Ditch those Toxic Friends!

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“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”

~ Wayne Dyer

A woman I’ve known since school rang me in tears yesterday, totally confused about who she is, and what she is capable of.  She’s depressed, lost and about to give up on a dream that once upon a time was the brightest star on her horizon. Something she’s really good at.  Something she used to be passionate about. Why the change? A ‘friend’ has been in her ear, and in the ear of others, talking this wonderful soul down, and instilling these deep doubts.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this happen.  Other close friends have also battled with the pain they feel, and their sense of loyalty to the concept of friendship, when they’ve been in a relationship with a person who treats them badly.

One girlfriend, who helped another woman in their career, has had her ideas pinched and her relationship discarded when it no longer served the person she was ‘friends’ with. This person has become successful and precious, and the way she treats my friend is appalling.

Another had his tools trashed, and a substantive amount of money lost to a mate he’d been friends with since kindergarten.Not only that, the ‘friend’ did irreparable damage to this man’s business reputation with gossip and slander.

What kind of friend behaves like that?

A toxic friend.  And toxic friends aren’t really friends at all!

We’ve all had our share of unequal or downright damaging relationships, but I find that sensitive souls are at highest risk of exploitation in relationships. Sensitive souls are naturally trusting, they place a high value on loyalty and on the well-being of others, and they enjoy helping people. But they can be so busy being a friend, and a helpful friend at that, that they don’t take a moment to see if their friendship is truly reciprocated…

Image from www.themescompany.com

Image from www.themescompany.com

So what does a healthy friendship look like?

In a good friendship you may have shared interests or nothing in common, but you are interested in each other’s lives. There will be respect, trust, kindness, genuine enjoyment of each other’s company, a balance of giving and receiving, care and love, support, non-judgement, respected boundaries, laughter, tears and exchanges of wisdoms, worries, trivia and the deepest secrets of your heart. A friend is there for you, and when there are problems you can communicate and work them through. Friends lift each other up. Friends get us through the darkest hours.

There’s a chemistry to friendships, but then again so much of any healthy and happy relationship comes down to good manners and sound values. Treating people well, having consideration for their feelings and welfare, putting in effort to maintain and build on what you already have.

All friendships require work, and they take time and energy to maintain. A friend is someone to talk to, to share life with, and to be with without words too.

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Toxic relationships are not something anyone would willingly sign up for, so how do we end up in them?

  • we change and they don’t, or vice versa
  • their mask drops over time, and they reveal an aspect of themselves that wasn’t evident at the beginning
  • in a place of low self-worth we accept them in, grateful for their company and attention
  • we might have loyalty to them based on a shared time on our lives – ending up as friends due to circumstance; room mates, best friends at primary school, etc and it’s not actually enough to base a friendship on as we mature
  • in a dark or low place in our own lives, we attract people that mirror these unhealthy and unhappy aspects of ourselves
  • sometimes we feel like we don’t have a lot of choice – they are family members, or partners of friends and family
  • they can also be co-workers, where our relationship is based on daily connection and proximity

Here are some signs of a toxic friendship:

  • their needs are always more important than yours
  • they don’t respect significant people in your life such as your partner, children, family or other friendships
  • they steal your ideas, friends, time and money
  • they ingratiate themselves with friends and family and then erode your position with those people
  • you feel drained rather than supported
  • they lie to you, or play games
  • you begin to think that maybe it is you, and you spend a lot of time working on the relationship or ‘fixing’ things about yourself
  • they sabotage or derail your successes and otherwise stunt your growth
  • they manipulate and guilt-trip you
  • they are full of promises but never deliver, back out at the last minute, or change the rules without asking eg you organise a lunch together and they bring three friends you don’t know
  • oversteps boundaries and engages in inappropriate behaviour with yourself or others associated with you
  • borrow things and never return them, or treat your possessions with little respect eg car comes back dirty and empty after they use it, lose your stuff or loan it out to others without your permission
  • they are hot and cold with you and you never know where you stand
  • they can’t keep your confidences
  • they’re never there for you, but expect you to be there for them, day or night, 24/7
  • they speak badly about you to others
  • they use you to get something that they want, and when they have it they’re done with you
  • they put you down, or make compliments that actually are sweetly disguised insults, and if you call them on it somehow it’s actually your fault or your problem

Let’s face it, in a toxic relationship, it’s all about THEM!

It’s often harder for sensitive people in toxic relationships to end the friendship because they don’t have such clear-cut boundaries, and from a place of spiritual beliefs, empathy, love and compassion they’ll keep trying to help, keep trying to heal, and keep trying to make it better.

If you find yourself hurting and confused in a relationship where being with a person makes you feel worse rather than better, if the signs of a toxic friendship are there, then walk away. The energy you give to an unhealthy and unsatisfying friendship would be better spent on having a good relationship with yourself. Staying in toxic relationships does immense damage over time. Sensitive people can lose themselves entirely.

 

If the person is a family member, or other complicated relationship where it’s harder to walk away, minimise your time with them, stop sharing and do all you can to shield yourself from their energies.  Sometimes you even need to just sever the ties there too.

The world is full of wonderful people, and somewhere out there is a person who’ll be able to give back what you share with them – which is what true friendship is all about.

Above all, value yourself. We live in a reciprocal Universe, and the Universe gets its prompts from us about how we should be treated. If we let it be okay for others to treat us badly, the Universe will just keep delivering more of that energy to us.

EmbracingNewBeginnings

If it’s time to make some changes you’ll find these posts helpful:

Knowing When to Walk Away

Knowing When to Let Go

Speaking your Truth – Tips for the Throat Chakra

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32 thoughts on “Ditch those Toxic Friends!

  1. I was having a talk about this very subject with a friend just last Monday.

    Sometimes it is hard to walk away from the ‘friendship’ but for one’s own sanity it is necessary.

  2. From my own experience, I couldn’t believe a ‘spiritual’ friend was really being that toxic and covering it so well with big smiles and humble posturing, finally after endless smiling put downs and myself putting it down to “I must be paranoid”, I knew my feelings didn’t lie and walked away. I had also read an article about toxic friendships which underlined where I was at. Other friends of mine breathed a sigh of relief. It was with a lot of sadness too, because as with all break ups, be they friendship or romantic, sides inevitably get taken. When I started reading this article, my first thought was ‘but I didn’t ring (you) Nicole’! I deleted lots writing this, Your list is just brilliant and I will be sharing it. Attending your retreat last year, really enabled me to see how ‘spiritual’ people can and all do genuinely support and help each other along the way. Thank you. Bless your Heart xox

    • There’s a big difference between really living that open, supportive and non-competitive life, and just posturing as ‘spiritual’. Glad you’ve found a community of people who can return the gorgeous friendship and caring you offer the world, Vicki. That’s a much more balanced energy. Bless xx

  3. Yes this touched a chord with me also. Late last year I stepped away from a ‘friendship’ which deep down I knew had never worked. It took a big effort from my part in deciding, but was actually painless in the doing. I also have a sibling with whom I would love a ‘real’ relationship, but know it will not happen, having tried so many times where it works for a while and then suddenly doesn’t for no apparent reason. I have stopped trying to make things right, as unfortunately when a relationship is one sided, it won’t succeed. Thank you for this post, as it helps put things into perspective.

  4. Great post. Life can be challenging enough without greater challenges masquerading as friends. But how to know the difference? If there’s a long, drawn-out heavy energy & you are constantly giving with no care or concern in return, then a sense of inequality or unfairness may be speaking volumes. Sometimes however, it may be simply miscommunication or timing that sparks off an avalanche of emotion & consequences. You may even consider distancing yourself, even if that friendship is in fact good, true and healthy, it may be just the emotions speaking at that time. Discernment is required. I have a dear friend who lives nearby, we often catch up for a cup of tea, an occasional blowing-off of steam about life, even a cry once in a while, but for the most part, there are laughs. Big laugh, warm hugs & lots of fun. Over the years we’ve also been the strength for one another when the other needs lifting. But what happens when our timing is off and we are both in need at the same time? Mayhem! I had that recently when I received an email. I too was going through something at that time & when we are in that, as all the sensitive souls who read this blog would understand, my sensitivity levels switched into overdrive! I was reading between the lines, & where my friend was genuinely busy, I was reading rejection. Where did that come from? Healing work since has shown me that it was the 9yr old girl responding to an incident in the schoolyard years ago. That triggered hurt from years ago led to temporary blow-outs in other relationships/ communication in the present. My initial reaction? To shut down & cut communication. Thankfully, I took a big breath & looked into it more. Seeking clarity, we communicated, & yes, there was a misunderstanding & due to mere busyness, emailed comments not fully thought out & the timing of receiving these in an extra-sensitive state, misunderstandings & hurt emotions resulted. What also arose though, was that old hurt, another of those pesky layers to work through & I am glad of that (not then, but now, later). I’m also glad for good friends who stand by you & give you space when you need to work on your “stuff” & who are there for a cuppa & a belly laugh again after.
    So, to all us sensitive souls out there, speak with love. Communicate. Get clarity, then we have no misunderstandings & there is opportunity for growth, healing & ability to move forward for all. With love xo

  5. wow, this post has been timely for me as well, it appears as I’m not the only one that left a friendship behind in 2012, and though it saddens me to of had to walk away, i keep reminding myself ‘no pain no gain’..and yes, i’ve also read that ‘sensitives’ usually have secret enemies..

  6. Wish I had realised this earlier in my life, but it’s never too late. Your post coincides with my decisiom to (kindly) eradicate yet another person from my life (I think you will know who from a recent post). It’s sad, but not tragic! And ohhhhhhhhh the relief!

  7. Outstanding post and something I have been trying to tell people for a long time. No one is obligated to remain friendly with someone that makes you feel bad. Friendship isn’t supposed to hurt. Thank you so much for this post. I shared it on Facebook.

  8. It can be hard to tell sometimes if a friendship is really toxic or if you’re taking things the wrong way because you’re sensitive. I have a friend who I know deep down cares what happens to me but often doesn’t show it on the surface. There are moments when there is a wonderful closeness between us but much of the time this person’s own defences keep others at arm’s length. That can feel hurtful if you’re on the receiving end of it, but I think this kind of person does value someone who accepts them with all their problems. Mind you, when you’re in the thick of things it’s hard to see the wood for the trees and perhaps it is more toxic than I care to admit.

  9. Wow… you are an amazingly wise and talented writer! Thank you so much for sharing this post, and all your wonderful posts on this blog 🙂 I’ve been away too long and am cherishing every moment of reading and growing my way through your incredible ‘shares’. I especially adore this one, as I had to let go of someone I’d been close to and looking up to all my life, until our mother passed and she showed some (toxic!) true colours. This post helps with my choice to let go.
    Thank you for sharing your gift here with us. Love and Light, Gina

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