Narcissists, love bombers, and gaslighters come to mind when spotting red flags in romantic relationships, but recognizing them in your platonic friendships can be more challenging to spot, as certain dealbreakers don’t regularly come up in conversation about friendships, and most people don’t apply the same red-flag mindset to their friends and close confidants, when they should. The onus is on us to acknowledge unhealthy friendships; similarly, we address toxic romances and family dynamics, as our platonic friendships matter just as much for our well-being emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Healthy and beneficial friendships should fortify, support, ground, and uplift us. These bonds are essential for our growth as a person and emotional and mental health, as one study found that having solid, positive, and healthy friendships is associated with better coping skills, lowered stress, and fewer spikes in blood pressure. Conversely, having toxic friendships in your close circle can drag you down. Still, you may not be aware of its effects immediately, as red flags in friendships can appear differently and are difficult to identify, as you tend to know your friends intimately and for a longer time, which allows for grace for certain behaviors even if they have a hurtful habit of saying joking comments that are mean or talking over you in conversations, perhaps that’s just their personality? It’s hard to tell, so we’ll help you recognize the problematic girlfriend in your friend group by sharing the biggest red flags you should look out for to identify if someone is a fake friend.
The friendship seems onesided: You’re always putting in the most effort. From planning girlfriend dates and activities to checking on them, you’re the friend who spearheads the plans. Or worse, you’re only used to venting, and when it’s your turn, they are nowhere to be found. Everyone is busy, consistently juggling their life matters. Still, if you find yourself doing the emotional heavy lifting, it could be a sign that your friend may not value the relationship as you do.
The person is never truly happy for you: You just graduated with your master’s, got a promotion, or even had the opportunity to go on a great vacation, and there’s silence from your bestie, who is supposed to be elated for you. That’s a red flag because they show that your success and happiness make them either intimated or jealous.
They’re competing with you: Speaking of jealousy, have you ever had a friend who would always try to one-up you? You get a new apartment, and they are apartment hunting the next month. It’s okay to feel envious occasionally, but the person who turns everything into a competition can be dangerous and most likely doesn’t have your best interest at heart. This may be another warning sign if you speak to your friend exhibiting this behavior and they aren’t receptive.
They don’t respect your boundaries: In healthy friendships, people respect boundaries and are okay with hearing no. However, respect isn’t given to toxic ones, and sensitive subjects may be brought up, even if you explicitly say that you don’t want to speak about it. If you notice your boundaries (whatever they may be) are continuously becoming violated, it’s a red flag.