Friends can be a great help in times of trouble. They are, for many of us, the foundation on which we stand. We rely on them for our emotional wellbeing. But not all of them are healthy. And when they aren't, well, an unhealthy foundation is a very bad thing that affects the rest of our lives. Toxic friendships can actually be the cause of great unwellness. But how can we tell when a relationship is "fixable" and when it's become a toxic relationship?
Fair-weather friends are the ones who are only around when good things are happening or when it's convenient for them to do so. When things are great in your life, they're right there, rejoicing with you, but when things get hard or complicated, they're suddenly busy. You might have some great times, but those times generally won’t be at your convenience. Friends like this are around until something better comes along, at which point you find yourself dropped. The friend returns when there’s nothing better going on. That arrangement isn’t true friendship, and can quickly become toxic as you find yourself left alone when you need them most, or going out of your way to meet their needs instead of a balanced approach which is more healthy.
Friends should be flexible for one another and work to compromise to meet the needs of both people. But some friendships demand that you put everything aside to attend to their needs, then you might be in a one-sided friendship. Friends should definitely be supportive, but that should go both ways. If you find that you’re always the one doing the compromising, even though they won’t do the same for you, that's a bad sign. These kinds of friendships become toxic when resentment builds up and one friend doesn’t get their needs met. The drain on your energy and time can just become too much. We all deserve a balanced life with friendships that are equally fulfilling for both parties.
Friends who are always unhappy and complaining can bring the people around them down. It's said that we become the five people we spend the most time with. So if we aren't careful, we might start being this person, too. It’s important for friends to lift each other up and to bring out the best in one another, and that rarely happens if there’s a friend who’s always negative. By choosing friends who are generally positive, it’s easier for you to stay positive and you can both then be lifted up by the friendship. There may be some negative moments and situations, but that won’t be the general attitude of the friends in the group of you both tend to put a positive spin on things.
Much like the negative friendship trait, above, there are those who seem to seek out bad situations just to have things to talk about. Some people feed on drama, and they want it in every aspect of their life. Or if nothing is going on, they stir it up. Or, almost just as bad, they gossip about the misfortunes of others. This friend type doesn’t seem to be able to let things go, and they’re always looking for scandal, gossip and something big happening around them. While that can seem exciting at first, it can also quickly get tiring and stressful and, as above, you become the people you spend time with, so it's worth considering whether or not this is the person you want to be. Life will have its dramatic moments, but it shouldn’t feel like you’re living in a soap opera. It’s usually best to avoid these types of friendships.
Rebels and adventurous friends make life exciting sometimes, but they can also get their friends into trouble. If you have a friend who likes spontaneous adventures, just make sure those adventures aren’t leading you down a path you’re uncomfortable with. There are a lot of ways to have fun that don’t put people at risk of harm either physically or emotionally, socially or financially. If your friends have a different comfort level with fun than you do, it may not be the right friendship for you. There's no need to risk losing your job or even jail time if that's not your jam.
Good friends are one of the most fulfilling things in life. Having healthy friendships can give us a source of strength from which to draw and help us stay healthy as we need socialization to feel good emotionally. And these days, social media passes for socializing but it's not at all the same. And honestly, settling for toxic friendships isn’t necessary, and it’s good to recognize the problems early so you can move on to people who are a better fit for your friendship style and goals.
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