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All relationships have their ups and downs, and it’s normal to have disagreements with friends on occasion. But if someone demands a lot of your energy or leaves you feeling bad about yourself, consider whether or not the friendship is worth it.
In a recent Student Health 101 survey, 70 percent of respondents said they’d experienced at least one toxic relationship. Fifteen percent said they had been the toxic friend.
“I know that I have been controlling in specific relationships. It has harmed both my health and the other person’s health,” says a third-year student in Calgary, Alberta.
If you run into conflict, try talking to your friend honestly and openly about what’s bothering you. Use “I” statements, as in, “I’ve been feeling I need a little space.”
“Ask for information in a respectful, non-antagonistic way, [and] be a good active listener,” says the counselling centre staff at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Is your friendship healthy? Take this quiz. Answer yes or no to the following questions.
- Does my friend get angry if I don’t call/text back right away?
- Do I feel guilty if I don’t include this person in every activity?
- Does my friend make negative comments about my busy schedule?
- Does my friend make his/her schedule around my free time?
- Do I worry about this friend to the point of distraction?
- Do I find myself developing excuses to avoid my friend?
- Do I lie to my friend about what I’m doing?
- Is my friend jealous of other people/things in my life?
- Do I get annoyed whenever this friend contacts me?
- Do I dread running into this friend?
- Does my friend try to get involved in everything I’m doing?
- Does this relationship make me feel exhausted or bad about myself?
- If you answered No to most questions, your friendship sounds OK. Talk about the rough spots.
- If you had about the same number of Yes and No, some aspects of your connection aren’t working for you. Sounds like you’re overdue for a friendship intervention (an inter-friend-tion).
- If you answered Yes to most questions, talk to a neutral third party (someone you trust). It might be time to end the relationship.
Get help or find out more