Navigating Friendships: Spotting the Toxic Ones

toxic friendships

Friendships are like a thrilling roller coaster ride. They take you up to the highest peaks of joy, plunge you into the depths of shared secrets, and whirl you around corners of unforgettable memories. 

But what if the ride leaves you feeling dizzy and drained instead of excited and energized? That’s what toxic friendships can feel like.

Understanding Friendship

Imagine friendship as a super cool treehouse. It’s a safe space to be yourself, share your dreams, and have fun. A good friend is like the sturdy ladder that helps you climb to this treehouse. 

They respect you, listen to you, and are there for you when you need them. They’re the ones who make you feel like a superstar, not the ones who dim your shine.

In a healthy friendship, there’s a balance of give and take. You support each other through tough times and celebrate together in happy moments. 

You feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. A good friend encourages you to grow and brings out the best in you.

The Role of Social Media and Technology in Friendships

In today’s digital world, friendships have evolved beyond school corridors and neighborhood parks. They’ve leaped onto the screens of smartphones and computers. 

You tag each other in hilarious TikTok videos, conquer virtual worlds in online games, and share your thoughts in late-night text chats.

But while technology has made friendships more accessible, it’s also created a breeding ground for toxic friendships. Online platforms can sometimes mask a person’s true nature, making it easier for toxic behavior to go unnoticed. 

Cyberbullying, online harassment, and peer pressure can also contribute to a toxic friendship.

Signs of a Toxic Friendship

So, how do you spot a toxic friendship? It’s like identifying a glitch in your favorite video game. Here are some signs to look out for:

They’re always negative: 

If your friend is like a rain cloud constantly pouring down on your parade, that’s a red flag. Good friends celebrate your wins and help you see the silver lining in your losses. They lift you with their positivity, not drag you down with their negativity.

They’re controlling: 

A friend who always wants to control the game, choose your team, or even dictate your online persona needs to play fairer. Friendship is about respect and equality. It’s about making decisions together and respecting each other’s choices.

They don’t respect your boundaries: 

If your friend is like a pop-up ad that invades your screen without permission, it’s a sign of a toxic friendship. Good friends respect your personal space, both online and offline. They understand that everyone needs time alone and that respecting each other’s privacy is important.

They’re manipulative: 

If your friend often plays the victim card or makes you feel guilty for not doing what they want, that’s a sign of manipulation. It’s like sneaky malware that messes up your system. They might use your secrets against you or spread rumors about you to others.

How to Deal with a Toxic Friendship

If you’ve spotted these signs in one of your friendships, don’t panic. Here’s what you can do:


Open a chat window with your friend and express your feelings. They might not realize that their behavior is causing them distress. Use “I” statements to express your feelings, like “I feel upset when you…”

Set boundaries: 

Set your privacy settings with your friend. Let them know what behavior you won’t tolerate. It’s okay to hit the ‘block’ button on things that make you uncomfortable. You have the right to control who you interact with online and what kind of interactions you have.

Seek help: 

If your friend continues to spam you with toxicity, it’s okay to report it to a trusted adult, like a parent or a teacher. They can provide guidance and support. You can also contact school counselors or mental health professionals for help.

Let go if necessary: 

If your friend continues to be a virus, it might be best to uninstall this friendship. It’s tough, but remember, your mental and emotional health deserves priority. It’s okay to distance yourself from people who bring negativity into your life.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the digital landscape of friendships can be tricky, but remember, everyone deserves healthy, happy friendships. 

So, don’t be afraid to update your friendship status and disconnect from toxic friends. After all, in the great game of life, your happiness and well-being are the ultimate power-ups.

Resources that can be helpful if you are dealing with toxic friendships:

  1. TeensHealth from Nemours: Friendships: This site offers advice on various aspects of friendships, including how to deal with conflicts and end a friendship that’s not working.
  2. Your Life Your Voice: Toxic Friendships: This Boys Town National Hotline page provides tips on recognizing and dealing with toxic friendships.
  3. ReachOut Australia: Toxic Friendships: ReachOut offers advice on identifying toxic friendships and steps to take if you’re in one.
  4. Apps like Stop, Breathe & Think: This mindfulness and meditation app can help teens manage their emotions and deal with stressful situations like toxic friendships.

Talking to a trusted adult is essential to dealing with a toxic friendship. They can provide support and guidance.

A writer and mother working to provide the best advice and support for navigating the internet in a safe and secure manner.