by what they say, take note of that feeling.

“A friend should never make you feel small or humiliated.

“If you find that they often laugh at you at your expense, as opposed to with you, it’s definitely worth having a conversation about how you feel.

“If you tell you that you are ‘too sensitive’ and ‘it’s only a joke, then this is a major red flag and could be an indicator of abuse.

“Your friend should be a big supporter in your life who only politely calls you out when you are in the wrong, and isn’t someone to make you feel bad.”

3. They’re constantly negative

While we can all have our down days, if your friend is always negative and constantly bringing a downer on things, are they worth staying in contact with?

Pippa continued: “Being used as someone’s therapist can become very intense, very quickly.

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“While it’s important to be there for your friends when they’re going through a tough time, you should feel confident that they would do the same for you, otherwise, there’s a clear imbalance in the relationship.

“While everyone likes to vent to our circle when things get a little too much, if you feel that you’re constantly drained by their negativity after every social meeting, this could be considered a toxic trait due to it being so draining.”

Four. They copy you

Many of us can inspire our friends fashion choices, but if your friend is copying a lot of what you do, this can be considered a red flag.

Pippa revealed: “While this might sound silly to some, having someone copy you can be a major red flag.

“It is flattering when your friend wants to buy the same jacket as you, but if this becomes a pattern, it’s a red flag.

“Not only can it be a sign of insecurity and them trying to find themselves, but it can feel suffocating.”

5. They can’t be trusted

Can you trust your friend? Trust is very important in a friendship, so if you can’t trust your mate, how good a friend are they?

Pippa said: “Trust is the key to any form of a relationship so naturally, a good friend should be there to support you through both the good and bad.

“If something bad happens in your life and you don’t feel that you can confide in your friend for fear of it getting out, this is a major red flag that should not be missed.”

6. They don’t take responsibility for their mistakes

It’s important that we take responsibility for the things we do – and if you have a friend that can never own up to mistakes, take this as a big red flag.

Pippa added: “If your friend doesn’t see when they’ve made a mistake or caused you hurt, that’s a big red flag.

“If you’ve ever had to force an apology out of someone, they may be lacking self-awareness and empathy, which again, are two toxic traits.

“If this issue is recurring, you might need to reconsider the friendship as it can take a large toll on your mental health having to defend yourself or apologize for situations when you’re the one that has been wronged.”

7. They constantly gossip about others

While many friendships can be an outlet for gossip, constant gossip is never a good sign.

Pippa highlighted: “While a small amount of gossip can be expected, it should never be the main foundation of a friendship.

“So, if you find that all of your conversations together are gossiping about other people, it’s definitely worth distancing yourself from the person.

“After all, if your friend constantly talks about people behind their back, they’re most likely doing it to you, too.”

8. Your friends and family don’t like them

We all want our loved ones to have a close relationship with our friends, but if your parents, siblings or partner spot red flags, they’re probably right.

Pippa said: “If the people you trust in your life don’t like this person, that’s also an indication that they’re a toxic person.

“While this may not always be the case, it’s definitely worth asking your friends and family members what they think about them if you feel like your friendship is toxic but aren’t fully sure.

“They may help you spot signs that you’ve overlooked.”

How to distance yourself from fake mates

If after reading this, you’ve sensed that one of your friends might be toxic, Pippa shares her top tips for distancing yourself from a toxic friendship.

Pippa highlighted the importance of honesty when it comes to closing the door on a friendship.

She explained: “If you feel that your friendship is super toxic, it may be easier for you both to rip the band-aid off.

“Arrange to meet them in a public place and be honest about why you don’t want to continue the friendship.”

However, if the thought of doing this sends shivers down your spine, you could slowly wean the friend away.

Pippa advised: “Alternatively, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you could phase out the friendship slowly by cutting down on the number of times you see them and not responding as much to their calls and texts.

“Not only will this make the process easier but there could even be a chance that the toxicity of the friendship begins to fade, and you get to have your old more positive friendship back.”

Finally, it’s important to remember the importance of your boundaries.

Pippa concluded: “Whatever choice you make – this is the most important step.

“You shouldn’t feel guilty or self-deprecating for making a decision that benefits you.

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“If you do, however, feel guilty, you should ensure that you think of your boundaries at the end of the friendship, and stick to them.

“No one should feel guilty about staying in a toxic friendship due to it being a habit.”

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