Friday, September 9, 2011

How I see it: With toxic friends, who needs enemies?

There are so many platitudes about friendship. The wind beneath my wings. The thing that makes life worth living. Better than chocolate. You've heard them, but what happens when you find yourself stuck with someone who doesn't fit those descriptions? A pal who is Friendzilla or worse? According to a recent survey, found that about 84% of women have endured a toxic friendship sometime in their lives.

Toxic friend? A pop psychology phrase for someone who is a downer, who sucks your energy, who has been known to drill a knife in your back a time or two, or someone who is dishonest and unreliable. We've all encountered these types, unfortunately. The subtle jabs, the passive agressive comments, the hits to your self-esteem----these are all signs that the friendship isn't working anymore.

Unlike family members, friends are those we choose to have in our lives. The expectation is that they are people we enjoy--- those who make us laugh, who get us thinking, who buoy us up. When this ceases to be the case and we start dreading the time we spend with our friends, maybe we need to evaluate our contact level.

Not to stereotype, but women tend to be nurturing. As women, we feel if we've known a friend since we shared Barbies together, we have an obligation never to abandon that person. But, people change. It's a fact. Just because we've known someone since the dawn of time, doesn't mean we can excuse bad behavior...especially when it happens over and over again. Helping a friend through a rough patch is commendable, but if a friendship becomes the rough patch in your life, it may need reevaluating.

Particularly, if a friend makes you feel bad about yourself, it's time to consider if you want to keep this person in your close circle of contacts. No one should feel they need to put up with abusive behavior because they pinkie swore they'd be BFFs in middle school. That's taking loyalty too far. For your own personal mental and emotional health, it may be time to move on.

How to 'break up' with a friend though? This is a delicate situation. Some experts encourage slowly distancing yourself from the person----don't be as available to get together or talk on the phone. Others suggest the direct approach. "This friendship isn't healthy for either of us. Maybe we should look for friends we have more in common with?" Wow. That does sound like a break up, doesn't it?

However you choose to end things with a toxic friend, don't back down. Every door closed, is the opportunity for another one to open. Remember, friends are people we choose to have in our lives to fulfill it and lighten our load, not to weigh it down with extra drama. We spend countless time and energy finding the right house; finding the right friend is even more important. We have every right to be selective. And, that's how I see it...

"A new friendship is like an unripened fruit---it may become either an orange or a lemon."
---Emma Stacey


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  2. It's crazy to say, but I can think of 2 kids from my youth that were just this! It's crazy how people just cannot see how they "use" others...and I'm so glad we can choose to be around them. There are some family members that can be that way, but I guess those you just have to deal with! Ha!! Love this blog post!!!!!! =0)