Unless you’re swathed in a bubble wrap of positivity, I’m sure a lot of people have at least experienced being in a toxic friendship before.
According to Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends, toxic friendship is unsupportive, draining, unrewarding, stifling, unsatisfying, and often unequal – on a consistent basis. Not the once-in-a-blue-moon kind of thing, we’re talking about CONSTANTLY.
Like me, you probably haven’t realized that you’re actually drowning in one because you’ve gotten so used to it. You’re maybe thinking that it’s just how things are. For me, it took someone from outside of the toxic circle to point out every detail, to shake me up from the toxic drift.
Not sure whether you might be dealing with toxicity?
Here are some situations which occurred to me, that could resonate with your current (dreadful) position:
1. Hanging out with your friend(s) make you feel worse, or just plain horrible!
It’s a torturous feeling on the inside. If you had powers, you’d teleport yourself out of there immediately. But you can’t, so it slowly kills your soul.
2. You start formulating reasons to avoid spending time with your friend(s) – even negotiating with yourself to cancel plans with them.
Your ‘toxic friend’ starts planning for a girly day out with everyone in the chat group, and all you can think of is coming up with an excuse not to go. And you cop-out by saying, “I can’t. My mom needs me to…”, pretty much too often.
3. Their words are like daggers into the chest. They belittle you and make you feel embarrassed.
You just can’t figure out why, but they always have something hurtful to say to you. Then you start questioning yourself “What did I do wrong?”
Andrea Syrtash, author of He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing) says “It’s okay for friends to challenge us in a supportive way. But when they judge you, they’re imposing their own values onto you instead of acknowledging your needs and values.”
4. They’re bitter when you have things that they don’t or when you’re better than them at something they’re not.
For some odd reason, they can’t (or choose not to) be happy for you. Their life is fueled with low spirits – always dissatisfied, there’s always something to complain about. It’s disheartening to know that they are full of discontentment.
I remember sharing my euphoric moments of snagging a handsomely paid job, only to be thrown a harsh retort implying that someone like her is more deserving of that type of pay. I guess she forgot about the law of rezeki (rizq/provisions).
You know right away that misery is their best buddy. And they will maybe intentionally or unintentionally drag you into that swamp of wretchedness too.
5. They dramatize EVERYTHING, and they drag you into their exaggerated lifestyles.
They probably think the world revolves around them and them alone. They’re having a bad day at work, and they rant about it to you until the cows come home.
6. They can’t stand the sight of you being all pumped up with zealousness.
They live by the mantra “Optimism is cow dung”.
If you’re naturally a highly positive person that radiates sunshine and spews rainbows, negative people won’t usually last that long around you.
Debbie Downers are so addicted to drama and negativity, they find being around positive people annoying.
There’s a long laundry list of toxic signs, and we can go on and on about this forever. However, let’s choose not to. A person might not have all the signs. But having one or two can already take a toll on your life.
The choice is in your hands, and only you have the power to fight or flee.
To Save or Sever?
I guess it’s somewhat true when people say breaking up with a friend is harder or more hurtful than ending a relationship with a love interest. But if it’s taking over your life, crushing your self-esteem, holding you back from being a greater you… it’s probably time to put your foot down and make a decision.
Acknowledge the truth about your toxic friendship – you can’t change a person’s behavior or attitude, but you can change yours.
“We are the average of the five people we spend time the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
“Life is short, and you get to choose, consciously choose those five people, especially when it comes to your friends.” – Marie Forleo