Abusive Friendships And How To Recognize Them

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Abusive friendships – they suck

Abusive friendships are common, more common than people may think they are. People gravitate towards one another for a variety of reasons; whether it is due to the same interests, values, or even just a lot of time spent together. Healthy friendships should make you feel positive, happy, relaxed, and empowered. Abusive friendships suck the life out of you. They leave you feeling confused, a little down, but it’s usually negative and something just doesn’t feel right when that particular friend is around.

Always trust your gut and recognize the signs and patterns because more likely than not, you’re right. Here are some tips that can help you recognize the signs of abusive friendships, and how to deal with them once and for all:

Abusive Friendships Are Funny – At Your Expense

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Real friends joke with you and make fun of you in a lighthearted way, within the limits of your comfort zone. If they respect you, they know their boundaries and yours, and make sure that they don’t offend you. Abusive friendships are the kind that make you feel bad, on purpose, even if the person knows that something makes you uncomfortable.

Let’s say that you’re not very wealthy – an abusive friend will make snide remarks about how you can’t afford something, or make fun of your home, your family, or your lifestyle. If you’re in a gathering, they will say something that you might not have wanted other people to know, or talk about personal things out loud, to make other people laugh.

If you find yourself laughing uncomfortable or not enjoying the joke, it’s not a friendship, it’s a passive-aggressive jab at you. When this happens, you should first try to speak to the friend in private. Tell her or him that you don’t like when other people know your business, and that you would appreciate more discretion and tact.

A true friend will understand and stop. An abusive friend will tell you you’re too sensitive and to get over yourself. That’s a warning sign – that they don’t respect your feelings or wishes.

An Abusive Friend Keeps Taking But Really Hates Giving Back

All relationships in this world are a mutual give and take. It doesn’t have to be money, it can be time, effort, and attention. An abusive friend doesn’t want to give you that time when it’s inconvenient. When they are free, they expect you to be free. If they aren’t, they won’t make time for you.


Abusive friendships also rely on your giving. If you always pay, always make time, constantly try to please them but you receive nothing in return but anger or negativity, it’s time to take a step back.

If you bend over backwards to please somebody but that person does nothing for you, even when you need her/him, that’s your second sign. Think about what that means – you are expected to be there, but they are not giving you any reasons to expect them to be there.

Again, communication is critical. It may be a genuine oversight, or it may be someone who really likes to use you.

An Abusive Friend Always Puts You Down

There’s a difference between constructive criticism and a put-down. Constructive criticism is when a friend wants you to do better by highlighting your mistakes and trying to give you tips to do or be better. An abusive friend is a person who sees something good, but downplays it to make you feel bad.

Let’s say you worked hard on your degree, or you just got a new job. A true friend is excited for you, or expresses a concern in a way that is in your best interests. Abusive friends make a passive aggressive remark like: “It’s great that you graduated, but you’ll never find a job with your degree” or perhaps: “How did you land such an awesome guy? Does he have some kind of hidden flaw or something?!”

You’re never good enough, or you’re just too good for your “friend”, but whatever the case, they will make it known. It’s best to evaluate the statements they make so you can get a sense of that. If the support is a backhanded compliment, you have an abusive friendship on your hands, not a supportive or healthy one.


An Abusive Friend Makes Your Business Everybody’s Business

Keeping your secrets and talking about what bugs you are some facets of a solid relationship. Finding out that a lot of people know your business without your consent is not. This is probably one of the most important tests that can determine a great friendship from an abusive one.

If you explicitly mentioned that you don’t want something to be known – or even if you don’t mention it but it’s obvious that something is private and personal (like a miscarriage, problems with your partner, etc.), that is your sign that you can’t trust the person. And let’s be honest – if you can’t trust them, you aren’t really friends.

When this happens, regardless of what you tell them, the trust is broken. If you’re anything like me, it takes me a long time to trust a person again, if ever. Try to evaluate if it was a mistake, but you do know if it was or wasn’t. You may not want to admit it.

An Abusive Friend Is Keeping You Close For A Reason

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Whether you are super successful at what you do, doing well in school, have a great house, good connections, or are the life of the party, abusive friends are the kind that suck on your resources like a leech because you’re benefiting them in some way. This person uses you relentlessly, purposely, and with a plan.

They don’t like you deep down, may even think you’re beneath them, but they do like what you have to offer and similarly to how I mentioned above, will take what you can give them without giving back. As soon as you stop benefiting them, they disappear, and disappear for a long time. Next time they call – after a very long hiatus, ask yourself why, and more often than not, it’ll turn out that they want something again.

You don’t need abusive friendships in your life. If a person does one of these things, it may be an honest mistake or oversight and it can be rectified. Whatever the case, identify the abusive friendships in your life and change them. It’ll do you a wealth of good.

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve had a friendship like this before. It wasn’t healthy for me at all.

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