Homelove, sex & relationshipsfriendswhat are ‘toxic’ friendships?

What are ‘toxic’ friendships?

Friendships can give us a whole lot of good stuff, but sometimes they can be confusing, tricky or even harmful. So how do you know when a friendship is healthy and what do you do if it’s not?

What is a ‘toxic’ friendship?

Toxic friendships do more harm to you than good. They are stressful and negative and can make you feel pretty down about yourself. Your friendship may be toxic if:

  • your friend is always putting you down or teasing you.
  • your friend gossips about you.
  • your friend is always comparing you to each other.
  • your friend plays games with your feelings (like purposefully excluding you from things)
  • your friend manipulates you.
  • Your friend turns other people against you. 
  • you feel sad or down about yourself when you hang out with them.
  • hanging out with them stresses you out.
  • your friend is getting way more out of the friendship than you are.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your friend is toxic because you care about them, but remember, friendships are supposed to be equal and make you feel good about yourself. If this isn’t the case, it may be clear that this friendship is toxic. These types of relationships can have some pretty big impacts on your life. They can increase your stress levels, lower your self-esteem and confidence and affect your mental health. You can read more about toxic friendships on Reachout’s website.

I think I’m in a toxic friendship. What should I do?

You can try talking to your friend about how they are behaving and how it makes you feel. This might be hard, but it might make you both feel better. You never know, they might be going through some stuff at home that is making them behave that way.


If this doesn’t work, try to avoid hanging out with them so much, if they make plans with you, get someone else to come along too, or get a whole group to come along so you can just stick with the people that make you feel good.


If your friend is making you feel really horrible, end the friendship. Stop hanging out with them, and if they try to make plans tell them you’re busy. This might seem really drastic but if they’re making your life miserable it could be the best option. The friendship is supposed to be equal, and if the bad stuff outweighs the good it could be time to think about giving them the boot.


Where to get help


  • If you are in a toxic friendship, it might really help to talk about it with someone you trust, like another friend, a parent, teacher or your school counselor. 
  • You can call Kids Helpline or talk to a counselor through eheadspace‘s online counselling service. 

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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