Toxic Friendships: When It’s Time To Let Go
When a good friend turns frenemy, it can be more painful than having your teeth pulled and turn your world upside down.
RELATED: Is Friendship A Higher Form Of Love?
a) Rid your world of toxic friend once and for all by sending her a vomitous mass of glitter, coupled with hate mail, via latest social media sensation, genius website: shipyourenemiesglitter.com?
b) Watch endless re-runs of Mean Girls on a loop, crying into your Tim Tams and chardonnay?
c) Gracefully cut all ties with said toxic friend and move on with your life, fast?
The answer, dear reader, is of course C (although A would be so satisfying!).
Everyone encounters a toxic friend or two at some stage in their life. The key is not to dwell too much on why it happened, I think, but just to get the hell out of it, stat! Of course, this can be easier said than done with it’s a one-time great, long-term friend who now seems hell-bent on making your life miserable.
Interestingly, new UK research recently revealed both men and women are equally likely to lose two of their closest friends when they start a new relationship.
Sad fact of life, isn’t it? You’d think your closest friends would be thrilled for you when you meet a great love?! But no – jealousy is indeed a curse.
I interviewed a senior clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, about this complex topic of toxic friends. Her insightful answers are below:
Q: Are there any warning signs for a toxic friendship?
A: Relationship experts define a toxic friendship as one which causes more hurt and pain than good. So, when the friendship is causing you to feel bad about yourself, guilty, miserable, used or any other of a possible range of negative emotions a good deal of the time, and these negative emotions outweigh the positive feelings you get from the friendship, then you are in a toxic friendship.
Some people have a talent for making themselves feel better by putting their friends down with criticism and cutting remarks. If you realise this bullying is happening to you, take some deep breaths and resolve to end it. No one can “make” you feel sad or depressed, it only happens with your cooperation. So, dig deep and find the strength to end the friendship!
Q: Why do our one-time BFFs sometimes become our mortal enemies?
A: Sometimes, a friendship starts off being pleasant and fulfilling, but over time it turns into something toxic. Why? It could be that one friend has been successful or had happiness come their way and the other has missed out and feels jealous and resentful. Or maybe one party feels superior due to their successes and starts to be condescending and contemptuous towards the friend they regard as less successful. Maybe one friend is miserable due to a failed relationship and wants to make others suffer too.
There are many possible reasons why are some friends so good for us at the start and then turn into our worst foes. You could try talking to your friend about what is happening and how you feel about their behaviour towards you. But the important thing to remember is you can’t change someone else, you can only change yourself. So, if you find yourself in this situation and your friend is not prepared to acknowledge or change the way they are treating you, walk away!
Q: How do you combat a toxic friend?
A: If you discover that you are in a toxic friendship, my advice is to walk away. Trying to change the relationship for the better would be very difficult: both parties would need to recognise the need to behave differently and want to change – that’s unlikely.
Usually in a toxic friendship one party holds most of the power, the other party is the recipient of hurtful putdowns, cruel comments and/or manipulations. The powerful one won’t want to give up their power – it enhances their self-esteem and gives a sense of superiority. Why would they want to change that? If you are the injured party, cut your losses and walk away. Yes, you’ll feel lonely for a time but you’ll feel better about yourself knowing that you’ve had the strength to end the abuse. Instead, spend time with people whose company your enjoy and who you walk away from feeling happy.
Main image via forty2014.com; secondary image via en.wikipedia.org; third image via theberry.com and final image via www.pinterest.com.
Nicole is a Queensland-based writer and bona fide word nerd whose first love (apart from heels) is feature writing. Follow Nicole on Twitter.