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How Toxic Friendships Affect the Quality of Your Romantic Relationship

Written by Moni Tang
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate
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Friendships and romantic relationships are two important elements of your life. Good friends provide support and help you enrich your life. Toxic friends come in all shapes and sizes, and they can negatively affect many parts of your life. Many people have noticed that toxic friendships bring drama, gossip, and negative feelings within the friend circle, but few have noticed its influence on the quality of romantic life.

Toxic friendships can cause fights and arguments, decrease intimacy, and create distance between you and your partner. How?

Signs toxic a friendship may secretly be affecting the quality of your romantic relationship:

  1. They are not accepting of your choice of partner or your relationship
  2. They criticize, and are judgmental of your partner
  3. They try to compete against your partner for your attention
  4. They try to embarrass you in front of your partner
  5. They occupy all of your free time (hanging out, talking on the phone, texting, visiting, etc.), and you have no time left for your partner
  6. They are disrespectful and rude to your partner
  7. They only focus on the flaws of your relationship, and seek to hear about the negatives over positives in your relationship
  8. They get mad at you when they are not invited to your romantic dinner or your couples vacation
  9. They get jealous of your happiness when your romantic relationship is going well
  10. They try to discredit your relationship, satisfaction, and happiness, and make you feel guilty
  11. They only see the negative side of their own relationship, and try to convince you to ignore all the good in your relationship
  12. They have unhealthy lifestyle habits, and try to pressure you to do things that are against your relationship ideology

If you can think of a friend in one or more of these scenarios, it is probably wise to determine what is important to you, and have a talk with that friend; it may be time to end that friendship. If you and your partner often argue because of that friend or their toxic behaviors, then that friend is affecting the quality of your romantic relationship.

How toxic friendships affect your romantic relationship

There is a social stigma around ending a friendship, but some toxic friends may bring more costs than benefits when it comes to influencing your mental health and relationship satisfaction. Those toxic behaviors may lead you to focus more on negatives than positives in your relationships.

You may no longer feel comfortable bringing your partner around your friends, or vice versa. You may withdraw from social events or recreational activities to avoid conflict and discomfort between that friend or friends and your partner. Between your partner and that friend, you may need to constantly please and comfort, which in turn may bring you more stress and anxiety. When your partner and your friend cannot get along with each other, you end up keeping your social time separate, and have less support from both parties.

Because you will be stuck in the middle, toxic friendships can bring you different degrees of distress, isolation, and feelings of inadequacy as a friend and romantic partner.


Romantic partners and friends can provide you different types of support, companionship, and love. When your friends and your partner enjoy each other’s presence, the quality of your relationships will become more satisfying. Your partner and friends will collaborate and work together to create a strong support network that encourages personal and relational growth.

When friendships and romantic relationships can coexist, you will be able to feel more supported, engage in more social activities, and form more meaningful relationships in your life. You will not only be able to balance your free time between friends and partner, but also develop a healthy boundary between social and private life.

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