What to Do When Your Friend is a Jerk? (+7 Toxic Red-Flags)

In this guide we are going to discuss how you can handle a friend who is being a jerk to you. 

We will take a look at what you can do to protect yourself and have a healthy relationship with this friend.

My friend is a jerk: What do I do

It is not uncommon to realise that the friends that you love spending time with, the friend that has supported you, and has been present for your victories and defeats is actually a jerk. 

Here are a few steps you can take to deal with this situation:

  • Talk it out with them
  • Set up healthy boundaries
  • Give the friendship a break
  • Let them go

This person might have been a jerk to you for a long time and you just hadn’t noticed or they might be a jerk to everyone else except you. It can be a difficult dilemma to come to terms with this. 

Let us try to make sense of what is happening to your friendship and what you can do about it. 

Signs your friend is a jerk

Here are some telling signs and behaviours that are often seen in people who are “toxic” or “jerks” in a friendship or any sort of relationship.

  • They criticise you a lot and these criticisms are not constructive. They tend to highlight the downsides of all that you do and have achieved.
  • They make you feel used. You might notice that they tend to take advantage of your time, money, resources for their own gain- be it blatantly or more subtly. You are often left feeling used rather than equals when they reach out to you with a “favor”.
  • You don’t like yourself when you are with them. Perhaps they push on to you the “standard” of how you are to behave when you are with them. It might not be a direct command but the way they act and the things they say can pressure you to say things you don;t mean or do things you don’t like. No matter if you are a teen or an adult, peer pressure is real. 
  • Their behaviour towards others tend to embarass you. They might do things that you know is not socially acceptable- like objectifying women, making fat jokes, or discrimiation others because of their race, colour, and social status. These sorts of behaviours and beliefs often leave you embarrassed, uncomfortable, and perhaps even angry. 
  • You make excuses for them in spite of all their behaviours especially when people reach out to you with concerns. While you are concerned about their behaviour, you might try to justify them because of your sense of loyalty and friendship.
  • You don’t enjoy time with them even if you do your favorite activities or they take you on an amazing vacation, or your favorite moving screening. In Spite of all these things, it should feel good that you just don’t like their company because of what they do. 
  • They take more than they give you. Your relationship with them is not like that of equals. They take from you emotionally, physically, mentally, financially. They take your time and efforts. However, they are unwilling to give the same in return. 

If you think these are some of the things you identify in your relationship with your friends, it could be that you are dealing with a toxic friend who is an overall jerk. So let us look at what you can do to sort this out. 

Steps you can take

Talk It Out

The first thing you can do for your friend, even if he is a jerk, is to help them. Just because they are mean and tend to do things that hurt you and other people, does not mean that they do not deserve a chance to change. 

Take a moment out of both your days, schedule a time to have a sit down chat with them. Do it not only for them but also to address the way you feel about their behaviour. 

Direct Assertive communication is one way to handle things. This involves addressing the issue at and by highlighting what their behaviour does to you. 

You do not blame them but rather highlight their behaviour. By separating their behaviour from their person by using less of “You” and more of “Your behaviour” might make them less defensive and more willing to hear you out. 

If you’ve had a falling out or need to speak to a friend about an issue. Reach out to them. Tell them you would like to repair the friendship and want to talk about what happened.

Sometimes, people behave in rude ways because of various reasons such as stress, internalized beliefs, and projection of their own fears and anxieties. As their friend, you can help them cope with this by asking them what is making them behave this way. 

You have to be mindful of the fact that you are their friend and not their therapist, so while you can lend them an ear and support, you cannot change them or fix the problem.

Set up boundaries

Just because you have been friends for 10 years does not mean that you are responsible for them. Even if you consider them part of the family.

Setting boundaries with them by expressing what you are willing to accept and tolerate and what you are not, can be one way to set down your rights and show them that you are serious about how their behaviour is affecting you and others. 

Your boundaries can even include a change in hw close they are to you or how much of a priority they are in your life. It might be a difficult thing to do, especially if your friend is your best friend. 

But creating some distance between both of you can be a healthy choice for you and perhaps give them time to reflect on what you shared with them


Give The Friendship a Break

Another way you can create distance is by telling your friends that you are taking a break from them. Do this not as a punishment to them but rather a mindful act of self-preservation for yourself- to heal from their behaviour. 

Take a break for an indefinite time, and in that period do things without your best-friend, meet new people, hang out with other people and connect with your family. Chances are, you can develop healthier relationships with people who care about you than someone who is unaware of the hurt they are causing you in spite of you telling them.

Let them go

Though it will be difficult, consider letting them go. When your friend is unwilling to empathize with you and does not seem to want to change- there is nothing else you can do. 

It is not your responsibility as their friend to stick by them even if they hurt you, and be assured that they will use it against you when you call it quits.

Ending a friendship is also part of setting your boundaries, especially when these bodies are being compromised disrespectfully by your friend who in spite of you telling them about how their behaviour hurts you is still doing it. 

They may be your best friend but you do not need to wait for them to change. In fact, they need not even change for you but for themselves. If they are not making efforts to do better by themselves, it is obvious that they will not do better by you. 

So as an effort of self-love and self preservation, you can make it known to them that you are walking away from this friendship for your own well-being and wish them luck.


In this guide we have discussed what are some of the signs that your friend is a jerk and what you can do to deal with it. 





Frequently asked questions related to “My friend is a jerk: What do I do?”

How do you respond to a jerk?

Here are somethings you can do to deal with a jerk:

  • Don’t reply back, simply ignore.
  • Get curious about their motives and understand why they are behaving this way. Chances are, they probably are threatened by you or they don;t know how to handle their own insecurities.
  • Defriend immediately if there is no sign of remorse or effort to change
  • Stick up for others and encourage others to do the same.


What is jerk behavior?

A jerk behavior is often cruel and selfish, rude even. It is often done by people who have unresolved issues with themselves, tohers, and the world. They tend to hurt others out of spite and even tend to use people for their own advantage without remorse. 

What do you do when your best friend is being mean to you?

Few things you can do if you notice your best friend being mean to you are:

  • Make sure you read the situation correctly
  • Try talking about the issue with your friend.
  • Discuss it with someone else you trust. 
  • Look for ways to resolve the conflict. 
  • Know when to cut your losses. 
  • Let it go if you find that your friend does not empathise with you or is unwilling to resolve the issue. 

How can you tell a fake friend?

Signs that your friend is fake:

  • They’re a fair-weather friend
  • They aren’t there for you when you need support
  • They always seem to need something from you and never seem to want to help out. 
  • They’re competitive with you in unhealthy ways about every single thing. 
  • They make you feel bad about yourself by adding non-constructive criticisms. 
  • They don’t celebrate with you.
  • They talk about you behind your back.

What is toxic friendship?

In a toxic friendship, you never feel supported or celebrated. You feel minimized or ignored and at times, even used. A friendship is toxic when you find yourself anxious over what they might say and do to you. There might even be manipulation and emotional or physical abuse involved. They might take advantage of you and talk about you behind your back. 

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