This Disturbing Sign Means It’s Time to Cut a Friend out of Your Life

It can be difficult to keep friends together, especially as an adult. The only thing more difficult is cutting a friend out of your life. Nixing a friend completely can be a very difficult undertaking. You might even make excuses for why you should keep the friendship going.

There are, in fact, many small signs that clue you in to a friendship gone bad. But there is one sign that should definitely tip you off that it’s time to cut someone out of your life.

For starters, bad friends cause cancer!

Girl has problems breathing and a doctor helps

A toxic friendship could be ruining your heart health. | iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

It sounds crazy, but it’s true. The University of California, Los Angeles conducted a study a few years ago that found individuals with negative interactions with their friends and acquaintances had heightened levels of pro-inflammatory proteins in their bodies. These proteins, CBS News points out, are linked to horrible conditions such as depression, cancer, and heart disease.

The lesson here? Seeing the warning signs of a bad friendship and eliminating it is better for your health!

Start questioning a friend’s toxic behavior

Two gossip friends criticizing another woman

Would you want to keep a friend around that talks about you like this? | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

There are some precursors that will give you a hint a friendship is heading into a downward spiral. You should start by asking yourself a couple questions about this friendship. Has this friend said something about you behind your back? Is this person disinterested in what is happening in your life? Are the conversations with this friend more combative than they are complimentary? Consider looking at your other platonic relationships, and note what’s going right. Use your healthy relationships as guides to what makes a bad friendship worth cutting off.

You can also use TV as your guide

The cast of HBO's Big Little Lies

The level of drama in your friendship shouldn’t rival an episode of Big Little Lies. | HBO

Television could be a harmful influence on your friendships. Live Science acknowledges a study out of Brigham Young University that suggests the snarkiness of reality TV has a negative effect on how we treat each other.

So while the verbal jabs you see on TV seem like works of fiction, they could actually be provoking negative behavior from your friend. Ask yourself: Is my friend talking to me as though I’m an opponent on The Bachelor? All that mean-spirited behavior might be a sign that ties need to be cut.

Ask yourself — can you rely on them?

young woman driving in black car and checking her phone

Too many disappointing texts? Perhaps it’s time to give this friend the boot. | iStock.com/nandyphotos

We aren’t just talking about flaking out on dinner plans. Some friends have poor time management or lead a hectic lifestyle, and aren’t good at keeping plans. But if a friend is unreliable when it comes to big things, it can be a sign you need to move on.

Did you experience a death in the family, and your friend was nowhere to be found for support? Did you experience a work crisis and need to vent, only to find your friend is too preoccupied to lend an ear? This unreliable behavior can be especially hurtful if said friend expects you to always be at their beck and call. Ask yourself these questions when considering cutting ties.

The most disturbing sign a friend is bad? A lack of trust

Sad girl crying and a friend comforting her outdoors

Without trust, there might as well be no friendship at all. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

As cheesy as it sounds, trust is a two-way street. And if you can’t trust your friend, that is the telltale sign that you should show them the door. No matter how secure of a person you are, it’s hard to reaffirm trust in someone that has all-out betrayed you.

If this friend has been in your life for a long time and has never broken your trust before, you may feel like the friendship is fixable. Be as upfront with this friend as possible and tell him or her how hurt you are. If they don’t acknowledge their wrongdoing and just makes you feel worse, you’re better off severing ties.

Besides, you don’t want everything you do to be criticized

Sad woman lying on the couch at night

No friendship should ever ruin your self-esteem. | iStock.com/tommaso79

A good friend will give you constructive criticism — and hopefully you take it. Meanwhile, a bad friend will criticize everything you do to the point that you feel bad about yourself. Ask yourself: Do you dread telling this friend a story for fear of them making fun of you? Do you worry about the clothes you wear in front of them because you’re afraid they will judge you? These are signs that your friend is overly-critical.

“You have the ability to interfere with another’s self-esteem and self-worth,” Donna Labermeier of The Huffington Post says, “which changes who they are and how they perceive the world around them.” If you friend has this impact on your self-esteem, consider moving away from them.

Remember, you aren’t obligated to stick with toxic friends

men clanging glasses of alcoholic beverage

You alone choose who you break your bread — and toast your shots — with. | iStock.com/GeorgeRudy

One problem that arises before you have to cut a friendship off is you feel obligated to spend time with them. Keep in mind, though, that you are never actually obligated when it comes to your platonic relationships. As The Atlantic reminds us, friendships are one of the few relationships in our lives where we get to choose to enter them. Since it’s your choice to get into a friendship, then it is also your choice to get out.