There are tall ships
There are small ships
But the best ships
Unless of course, when they’re not.
Yes, this post is about the dark side of friendship, better known as toxic friends, the Global TV segment I did this morning.
To be honest, I have not had too many toxic friendships over the years. I was never one of those bitchy girls either. I was raised to talk to everyone and I always had friends in many different circles. I never liked cliques. But many of you have written in about the friends you’ve dropped, dumped and severed ties with.
One mom wrote in about her best friend’s daughter taunting her own daughter and belittling her on Facebook. Another woman wrote in about her long time friend who was in a bad marriage, and out of jealousy, was gossiping and badmouthing her behind her back. These toxic friendships are unsupportive, draining, unrewarding and can be suffocating. Toxic friends stress you out and are generally one sided, whereby you don’t get back nearly half as much as you put in.
Does this sounds familiar?
Friendships are supposed to be nurturing. While in Florida a few of years ago, one afternoon when I was having a mini-breakdown for no serious reason, my girlfriend just looked at me and said quietly, “Bring me both your boys, and goodbye. Walk away, grab your beach chair, and go read your book.” This is nurturing.
So, how do you know if your friendship is toxic or dark? Well for starters, do you notice your mood taking a nosedive after you speak to or spend time with a particular friend? Do you find yourself avoiding calls from a certain person when their number appears on your call display? These are a few signs.
Perhaps you are on the fence about what to do with that toxic friend… to dump ’em or keep ’em. Whether you’ve been friends for many years and you’re done taking their crap, or they are a new friend that just sucks you dry, here are the six types of toxic friends that exist according to author Dr. Jan Yager, author of When Friendship Hurts, and what you can do about them.
- The Promise Breaker. This is pretty self explanatory– it’s the friend that constantly breaks their promises to you. This is the friend that promises to meet you at 9am for coffee, and 9 times out of 10, never shows. How you can help this friend, is by explaining to her the consequences of her actions. You have to speak up, and not keep your disappointments to yourself. Something like this, “If you weren’t in the mood to meet, perhaps you could have said something last night, instead of not showing up. Sorry, but this is rude and completely disrespectful.” Make her aware of how it feels to be constantly let down by her actions. And remember, to always reconfirm your plans RIGHT BEFORE your meeting time.
- The Double Crosser. This is the friend that betrays you. This is similar to what happened to one of my readers above– rumor spreading and malicious lies. The double crosser usually has his/her own emotional issues that probably need to be addressed. Perhaps they were betrayed themselves in their own lives. This is the friendship that may be too difficult to sustain, and you may want to end this friendship if it becomes too toxic.
- The Self Absorbed. Surely this is not the aggressive type of toxic friend, but the friend who does not take the time to listen to you, or care to see how you are doing, may be not be worth keeping.
- The Discloser. Let me give an example to help explain The Discloser. This is when your friend looks at you in the eye and says, “Of course it will stay between us. I won’t say a word,” and then runs to her phone, email, or mother, and spreads your wonderful secrets. This friend usually cannot help herself, despite the fact that she may care very deeply for you and your friendship. This friend usually has the reputation of “The gossip.” I have found personally, that this type of person is generally insecure, because they often have to be the person in-the-know. They like to say that they knew first, that they were privy to the secret, which really is just a trait of underlying insecurity. One word of advice for any friendship: if you want something to stay quiet, you should just keep it to yourself.
- The Competitor. Some competition usually exists in most friendships, and it’s not necessarily unhealthy. But too much starts to destroy the friendship. Part of being with someone you like, is that you can be yourself, and you don’t have to worry about impressing the other person. Friends who compete with their friends, usually compete in all areas of their lives– work, at home, at school, even in their community. You can always kindly remind your friend when they get into this competitive zone, “It’s not a competition. I was simply sharing with you something good that happened to me.” This type of friendship may become too toxic for you to wish to continue.
- The Fault-Finder. Nothing you say or do is ever good enough for this friend. From a psych 101 perspective, this friend was probably raised with overly critical parents, and that trait transferred over. Being criticized during one’s formal years often lays the groundwork for an overly critical adult. This trait is hard to reverse, and your friend may not even be aware of it. Saying something like, “When you find fault in everything I say and do, it really hurts me. It makes me feel awful.” They may get defensive, but again, if you calmly explain that it’s hurtful and offensive, they may get the idea. Again if it becomes unbearable, sever ties.
Have you ever had toxic friends? Did you hang on too long or ditch ’em?