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Recognizing toxic friends

There is nothing better than spending time with good friends. The laughter, the tears and day to day life that is shared among friends create memories that last a lifetime. Close friends are that handful or fewer that know everything there is to know about each other and keep that knowledge within that small group. These close friendships are the ones people tend to cherish and nurture the most. Casual friends are great fun at times, but the close ones stand the test of time and life itself.

What happens when you have a friendship that is less than adequate? Time spent with this friend leaves you feeling bad in some way, every time you get together. You like this friend, you just somehow come away on the losing end, or at least that is how it seems. What you could be dealing with is a toxic friendship. There are some key ways to tell if a friend is bad for you.

Selfish

Every time you get together or speak on the phone, the conversation is dominated by them, about them. They never ask what is going on in your life or even ask you how you are feeling (basic etiquette). When you do happen to say something about your own life, they manage to turn it around to something about them. They forget your birthday, anniversary and even Christmas, yet are extremely offended if they even think you forgot their special day.

This selfishness can actually be even worse. They can intentionally do things on a special occasion just to ruin it for you. This might sound paranoid, but think about it for awhile, you might be surprised to figure it is true. They might show up to your birthday party and then announce that they didn’t have the money for a gift or card (handmade gifts are often free of cost). You go out of your way to give them a nice Christmas, for another example, with a small gift and maybe some homemade treats and they don’t even say “Thank you”, let alone anything else. 

Critical

When a friend tells you your dress is a bit too tight, that could actually save you from future embarrassment. When a friend puts down every single stitch of clothing you own, that is being critical. If they find a way to criticize your latest promotion at work and everything else about your job, they are being critical. Basically if they find something negative to say regarding anything to do with you, then they are just plain being mean. 

People with low self-esteem often find ways to put down others (even friends) as a way of making themselves feel better. If you bring this to their attention, then they will often criticize you for criticizing them. It is a losing battle with people in this frame of mind, not to mention exhausting. 

Always take, never give

It is the mark of a true friend to help out someone they care about. Lending a few bucks until payday, buying them a few odds and ends at the grocery store, or just being a shoulder to cry on is part of being a good friend. When this type of helping occurs all the time, you are no longer helping, you are supporting. Even then it can be justified if the friend pays you back in some manner. Some people are in a better place than others at a given time and it is okay to help them get by if they are willing to give back in whatever way they can. 

Toxic friends will take whatever they can get from you and repay you with excuses as to why they cannot repay you. Even if the only thing you give is your valuable time, that is still worth something. If you are the unending shoulder to cry on or sounding board when their life is a mess, the least they could do is offer you the same.

When you boil it all down, a toxic friendship is one-sided and not on your side. They only want to associate when it benefits them, even if it is by making you feel bad about yourself. These friendships are not healthy, hence the term “toxic”. No matter how hard you try try, they are not going to change until they actually believe they are doing something wrong. 

In an act of self-preservation, it is usually best to gently break ties and put an end to a toxic friendship. You deserve happier, healthier friends that actually care about you. Why waste any more of your precious time on someone who doesn’t care how wonderful you are?

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