Recognizing a Toxic Friend

I was watching a video on Facebook recently where the lady said “it is impossible to live a happy and successful life with negative people around you. Cut them out.” And it kind of struck a chord with me. We talk about toxic romantic relationships a lot, but we don’t always acknowledge that friendships can be just as negative and draining. I’m sure we’ve all held onto toxic or negative friendships for too long – at least I have. It sounds corny, but I do think those people come into our lives for a reason, but we need to know when to let them go.

I had already been meaning to cut out one friend in particular, but I kept making excuses to keep her around. People have even asked me why I remain her friend even though she can’t be trusted, and I would say “I don’t trust her, she’s just fun” but what kind of friendship is that? A friend is supposed to be someone you can trust and count on.

From my experience, the signs of a bad friend are:

  1. They lie about unnecessary things. I’m pretty sure we’ve all had this friend. I know that technically everyone lies, but this person doesn’t just lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, to avoid getting in trouble, or out of embarrassment. They will lie about anything and for no reason. They might tell you that they’re in university when they’re not, or that they work a cooler job than they actually do. Sometimes they make up full stories and memories that never happened. They lie about things that nobody asked about, or that they don’t need to lie about.
  2. They talk badly about others, but remain friends with those people. This should be a no-brainer, but I think a lot of people forget that if your friend is doing this, they are probably doing it to you as well. I can almost guarantee it, actually.
  3. They try and one-up you. We ALL have had this friend at one point or another. If you’ve done it, they’ve done it better. If you bring them around your other friends, they will try and be the centre of attention. If you have exciting news, they have to try and top it.
  4. They aren’t happy about your success. This goes hand-in-hand with the one above, but it’s true. Your friends will always cheer you on, but a toxic friend will belittle your success or try and top it – even if they have to lie to do so.
  5. They try and get you to do things that you don’t want to do. They use deceit, shame, pressure, or force to make you do things that they want to do.

The person I was talking about carries all of these traits, and in retrospect, she clearly wasn’t a friend at all. The issue is, though, that our friendship wasn’t always this way. Her lies have grown over the years, and become more intense and frequent. When I did make the decision to cut this person off, I wanted everyone to know that she was a liar, a manipulator, and to not believe a word she says. However, I know that would be stooping to her level. I had to swallow it, write in my journal, and move on. It has felt like a weight lifted.

I realize that many friendships will probably have moments of negativity, tension, or self absorption, but it is important to recognize how that person makes you feel overall. There is a difference between a bad moment in a good friendship, and a friendship that is just plain bad.

So, there it is. My little rant about negative friendships. If you happen to have any similar stories or situations, I would love to hear about them!

Stay weird,

Shylo

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