A Toxic Friend: Signs He or She Is Using and Abusing You
What Is a Toxic Friend?
Toxic friendships are negative relationships that make you feel unhappy, unhealthy, and unequal.
Toxic friends will stress you out, use you, and wear you down physically and mentally. Many of us keep toxic friends in our lives for whatever reasons. We both like and dislike our toxic friends. We put up with all they give us repeatedly. We complain to ourselves, other friends, relatives, and whomever else will listen to us gripe about how they do this and that to us.
How You Can Become Trapped
But we never do anything about it. This lack of decision becomes a bigger problem than the toxic friend. We don't tell our friend that his or her behaviour causes us to feel a certain way. We wait until our negative feelings and emotions build up, and before long, we find ourselves exhibiting toxic traits as well. We become the best actors in the world and act as if nothing is wrong, hoping our friend will change or grow up. But the fact about such people is that they don't know how to, or if they do, they just don't want to. After all, if being manipulative works for them, and they get what they want out of life, why should they change?
Sometimes, you work up the nerve to tell the friend how he or she makes you feel, but every time you mention it, your point doesn't get through. Or he or she might try to turn the tables on you by saying you're the one with the problem.
Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Friendship
You might want to ask yourself some simple questions when in a friendship like this:
- Am I in a good mood after being with this friend? Is there a give and take? Am I entirely truthful with this friend? Do we respect each other? Would my friend talk about me in a negative way to others? Would I talk about my friend in a negative way to others? Does my friend criticize and belittle me? Do I hesitate to share my good news because of how it might make him or her feel?Does my friend abuse the friendship and take advantage of me? Do I even like this person?
- Why do we hold true to the BFF ideal? This isn’t a legal binding agreement. No one is forcing you to stay friends. It’s never an easy decision to break off the friendship. But if you saw one person physically abusing another, wouldn't you encourage them to end the relationship? Why is emotional abuse any different?
How to End the Vicious Cycle: My Story
I ended a bad friendship recently. She used me, my other friends, and my family for personal gain. She emotionally abused me with guilt, and it took a toll on my other relationships. She always told me that she was an honest and open person. She would cry on cue. When I would tell her how her behaviour bothered me, she would always type an email personally attacking and blaming me. It was always my fault she didn’t have the life she felt she deserved, and I had everything. She was always doing the best she could, or so she would say. She would bring up the littlest things! At the beginning and end of each email, she would often apologize if it was hurting my feelings, and she never wanted me to be mad at her. Of course, she didn’t want me to be mad at her! It might mean I, her bank/babysitter/gopher/cab driver/problem solver etc., might not be around anymore.
One day, it all changed when I received an email from her. I was in between job interviews and running around like a mad woman. I had checked emails after a particularly stressful interview, and her tirade was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Again, she criticized me, my family, my friends, and my children. In criticizing my children, she slapped me in the face for the final time. They had been nothing but respectful and helpful to her, and that was what spurned me into action.
I took steps to eliminate her right then and there. She lashed out at me almost immediately, and I ignored it. There were threats and slander. I still ignored it. In fact, that’s all you can do. Once you let a toxic friend back into your life, you’ll begin that vicious circle all over again. If she sees a chance to worm back into your life, she will. It’s all for her personal gain. If calling me “fat” made her feel better? I’m glad she’s out of my life.
Most toxic friends have patterns, and mine was no different. Their friendships never seem to last longer than a year. That’s because the toxic friend uses and abuses from the start. It’s always someone else’s fault why the friendship ended. My friend had been told numerous times by people ending the friendship that she was negative! I thought I was a good friend, almost like a sister. Well, if one of my sisters had behaved that way? I would have no qualms putting her in her place. She has no problem going out to dinner with you and then telling you partway through that she has no money. Or, she just waltzes out of the restaurant, knowing you’ll pay her way. She guilts you into inviting her to functions with your other friends, then insults them all (and drinks all the wine). The toxic friend may even attempt to flirt with your spouse or significant other. They want what you have, no matter how little. Such people are very needy. Mostly for attention.
Walk away and stay away. This doesn’t mean that you don’t love or care about the person anymore. It means that you have more self-respect for yourself. And in the end, that’s the most important friendship of all!