Friendship is the ugly truth, the harsh reality, it is sitting silently through others pain because there are very little words to say. It’s saying this is shit but you’re not alone. It is not promising it will be okay, because we cannot make such assurances. It is not being agreeable to be liked, but it is assuring that they have a hand to hold during the hardship. Promising an ear that will listen and providing unending support to carry you through the jagged days. Friendship is about sitting outside in the rain with your friend and being really uncomfortable about being drenched but doing it anyway whilst telling them why you think the rain started (especially if they started it).
Every friendship should have boundaries. They don’t have to be enforced, they should just exist. We’ve all been there when this boundary hasn’t been respected, and then the ugly starts to unfold. And henceforth, the toxic friendships are created and are mostly difficult to spot. They become harder to manage because it’s easy to lose things in translation. Trying to decide whether you’re being emotional or if they’re being hurtful is where the challenge lies.
People can be rude, difficult or high maintenance but these aren’t toxic traits. These are just unpleasant people you really should keep at arms length anyway.
Friendship takes more than one side effort, it takes reliability, loyalty and trust. Your friendship should make you feel safe. The signs are so subtle that they could pop out of nowhere. Your friend makes comments that starts to sting more. They are co-dependent that you almost feel responsible for them. They demand exclusivity to you like a jealous lover. They keep disappointing you, but it’s always your fault. They make everything about them, not giving you a chance to correct their behavior. A friend that makes you feel like utter shit if they were not your first call, on every social event list, in every conversation dominating your every spare hour.
This type of friendship can be toxic and if you feed dependency, you will contribute towards the creation of a beastie… not a bestie. These friendships are the ones that drain you. It can be difficult to understand because of lack of clarity. In a romantic experience, there are clear lines drawn, but for friendship, it’s much different. The expectations are different and it’s hard to tell what’s okay and what’s not.
It’s not okay when you’re anxious whenever you get a notification from your friend and you start feeling like crap instead of happy, it might be time to slide away. This is not being selfish, it’s just installing a limit to your friendship.
Another red flag is their lack or acknowledgement of your achievements. Your needy friend will prefer self-esteem at its lowest. Keeping you in check and trying to ground your joys especially if they do not impact them. If your friend is not happy about your wins, your good news or your great accomplishments – you need to lose them. At this point, your needy friend realizes they have gone too far, they will go into victim mode. This effect is just enough for you to keep them close. You will make excuses for them. They aren’t so bad, I feel for them, it’s loneliness, they have always been there for me… and the cycle repeats.
Do not feel because you have known them a long time, you have a debt. The only debt you have is to yourself, your mental well-being and not being made to feel like a mug.
Sometimes it’s hard when you give too much, but take time to think whether they are giving as much. If there’s an imbalance in what’s given and taken, then this friendship needs work. Friendships are flexible and they should be, but don’t be taken advantage of. The most important person in your life needs to be you.
This is not a ‘dump your friend and run for the hills post’. This is just my view on a situation i’ve seen so many times. But what can you do?
You can give your friend an undivided attention, maybe active listening will be enough to temper their insecurities. Create some boundaries and confront their behavior.
Now is the time to realize you matter more, and that you should find happiness and balance your friendship.
WHAT OTHER TOXIC SIGNS DID I MISS?
Feel free to comment and let’s talk about it!