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Toxic Friends

There is no sure fire way of predicting whether or not a friendship will turn out to be a dependable, optimistic relationship in your life, or by contrast, a pessimistic one will cause upset or worry. Once a relationship starts to go bitter, the perpetrator is often a lethal blend between the two.

A toxic’ friend is identified as a friend who pollutes our social life with disparaging or hurtful actions. It may not be a single person’s oversight, but sometimes knowing a personality can assist on recognizing those who are tainting our lives.

The soul destroyer

This friend is always there with grave news to contradict any positive news you might have. Broke? She’s just won the lottery. Overindulged in chocolate? She just happens to know the calorie consumption of every last mouthful. Also known as let-down Lesley, comedown Carol or discouraging Diana. Advice? Keep your good news to yourself whenever they’re around, especially when something exceedingly positive has happened. Unless you enjoy flagging your spirit around on a ball and chain, this sort of friend is unnecessary in all situations.

The plus-one

This is the friend that always feels she has to gain some sort of advantage over you. This friend likes to believe she is comprehensive and varied, shapely and experienced in many areas but more often than not, does it to make others feel substandard in comparison. Refer to an upcoming trip to the Bahamas’ and you’ll soon discover her 6 bedroom villa there, not to mention her legion of fans which await her arrival. The greatest tip to handling this type of person is to simply disregard them. They long for praise, endorsement and more so than anything, attention. If this isn’t enough, they anticipate your jealousy like a regular train arrival. No matter how farfetched their stories become, keep response levels to a minimum and they’ll stop regaining the kick of outshining you. After all, nothing reeks of ambivalence more than the back of your head.

The charity case

What are your motives for befriending the charity case? Your rationale. Your incentive. You know your raison d’tre? The point is, you probably won’t be able to come up with a valid intention. Most of the time, we can’t remember when this “relationship” began… we recall guilt, served up next to a large helping of shame, followed by lashings of empathy, and the rest is history. This friend is always scraping the bottom of the barrel, in fact that shady recollection of someone knee deep in trash, may have been the first time you encountered this associate. Actually, she attracts misfortune. You’re perfectly perceptive you reap no benefits from this bond, but recurrent guilt trips always stop you from dumping her. When you eventually come to the conclusion (and this happens regularly) that you’ve had enough, she is quick to tug on your heartstrings again and you find yourself immovable until the crisis resolves itself. Achieving recovery will take a little game playing of your own. When she appears with a list of favours, say you’re in a similar situation also. It is improbable she’ll attempt to reimburse the compassion you have shown her. This friend is a user, not a benefactor and she’ll likely disappear gradually into the arms of a new soft touch, and you’ll be let off.

The evader

You haven’t seen this friend in a long time… and the most worrying part is you can’t seem to understand why. You were under the illusion things were great, the spark was there, you clicked’ instantly and for a while, you were joined at the hip. Suddenly, you’ve lost contact and she’s turned her attention to an entirely different crowd. The evader treats friendships like a fashion trend: always transforming. The issue is that you devoted time and feeling into the relationship and her transitory kindliness has left you feeling offended and discarded. You’re left feeling green-eyed and predictably speculate what you didn’t have to offer in the friendship. Take solace in this: that new best friend will be in your position as soon as the evader becomes jaded and goes on to experiment with someone new. Commitment-phobic’s treat people like dirt because deep down they are terrified of getting rejected themselves. If it hasn’t already happened to her, then it will one day. In the meantime, take comfort in the knowledge that you know how to maintain friendships and because of this, will have plenty of them.

The Intruder

Never leave your friends, boyfriend, family, boss alone with this social life thief. This particular type of friend cannot be trusted with other special people in your life and cannot help wanting what other people have and what they mean to you. New boyfriend? She’s encroaching a little too dearly into his personal space. New friend? She’s playing cling-on’ and tapping her number into your rather begrudging, new acquaintances phone. If you have one of these villains in your life, care for your social life as you would expensive jewellery in the jaws of an eager robber…barred, bolted and locked up tight!

If you don’t recognise any of your friendships in this list then assume there is absolutely nothing wrong. You are just being paranoid. Wrong. There are plenty of other examples of toxic’ to sink your teeth into. Try, the copy-cat’ (forever imitating you), the glum chum’ (the miserable one, and don’t you know it!) The drama queen’ (a new and improved theatre performance daily, without the pricey ticket and evening gown) or even, The Jekyll and Hyde’ (very temperamental, nice one day, nasty the next). If your friends still don’t fit these standards, and you are experiencing even more difficulty, take another look. Could the toxic friend be you?

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