What is a true friend? Everyone has a slightly different definition–but bottom line, a true friend is someone who is there for you when you need him or her, someone you trust, someone who makes you feel good. Probably you have great conversations, share interests and support one another in your every day lives.
But what happens when a friend turns out to be “not so good” for you, if the friendship becomes toxic? What is toxic friendship, anyway?
“The phrase ‘toxic friend’ is pop psychology,” says psychologist Dr. Jenn Berman. “I would say it’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.”
How can one truly identify a toxic friendship? It can be difficult, especially if you have been close to the friend for a long time. If you suspect that a friend is (or has become) toxic, ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you feel after spending time with or speaking to this person? Do you feel good and positive (for the most part) or do you find yourself worrying, stressing or obsessing about some aspect of the visit or call?
- Are you afraid to tell your friend about some aspect of your life for fear of how they’ll react or fear of being judged harshly?
- Do you sometimes find yourself avoiding contact with the person or ignoring their calls? Does your friend consistently “forget” about your plans or cancel at the last minute?
- Does your friend actively insult or offend you on a consistent basis?
- Do you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or bothered by your friend’s life choices, behavior or moral conduct?
- Do you feel comfortable bringing up concerns about your friendship with this friend?
- Does this friendship benefit you?
- Do you trust this friend, really trust him or her?
These are just a few questions to get you started. In general, your friends should be an asset to your life, not a detriment.
Does someone in your life seem to be more of a hindrance than a help on your journey to personal fulfillment? If so, it may be time to reevaluate your choices. My challenge today applies to those readers who are currently dealing with a suspected toxic friendship. Take a few minutes today to really consider the questions above in regard to the friend in question. Be brutally honest, and take a quick inventory of the situation. Next time, we’ll discuss how to effectively deal with toxic friendships.