Here’s How To Tell If Your Friend Is Toxic

Are they your bestie or a covert bully?
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Often, when we think of a bully, we think about that big brute who pushes people around in the playground or that internet troll who spouts nastiness on social media.

But the truth is, sometimes this kind of behaviour can be so subtle that you don’t see it happening before your very eyes.

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As much as we’d all like to think that our squad has our backs, unfortunately not all friends are created equal.

If a ‘friend’ makes you feel excluded, belittled or emotionally drained whenever you spend time with them, it might be a sign that you need to cut them loose.

However, much like a bad significant other, sometimes it can be hard to see the signs that you’re in a toxic friendship.

That’s why we asked Hester Leung and Sema Musson, authors of Being Brave, for their top tips for telling true friends from fake ones.

Here’s how to find the Betty to your Veronica. (Credit: Netflix/The CW)

According to the authors, “True friends:

Help each other out — If you need support, true friends are the ones you can always count on.

Message each other — Friends keep in touch and check in with each other. When you seem down, they’ll ask something like “Are you okay? Do you want to talk about it?”.

Show kindness —  This means not only being friendly and generous but also considerate of you and your feelings.

● See you — they understand where you’re coming from and know what is important to you.

● Believe what you say — they trust in you and your abilities.

Sit with you and stand by you — they support you through all the highs and importantly, all the lows.

A good friend with support you through thick and thin. (Credit: Getty)

Meanwhile, a fake friend doesn’t always have your best interests at heart and will disappear when you need them most. They might:

● Call you names — this includes name calling, teasing or more subtly putting you down. 

● Not listen to you — Do they ask questions about you? Fake friends will often turn the conversation back to themselves.

● Make you feel drained — If you feel bad about yourself after you’ve spent time with them, these friends are not for you. Pay attention to your emotions.

● Make things up to get away from you — If they make excuses, break their promises or leave you out of social situations, chances are they are not a genuine friend.

● Make fun of you — When you’re the centre of a joke — you know, the one everyone laughs at except for you — even though you may try to shrug it off, someone who is really your friend will know that doing that will hurt you.

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Fake friends can take a serious toll on your wellbeing, your confidence and even other friendships. So, you also need to recognise when it goes too far.

If the words or actions of others are repeatedly and deliberately causing harm, it may be bullying. This can take many forms. It can occur in person or online. It can be verbal, physical or social.

The good news is, if you feel you are being bullied, you are not alone. Speak to your parents or another family member, talk to your school or call the free Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800 and speak to experts who can help.

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