Quick Friendship Check- In
Think about most of your friendships. In the past, have you felt…
- Your feelings are often invalidated (e.g., “That’s dumb, no one thinks that”)
- Your thoughts/opinions/feelings are ignored, diminished, or devalued
- Your personal values are questioned or not respected (e.g., showing up late constantly or not at all without telling you)
- Your boundaries often get pushed or ignored (e.g., playing violent movies after you’ve mentioned how uncomfortable they make you feel)
- You feel forced or intimidated to do things that you are uncomfortable with (e.g., pressured into “taking a hit” of marijuana when you’ve said “that’s not really my thing”)
- Your (emotional and physical) safety is not considered as important
- Your accomplishments are minimized or envied
- You feel like you’re always in the wrong or the one to blame (e.g., gaslit)
- You get left ‘on read’…a lot with little to no apologies (e.g., ghosted)
- You feel left out or never in the know about events, jokes, or secrets
- You’re always the one reaching out or putting in more effort
- You’re only sought out for certain things (e.g., car, money, emotional support, favors, etc.) that benefit others
- You get bullied or made fun of regularly for others’ enjoyment
- You feel you have to think, talk, or feel a certain way in order to “fit in” (e.g., having to laugh at jokes that are racist, homophobic, or offensive in some way)
- You never feel at ease or you feel like you’re “on eggshells” around a particular person
- You feel you have to lie, defend, or hide this friendship from other friends
- You feel like you’re “not you” when you’re around a particular person (e.g., you notice yourself being more defensive and kind of mean or irritable to everyone, which isn’t your norm)
- You feel a sense of obligation, indebtedness, or lacking choice in the relationship
- You are threatened verbally or intimidated in some way
If you find yourself saying yes to more than a few of these items, it may be time to step back and re-assess whether a relationship with these qualities is healthy for you. Think about using the “flag system” below to determine how concerned you should be and what action steps you can take.
Yellow Flags: 1-3 of the above
Proceed with caution and take note whether this is a one-off or if this is a consistent thing
Orange Flags: 3-6 of the above
Be Alert! This could be (or become) a more concerning pattern of behavior. Better to check in with a trusted person(s) to get support, guidance, and validation about how to address your concerns
Red flags: 7+ of the above
Warning, this person is showing signs of some serious toxic, unhealthy or abusive, behaviors. Regardless of the person’s reasons for behaving this way, this is unacceptable. Seek ongoing support, outside of this relationship, for ways to safely decide whether keeping this person in your life makes sense.
Tips for how to address toxic behaviors:
- If it is safe to do so, immediately call it out. If that doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, remove yourself from the situation to reduce ongoing harm.
- When addressing the person, be clear about what the behavior was, what was offensive/upsetting about it, and what you need them to do to repair the violation.
- Example: “When you slammed the door in my face, it felt very disrespectful, aggressive, and scary. If you are mad at me and too angry to talk about it, that’s ok. Just let me know you need space, or need to go for a walk. If you can be clearer about what you need, then I will work to respond in a way that helps you get what you need. If it’s hard for you to tell me directly, then maybe we can agree on a code word or sign that tells me you need to be left alone until it’s easier for you to talk?”
- Be open to discussing what you might be able to do in return to help de-escalate the situation and show the same respect and clarity you would like
- As best you can, stick to the facts; rather than making it a personal attack. (E.g., “When you did X, it hurt me in this way because X” rather than “You’re a jerk, I hate you, don’t talk to me.”)
- Address one problem at a time; don’t bring in old stuff (unless you are trying to provide different examples of the pattern of behavior).
- Ask for clarification of their intention(s); Don’t assume.
- Be clear (and consistent) about where your boundaries are and which boundaries are “not negotiable.”
- Be willing to let go of the relationship; grief is a natural process when we lose something we love; don’t let the fear of pain or loss stop you from cutting out unhealthy people!
- Surround yourself with people who believe (in) you and will empower you to be the best version of yourself!
Additional ways to find support:
If you’re thinking about re-evaluating some of your relationships and want to talk about it, try some of these free USF Health and Wellness resources.
Counseling Center sessions/ drop-in groups: Sign up for a session with a Counselor or join a drop-in group where you can connect with others while also sharing your experiences.
Togetherall: Wanting to connect with others? Try Togetherall, a free mental health community where you can anonymously share your experiences while also supporting others.
Connect with others at health and wellness events at Recreation and Wellness, The Center for Student Well-Being, the Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention.