Healthy vs. Toxic Friendships
Healthy vs. Toxic Friendships

Healthy vs. toxic friendships – what’s the difference between the two? Sometimes, toxic friends are easy to spot; others, not so much. Like toxic relationships, unhealthy friendships can start out stellar and end with bitter disdain for each other. Those slow-boil toxic friendships can make it difficult to realize the signs of a toxic friendship, vs. the signs of a healthy friendship. Here are three differences to help get started.

Healthy vs. toxic friendships: The signs are in the messages

Healthy friendships generally allow the participants room for understanding. Perhaps two healthy friends text each other through the week, but they understand when the other is busy. They know they’ll hear back from their friend soon. And if it’s an important matter, these friends know when to either pick up the phone to call, or keep the messages moving.

Toxic friendships don’t operate with the same level of communication. Either one or both of the friends are in competition with each other. So, when one friend doesn’t reply quickly, the other may become irritated and wonder if that other friend is doing something without them. They’ll send texts in rapid fire, usually blowing up the other friend’s phone. Once the other friend has time to answer the phone, they grow angry from the bombardment of texts. This usually results in an argument or even more bitterness between the two.

Boundaries are important

In a healthy friendship, boundaries are respected. Friend A may just need some alone time to be with their thoughts after a rough time. That doesn’t mean they’re freezing out Friend B – Friend B understands the need for quiet time and respects Friend A’s boundaries. Friend B knows their friend will come around when they’re ready to talk.

Toxic friendships have boundaries, but they’re often trampled over and treated more as “suggestions.” Friend A may want some peace because something negative happened in their life. Friend B may understand, but refuses to acknowledge that Friend A is hurting. Friend B decides to take matters into their own hands and force their way into Friend A’s area to either talk, or complain about their own troubles – in toxic friendships, there’s always a competition.

Can you spot a toxic friend? Test your knowledge with our toxic friends quiz:

Healthy vs toxic friends: Secrets are questionable

Healthy friendships are based on communication and trust, much like healthy relationships. So, when Friend A has a big secret, they know they can confide in Friend B without question. Friends A and B understand the importance of keeping secret confidential, within reason, and share a mutual trust between each other. Friend A has no stress once they tell Friend B their secret.

A toxic relationship is different. Friend A is apprehensive about telling Friend B any sort of important information about their life. The two share no mutual trust due to the lack of boundaries and respect for one another. If Friend A does tell Friend B a secret, Friend A will most likely feel great stress, wondering when – not if – their secret will get out. Friend A regrets sharing any news with Friend B.

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Samantha Curreli
Samantha Curreli is a staff writer at Reach Out Recovery. Sam is also a graduate of Arcadia University's MFA in Creative Writing Program and a freelance journalist for New Jersey music magazine, The Aquarian Weekly. She has had multiple pieces of fiction published in literary magazines and short story anthologies.

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