What Is Abusive Friendship, 12 Signs of an Abusive Friendship

Jun 15, 2022 | Relationships | 0 comments

There is no exact definition of an abusive friendship. Perhaps it’s because friendships aren’t seen as relationships in which power is an important dynamic. It is rare for someone to call someone they are bullying their friend. A friendship can require less investment than a romantic relationship. You may not think about your friend starting a family or settling down. Your friends are not the ones you typically trust with important decisions in your life.

Why Would A Person Stay In An Abusive Friendship?

abusive relationship

There are no perfect relationships, including friendships. People make mistakes, and sometimes they hurt others. Just like you, your friends are also flawed. You will find parts of their personalities that are not compatible with yours. For example, you and your friend might not agree on core beliefs such as politics. Sometimes emotions can run high in friendships, and people may say things they aren’t meant to. But this is not what abusive friendship is about.

So What Kind Of A Friendship Is Called Abusive?

abusive friendship

It is the kind of friendship where your friend:

  • Doesn’t keep secrets or honor promises.
  • Hurts your feelings, then becomes mad at you for getting hurt.
  • Makes you feel inferior.
  • Spreads false rumors about you to manipulate others into believing them.
  • Breaks your boundaries as soon as they think it is in their best interest.
  • They will put you in the middle of their lies and expect you to play along.
  • Makes their problems yours but doesn’t have time for yours.
  • Embarrass you in front of your friends.

What Are The Signs Of An Abusive Friendship?

signs of abuse

Here are a few signs that will help you recognize an abusive friendship.

They Depend On You For Everything

In an abusive friendship, it can come in many forms. They are always looking for your help; they text for everything and expect you to be there for them. 

It is important to give space to your friends even when it is difficult. However, emotionally abusive dynamics can lead to them consuming your energy without ever giving it back.

In an abusive friendship, they use you as a source of emotional energy, with little appreciation, reciprocity, or awareness. This drains your mental capacity. You may be manipulated into thinking you are a bad friend. But in reality, they are disrespecting you.

They Degrade Your Achievements

God forbid your life is turning out to be better than your friend’s. If they see that your life is improving without their help, they will try to make you second-guess everything. This is typical for an abusive friendship.

They’ll complain that you don’t have the time to hang out with them anymore if you have a great job. If you meet a new partner and things go well, they will try to make you second-guess everything your new partner says or does.

They Don’t Listen

In an abusive friendship, you feel dismissed or ignored. It doesn’t look like anything you say gets through to them. Your perspective doesn’t matter to them.

You Can’t Trust Them

You can’t trust what an abusive friend promises to you. 

Maybe you just know they aren’t trustworthy. Perhaps you know that they lie to others, and you know that there is no reason they would be truthful to you. You are afraid they will betray you and talk about you behind your back. 

You have the right to be concerned if your friend is not trustworthy. This could be a sign of an abusive friendship.

They Blame You For Their Failures

Abusive friend will blame you if something goes wrong in their live. Every little thing they do wrong, whether it’s their lack of cash or their car breaking down, is somehow your fault. Although they might not admit to it, they will continue to bring up the topic and expect you to feel guilty or pity for them and their situation. 

They Don’t Respect You

Friends who are abusive disrespect some or many aspects of you. They don’t respect your looks, choices, preferences, or values. 

While your friends don’t have to know everything about you, they should recognize where you are coming from and find a way to offer support, not disrespect you. This is a difference between normal and abusive friendships.

They Don’t Respect Your Personal Space

What’s yours is theirs but not the other way around. Abusive friends think your car, phone, home, and other belongings are not yours. It’s theirs. If they take, for example, your phone charger, they will probably use it and keep it, but if you ask them for their phone charger, it’s the end of the world.

They Use Your Flaws Against You

Abusive friends listen to you, collect information about you, and then use it against you. They could do it during a fight when you least expect something like this from your friend.

They Try to Make Their Life Appear Better Than Yours

Abusive friends always want to be better than you. If you make a new friend, they will try to make the same new friend, and they will want to be more liked than you are. If you say that you started a course to learn something new, they will say that they already attended a similar course that was harder, and if they didn’t, they would try to belittle your education.

Friends in abusive friendships will do everything to ensure that you know they will always be better than you.

They Have to Be The Center of Attention

Whether you are spending time with your partner and they come along, or you are hanging out with friends, they will do everything to become the center of attention, and all eyes are on them. In an abusive friendship, nothing you say or do will take attention away from them.

They Think That Being High on Drugs or Being Drunk Is an Excuse for Them Being Abusive

They use phrases like, “I’m sorry, I was drunk, I didn’t mean to (do something bad).” They use it as an excuse to behave like an a**hole. In an abusive friendship, people like this will take advantage of your forgiveness and continue to misbehave, thinking that you will forgive them… again.

They Are Never Wrong

An abusive friend knows everything in the world. Any subject. They will question you about your knowledge and will try to prove that you are wrong. Even if you are right, they will state their opinion and insist that they are correct. 

How To Walk Away From the Abusive Friendship


In some cases, you can try to communicate with your abusive friend and let them know what you expect from your friendship and that you expect your friendship to be a source of positivity and empowerment.

If it doesn’t work, it’s time to get out of the abusive friendship. Leaving an abusive friendship is about setting boundaries. Call them out on behavior that isn’t acceptable to you. 

Tell them that if they do it (something toxic) next time, you will leave. And if they do it again, you have to leave.

Remember that it’s ok to decline things you are not interested in. You don’t have to provide a reason for why you don’t want to do something too. 

Keep on saying no to things you don’t like, and it will set boundaries and put a distance between you and your abusive friend. As a result, you’ll notice improvements in your mental health and get more free time to hang out with your other friends or meet new people.

If it doesn’t work, you need to walk away. It will be painful. The victim of an abusive friendship can have a deep attachment to their abusers. But you have to remember that you deserve better. It may take some time, especially if a friend was very close to you and shaped a part of your personality.

You deserve better. Set boundaries or walk out of abusive friendship. Surround yourself with positive people who support, empower and encourage you to see the best in yourself.

Speaking from personal experience, you’ll be astonished at how much time an abusive friendship can steal from your life. My girlfriend used to spend hours each day acting as her friend’s personal ’emotional support,’ solving her problems and giving advice, yet receiving nothing in return. After they stopped being friends, she didn’t know what to do with her newfound free time. Remember, an abusive friend isn’t just draining your energy; they’re also stealing your precious time!

signs of an abusive friendship


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