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I think one of my closest friendships is toxic

Hi I'm new to this forum but I just really needed some second opinions on this friendship I'm in. So I this friend, A who I've been friends with for 10 years or so but in the past 6 months, I've found my feelings towards this friendship haven't been great especially how she acts around me in general. I get that friendships change over time and some of my behaviors could also be deteriorating this friendship, I just want to see I'm actually dealing with a toxic relationship or am I just overreacting and being selfish. I have a pretty bad memory so here's just a memory dump for some context.


She really likes to show off any achievements that happen, like more money from work or good uni assignment marks which I always show that happy for her. But if its the other way around she will always question why or how its possible I got them. For example, if I got good marks in an assignment she has shown so much disbelief in how I got that mark or just not saying anything if it was higher than her marks. There have been many times where she has laughed at how I wrote past assignments or ones I'm currently writing. This always makes me just feel 'dumber' in general which I think I shouldn't be feeling around friends. In the money aspect, she has always held it over me that she gets more money than me. One time when I did have a job she even said that she didn't like that I was making more money than her and in the end, she convinced me to quit the job (but to be fair it wasn't the best job anyway) and now I've been unemployed since. If I ever asked her about this however she would lie and say she never said that or that the job was bad and I was going to leave anyway. 


So I have another close friend B who she used to not like when I hung out with him and not her but now for the past 2 years, they have had a romantic relationship on and off. If it was just this I would be happy for her, but for the past year she hasn't been very faithful to him and keeps telling me about how she likes to 'play men'. If I ever ask about how he would feel if he knew she will always make me promise not to tell him and that they aren't really serious anyway so it doesn't matter. The thing is B has told her he wants a more committed relationship and what he doesn't know is that she has been telling me that she is trying to get in with another guy for over a year now. I know I'm not being a good friend for not telling about what A is doing but she always ends up convincing me not to tell him and that it would ruin things for her. I just feel bad for betraying B by not telling him and it kind of angers me that she doesn't have much respect for one of my closest friends and continually tells me about her relationships with others. 


And now for the past 6 months, I've seen I am more of a listener to her problems, and if I do give advice or have anything to add she will completely ignore me or even belittle my opinions. I've noticed everything or say around her I always think about what she thinks before I even say it like before giving my opinion on something I would have to think whether she would say 'don't be stupid' or 'don't be f****** re******' (sorry for the language it's just exactly how she has said it). I've been second-guessing telling her anything going on in my life since I just don't think she cares about my problems or opinions. 


For a while now I have noticed some really jealous behavior like if I am hanging out with other friends she will try to make me cancel on them or just to leave their plans early and hang out with her. Anytime I try to make other girl friends she will instantly dislike anything I say about them. 


Another thing I've noticed is her dependency on others to do stuff for her. I've been around her family for a while now and I've noticed that her parents do everything for her (like if she says she's hungry she expects her mum to drop everything and bring her food to her room and when she's done that her mum should clean it all up whilst she goes back to texting... which her mum does). I've only just noticed that she has extended those expectations to me and in the past, I think she had me convinced that I was happy to do all that. But now I can see that she just takes advantage of me in cleaning up for her or just doing anything that she doesn't have the energy to do (fetching things for her, moving her car for her, bringing food to her, picking her up and driving her around). I would usually be more than willing to do such little things for a friend but she never does any of this in return. I think this is one of the things she does that angers me the most since when eating with me and she finishes her meal, she will just walk back upstairs and leave all the dishes to me to clear and wash. If I ask her to do this however she will just ignore me or keep texting on her phone. Just for context, she is 20 years old this year. 


This is just some of the things I can remember but we've also had some really fun times together and usually, I feel happier when hanging out with her but those times are really getting less and less. Now I usually feel just tired constantly tiptoeing around her and being belittled for lots of what I do. But I know lots of this is my fault too since I'm not a very confronting type or one to talk about how she makes me feel.  If anyone could just give me some advice on how I should repair this friendship or whether I should. And since she's been getting in with one of my closest friends and that she is also friends with most of my few friends I feel this would complicate other friendships. 




Re: I think one of my closest friendships is toxic (possible TW)

Hi @acnhxanadu 


Firstly, This is isn't your fault. There's nothing wrong with being non-confrontational. It just sucks that you've been pushed into that position.


Rather than doing a dramatic kind of "friendship breakup", maybe you could spend a bit less time with her rather than cutting her out completely, or you could avoid situations with her that are likely to go badly and do more of the things that tend to go well.


The fact that she's making you doubt yourself like that is concerning though.. it's definitely not a good sign.


If you did want to end the friendship, it sounds like it would be reasonable. It's not selfish if a friendship isn't working out, especially if the other person isn't treating you respectfully.

Re: I think one of my closest friendships is toxic

Hey @acnhxanadu! Welcome to ReachOut.


I think a good point for reflection is how you write that although you've had some really fun times together and previously felt happier when hanging out with her, those times are getting less and less. I commend you for coming to this realisation - it's really difficult to have as much clarity as you show here. 


Do you think the toxicity in your relationship with her is something that you can repair? It sounds like you place a lot of blame on yourself... but from an outsider's perspective, it seems like there might be long term aspects of her personality (that she, & not anyone else, holds responsibility for) that have meant that although you are doing your best to be a good friend to her, she is unable or unwilling to always do the same for you. What do you think?

Re: I think one of my closest friendships is toxic

Hey @acnhxanadu 


Firstly, welcome to the forums. Secondly, I wanted to point out that you come across as a really nice friend and person.


I'm sorry to hear about what's going on with your friend. I recall going through something similar back when I was in high-school. From what you've described, it sounds like your friend may have a tendency to act selfish, competitively, and to be inconsiderate of your feelings. My friend was a little bit different - she wasn't as explicitly mean - it was more like subtle hurtful comments and behaviours and purposeful leaving me out.


I ended up detaching myself from her. And I really and truly live by the motto "you can choose your friends and not your family." Since you can CHOOSE your friends, you might as well choose friends that want the best for you and make you feel GOOD about yourself - in the same way that you do for them. To be honest, some of the things she has done and said sound pretty awful.


I agree with @Tiny_leaf - if you are going to end the friendship, it might be best to slowly distance yourself, rather than having a dramatic-type split up. In time, she might mature a little bit, or grow out of what she's currently going through, and you may even become great friends again. So if you just sort of distance yourself a little bit now, you always leave things open for the future.


I know it's hard because you two have been friends for so long and share the same friendship circle. It's always tricky when friendships are all intertwined. It's okay though, if you like and trust your closest friend (the one that A's getting in with recently), then you can still remain friends with that person, it might just be that you catch up 1 on 1 instead of in a group.

Re: I think one of my closest friendships is toxic

Hey, @peppermintpeony thanks for replying and the kind words. I think that repairing the friendship would take a lot of discussion between us both and with everything she has done I’m just afraid of the uncertainty in that kind of confrontation which is kind of holding me back on doing so. 


In saying that another part of me wants to repair the friendship since including her I really only have 3 close friends so it would leave me kind of isolated. And especially during this whole coronavirus, it’s harder to meet up with anyone. 


Another thing is as you said, if this is aspects of her personality, I wouldn’t want anyone to have to change who they are just for me or put her in any position where she feels she has to change. 


If I were to go the route of distancing myself from her as @Maddy-RO  and @Tiny_leaf  suggested, I’m don’t know how effective that would actually be. For the past six months, I haven’t been actively distancing myself but I would say that we haven’t been hanging out as usual anymore. I think that she has also noticed this as well since she has been comparing what I’ve done with her other friends a lot more. Sometimes she will say ‘my other friend does this for me, why aren’t you happy to?’ or just blatantly ask ‘why I hate her so much’, at random. This just makes me feel crappy like as if I’m ignoring her or not helping her as her friends do. 


I just wanted to add that since I’ve become aware of her behavior recently and doing more research on toxic/manipulative friendships, it is kind of adding a level of resentment from my side towards her. I know that this is just damaging our friendship further but my fear of confrontation and discussing feelings really are just holding me back from doing anything. 

Re: I think one of my closest friendships is toxic

Hey @acnhxanadu,

I think the best thing to do is to sit down with her and honestly talk about how you feel.
This conversation may feel awkward and uncomfortable, but unfortunately this is one of those things that won't resolve itself or get better with time, you should do something before it gets worse.

The thing is she may not know how she's making you feel. When she sees that you're not spending time with her/ speaking less she may not be able to understand why, because you aren't explicitly telling her.

I feel there might be a misunderstanding between the relationship she thinks she has with you. She could think that the hurtful things she says to you is just "friendly banter", and assumes that you already know that.

I've had to have difficult conversations like this with friends before, and it's definitely not fun. However it will help both of you see if it's a friendship that can be saved, or if it's time to walk away.

Also please try to not read about other people's experiences about toxic relationships if you can. Every relationship is really different, and people can be biased when they're describing it (e.g. presenting themselves in a better light) so you'll just confuse/stress yourself out by comparing your relationship to their (usually inaccurate) descriptions.

It's a tough conversation, but I think it's worth having. Be honest, open and gentle - don't "confront" her, just say that you are worried/aren't happy with where the friendship is at. Encourage her to do the same. Ask her why she feel like she needs to "be better" than you, ask her why she never asks about you.

Let us know what you decide to do, or if you want to chat about anything else further Smiley Happy

Re: I think one of my closest friendships is toxic

@acnhxanadu Yes, I think you are right that it would take a lot of discussion and effort between both of you. It seems like you have the empathy and the loyalty to make your end of this bargain work, but I worry that you would potentially use all this emotional energy and time only to get hurt by her likely failure to meet in the middle.


Sometimes, we can do all we possibly can to 'fix' a relationship only to find that the issue was never something we could transform all on our own. When I went through something similar, someone told me about the story of the scorpion and the frog... it was difficult to hear but helpful. Maybe you might find some of it helpful too... 


A scorpion, which cannot swim, asks a frog to carry it across a river on the frog's back. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung by the scorpion, but the scorpion argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung the frog despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: "I couldn't help it. It's in my nature."

Re: I think one of my closest friendships is toxic

Hi @acnhxanadu

I'm sorry to hear how you've been feeling and affected by this friendship.


I have had a toxic friendship in the past and I totally understand your feelings of not wanting to just give up on your friend right away (I had been friends with her for almost a decade). For me although I did try talking to my friend about the issues we had, she shut down all those conversations or lied straight to my face about them despite physical evidence pointing to the truth. For me it was a straw that broke the camel's back situation that got me to give up on that friendship and drift apart from her. It was sad (I cried on/off for almost a year!) but it was a situation that was personally for the best. 


Hopefully you talking to your friend about your problems will have a better result than mine. Maybe try coming up with a game plan on how you could do it? For example I first tried bringing it up casually to my own friend first to see how she reacted and went from there. (If you're curious she would pretend she didn't hear me and change the topic ☹, I tried it several times to ensure she was doing it on purpose and it wasn't an accident 😭). 


In the end it should your choice to choose whether to keep your friendship as it is now, talk to your friend about it, or drift away from them. You could also try getting advice from any people you know (who may know her too) but be careful they don't accidentally blow the situation up more.


Also don't be afraid to make other friends elsewhere. It may not be as close as the friendships you have now but friends need time to grow to become closer and any friends you make now may become close friends in the future. 


Good luck and hopefully everything will turn out well.