What About Your Friends:
Recognizing a Toxic Friendship
When it comes to friendships I have had my fair share of good, not so good and just flat out bad. I’ve had the friend that would mimic everything I did; down to my hairstyle. I’ve had the friend that when we spoke, somehow, the conversation always led back to her. I pride myself on being a good communicator, but I’m sure she couldn’t tell you a single thing about me. I can go on and on with the different things I’ve allowed over the years when it came to accepting things from a person in the name of “friendship.” So, the honest truth is that some past friendships I could have been better at recognizing and ending toxic friendships.
- We all have known the friend that past negative experiences in life have spilled over into their adult relationships. I mean their jealousies and insecurities outweigh their support and/or caring for you. They may want to be a good friend but their past experiences or upbringing prevents them from ever fully doing so. Instead, you hear of their paranoia or possessiveness from others. You know, this is the friend that will tell your other friends things like, “Sharea is my best friend” or “Oh, you know Sharea? We have been friends forever!” Sound fine if it would be in your best interest and not to be territorial over you. This level of insecurity usually leads the friend to be paranoid. They spend a lot of time wondering if you are out with other friends when they are not present; feeling like they are being forgotten and left behind. Like it or not, most people with this level of insecurity may not have the best emotional state to be a healthy friend. Until they deal with or process their own issues, they may get in their way.
- Then there is the friend that is self-absorbed and the whole world revolves around them. They call you, ask “how are you doing,” but mid conversation they somehow always bring the conversation back to them. You could have had a house fire and they would be screaming to the highest mountain how traumatized they are. Or even crazier, they justify this behavior by saying “girl you know me, somehow I always bring it backs to me.” This means they may not see the problem in the lack of give and take in a relationship; they only concern themselves in what you can offer them as an audience member to the play entitled “Their Life.” They look like they are in your corner but in reality, they are self-serving and to put it plainly, selfish.
- I haven’t really dealt with the next type of unhealthy friend, but I’ve seen it many times with people around me. This is the friend that is always looking to take a jab at someone. They may say hurtful things, acknowledge all of your flaws and can be downright mean in the effort to “keep it real” as your friend. Don’t get me wrong, as friends, we sometimes joke or have to give constructive criticism to one another. That’s not what I’m talking about, those types of things are natural. I’m talking about the friend that needs to undercut what you’re saying constantly, in the attempt to make you look bad.
- This last one can and has been the boiling point in many friendships. This is the person who when you give them your good news they flinch. They may use words and even act like they are happy for you; they are genuinely happy for you. But deep down inside they are frustrated, distressed or even devastated that you’ve cast a shadow on them in some area of life. This is the person cheering for you and inside wishing you would fail. They make you feel bad or guilty for their lack of movement in their world. This kind of response has little to do with your happiness more than their unhappiness with themselves. They become the mood killer, negative Nancy and just plan incapable of being happy for anyone else.
The reality is that I can continue this list and give you many more examples of toxic friendships. But the question you need to ask yourself when recognizing a toxic friend is “how do I feel after spending time with them?” If the answer to this question is more negative than positive there may be time for a change…
Join us in the next few weeks as we discuss “Changing a Toxic Friendship” and “Rebuilding Trust in Female Relationships.”