toxic behavior in a friend group where you have to pretend you like how they treat you
Illustration by Kalyn Street, Drexel University
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toxic behavior in a friend group where you have to pretend you like how they treat you
Illustration by Kalyn Street, Drexel University

It is important to recognize when the people around you are not treating you right. These are some red flags to look for.

If you’re a millennial or Gen Z, the word “toxic” should ring a bell. According to CNBC, Oxford Dictionary made “toxic” the word of the year in 2018. The term allows people to talk about situations, things, events and their concerns; unfortunately, it has been used so much that it has lost its meaning. Phrases like “That is toxic” or “You’re toxic” have become prominent on social media over the years. That said, the term is still useful; the word becomes a way for people to express themselves and leave complicated relationships that don’t serve them. What are you doing if you haven’t cut someone off because of their toxic behaviors?

Identifying Toxic people

According to Manhattan Medical Arts, “Toxic people are very manipulative: Their methodology is to get people to do what they want. They are self-centered individuals who use manipulation to convince others to serve as pawns in their agenda.”

Toxic people are controlling and believe they can do no wrong. Their whole existence is driven by their ego and it is draining to be around. They are judgmental, inconsistent and the list could go on, but the main point is that they are vampires — they suck the life out of you.

How Do You Deal With Toxic People?

It could be your family members, the people you call friends or your social media mutuals. Firstly, it is vital to pay attention to how you feel in the specific environment you put yourself in. This can indicate who is good or bad to be around. Recognizing your mental state around people will save you a lifetime of stress, depression and anxiety.

Secondly, don’t fear confrontation, because it’s the way to freedom. Speaking and standing up for yourself is a superpower many don’t have. Asserting yourself in uncomfortable situations shows the other person not to play with your boundaries. It’s easier said than done, but it’s a skill that takes practice because of how intense it can feel.

Most importantly, learn to say “no” and make it your favorite word with toxic people. Consider the toxic behaviors that empower them to manipulate you and always get what they want at your expense. Lastly, learn to put yourself first; if you haven’t heard of the voiceover on TikTok that says, “I got to put me first,” well, remember it in any situation. Prioritize yourself by caring, loving and doing things that you want others to do for you. Don’t get caught up helping everyone when you’re not okay. Think of the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Learn to live by it.

7 Toxic Behaviors That Are Normalized

A vital tip to remember is to familiarize yourself with toxic behaviors so you know what to do in certain situations. Millennials and Gen Z experience lots of pressure in the digital age where everything is on the internet. People are forced to see only the good parts of others’ lives through beautiful images of their travel or lifestyle. It has become a trend for an influencer to educate followers on how to get to where they are — this is not a bad thing, though; it is just how it’s done that’s a problem. We live in a world that is fast-paced, and everyone feels like they have not reached their full potential.

  1. Hustle Culture: Many millennials and Gen Z believe that work and career is the No. 1 priority in their lives. So, they work hard and lose sleep because they must achieve their dreams. Not realizing how important sleep is, people throw around the phrase, “Sleep is for the weak.” That way of thinking makes people feel guilty for taking breaks. People must realize it is okay to be tired. The human body needs rest to function.
  2. Drinking: If you’re a millennial or Gen Z, you can understand the pressure friends or coworkers put on you to drink when you don’t want to. It gets to the point where you are called boring for not wanting to engage in the activity. A person doesn’t have to drink to have fun or be drunk to be fun.
  3. Being a Workaholic: No one understands this better than a graduate who already practices what they went to school for. Your career should not be your whole life nor the source of your entire identity. You’re more than your job.
  4. Invective Masked as Constructive Criticism: The idea of giving a harsh opinion on something and saying it is supposed to help a person is harmful. That’s a behavior that shouldn’t be normalized.
  5. Romanticizing Struggle: People love to romanticize the idea of struggling and how it has made them strong, but is it something to be happy about? Getting life experience from life struggles is sometimes harsh, depending on the situation. Being mindful of how we praise people that struggle is vital.
  6. Broadcasting Self-Love: Social media is where more and more people share visuals of themselves doing their self-care routine. It becomes an aesthetic that low-key misleads viewers into believing their daily lives revolve around what they post. There is more to life than making videos of yourself exercising, reading, journaling or making coffee first thing in the morning. Instead of curating a certain image, self-love means a person must learn to love and learn about themselves.
  7. Unhealthy Relationships: A person should not stay in an unhealthy relationship because they are afraid of being alone. That will continue to cause harm to you and your significant other. Just because a person is in a relationship doesn’t mean they are complete. You don’t need a significant other to be happy or make you happy. That is your job.

Writer Profile

Amandine Shadia

The University of Arizona Global Campus
Journalim and Mass Communication

Amandine Shadia is a courageous writer who loves to educate herself about many topics. Shadia can take on both bad or good that comes in her life. She is a senior at The University of Arizona Global Campus.

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