Spotting Toxic Friends

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Disney and Nickelodeon are an endless supply of television shows about youth and the unwavering power of friendships—and now kids have Netflix Originals, too! It’s freaking everywhere! If you’re my generation, you know Lizzie and Miranda, or Raven and Chelsea. There’s Carly and Sam, and even recently Riley and Mia. We’ve all grown up surrounded by the immortal trope of the undying friendship, and even in adulthood we’re still given an impressive I.V. supply of the crap. Examples include: Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Community, Will and Grace, the list goes on.

So then why do people still suck at friendship? Or better yet, humanity? I could lead this muse into a much deeper conversation given all the chaos going on in the world right now, but no, I just want to talk about shitty friends. Indulge me, please.

It is not hard to refrain from sucking, Let’s unpack the three things that form a friendship. It’s pretty simple, which is not a shocker.

Healthy, loving, good friendships:

  1. Open communication and dialogue. This ranges from all the serious talk, to the person you send random memes and videos to at 3am. That being said, you cannot have one without the other to form a close relationship. Everyone has Meme Friends. They’re a good boost to one’s quality of life, but a funny meme does not a best friend make.
  2. Truth, truth, truth, and kindness. Let’s face it, at some point in time we are all that bitch. And when we fall off the path and get lost, we need at least one person who is going to mosey on off the path to give us a whack on the head and set us straight. You’ve got the harsh friends that will do just that—the strong personalities that maybe we don’t bond so well with. But then there’s the good friends who will do this, but in such a way it will also cradle our hearts. “Hey, you’re fucking it all up, but I still love you.”
  3. Commitment. This is the one that usually drops people into the toilet fast—like dozens of little friend turdlets. Looking back on some of the television shows I mentioned previously, commitment is usually a big plot element, too. It’s also usually described as terrifying and super hard, but it’s almost always portrayed as romantic commitment. But when you become a friend, a true friend, you’re making a commitment to that person. Everyone should take care of themselves, but that doesn’t mean friends get to toss you to the wolves whenever they like. Friends will be there. They’ll be there whether it’s the 2am mental breakdown, if it’s the sudden death in the family, if it’s the embarrassing job interview, cringe Tinder date, whatever.

Now, this is the list that, when these things are not being done, it means it is time to throw the friend out. The whole friend. Know why? Because they suck. This is not someone who should be your inner circle, they will not lift you up, they will not support you in your time of need. They will let you land hard on the ground of that trust fall if something shiny catches their eye. Walk away.

Toxic, selfish, all-around bad friendships:

  1. They don’t even have time for your rants. You’ll get one of two responses. A competition—whatever you’re facing is not as harrowing as what they’re going through. Or you get apathy. Maybe they don’t even have time for a phone call. You let it all out in a full-text rant, and you get back a, “Man, that’s rough.” And sure, sometimes this can be enough, but all the time? No, friends, that’s not enough. Someone who cannot fit you into their schedule is someone who sees no value in having you in their life. Why are you trying to hold onto someone like that?
  2. Lies are seeds. They grow and flourish in the dark, but that growth leads to shrubbery—it always finds the light of day. When you find those leaves, believe what you see. Lies breed more lies, more seeds. If a person doesn’t rip them out by the roots, the lies come back. It is easy to spot a person who’s not particularly fond of gardening their own weeds.
  3. Friends show up. Period. And when they can’t, they find other ways. They check up on you, they call, or even something as miniscule as a text. They make sure you know they’re there, at the very least. I’m not just talking about the friend that consistently can’t make time for hanging out because they’re too busy. Beware of the “friend” who measures the world by their own ruler. What’s important to them is the only thing of importance. If what’s important to you is not on their radar, they will not care. Again, period. When they leave you standing there alone, don’t be there waiting by the time they decide to pass by.

It’s so easy to talk a big game when I’m sat on my couch in my pajamas basically letting myself rant. There are such kind people out there: people who can’t stand conflict, people who want to help others, and people who can’t stand the thought of losing friends. If you relate to any of these things, it’s not wrong to feel this way. It doesn’t make you stupid, it makes you a good friend. You’re smart enough to spot these signs.

Be a good friend to yourself first.


Thank you to everyone taking the time
to look at my writing.
All comments and critique are greatly appreciated.
Friendship issue? Or similar
experience? Please feel free
to share below, this is a safe place!
♥ Becca N.

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