‘Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival’.
Friendships are crucial to the shape of our lives. Finding someone you enjoy spending time with, without a hint of romance, can lead us to new experiences and give us a sense of feeling understood. A true friend has your back through any crisis, holds your hand through any tragedy and applauds your every achievement.
However, friendships can feel the same stresses and strains as any of the other relationships in our life and can turn sour over time. The difference between friendships and other relationships is that they can be particularly difficult to identify as being negative.
Often the dynamics of a friendship change because two people have made different decisions in life, leaving one happier than the other or they just become two entirely different people. Sometimes these differences can be worked out over time, but for others, it’s a sign that the effort of maintaining the friendship is just dragging you down.
Identifying a toxic friendship and letting it go is crucial to your emotional well-being. If you are unsure that a friendship has gone beyond saving, check for these three signs.
They cause you embarrassment
Being embarrassed on purpose is one thing, but when the genuine behavior of your friend leaves you cringing whenever you’re in public together, it’s a clear sign that the relationship has turned toxic. Dr. Patricia Leavy, the author of American Circumstance, a novel that explores female friendship, sees it as a clear sign that ‘you’ve outgrown the friendship.’
Embarrassment is a clear sign that your attitudes have changed and (probably) matured. Having a friend who isn’t ready to move on from who they were in the past is not a bad reflection on either of you, it is just a sign that remaining close is no longer beneficial to either of you.
They don’t get on with your other friends, family or partner
If all of your friends don’t like your partner, it might be a good indication that something is wrong. However, if you have one friend who has an issue with them, as well as having no desire to share you with anyone else, it’s a problem.
This petty jealousy that usually manifests itself in rude comments and behavior is a clear indicator that the friendship has become one of dependency rather than mutual respect.
Spending time with someone like this alters your world-view to be much bleaker, as they attempt to create an ‘us against the world’ mentality. Leaving very little space for either of you to grow or to open yourself up to new experiences.
They never support you
At the heart of true friendship comes support. Celebrating the good and commiserating the bad. No matter the experience, your friends are those you rely on to stick with you through even the most heartbreaking trials. More importantly, when things are going well or you’re considering taking a risk, you sometimes need people to rally around you and tell you how great you are.
A toxic friend will do the opposite of all of these things. Achievements will be met at best with a roll of the eyes, and at worst a nasty comment. They will remind you of your shortcomings and insecurities in an attempt to erode your self-confidence. It’s the worst trait of a toxic friendship and the one that is most important to escape.
Friendship should always be a source of comfort and love in your life. A relationship between two equals who add value to each other’s lives, whilst improving our joy and understanding of the human condition.
As the great French journalist and writer Albert Camus once wrote – ‘Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead. Walk beside me… just be my friend’.