Toxic Friendships

December 05, 2013

It’s Friday night and you are sooo glad that the week is over. You’ve got your evening all planned out - a great chick flick, your favorite flannel pajamas and hot chocolate.  You get home and you’re just about to settle in when you get a text from a friend who is in the middle of a crisis – again!  Her roommate keeps copying her style and she’s freaking out over what to wear to a party that night. When you try to reassure her she says “thanks… I shouldn’t have expected you to understand about fashion.  Your clothes are always so casual.”  It may not seem like a big deal but it could be one indicator of a toxic friendship.

Jenn Berman, PhD describes a toxic friend as “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.”  With those kinds of friends, who needs enemies? 

Regardless of how they affect your life, ending a toxic friendship can be extremely difficult. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or deal with the confrontation.  Eventually, though, you will want to take action in order to surround yourself with people who add value to your life.

Here are some suggestions for coping with toxic friendships:

Screen Your Calls/Texts

These types of friends always have some sort of “emergency” going on (and it’s always going to be more important than your life).  Try being more selective about when and how you reply.  With time, they will take the hint and find someone else to use as a crutch.

Stop Negative Conversations and Gossip

Most of us have been in a situation where there conversation suddenly becomes very negative and may involve saying unkind things about others.  As soon as you start to feel uncomfortable, change the subject and, if that doesn’t work, leave.

mean girls

Stand Up For Yourself

When someone relentlessly finds a way to put you down or insult you, let them know that you realize what they are doing and that you are not willing to tolerate that kind of behavior.  They can either apologize and make changes or lose you as a friend.

Be Honest

If you are unhappy about the friendship, tell the other person how you feel.  They may genuinely believe that everything is fine but, if you never open up, they will never have a chance to make improvements.

Draw the Line

Once you’ve made your unhappiness known, give your friend time to make some changes.  It’s reasonable to want to give them the opportunity but it’s also important to set a limit.  If you feel that things are not going to get any better, you will probably have to cut them out of your life entirely which may involve removing them from Facebook and blocking their phone number.

Ending a friendship is not the easiest thing to do but, when necessary, it is definitely worth the effort.

By Jeanne Dupuis.

Image Credit: http://tinyurl.com/l7kkhal.

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