5 types of toxic friends

Have you ever heard of the saying "Less is more"? Not only does it apply to your makeup and accessories, but it can also apply to your group of friends. Our relationship coach highlights five types of toxic friends and how to deal with them.

By Marie Waine

5 types of toxic friends
©iStockphoto.com/sjenner13
We all have friends we love and friends we love to hate. Whether it's because of selfishness or negativity, these friends never really act like friends – yet for some reason, we keep them around.

Julie Ward, a relationship coach based in Toronto, says it all starts with self-esteem. She believes that we attract the type of people who mirror our stage of development and who we share common behaviours with. She recommends taking an inventory of your closest friends and asking yourself: "What do my friends reflect in me? What am I getting out of these relationships? And what do I really want?"

Here are five types of friends you should watch out for.

1. The vampire
This friend always needs you, no matter what the cause.

"They are energy suckers," says Ward. "They are constantly asking you to do things and are constantly taking up large chunks of your time. Being around that person is an energy drain," she explains. "You feel the life sucked out of you after you've been with the person for any length of time. It's very consuming."

While it's important to be a supportive friend, there should be give and take in any healthy relationship, advises Ward. The vampire consumes more than they give.

2. The gossip queen
You know that friend who is always spreading rumours and finding happiness in other people's misfortunes? She isn't as confident as she may seem.

"A gossip queen is someone who has low self-esteem and focuses more on the negative in other people," says Ward. "They want to make themselves look better by talking about other people's problems or issues."

The gossip queen becomes a dangerous friend when you join in with her, warns Ward. "You are perpetuating the same types of behaviour," she says. "It brings you down when you're in an energy of complaining."

3. Little Miss Know-it-all
This type of friend – otherwise known as "the control freak" – is always telling you what to do and what you are doing wrong, and she thinks she has all of the right answers. Although it's often easier to find fault with others than it is to see your own faults, Ward suggests looking introspectively to find out why you have this type of friend.

"If you're attracting someone who comes across as a know-it-all and you're allowing that type of behaviour into your life, it's an indication that your strength, self-esteem and trust in what you know to be true isn't deeply developed," cautions Ward.

4. Debbie downer
"The Debbie Downer is somebody who puts herself down so you can uplift her," explains Ward. No matter what you say to a Debbie downer, he or she is always negative. This is a dangerous friendship because it's so exhausting.

"It takes a lot of your energy to assuage this person's self-esteem," says Ward.

5. The drama queen
Sometimes all you want to do is jump for joy when something good happens and bawl your eyes out when something sad happens – however, you've learned to control your emotions. We can't say the same for the drama queen.

"She is way over the top on both extremes – and it's addictive," says Ward. "There's an energy. It's a feel-good energy on the high side and then it's the absolute polar opposite, totally fear induced, on the other."

This friend's danger comes in the ability to influence your emotional state. "It's a real roller-coaster ride being around a person who is a drama queen," warns Ward.

Who to surround yourself with
If you're looking to change or make new friends, start by looking at yourself, suggests Ward.

"You can create a list of the ideal girlfriend or mentor with the qualities you'd love to have around you and in you," she says, adding that a good friend is somebody who respects you, who is there for you when you need them, who is honest and who tells it like it is.

"Start by noticing how your friends line up with your ideal friend list, then start looking for other women in your life who have the qualities you admire," suggests Ward, who calls this step "the dating process."

"If you see someone at the office and you like that person, then ask that person to go out for coffee," she says.

It's a turning point in life – and one that we have complete control over, says Ward.

"We teach people how to treat us," she explains. "The people who come into our lives are just mirroring where we are in our own growth as individuals. It's like magnets. We're attracting them to us. To change that magnetism, we need to change who we are being."


Strife between friends is never comfortable. Once you are both ready to rebuild the relationship you had, forgiveness will be key. Check out our tips on how to let go of grudges. Chances are your friendship will be strong for it, so make it count! For helpful ideas on improving your bond read five ways to make your friendships last.

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