Finding out that you may be a toxic friend can be hard and challenging if you weren’t previously aware that your behavior is bad and unacceptable. Maybe you just want to learn how not to be a toxic friend and change yourself to be a better person.
So, what can you do if you’re the toxic friend? The first step to stop being a toxic friend is to acknowledge that you have done wrong and be open to sincerely apologizing to those that you have hurt. Next, make an active effort to try to be a kind, supportive, and a real friend to someone with continuous practice by allowing yourself to replace negative feelings towards someone with positive intentions.
There’s a lot more that goes into dealing with changing your toxic behavior that often leads to losing important friends.
Here’s everything you can do to take that step forward and be a better friend:
1. Apologize for your past mistakes
It takes a really big person to admit their mistakes and ask someone for forgiveness even if they do not receive a favorable response.
Simply the act of owning up to things that you have done can be comforting to the person you hurt and yourself. Especially, if you feel terribly guilty for being a toxic friend.
If the situation allows and you really want to change for the better, telling that friend that you’re sorry for your bad behavior will also be the starting point of you trying to get over your bad habits.
Know that your friend who you treated badly may very well not accept your apology or they might accept it however don’t be surprised if they still don’t want to be friends.
‘The ability of a person to atone has always been the most remarkable of human features.’ – Leon Uris
It’s hard and quite common for people to trust those who repeatedly treated them unkindly but this also gives you the chance to try again.
The fact that you are willing to apologize and admit your wrongdoings means you’re ready for change as long as it comes from a sincere and honest place.
2. Listen sincerely to others and give real advice
A common trait of a toxic friend is one who likes to listen to their friends’ stories and twist it.
If you are unsure whether you are guilty of this, check out these 8 Signs Your Friends Don’t Care About You that will help you better understand why the things you do hurt others.
They may also give bad advice just to see their friend make a mistake because it’s fun. However, this may not relate to all toxic friends.
Good friends are willing to hear their friend out with an honest ear and give actionable and real advice that won’t hurt their friend in any way.
Rather, they steer their friend away from bad decisions that could harm them while also never encouraging them to do anything bad.
As long as you can listen to your friend’s story with compassion and genuine interest in helping that person, this will do you a lot good in being a better friend.
3. Don’t compare yourself to them
It’s absolutely true when they say comparison is the root of all evil. When you compare yourself to others, you convince yourself that other people are better than you or you are better than them which can influence the way you feel towards that person.
We are competitive by nature and healthy competition is encouraged but if you’re the kind of person who can’t help but feel jealous towards others, this will only fuel your toxic behavior towards your friend.
You have to stop for a second and ask yourself:
- How do these comparisons benefit me in any way?
- Are they making me feel better about myself?
- Are these feelings promoting a happy friendship?
- Will these comparisons ruin my friendship?
Soon you’ll realize that comparing yourself brings nothing to the friendship. So, whenever you feel unhappy to see your friend getting things you think they don’t deserve, look at the particular things you have in your life that are good for you and try wondering if you deserve it?
Because if there are things you are happy to receive, why shouldn’t they? And if they are happy to see you win in life, can’t you do the same for them?
It all depends on how you choose to see things. If you choose to see your friend in a bad way or as an unhealthy competition, you will have bad feelings towards this person that will influence the way you act and treat them.
However, if you choose to look at their success and good things that they receive with positive feelings, you won’t feel the need to treat them badly.
4. Don’t be friends with someone unless you really like having them around
Keeping someone who you don’t like or even want to be friends with will make it easier to treat this person badly.
Making fun of them, saying snide remarks, picking on them, leaving them out won’t be difficult when you don’t want them around.
The best thing you can do is not be friends with someone who you are only using for something.
This will further your toxic behavior and hurt that person more.
There’s no point either in making it obvious that you don’t like this person while treating another friend nicely.
This by all means does not mean that you are justified to treat anyone badly or throw someone away because they are no longer useful.
If you have kept a friend around because you only needed something from them, try to really get to know this person with an honest heart if they are still in your life.
However, saving a friendship that has turned toxic will prove that be a great challenge especially if that person no longer wants you.
Just remember, friendship needs to come from both sides. There should be an equal amount of giving and take.
5. Allow Jealous Feelings To Pass
Jealousy could be a huge driver that motivates a person to be a toxic friend. It can drive you nuts when you see your friend getting the life that you wish for. But it’s important not to hold onto any jealous feelings toward your friend.
Every person’s journey is different and there are a lot of things that are meant for some people and not for others. Accepting and being happy for your friend is preferred but we can’t deny that it is difficult when it’s something you really wanted.
Just have patience and faith that you don’t need to be jealous because everything you already need is set out for you.
Jealousy of a friend will only lead to the destruction of your friendship.
See also: Can Jealous Friends Be Dangerous?
It may not seem so drastic right not but slowly it tears you guys apart when one friend starts to become bitter and toxic which is evident in your behavior and actions towards this friend.
Not allowing your jealousy to affect you will be healing towards your mental health and relationship with your friend.
6. Don’t hold onto grudges
Holding onto any grudges or things that your friends might have done that offended you will only make you feel more irritating towards them.
No good comes from payback but if you choose to let things go and accept your friends for who they are, you’ll find yourself at peace with everything.
These grudges that you may have will only further your dislike for your friend while encouraging you to act upon your toxic behavior.
It could be one of the reasons as to why you feel this way or treat a friend badly is because you haven’t dealt with your feelings.
We all make mistakes and will continue to make mistakes, so if there’s anything that you feel mad about, talk it out with that person or let it go.
7. Talk it out with a friend if you feel upset
You’ll notice many people telling you to talk with the person who you are having problems with simply because it can ease a situation while discovering solutions to the issues you are facing.
It can also solve misunderstandings between you too and help you get over the feelings that you have led you to be the toxic friend.
It could have been something they said about you or the way that they acted one day that caused you to have bad feelings towards them but a lot of times people tend to say and do things they don’t mean.
Finding out or making it known to a friend that you are sorry for how you behaved and will not do so in the future but also explain why you felt this way towards them.
If this is coming from jealousy towards that friend, it will help you and that person find ways to get over it and move forward with your friends if possible.
8. Don’t backbite or gossip about your friends
It’s absolutely unacceptable to talk bad about a friend behind their back or even to their face. Hurting someone’s feeling is not a good thing to do and with the more, you keep doing it, at some point you’re going to regret it.
To be a better friend, never share their secrets, talk bad about them, or gossip to other people about them.
A slip of the tongue is a possibility but always catch yourself before giving away the entire secret to someone else. However, make it an effort to never repeat those mistakes again.
An upstanding person will always stay true to that person even if it isn’t returned. I think the goal here to focus on being a better person no matter how other people treat you.
You’ll also notice the difference in how beneficial it is to do and say good things rather than spreading lies or being bad to other people. Practice this often and you’ll eventually reap the rewards.
9. Try not to intentionally hurt their feelings
We all have our moments when we say or do things that we don’t mean but not apologizing for our actions and making sure to never repeat it again is solely our fault.
Even when you’re not happy with this friend, try to hold back on harsh judgments or making them feel bad about themselves.
Try to rephrase something in a way that won’t hurt their feelings but rather help them think of something in a different way.
Yes, telling a false truth is not the answer and you should never lie to a friend but make sure that when you are being honest, weigh the answer first in your mind to see if this truth will hurt them unnecessarily.
10. Don’t bring up their past mistakes
Unless your friend wants to discuss a particular situation or mistake they have made in the past, don’t bring it up, especially if you know it’s only going to hurt them and make them feel bad about themselves.
If you’re trying to warn a friend to not make the same mistake again, choose your words carefully but don’t this with the intention of hurting them. If by all means, you can leave a story or situation out that you know was very painful to them, don’t bring it up.
Using a friend’s mistakes or things you know will make them feel bad is a toxic trait. Work on practicing not bring this stuff up in front of your friend again.
If you are in a current situation where you guys now have a misunderstanding about this particular thing, try apologizing and committing to keeping your word.
You might have done this unconsciously but at least now you can make yourself aware that there are no benefits to doing this even if you’re trying to make a point.
11. Catch yourself before to say or do anything wrong
How you choose to treat a person or the things you choose to say to someone all falls on you. Everything is a choice and not all our feelings are 100% true which is why we shouldn’t solely depend on our feelings to make the choices.
You have to question the bad feelings before you act on them. Ask yourself, ‘Why do I feel this way towards this person?’ while also trying to figure out if there’s something you can do to look at the situation from a different point of view.
If there’s a slight temptation to make this person feel bad or say something you know will hurt them, stop before you do it.
Try reminding yourself of why you are friends with this person and remember the moments when they were good to you or helped you out when you really needed someone.
Rather than focusing all your attention on the bad feelings and memories of this friend, try to focus on all the good things they have said or done for you. It could be small or big, replace the bad with the goodwill help you be a better friend.
Is There Hope For You?
Absolutely! Being a toxic friend is one thing but owning up to your mistakes and committing to being a better friend while getting rid of your past toxic behavior is a powerful move. Not many people can or want to do it.
Whether you’re in the same friendship that you displayed your toxic behavior or you want to start being friends with someone new, always remember that there is no good by being bad to another person.
If you are a toxic friend and want to have a decent friendship, the only way it will work is if you make the effort to change and continuously practice to be a better friend.
Catch yourself when you know or have a feeling that you about to hurt your friend. With time, you will be able to get rid of your toxic ways that hurt friends in the past.
You might also want to learn these 10 ways of being a true friend to someone that I think will really help you if you are in a friendship with someone right now or in the near future.
Also, if you are truly sincere about being a true friend, learn to forgive yourself too.
Beating yourself up for what you have done will stifle your growth and prevent you from being a better person.