Evaluating Friendships

Toxic Friendships

You cannot choose many of the relationships you have in life, whether they be family, co-workers, or your boss, but one of the few relationships you can choose are your friendships. However, often people find themselves in friendship with people who are more toxic than healthy.

Sometimes, the relationships that you choose can actually cause you the most distress. Sometimes this comes from simply not realizing how unhealthy the other person’s behavior is, and other times it is due to feeling as if you must keep the relationship out of a sense of duty.

I want to take a second and discuss this idea of toxic friendships and some of the ways that you can determine whether or not your friendships are enhancing your life or destructive to it. Now, of course, in any healthy relationship, there will be many times of give and take, but the point is that the giving and taking are both mutual, not one-sided.

There are five questions that are extremely helpful to ask yourself when assessing the healthiness or toxicity of your Friendships.

Do you feel energized or drained by the relationship? 

Depending on your personality, you may not be an extremely extroverted person. Still, even if you are more naturally introverted, the time you spend with a good friend should give you life. It should not drain your soul to engage in conversation, and you should not have to feel like you are doing something sacrificial by spending time with them.

Are they trustworthy? 

This may seem like an obvious question, but it is surprising how often people neglect to really consider this aspect of a friendship. It is simple. If you cannot trust the other person, they are not a friend to you, and you should feel no obligation to continue in friendship with them.

Do you genuinely like them? 

Do you enjoy their company and their personality? It may be easier to develop friendships simply out of convenience, but this does not always mean that you actually like the person. Therefore, it is crucial to find friends that you really enjoy as people.

Can you be yourself around them? 

A friendship can be very draining when you feel like you always need to put up a front to interact with them. If you feel like you need to hide aspects of who you are or you just can’t relax around them, then maybe they aren’t really the healthiest friend for you.

Do you want a friendship with them? 

This question has to do with your gut reaction to the person. Sometimes, everything seems as if it works on paper, but if you feel off about the person, then maybe you need to listen to your gut and not force something.

These are all helpful questions to ask yourself and consider as you think about building a friendship with someone. When you go through these questions, you may find that there are relationships in your life that are toxic and that you may need to step back from, and that is okay! Don’t waste your time building deep friendships with people who are only going to bring more heartache into your life. Choose to surround yourself with people who will help build you up and improve your life by their presence.

Take some time to ask yourself these questions and assess your friendships. You can also use it as a self-check, ensuring that you are the best friend that you can be to others.

If you want to talk more about this idea of friendships and having the right relationships around you, feel free to email me at anne@fullythriving.com.


  1. Mary says:

    Thanks so much for this probing evaluation! I have come to see a problem/pattern in myself. I am a person who loves people and desire healthy relationships and I work at developing them. But, it seems that I will eventually become disappointed in the lack of effort expended by the other. I begin with hurt feelings, feel anger, discontent and disappointed in the relationship, My feelings seep out in small unkind ways, then I feel shame for my unkindness-mostly for my hard feelings toward people I care about. This seems to be a reoccurring theme in my relationships. I would love to be able to stop myself before the hurt becomes anger. Any ideas?

    • Smile says:

      Mary, you are not alone! Many others describe similar feelings and experiences. I appreciate your honesty and bravery in acknowledging this pattern you’re seeing in yourself. It sounds like you deeply value relationships and work hard to cultivate them but get frustrated when the effort isn’t reciprocated to the extent you expect.

      Taking time to process your emotions before reacting might be a helpful approach. You mentioned wanting to prevent the hurt from escalating to anger, and this might be an effective way to do that. Anger is a secondary emotion, so taking time to process the emotion that precedes it can help you to deal with the hurt more successfully. It’s easier said than done, of course, but with practice, it could become a more natural part of your process.

      As for your mention of experiencing disappointment and subsequent unkindness, it’s possible that attachment style might be playing a role. An anxious or disorganized attachment could make it challenging for you to take things slow and process your emotions before reacting. These attachment styles can often lead to high expectations and a strong desire for reciprocation in relationships, which, if unmet, can lead to feelings of hurt and disappointment. You can begin to feel like you’re always the one giving and the other people are always taking.

      One strategy could be to explore ways to feel secure within yourself, independent of how others are behaving. This might involve building up self-compassion, recognizing that everyone has flaws, accepting grace, and that it’s okay to feel hurt. God has you in your pain. It might also involve setting realistic expectations for others, recognizing that everyone is navigating their own struggles, and their behavior may not be about you but about their own pain.

      Remember, it’s a process, and it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. Seeking support might be beneficial in navigating these feelings and patterns. You’re on the right path by recognizing these patterns and showing the desire to change them – that’s a big first step. Keep going, and be patient with yourself. You’re not alone in this!

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