Good friends add joy and fulfillment to our lives. They enhance our wellbeing and meet our innate need as human beings to connect with others. Good friends help us process thoughts and ideas. They are a means of support in times of struggle and are by our side to share successes.
Toxic friends impact us as well. Their negative energy can rub off on us. Rather than adding or enhancing our lives, toxic friends take and never truly give. This can affect our mood and may leave us asking ourselves if something is wrong with us while we try to sort out what is going on. It is not easy to readily accept that someone we thought was a good friend is actually a toxic friend, also known as a “frenemy.” At first, we believe they are true friends, and in fact, at one time this may have been the case. At some point though, the toxic friend decided she does not want you to succeed/feel joy/have a good life etc., so she begins to do things to drain and even sabotage you.
Toxic Friends are people who, while acting on a surface level as a friend, are operating on another level altogether. This may be based on fear, jealousy or some other insecurity. Though each toxic friend is different, there are definite signs that apply to most toxic friends. Here are some of the warning signs you may have a toxic friend:
*Everything is always about them. A conversation with her is always one-sided. She will go on and on about her life, her problems and her drama (and she always seems to be dealing with drama) while leaving you little to no time to say anything about yourself or your life. Toxic friends are always taking and never really giving.
They like to burst your bubble. You start to tell her about a new job, new relationship or other new opportunity and she responds by stating all of the reasons why this is actually NOT such a good thing. “Congrats but it sounds like the commute is going to be a nightmare and didn’t you say recently that you would rather work closer to home?”
They lack empathy. Toxic friends don’t truly want what is best for you. When you are struggling, they are not understanding or empathetic. They may toss a “so sorry to hear that” your way, while secretly relishing in the fact that you are struggling.
They don’t want what is best for you. Toxic friends don’t want you to be healthy or happy. They may suggest things that are actually detrimental. They may advise you to blow your money on something frivolous or give you relationship advice that they know will backfire. Apply the adage: “misery loves company.” Your toxic friend is miserable and wants to drag you down with her.
So what can you do if you find yourself dealing with a toxic friend?
Be aware. Knowing what you are dealing with is key. Look for warning signs. As they say “admitting there is a problem is the first step towards fixing it.”
Don’t stoop to their level. While you may really want to lash out or cause them pain, rise above it. Doing something to hurt them puts you in the same category.
Distance yourself. A toxic friendship is bad for your health, sanity and overall wellbeing. While ending the friendship is advised, if you cannot because you perhaps work together, live nearby, or are otherwise bound to see each other often, keep your distance. Don’t initiate conversations and if you find yourself face to face, keep it at small talk until you can get away.
Let go of anger and resentment. While you have every right to feel angry, keep in mind that this “frenemy” is actually suffering inside. They are likely dealing with major insecurities, self-esteem issues and potential jealousy. She thinks you are doing better/have more/are happier and she secretly, wishes she had your life.
Dealing with relationships can be challenging. Whether you are in a toxic friendship or find that maybe you have been a toxic friend, talking to a trained professional can help. Click here to book a session with a therapist who can help you navigate these and other complicated relationships.