Since my post on BF’s first anniversary, I have been pretty sick. I mentioned in that post that I had an ‘inner ear virus’ that caused me to get dizzy, feel nauseous, and basically have this sick feeling that I am constantly moving.
To put a long story short, it never really went away after 3 different rounds of medication. During that time, more symptoms cropped up, which lead me to hospital for some tests and me deciding to make some major changes in my life. During this ordeal, I have realized who my true friends are. They say you can really tell who your true friends are in times of trouble, and I have to agree! My doctor also said that one of the reasons why this illness isn’t going away is because of stress, so she asked me what was up and we had a little chat about what was on my mind, which were my disappointment in a few of my friends. She gave me some great advice as well as her own stories and I’m happy to report I am over it and ready to start anew!
It was also so weird how one night during this time I randomly came across a great site that wrote about toxic friendships. It has inspired me to write my own post and perhaps help other readers who may be dealing with them.
I think toxic friends are a source of stress and unnecessary drama that can affect your happiness, which I believe is the root of true beauty; inside and out.
Identifying the Toxic Friend
Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends explained to WebMD.com:
“Friendships are important everywhere, and they have positive things to contribute to all areas of your life. But that means they can also be toxic in any of these areas as well.”
Isaacs explains that a toxic friendship is unsupportive, draining, unrewarding, stifling, unsatisfying, and often unequal. “Toxic friends stress you out, use you, are unreliable, are overly demanding, and don’t give anything back.”
Friendships permeate our lives, having an impact on our careers, marriages, families, children, health, and even our retirement.
Types of Toxic Friends
These are some of the many ‘types’ and characteristics a of toxic friend could have:
- The Gossiper: She thrives on gossip, scandal and drama. She bad mouthes everyone and makes you think what she could be saying about you. You have probably met a lot of these people in high school!
- The Wet Blanket/Victim: She only calls you when there is something wrong in her life. In fact, her life motto is ‘Woe is me.’ When it’s all good, you never hear from her. This friend takes you for granted and has appointed you as their personal therapist. You could be having a wonderful day and a phone call from her can bring you down and completely wear you out.
- The Envious One: Let’s be honest – girls can get very catty, and most of it steams from insecurity. This is the friend that very subtly criticizes you, makes everything a competition, and even sounds happy when you are having a bad day.
- The User: A person who has identified that you have/know something that they want. Whether it is for them to further their career, or as simple as you have a hot brother and she wants to get with him! Either way, this person is just using you for their own benefit and provide absolutely nothing to your life.
Signs of a Toxic Friend
There are many more ‘types’ of toxic friends than the ones I listed above, but ultimately, to identify a toxic friend, it is to see how you feel about them. Here are a few ideas. You:-
- don’t feel comfortable with this person.
- feel ‘down’ about yourself after talking or seeing this person. Either because they insult you, make you feel inferior, question you, or because they are just give off a negative vibe.
- feel anxious and afraid when you see an e-mail or a text message from them, anticipating what they might say/demand from you.
- have this nagging feeling that this person wants something from you and is not genuine. Your gut instinct is always right!
- feel tired, drained, exhausted, defeated, stressed out and generally bad about yourself with this person.
- Still undecided? These questions will help figure out if your friend is doing more harm than good.
Dealing with the Toxic Friend
Before I go on, here’s some food-for-thought from Thought Catalog’s article ‘Everyone Should Get Rid of Their Toxic Friends‘. I know that for me, I’d always feel “really bad” for dumping certain people in my life, even though I knew they were bad for me – I’d still try to help them, etc. While the audience for this article is in their mid-twenties, I still think this passage is great for anyone and puts it very bluntly:
I feel like your twenties are a time when you cut the fat and find out who’s really meant to stick by you. In such an insane time of transition, friendships aren’t easy to maintain like they once were in college. Now we actually have to put work into it, we have to make a conscious effort to keep the friendship going. This shift allows you to really ask yourself, “Is this person worth it? Do they treat me like crap or what?” And if you have your doubts, chances are they aren’t meant to be a part of your tribe. Toxic friendships do nothing but drag you down.
…Take care of yourself and stop hanging out with douchebags. Only surround yourself with people who bring out the best qualities in you. It sounds corny but it’s true. If you don’t like the way you act when you’re around someone, maybe you should reconsider being around them.
It’s time to build your second family. The friends you have now will likely be the ones you have forever, so you might as well make sure they’re solid!
So… got a few people in mind? Now how exactly do you get rid of them? I never want to have enemies or cause conflict with people, so trying to ‘end it’ with them has been the hardest for me. How do you politely rid someone out of your life anyway?
Some people find it very easy – in fact when I asked a friend about this, he said I should just send them a text saying “Please f*** off. Bye.” Haha! Men. Easy for him to say, huh?! But for the um, mature approach, here are a few ideas you can consider:
1. Set boundaries.
When you are helping a friend but they are hurting you in the process, nobody is feeling good and nothing productive is happening – this is what happened to me. In general though, you can simply learn to start saying ‘no’. No to 20 phone calls a day about her stupid ex boyfriend. No to insulting anyone in your family. No to calling you last minute and expecting you to drop everything to see her. It is hard, because at the same time you want to be there for a friend but you have to set boundaries or it will eat you alive.
My doctor said something very eye-opening to me. I told her that even though these people treat me like dirt, I can’t just ignore someone in trouble because I feel bad and I have to help somehow. She replied, ‘You can’t be everyone’s savior, Renee.’ … And she’s right. For these friends of mine, their issues have been going on for years, yet they are not doing anything about it. At the end of the day, you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. You will just end up drowning with them. You can help a friend out but you must set boundaries and stick to it – it’s for your own good, and could teach them something in the process.
2. Speak to them.
This is probably the hardest … If you would like to give this friendship another go, there is no other way to change it then to honestly speak to them about how you are feeling. Stand up for yourself and tell them enough is enough. In middle school, this girl used to slap her friends – including me. She used to slap people if a joke was funny, if she was angry – for example, ‘hey, that was my pen’ – slap! – for any reason, really. It was strange! I eventually got one my friends who also thought this wasn’t right and we both told her off, and she stopped.
If, once again, they are defensive, blame it on you, become very angry, abusive, etc, then I think it’s best to cut this friendship off. At least you can say you tried.
In some cases though, you may not want to sort it out and just end the friendship completely. In this case, it is best to say as little as possible. A sentence like ‘I do not wish to be your friend anymore’ is pretty to-the-point. It is quite blunt and I find it cruel, but honestly sometimes this is the best way. Some people are just simply not meant to get along.
3. Or, “disappear”.
This is the coward approach, but none the less, makes its point. I fully get the message that if a friend used to call me everynight to never hearing from her in 6 months, it means the friendship is over. Also, saying that you are “busy” enough times when they ask to hang out and they will stop. They will get the message one way or the other – especially if they really were toxic friends; they’d realize it was due to their behavior.
Another way that is relating to this is spending people with you actually like, keeping busy and making new friendships – you will eventually, and naturally start to drift away from this toxic friend and grow apart.
Don’t be a toxic friend yourself!
We all do it sometimes. I definitely am guilty of pouring out my sorrows to a friend a little too often and I am the worse at replying calls, especially text messages. It has made me realize that the friendships I were persuing were with the wrong people and the friendships I left alone are my real friends. Life is a learning process though, so try to be a good friend yourself and have friendships with people who you feel are honest, right, and who you’re happy knowing. When you do meet these special people, cherish them and surround yourself with ‘only the good stuff’!
So what do you think, do you have toxic friends in your life? How do you deal with them? I’d love to hear your stories, so feel free to share them! You are anonymous here. :)