“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity.” -Dinkar Kalutara
Well-meaning friendships and relationships are wonderful. Having someone who is there for you without judging, who helps you get back in the right direction, who sticks up for you in your absence, and who isn’t afraid to tell you when you are in the wrong is a gift. (Hey, we all get in our own way, or another person’s way, from time to time. It happens, we’re human.)
Friends, like the paragraph above, are very hard to come by. Especially in today’s world of stepping on eggshells and sugar-coating everything just to keep the peace.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are the friends who will let you destroy your life as long as their life isn’t in shambles. They will help you dig your own grave if it gives them a boost to their ego. These are the type of friends who are mean, cruel, disrespectful, and hateful towards people, sometimes even towards animals, and family.
While it is important to understand everyone is responsible for their own lives after a certain age, there are still times we need extra guidance. Would you rather have a friend who tells you small little lies to make you feel better when in reality you know it’s not helping you or a friend who is upfront and guiding?
A Short Example
Let’s say Jenny wants to lose the weight she packed on while she was depressed. So, she starts working out without telling anyone at first. She starts to visibly shrink.
One of her friends, Sarah, notices and mentions how good Jenny looks and congratulates her and asks if she can tag along on walks to help with her own weight loss goals. Jenny accepts, glad to have a friend to tag along with, and additionally excited to have an accountability partner.
Jenny’s other friend, Ashley, notices too and expresses how great Jenny looks, then suggests going out to the bar for drinks to celebrate. Jenny politely declines, not wanting to stall her progress. Ashley then starts pressuring her and trying to get her to go anyway, despite Jenny already turning down the invitation.
In a relationship without clear boundaries, Jenny would more than likely give in instead of standing up to Ashley. Not wanting to upset her friend Jenny would back down and go out for drinks. Unfortunately, this scenario happens a lot.
While it is still up to Jenny to continue her weight loss goals, it can become emotionally taxing to have friends like this. Causing depression, stress, and wanting to just quit altogether.
Not to mention, stress and depression can add to weight gain and the drinks would not help in weight loss either.
If Ashley decided to end her friendship with Jenny, over Jenny turning down her offer for drinks, then that would be Ashely’s loss. Ashley could have come up with a compromise with Jenny that did not stall Jenny’s progress.
For example, Ashley could have suggested trying the new healthy-style restaurant that opened a few weeks ago. This way they are still going out and trying healthy food options together. A healthy compromise.
Our friends can either be our biggest supporters or they can be a weight tied to our ankles if we do not have clear boundaries in place.
Anyone who drops a friend because their friend is working on goals and dreams was never a true friend. Sabotaging a friend’s dreams and goals, even unintentionally, is not okay.
Sometimes we can unintentionally be the toxic friend
If your first instinct, after a friend has overcome certain things, is to bring up something that would hinder their progress then you need to ask yourself why that is.
You may be codependent, controlling, or have something else that is causing this cycle of destruction in friendships. Once aware of our own toxic traits, we can begin to work through the habits we’ve picked up through life.
Also, if you are the one not speaking up and saying how you feel when things happen and you continue to be a part of someone’s life, then it is on you. I say this with love. If you are aware of a friend’s toxic behavior and do or say nothing about it, then the responsibility still falls back on the person in the mirror. (Bummer, I know but we really are responsible for who and what we keep in our lives. Friends, behaviors, habits, etc…)
We all choose what and who we keep in our lives. If you do not want to deal with certain things, then make that clear and stick to it. Let others know your boundaries and if they cross them more than once then either remove them from your life, limit time together, or keep allowing them to walk over you. The decision is yours to make. We all have more of a say-so than we sometimes believe.
If you are in a situation that you cannot get out of currently this is not directed at you. Though I will say please find the courage and take the steps to get out of any situation that is harming you in any type of way. Mentally, physically, emotionally, etc… There are resources and help out there, you just have to be willing to accept the help and take action to help your situation. Please stay safe.
The reality of it is, we are human, and falling into toxic trait cycles and relationships happens. However, these toxic traits can be worked on and overcome with awareness and dedication to improve one’s habits. We have the power to remove or keep anyone or anything in our lives.
Signs of a toxic friend
When you are afraid to express your opinion to your friend there may be signs of toxic behaviors brewing. Here are some additional signs to be aware of:
- Brushing off your friend’s questionable behavior and making up excuses
- Lying to appease their feelings
- Feeling like you are following them around for social status
- Adopting all their beliefs, even if you do not personally agree with them
- They get angry and belittle you for questioning them
- They get angry if you do something to benefit yourself and not them
- Feeling like you have to walk on eggshells around them
- They guilt-trip you into doing things
Signs you may be the toxic friend
If your friends seem uncomfortable talking or hanging out with you then you may be the one displaying toxic behaviors. Here are some signs you may need to improve how you handle your relationships:
- You become defensive when they ask simple questions
- When going out it’s always something you want to do
- You never ask about them or how they are doing
- You never help them out in a time of need when you are able but they always help you out with no questions asked
- Jealousy enters your mind often around them
- Cutting them off in mid-sentence
- Being too self-focused
- Being overly critical
Hey, we’re human these things happen
Whichever side of the fence you may feel you fall on; please know we are all human and nothing is set in stone. These things happen and they can happen to anyone. We all have the power to control how we treat others, and we have the power to cut anyone out of our life who is toxic and refusing to change.
When we set clear boundaries for our relationships and stick to them, we must also be sure to respect other people’s boundaries in the process. Relationships of any kind need a solid foundation, boundaries, trust, respect, and clear communication to blossom and grow.
No one wants a garden full of weeds. Prune out the toxic friends (and any toxic behaviors you may be displaying) and watch your friendships and relationships grow like a beautiful botanical garden. -Crystal GrassoTweet