How To Discover and Cut Poisonous Relationships From Your Life
How To Discover and Cut Poisonous Relationships From Your Life
Do you remember that friend of yours that you had when you were a kid? The risky, crazy bud that influenced you to do a lot of things that were outside your comfort zone…and sometimes outside the law? The angel on one shoulder told you they were a bad influence, the devil on the other saying that you deserved it?
Well that was exactly what my life was like back in high school. At the time, I didn’t have anything even resembling what you would call Confidence. I was friends with a few sparse “good people”, but most of the people I thought were my good friends were bullies, toadies, and victims.
Yeah, my view was so screwed up I thought that the people who I had unintentionally started bullying were friends of mine, due to the harassment I received at the hands of other bullies. In the end, it didn’t do me any favors, and I had no clue about it, until I met this guy.
The Man Who Completely Changed The Way I Think About Friendship
His name is Phil, and he’s been my friend for a long time. We met on a super uneventful day, I was getting tortured by bullies, and was picking on my own “friends”. I still cringe when I think back on who I was then. In the middle of the day however, things completely changed.
I remember walking through the big hallway in our school, the main place where you could get harassed, and because of the sheer mass of people passing through you wouldn’t even get noticed. I was walking through the hall, my back pack and hands full of oversized books, when suddenly one of my bullies walked by and pushed me over.
Of course all my books went everywhere, then they grabbed my backpack and emptied all the ones in there all over me. I was ridiculed, everyone walking by either laughed, or just gave me an annoyed look. Tears in my eyes, I was trying hard to pick up the remaining scraps of my dignity when suddenly, the people around me parted.
I looked up to see Phil, this guy I hadn’t met. Within thirty seconds, he picked my butt off the ground, helped me grab all my books, and brushed me off. He checked on me, made sure I was okay, and me and him became almost instant friends.
Being friends with Phil showed me that the way I tried to be friends with others with mean and vicious. More then that, the way the bullies were treating me every day wasn’t right, and that friendships didn’t have to be built like that.
So I made a promise to myself. I promised that I was going to live in a healthier, better lifestyle with people who cared about me, and that I would protect people I cared about in return. But then I had a new problem, one that I eventually figured out, but it took me a while to get down. How do I figure out which of my relationships are poisonous, and which aren’t?
How To Discover Which Friendships Are Poisonous
The process behind figuring out which of your relationships are poisonous can be tricky, because nobody wants to think bad of those they perceive as friends. When you decide to hang out with those that truly care about you and those that care for your well-being, you’d be surprised just how often you have to stare truth in the face.
We all build friendships, but it’s important that the people we have in our lives are open-minded, and want the best for themselves and everybody else. We’re all in this together, so when you encounter someone who isn’t, it’s important to decide whether you might be better off going your separate ways.
So what constitutes a toxic friendship? I remember feeling that most of the friendships I had at the time felt very specific, but when I look around I see about 8 situations. 8 things that if they happen constantly in your friendship can mean they are toxic.
They Make You Feel Low About Yourself
This was the one that I experienced the most about the people I hung around in high school. I thought they were my friends, when all they did to me was make me feel like crap. This isn’t what friendship is supposed to be, think about how much better life could be if those people stopped bringing you down.
They’re Always Causing Trouble
This issue is decidedly more rare. But if your friend or friends are the type to cause fights when you go out, or steal something, or just be rather troublesome to deal with maybe it’s time you look elsewhere. There are tons of people who can have a good time without causing problems, why start a fight when you don’t need to?
They Pressure You To Do Things You’re Not Comfortable With
I need to explain the difference here between your friends pushing you to be daring and leaving your comfort zone, and friends pressuring you to do stuff that’s incredibly bad for your health. You don’t need someone pressuring you to shop lift, or take dangerously hard drugs, none of that is going to end well. Bad Influences can be dangerous, why do you need them around?
They Bad-Mouth People You Care About Most
I’m not talking about expressing concern for your well-being. There’s a line between suggesting that you don’t hang out with someone because they’re a bad influence on you, and just bad mouthing your family and friends. I had a couple of people in my life like that, and it always bothered the crap out of me, to the point where I stopped hanging out with most, and the one that I do keep in touch with, we aren’t very close any more.
They’re More Controlling and Jealous Then Your Ex-Girlfriend
Yeah, Jealousy and Control aren’t just traits of crazy exes. You’d be surprised just how often someone you know can blow up because you didn’t answer a text. Or maybe they try to control your life, pulling the strings and making sure you only hang out with them. It’s pretty messed up, and personally I have no patience for someone like this, take control of your life back, nobody else should be running it for you.
They Talk About You Behind Your Back
I know we’ve all had this happen to us. It sucks when people are making up some vicious rumor, and way worse if you discover that it’s your friend that’s the perpetrator. Real friends wouldn’t do this, and universe knows that these people are petty. You don’t deserve that kind of treatment.
I don’t just mean self absorbed, I mean straight up selfish in every manner. If they aren’t there when you need them, or they won’t stop talking about themselves, it’s probably a good idea to re-evaluate the friendship. Friendship is about two people, not just one!
They Betray You
To me, this is the big one. If they do something super unforgivable, like steal your girlfriend, or steal a huge amount of money from you, it’s probably a good chance to decide whether this relationship is worth it. Betrayal hurts, and after it happens, it’s very difficult to get back to the way things were before.
What if I don’t like the idea of just cutting ties with my friend?
Cutting ties isn’t easy, and please don’t mistake me for saying that it’s a good idea to just blow through friendships just because someone is doing something wrong. You should always try to salvage the friendship first, try a few things before you just say forget it and just give up.
This person is your friend, and has been for some time right? They deserve the chance to rectify the friendship, to try harder. I fully recommend that before the cut, you at least try and bring light to the fact that they do it, and how it makes you feel.
Get in touch with them, arrange a time where the two of you can just hang out by yourselves, and just talk it out with them. Tell them what they do, and how it makes you feel. Break it down as much as possible, and while you want to use tact, you have to stick to your guns.
Many people value you and aren’t meaning to offend you the way that they are, so there’s a solid chance that they’re willing to work on it. If they change their behavior (and it’ll take some time) then awesome, friendship restored. Give them a solid time limit to change, an amount of time where they can come to terms and act differently.
If they refuse to, or they don’t change what they’re doing, then it’s a solid point to end the friendship, after all a huge aspect of friendship is the change to grow together. Why would you want to remain friends with someone who doesn’t grow? Especially if they are stuck in a super negative place?
There’s this post I love to look at when I think about this subject. It’s a post I stumbled on doctornerlove.com last year. A huge amount of self esteem derives from the environment around us. You, as it states in the piece, are the sum of your environment.
I know it can be hard, cutting a friend out of our lives, but I find that once you realize that the friendship is toxic, it’s equally as difficult to maintain that friendship. Try to maintain that friendship, because you’ll be surprised that usually, that other person is suffering from ailments that they haven’t disclosed with you.
But remember you are the sum of your environment, don’t let a toxic friend rip you down, you don’t deserve that.
The Final Word
Friendships aren’t the easiest thing in the world. Much like any other relationship, it takes co-operation and communication to maintain a friendship for a long time, but oh my gosh is it worth it. The feeling of comfort and belonging that comes with having close friends is wonderful, and in itself is a powerful force.
And if you think about it, that’s amazing to have in your life.
It means that when you fall down, you have others to help pick you up.
It means you’re never alone.
It means that you have others that are cheering for you, and a network of people that want to see you succeed.
So keep your chin up, take some time to think on some of the friendships in your life. If they want to be a true friend, they’ll find the conviction in themselves to improve their behavior. A few years from now you’ll look back, and see the massive difference that true friendships make on your life.
And when you do, you’ll find a bright smile cross your face.