I was re-reading my post from the other day about How to tell if he’s The One — because yes, I do read my own blog. More often than I should, actually…
I even laugh at the jokes… like I didn’t make them myself or something…
Don’t judge me. ;)
Anyhoo, it occurred to me that the whole “The one you choose should lift you up, not drag you down” thing applies to friendships as well, and not just romantic relationships.
Thing is, I think we tend to be more forgiving and less choosy about friends than we are about potential mates. Which actually makes sense, come to think of it. You can have lots of friends, but only one significant other. I hope.
But our friends are a really big part of our lives nonetheless. Their influence is significant, so it’s a mistake to underestimate their effect on our happiness and self-esteem.
Toxic friendships can destroy you. So we need to choose the people we hang around with well — especially since friends are often harder to break up with than love interests.
So how do you know if a friend is toxic? Actually, you probably already do, even without anyone having to tell you. Because when you’re with him or her, you’re just EXHAUSTED, and probably more than a little resentful.
But if you need a description to be sure, here’s a good one from Jenn Berman, PhD:
It’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally. - WebMD
Still not 100% sure? Here’s a checklist of traits to look out for:
Toxic friends are:
1. Negative to the point of being insulting - You know the type, because you roll your eyes or gnash your teeth every time you see their posts on Facebook (if you haven’t hidden or blocked them yet). They’re always complaining, they never see the bright side, and they put you and other people down constantly.
2. Unsupportive - You’re always there for them, but they can’t be counted on to be there for you. They downplay (or even make fun of) your achievements and other things that are important to you.
3. Envious/jealous/possessive - They’re never truly happy for other people because they want what they have. And if they can’t have something, no one can.
4. Manipulative - They’re only nice when they need something, and know all the right buttons to push to make you comply - including emotional blackmail. If you can’t give them what they want, you can be sure there’ll be hell to pay in one way or another.
5. Selfish/Self-centered - If it’s not about them, or if it doesn’t benefit them, they just can’t be bothered.
6. Immoral - You may like them, but you know you can’t trust them. They’re dishonest and/or unethical and just generally bad news, and they don’t normally appreciate advice or judgement from people looking to steer them toward a better path.
7. Insincere - They pretend to like/support/be happy for you when they’re with you, but behind your back it’s a whole other story. Even when they’re “being nice,” there’s always some sort of catty kicker.
8. Unavailable - They expect you to be available for them whenever they need you, but when you’re the one who needs a friend, they’re too busy to pencil you in. (See #5: Selfish)
9. Inconsiderate - They don’t care that their demands are inconvenient, and when you do make sacrifices to accommodate them, they’re rarely even grateful.
10. A bad influence - They push you to do things you’re uncomfortable with, and egg you on to make bad decisions and poor life choices.
Do you have friends like that? And if you do, should you dump them? Hmmm. Good question.
Call me idealistic (or even stupid), but I’ve always believed that “bad people” are never bad simply for the sake of being bad, or to make others miserable. It’s not like it’s something they plan.
So in many cases, although some friends may be difficult and semi-toxic, I tend to try to understand where they’re coming from, and just TELL them when they’re bugging the hell out of me. That usually works. Because when people are being bad friends, a lot of the time it’s because they’re just clueless, and you allow them to get away with it.
But when a friendship is so toxic that it’s sucking the life and goodness out of you, I think more drastic measures are necessary. Break it off. Just pull the plug. You don’t need that kind of crazy shiz in your life.
As my imaginary BFF Karen says:
Think about it. :)
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