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How To Tell If You Have Toxic Friends

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

You heard it from parents, teachers, pastors, therapists, and now, neuroscientists now confirm it. Toxic friends or relationships are the fastest and easiest way to destroy your life. What’s often missing, however, is how exactly to tell if you happen to have a toxic friend or friendship.

Photo by Palu Malerba from Pexels

At this point in your life, your parents probably aren’t filtering your friends anymore. Additionally, the fact that you’re reading this post tells me that you are pretty invested in having a healthy future. So the question is, how can you tell if you have toxic friends or relationships currently?

There are different ways to tell but here are 4 undeniable ways to identify if someone is toxic for you or your future.

  1. They Are Chronic Bad Decision-Makers Bad luck and bad decisions are two very different things. Someone who has a habit of making bad decisions that deteriorates the quality of their own life will be toxic for your own.

  2. They Encourage Your Bad Habits Healthy friends have a habit of calling you out when it’s right. They won’t just sit by, or worse, encourage you to continue in habits or behaviors that will ruin your life, or theirs.

  3. They Are Willing To Risk Your Future A toxic individual who is reckless with their futures will be reckless with yours. In friendships or relationships like these, nothing is off-limit regardless of the potential consequences.

  4. They Destroy Your Mental Health With a little intentionality, you can easily tell how someone makes you feel after interacting with them. A toxic person generally lives in a depressed state and only ever drags you down mentally or emotionally with every interaction. In abusive circumstances, they will actually attack your self-esteem regularly.


There are usually two ways to respond to a toxic individual. If a person is severely toxic, bordering on abusive. The recommendation across the board is to end that friendship or relationship. I agree with this.

The second response is for that friend who’s truly good but also honestly toxic. This is where most people find themselves trapped and feeling like they’re abandoning a good friend, which is possible. This is where I use Stephen R. Covey's Circle of Influence vs Circle of Concern but for relationships.

Your circle of influence is the people who you allow to influence you. You invest the most leisure time with them. While your circle of concern includes those you love, but who for whatever reason, you do not allow to influence you. You minimize your time invested in this group. I explain this idea in more detail in my Amazon Bestselling book, Life Balance.

QUESTION: Have you had to walk away from a toxic friend or relationship before?

Send me an email or leave a comment below sharing your experience with navigating toxic friendships or relationships. How did you address it? Did you have to walk away completely? What was that like and how did it impact your life and health?

Comment below or email me to let me know what your response is. You can also subscribe to my newsletter for bonus tips and resources on self-leadership and work-life balance or follow my podcast - The Pocket Potential.

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