Thursday, January 20, 2011

Toxic Friends...

I think we have all had or have toxic friends in our lives at one time or another. The more women I talk to the more and more common this seems to be. It got me curious enough to do a little research on the subject, and there is a ton of information out there about it.

Toxic friends are friends who drain you physically, mentally, emotionally and even financially. They are selfish/self-centered, demanding, unsupportive, needy, and controlling. The friendship becomes unbalanced, with all the giving on one side and all the taking on the other. They start to make you feel bad, anxious and full of dread when they call. And when they become toxic enough, it will start to affect your health, your family, your work and just about everything else. That’s when the friendship is no longer really a friendship and something needs to be done, and you need to do it.

I read that toxic friends fall into various categories. See if any of these sound familiar: The Promise-Breaker, The Double-Crosser, The Self-Absorbed, The Discloser, The Competitor, and the Fault Finder. There are as many types of toxic friends as there are flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream. None of them are good for us. Maybe with a little research you can pinpoint what type your “friend” is and learn what you can do about it. I will post the links I found below, but there are many more.

How can you save yourself? We all feel bad about being in toxic relationships, but we still hesitate to end them because that makes us feel like we are “bad” people and are letting our friend down. There are steps you can take, also outlined online, to try to “fix” and/or end the relationship. First you have to realize it’s toxic for you. When you realize that then you become partly responsible for allowing it to continue if you do nothing. A good place to start is setting boundaries and do what is good for you, instead of what is good for your “friend.”

You can also discuss your situation with other women who can give you some insight and suggestions on how to handle the relationship. You can talk to your toxic friend and explain how her behavior is affecting you and if you feel she needs professional help, suggest that she see someone. If everything you try fails, then as hard as it is, you may have no choice but to end the relationship.

It’s not easy, I know. I went through it. I had reached a point where instead of feeling joy when the phone rang and it was her, I felt dread and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I anguished over what to do for months until I really could not take it another day. I tried to talk to her about it for months, but she kept putting me off because she didn’t want to hear what I had to say. She let it fester inside me until I had reached my limit. It took months for me to get to that point and months afterwards to heal from ending the relationship. I had to do it for my health, the stress was too much. I did it for my family, it was affecting my ability to be a good wife and mother. I came out ok on the other side and maybe I can even talk about it without crying now.

If you are struggling with a toxic relationship, give it some thought, read about it online, talk to other women and do something about it. Friendships should be balanced, not lopsided. They should make you feel good, not drained. There should be give and take on both sides, not just one.

Toxic friends are poisonous to our well being. And, don’t kid yourself, the stress of such a relationship can really affect your health. Don’t you deserve better?

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