When you have developed friendships you learn to depend on their opinions, so when they are encouraging you and helping you along the way you appreciate them and our friendship is fed. What happens when their opinion becomes negative on everything? When they tell you you are wrong every time you talk? When you stop telling them what you are doing or what decisions you are making, then your friendship can become neglected, you will be scared to talk to them about anything and will begin to grow apart. This may be a better choice then the alternative. When you are told by someone you have grown to care about how wrong you are all the time, you may start to feel as though they think you are not intelligent enough to make good decisions, you may feel that they are insulting you. This will make you lose confidence, fear making decisions, and you may even begin to dislike this friend. Negativity, judgements, and insults are toxins to a relationship and harm a persons sense of self. This means it may be time to get out, or at least control your contact with this person more.
Another toxic friendship is one that becomes mean, or even abusive. Name calling, insults, making constant jokes about you, these are not things a good friend will do, especially if you are haveing a bad day or something big is happening in your life. This "friend" is making themselves feel better by making you feel worse. This will cause you to not enjoy your time with this person, and you may begin to dislike them or see them as a bully. Try not to let the insults of a friend make you feel worse about yourself, they are obviously feeling badly about themselves and are taking it out on you. If speaking to them doesn't help, it may be time to stop getting together with this person, unless you can find a way to stop it, it will poison your friendship.
I may be the only one, but I have some friends who I only see when I am out to have some fun. We don't talk about life changes, kids, work, or get bogged down in the realities of life. We have fun, we go out, and we talk about movies, clothes, and what we are doing next weekend. These can often form into more solid friendships where we will share more, but I find it nice to have someone who expects nothing more from you then "wow they clouds look pretty today" and who let you both leave all the troubles at home for just a few hours. Sometimes these friends can have ideas or want to do things that I just don't want too (no way am I bungee jumping!). It's fine to have different interests, and can give you someone to share your excitement with who hasn't been there done that, or let you hear about new things, but when they try to force you or make you feel guilty for not trying things you aren't comfortable doing, then it can become difficult. This can creat anger, resentment, or frustration on both sides, and will eventually lead to spending less time together.
These are not the only kinds of friendships we have. Friends fill many gaps in our lives, and help us to discover who we are and what we like, however, if they become toxic it is important not to let it seep into the rest of our lives. You friend thinks you bought the wrong car because it's not the one they have? Lots of people don't have the car they do, it doesn't make you dumb or mean you will hate your car. It means she has different needs in her vehicle then you, and a different budget, and maybe even a different style preferance. Surprise! You arent' the same person! Be proud of that. It's fine to tell your friend you are happy with your choice, and you wish she could be happy for you, otherwise talk about something else. Let the toxic comments stay confined and find a way to not let it ruin your joy in your car (or purse, or chair...) Maybe this friend is having second thoughts and is trying to convince herself she made the right choice. Maybe the friend calling you names thinks those things are true of themselves, and maybe the person trying to get you to participate in activities out of your comfort zone is just looking for you to remind them why they shouldnt' do it themselves.
Other signs of a toxic friendship include:
- you always call them, but they never return calls, texts, messages...
- while you remember their important dates (ie birthday, anniversary, kids birthday) they never know yours
- they raise their voice when talking to you, or speak to you like you are a child
- they constantly talk down to you, like they know everything and you don't
- when you disagree with them, or prove they are mistaken, they ignore you even more for extended periods
- they play you against their other friends (she got me a better gift, etc...)
- they seem to only want to discuss what is wrong and have no interest in what goes well
- they allow their friends or family to treat you badly or speak poorly of you
- they misuse your belongings or abuse your kindness
We never know the motivation for someone else's actions, but we can sure control our own. If your friendship is toxic and discussing your concerns doesn't fix it, it might be time to get out. A sure way to know is to check how you feel when their number is on your call display. Do you shudder? Dread answering the phone? That may be a toxic friendship, review, and act accordingly. There are great friends out there, and you deserve to have some! No friendhip should make you feel worse about yourself, take advantage of you, or make you angry all the time. I've cut out some of these friends, and my stress has gone down and my happiness has gone up.