Have you ever had that friend who made you feel less than? The one who drained your energy and whose presence made you feel sick to your stomach?

Like so many things in life, you tend to gravitate toward what you already know – even if what you have experienced in the past was not positive. If you grew up being bullied, dominated, or controlled by a parent, for example, you may be attracted to a friend who does the same, because that is what is familiar, your comfort zone. . . and you know how to do that.

Unhealthy relationships can challenge one’s self-esteem and even sometimes cause physical illness. Here are 10 signs that you may be in a toxic friendship.

10 Signs You Are In a Toxic Friendship

1. When you are with this person, the conversation revolves mainly around her. She rarely asks you about your day, your work, or your life.

2. When you talk with her or when you are together, you feel less-than, diminished, and may cause you to question your own value when you are with her.

3. Your friend often makes comments that are passive-aggressive; not outright insults, but rather more like back-handed compliments that make you uneasy.

4. Your own life begins to suffer because of the things you do for her: you may begin to miss or be late for your own appointments; you put off taking care of yourself in order to do a favor for her; or you no longer have time to pursue your own hobbies or activities that make you happy because you are spending that time doing things that take care of her happiness.

5. Other friends and loved ones notice how one-sided your relationship is and remark how your friend and her actions remind them of a previous unhealthy relationship you were once in.

6. Other relationships in your life are beginning to suffer. You may start to lie to other friends about when you are meeting this friend because you know they would disapprove.

7. When you are together, you tend to feel sad and anxious, instead of at ease and happy.

8. You find yourself giving things like gifts and emotional resources on a regular . . . without receiving anything in return, even gratitude.

9. When something wonderful happens in your life, she does not celebrate with you, but instead, either remains silent or finds something to find fault with your circumstance. . . and deep down you know that she could care less.

10. You experience headaches, stomach aches, or other physical symptoms when you are together, or when you have planned to get together.

If you recognize your relationship with someone in more than a few of these examples, it may be time to let the friendship go . . . for your heart, your soul, and your well-being.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.