• Handling Breakups

Toxic friendship: A friend Who Saps Your Energy

Published: January 23, 2016 | Last Updated: April 17, 2024 By | 17 Replies Continue Reading
If a friend consistently saps your energy and leaves you feeling drained, it is a one-sided friendship.


Hi Irene,

I have a friend who I started talking to again after several years of her absence. She apologized for not being there for me when my Mom passed. She acted like I was the only friend with whom she had with anything in common.

I have had a lot going on in my life related to family and health problems and my own employment difficulties but she was calling me every day and texting me. I could tell she had lost her self-esteem so I tried to encourage her and highlight her positive qualities.

She started doing a similar work as me and all of a sudden she started telling me she had the same things going on as me in her new job. I told her about a few childhood experiences when I had been physically injured and she began telling me about her own childhood experiences that were absolutely awful. I told her I couldn’t imagine living through what she had.

I was studying for an exam and she knew this. She had a procedure she was having done and needed someone to provide transportation, which I did. But then the following week she had set up the same procedure asking me to take her there again.

I was having a horrible time focusing on my studying because of her endless texting. When she asked me if I would take her to her second appointment I told her I had my own appointment, which was the truth. My appointment was changed afterwards so I decided to go ahead and use my time to study without telling her about the appointment change. She drove by my home and saw my car so she texted me to let me know this.

She accused me of telling her a lie. I told her that I did not owe her any explanation when I am doing what I need to do for self care.

I literally felt like she was sucking the life out of me. I finally asked her not to text me any longer, which she refused to do so I had to tell her would I report her to the phone company.

After this ordeal I had no energy, feeling like she had taken it away with her nonsense. I began to realize that elements of stories she told me were actually things I had previously shared with her about myself. I ended up feeling like she had stolen my emotional identity emotionally.

Any thoughts or ideas about this type of situation?

One thing I realized that I did wrong was being a rescuer. Am trying to figure out how to get past the feeling of having my emotional experiences stolen.

Signed, Greta


Hi Greta,

There is probably no purpose in speculating about your friend’s motivations but this wasn’t a healthy, mutually rewarding friendship if it consistently left you feeling drained and sapped of energy.

Maybe in your eagerness to be a “rescuer” and supportive friend, the relationship became one-sided.

It’s great that you were able to identify what was wrong with this relationship and cut off contact. More importantly, with this awareness, you are less likely to fall into a similar situation in the future.

What you are feeling now is the disappointment of a failed friendship, which will take some time to get over. Focus on cultivating other friendships and being thankful that you disengaged from this one.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (17)

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  1. Arlene says:

    I would watch the movie Single White Female. You sound like you are describing a person with a serious personality disorder. It is apparent all your mannerly requests for privacy are ignored by her. For your own protection, I would totally block her from email, phone, cell – that part is easy. If she continues, like showing up at your work, or just dropping by the house, I would get a no contact order. This one sounds ill!

  2. Ben says:

    I wanted to share a recent experience because it taught me something. I recently dated someone who I would classify as a narcissist type personality and I had never done that before and I did not pick up on it right away but it was very draining and once I had gotten out my mood elevated about 200 percent.

    People with such personalities do not have the tag on their clothes that they are narcissists or any other psychological label. My gut had told me something did not add up but I hadn’t a clue. I could not see the signs when I was with her but I can now.

    Hope this helps…

  3. Laura Derkson says:

    I totally understand what it is like to have a toxic friendship. A woman I knew about 15 years ago was controlling. I was always having lunch with her when we went to university. I couldn’t seem to say no. She would deliberately try to embarrass me (pulling pads out of her bag and then saying, “Oops, sorry.”) And she didn’t like it that I worked while going to school. She would say, “You should watch that.” I liked to listen to a Walkman, and she would say, “You really like listening to that thing don’t you?” I would say, “Yeah” in a childlike way. As far as I’m concerned these things were none of her business. I saw her one time at school and refused to talk to her. I gave up the friendship, never calling her again. Good for you.

  4. Kay says:

    I would be a needy friend. Although I wouldn’t drive by your place to see if you lied to me. And if I saw you were home (if I happened to drive by) as my friend I would have dropped in to see how your appointment went and if there was anyway to help you study if not then set up a time for us to get together where we could enjoy a movie or dinner etc… the fact she was texting you to catch you in a lie tells me this was a scary relationship. I recently went through a difficult time in my life and connected to a friend from grade school. She is so sweet and allowed me to talk and text as well as facebook but then I realized I overstepped. I was needy even though willing to do anything for her and she knew that I was draining her so I stopped so that later we could get in touch when both of us have time and maybe grandkids. You did right thing..

  5. Lyn says:

    Understand your story so well friends like this are toxic and it’s best to get rid.
    Have just had the same thing happened to me luckily I realised this person was no good for me drained me of energy and the friendship was so one sided.
    I agree there is some thing very wrong with these type of friends it’s not healthy when I declined to do as she wanted she got nasty but I have refused to bite back and just made it clear I do not need all the crap that sort of friendship brings.
    I just wish I never let this person in to my life not a very nice experience but I was low and in a bad place at the time and what gets me is why she seems to think it’s ok to treat me badly and say unkind things when all I ever did was show kindness and listen to her.
    What I did not realise when first meeting her how nice these types can seem they draw you in and suck the life out of you.

  6. Judge Judy says:

    The earlier problems like the constant texts and neediness, and driving by your house then confronting you about why you were home, just sounded annoying and like she doesn’t respect boundaries.

    However, continuing to text you after you told her to stop, combined with your statement that you feel like she “stole your emotional identity,” well please be careful and document everything because those are all common signs of a female stalker.

  7. Maddie says:

    I need to study and cannot text right now.

    Then do not read anymore texts from her.

    People will walk all over us if we let them.

    You don’t have to cater to needy people. Be strong and polite and set boundaries. If she’s upset, she’ll live.

  8. Someone says:

    I had a friend like this. Draining me with constant texts, Facebook messages, requests to hang out, and requiring constant reassurance about everything, including our own friendship itself. At first, I thought it was my duty to comply, because of my own weak boundaries and lack of experience.

    I started noticing that she wasn’t asking how I felt or how I was doing, she stopped checking in with me about how I was feeling. It became about her comfort and satiety and quelling her emotional hunger.

    Sadly, once I voiced my thoughts and requested boundaries, the friendship ended. I noticed that she “borrowed” a lot from my vocabulary, my music tastes, my opinions, my friends, and my lifestyle. I think people who do this have attachment issues and they don’t know how to be close with someone without wanting to cling to and MERGE WITH them. I think people that imitate like this have poor boundaries too, what’s yours is also theirs, because they see you as a part of them, not a seperate person. They have a hard time not enmeshing themselves with who they love, it’s their version of “being close” while to me it was smothering.

    • Ann says:

      I think that are two sides to every story and pathologizjng the other party does not lead to healing. For example, if one has a long friendship, if one radically changes their behavior, that can hurt the other person, particularly if the other never told them why they were changing their behavior and what they were unhappy about. That happened to me when my best friend of 40 years reunited with an old boyfriend and started having an extramarital affair with him (they were both married and she had previously been involved with him when he was engaged..) she then had no time for me and lied to me…for example, coming up supposedly to visit me in another state when she actually left the visit early to meet her boyfriend . During the last year of our friendship she was extremely critical and gaslit me… becoming angry that I was hurt we would have not have any celebration of a milestone birthday…a mutual friendship ritual we had done for years, getting angry when I was delayed by car trouble coming up to visit her, angry when I told her I had cried over an incident I’d had relating to a physical disability that was getting worse., and even angry when I sent a birthday package in the last weeks of our dying friendship; she literally said, “oh, I’d never have time to do that!” I should have ended the friendship when I first saw this horrible resentment and her failure to discuss any thing with me. She also had various psychological diagnoses for me which she got from tv as she had no education beyond high school ,despite being a bright woman. I felt humiliated by these especially as I have advanced training in these areas. Later I found many things she wrote online that stunned me . it was like she’d conducted a secret trial and handed down a harsh judgement that she never informed me about. It all makes me sad…there were big disparities between us in terms of education and lifestyle and occupational background but we both came from troubled families. This once bonded us but probably impacted all this. If her case she had a very abusive and critical father and I felt she turned that rage on me. The sad thing is I loved her. and we had a wonderful friendship for many years. I have no good memories as I saw a side of her that stunned me. I just hope the wound…she doesn’t have one…eventually with time comes to heal. I no longer want any contact with her.

  9. Ang says:

    Good for you on setting up boundaries with this woman. Unfortunately energy vampires like this don’t understand their friends needing space, and they do think they are always owed something. I’ve been through friends like this before, even one currently. It’s no picnic dealing with friends like this but just keep sticking to your guns and taking care of yourself first.

  10. T says:

    I have met a few of thee types,and in a couple of instances had trouble getting rid of 2 of them. One friend was ok when I said I just wanted to leave it there because I decided she wasnt the type I wanted to be friends with and had many problemsand I hadnt seen her for a while,but then turned quite nasty about it,the other one was really nice and then started touting that I had used her and that I owed her,to which I did not at all. I told her nicely we should go our seperate ways as it wasnt working out.She was mad when I broke it off.I concluded that its best not to befriend people too quickly before you know who they really are.These people believe the world owes them something,which is wrong and thats why they act this way. Its always a bad situation,when it goes wrong. These types are not right in the head and dont respect the answer no. People copy stories because they want so desperately to connect with you,it doesnt mean you should be friends.Its a sign of desperation and obsession that isnt healthy or mature.Its best to cut and run and have nothing to do with them. You did the right thing.

  11. Cecilia says:

    Dear Greta,

    I’m exhausted from reading about your friend. She is an “energy vampire” who sucks the life out of you. Life is too short to be miserable. I learned this from having experienced toxic friendships myself. Please let her go for your own sake. Peace.

  12. Ben says:

    Good for you Greta for recognizing when your needs were just as important as hers. Sounds like you handled it well when you had the insight that things were out of whack. We all go through learning opportunities when we discover new boundary awareness. Hopefully in the future you will continue to recognize the warning signs and develop even more healthy boundaries!! Well done!!!

  13. Amy F says:

    When reading your letter I wondered why you were friends with this woman when you seem to be getting nothing out of the relationship? Your friendship seems like nothing but drama at this point. If nothing else, you sound like you need a break,

  14. jacqueline says:

    She sounds very jealous of you and that she wants to BE YOU!

    Any relationship is a balance of give and take. This one was very one-sided.

    Press delete.

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