The Judgy Friendship Trait That's Actually Super Toxic

Our friends are usually the most uplifting aspect of our social life. As the cliché goes, they are the family we get to choose. We go to them for advice, laughter, inspiration, commiseration, and, most of all, acceptance. However, sometimes we rely on people that aren't really friends to us. We make time for them, and we care about them, but we are really in a one-sided friendship. Instead of making us feel empowered and accepted, they make us feel bad about ourselves.

If you leave a friend's company and you feel less confident and secure in yourself than before you met with them, this may be a major red flag that your friend is toxic. Sometimes people have subtle ways of accomplishing this effect. They try to mask the harshness of their insults and judgments, making it difficult to speak up at the moment. But if you reflect on your conversation and realize they are comparing you unfairly to someone else, you can be certain that you have a right to be upset and reconsider the value of the friendship at hand.

What this trait says about your friend

Because social media has made it a struggle to avoid comparing ourselves to others, it's safe to say that most of us can relate to the platitude "comparison is the thief of joy." So, if your friend compares you to someone else in a way that reflects negatively on you, they could be attempting to rob you of joy intentionally and make you feel like you're not enough. They are choosing to comment on the positive qualities in someone else in an effort to make you feel less than or lacking. This is obviously no way to make a friend feel valued and appreciated. There are many reasons your friend could be doing this. Hint: None of them are justified.

In an exclusive interview with The List, body language expert Darren Stanton explained that "Despite the close friendship and deep rapport you may enjoy with another person, sometimes they do not want to accept your success, as it makes them feel bad about themselves." When people are looking to make you feel less confident, it's likely because they want to bring you down to the low point they are at themselves. Psychotherapist Barbara Neitlich reiterated this to Today, saying that "When you are extremely judgmental about a friend, most likely you are extremely judgmental about yourself."

How to respond to a friend's toxic behavior

First of all, try not to let their comments impact your self-esteem. Remind yourself that because we are all so unique, your friend's rude remarks may not be rational. It's as if they are judging an orange for not swimming like fish. To find inner peace and self-love, it's essential that we accept we are not in the same lane as anyone else. This is easier said than done, but try your hardest not to take their words personally.

Natalie Ruge, a licensed marriage and family therapist, had some advice for a Refinery29 reader who submitted a question about a friend's judgmental put-downs. When talking to the friend, Ruge said, " ... let her know you're coming from a place of concern and use 'I' statements instead of 'You' statements so she doesn't feel attacked ... ask if she's okay. It could be that she's hurting and doesn't know how to talk about her pain, and instead inflicts it on others." 

While it's best to come from a place of compassion, it is also important you let your friend know how they affected you. You want friends who appreciate you for who you are. If their disparaging remarks continue after you have addressed the issue with them, you may want to weigh whether it's worth it to keep the friendship in your life.