I know this post is a little deeper than normal, but bear with me as it is something that has been on my mind quite frequently lately.
We’ve all had them. That friend that in one way or another brings you down. That friend that you’re terrified of letting down. That friend that will talk behind your back or make YOU feel bad for the things he or she might actually be doing. The friend that always seems to get his or her way even when you suggest other alternatives. That “toxic” friend.
I’ll go ahead and site this article about toxic friends that I found on WebMD as a source of some of the information I’m going to share. It might not be the most scholarly article, but it was interesting and insightful. A toxic friend is defined as:
“a toxic friendship is unsupportive, draining, unrewarding, stifling, unsatisfying, and often unequal.”
“They might not be a toxic friend to others but they are to you.”
Draining is the word that really resonates with me from the above definition. I have had a few friendships in my life that were definitely draining. Some old, some new. All of them were equally stressful. I would actually find myself worrying every night when I went to bed about those toxic friendships. Did the person still like me? Would they want to hang out with me if they found new friends? Were they talking behind my back to our other friends? Why did they say those mean or passive-aggressive things to me that day? Why are they always late or changing our plans at the last-minute without explanation? Why do I seem to be the one constantly putting in effort and never getting the same kind of effort in return? And on, and on, and on… It is exhausting having this kind of mental battle constantly! And it makes you feel a little crazy, too.
“It’s a pleaser personality — you want people to like you, you want to get along, and it’s hard to say no. But you can pay the price in one way by having toxic friends.”
The above quote defines me to a T. I’ve rarely been one to stand up for myself. Instead, I am always trying to please others or keep the waters calm. I’m not one to rock the boat, especially not in new situations or with new friends. I just don’t want to offend, anger, or upset anyone in any way. So, when I find myself in toxic relationships it is especially draining and emotionally taxing because I will give up so much of myself to try to please the other person to no avail.
“Toxic friends stress you out, use you, are unreliable, are overly demanding, and don’t give anything back”
Only recently have I started to focus on doing more things for “me” and stop doing everything to please others at the expense of my own happiness. This is a HUGE step for me especially when I am living in a place that is so far away from home, my family, and my best friends. I have had to break a few ties since moving here and, while it was hard at the time, it turned out to be very emotionally freeing. I’m nowhere near cured of the “toxic” curse or the guilt that I still feel sometimes, but I’m making small steps.
I have some GREAT friends (and a great boyfriend) in my life and I realized recently that I was wasting so much time worrying about the toxic relationships that it was taking away from those great relationships in my life. What good is worrying about someone who doesn’t deserve that worry when it’s at the expense of those good friends that would do anything for me?
So, going forward, I am making an effort to be a little more self-preserving and a little less of a doormat. I think it’s important to cherish the good friends in life!