#Frenemies: 6 signs you’re in a toxic friendship

I was recently talking to a friend of mine that was lamenting about the struggle she has with a friend of hers.

She spoke to the fact that they have ‘been friends for years’ so she was experiencing an unspoken feeling of obligation that she should maintain the friendship. Despite being constantly brought down by her friend’s negativity, misgivings that her friend was trustworthy, and the nagging feeling that her friend just used her to vent about the stresses of her life—my friend still seemed to struggle with letting this other person go.

Sound familiar?

At one point or another, you have to evaluate the friendships that are in your life.

Healthy characteristics of friendships include:

  • a reciprocation of support through the bad and the good times in life
  • a feeling of positivity that is derived after an interaction
  • the ability to go out and enjoy life activities together
  • a bond that is impenetrable through life transitions
  • trust.

A healthy friendship enhances your life, and should not take away from your joy. Of course there will be moments where you will feel concern and worry for your friend, but this should be tempered by humor and lighter moments where you both share joy!

lab and elephant friends

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” ― Alice Walker

So how do you decipher through the friendships that you have and decide which ones need to be let go?

Here is a list of the top 6 signs that your friendship is toxic, and needs to be expired:

1. Despite your best efforts, your friend never seems happy with you.

Some people are intrinsic people pleasers. They may feel a need to always try to make others happy despite never being able to achieve that because the other person will always feel they are not doing a good enough job. My biggest concern for the people pleaser is that who is trying to make you happy? If you begin to notice that despite your best efforts, your “friend” still becomes upset that you didn’t call her back at the right time, didn’t listen long enough to her grievances, didn’t fix her problem, give her the right advice, etc., then it may be time to move on. Who wants a person in their life who you can’t ever make happy despite your best efforts?

2. Your friend is a social glommer.

Social glomming occurs when your friend only seems available during the good times in your life. The social glommer is surely there to celebrate that new job, but there’s no sight of them when you need support with a break-up, loss, insert whatever hardship you may have going on. A social glommer is there to ride the coattails of your happiness but you can’t count on them to be there for you when the going gets tough. Friendship should be based on the understanding that there is support even when you are not at the top of your life game.

In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge.

–Aristotle

3. Your friend loves drama.

Maybe you’ve begun to notice a pattern where your friend loves to function around and in dysfunction. While the friend that loves drama can provide some entertainment and or strong opinions, this kind of friendship surely does not promote peaceful living. If you find that your friend is only calling you when he or she is at the center of a dramatic event and seeks to pull you in, it may be time to pull the curtain on this one. When we constantly allow ourselves to become involved in these mini-dramas, it takes away positive energy—draining us of our ability to be healthy and centered.

4. Your friend does not communicate with you when they are upset.

Maybe you had to cancel a dinner with your friend because you were sick with the flu and strangely you haven’t heard from your friend for weeks. You know that the dinner was important to your friend because it was a celebration of their new job and wonder why they aren’t responding to you since you cancelled. You’ve apologized but still, no response. A true friend is able to check in with you if you’ve done something that upset them. There is the ability to have a meaningful conversation about hurts and or disappointments and instead of the difficult conversation breaking up the relationship, you and your friend become stronger. Just as in any relationship, there will be times that you may upset or let one another down. If you aren’t able to discuss these concerns, then it can be a tell-tale sign that it’s a dead-end friendship.

4. Your friend does not encourage you to be the best version of yourself.

The friend that is a bad influence will often manifest themselves in many different ways. Whether it’s the person that encourages you to drink more than you know you should, not go to the meeting on beach cleanup, or tell you that kissing someone other than your partner is not cheating, this person encourages bad behavior and in turn causes you to be a less healthy version of yourself. This person is often disguised under the mask of being nonjudgmental which is surely a quality that we want in a friend. But instead of being open to accepting you as who you are, their nonjudgmentalness takes a turn for the worst—instead of offering up healthy encouragement while still accepting you, he or she may completely validate totally irresponsible and unhealthy behavior. If you recognize this in your friendship, it’s time to find someone that encourages you to grow.

A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. Your friend is not trustworthy or consistent.

True friends are able to respect you and hold the sacred details of your life close to their heart without repeating them. Likewise, their actions follow their words. Not only do healthy friendships speak the truth, they follow through with doing what they say that they will. Example: you just confessed to your friend that you are feeling really lonely and would they go with you to your company holiday party? Your friend offers you verbal support and tells you “of course I’ll be your plus one!” but when it comes time for the action to take place, you find out that not only does your friend repeat what you have told them to another mutual friend, they bail on you when it comes time for the get together. If you are allowing someone that is not trustworthy or consistent to be in your life, then it’s time to reevaluate and let go.

 “Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”

― William Shakespeare

frenemies

Tying it all together…

The beauty of our adult friendships is that we have the capability to pick and choose who we allow to be in our lives, our inner circle, our ‘tribe’. Friendships should benefit your life and cause your life to be enriched with support and positivity.

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes your friendships will wax and wane as you may be in different life stages, yet no matter what, a true friendship will persevere throughout. Make space in your life for healthy friendships, with people that will encourage you to be the best version of yourself, and love you for exactly who you are.

Never settle for less to pacify loneliness; when you accept less than what you deserve, the end result is one that lacks fulfillment and true human connection. While it can be difficult to find faithful friends, hold tight because they are out there! And more than likely looking for a good friend like you.

Focus your energies on being the best friend that you can be and the positive people that you want to attract will come…

Wishing you solid friendships full of health and positivity today and everyday,

Rachel Ann

The truth can be scary: 7 ways to know you’re not ready for a new relationship

Are you wondering if you’re ready for a relationship? 7 quick ways to make that judgment

So you’re contemplating the start of a new relationship? Before you jump in head (or should I say heart) first, take a mental inventory to see whether or not relationship haunts of past are looming over your shoulder.

I’ve heard people say, “With this relationship, I’ll be different! I won’t make the same mistakes of my past”. So I’ll ask, “What kind of mistakes did you make?” to only be met with wide eyes, silence, and a face that looks like the pondering emoticon.

Definition is clarity.

If you’re at that place of uncertainty, here are the top 7 indicators that you need to put the brakes on starting your next relationship:

1. You have not waited a sufficient amount of time before ending your last relationship and starting your next.

I can’t quantify an exact number, but you know deep down if you’re ready or not. Ending a year-long relationship and then starting one within a week after the break up is not a sufficient amount of time.

In order to move forward, you must heal from the past. Relational splits can be difficult. Our brains need time to let go and form a new relationship with ourselves. Taking the time to get to know your new single self and stand alone is one of the healthiest things you can do.

“One of the best times for figuring out who you are & what you really want out of life? Right after a break-up.” ― Mandy Hale

2. You’re not over your ex.

Look, I wouldn’t have written this one if I haven’t heard it time and time again. Becoming involved with a new person is not going to cause you to get over your ex faster! Using your new love interest as a distraction technique is a disservice to them and a lazy, superficial way for you to attempt to move on.

Beginning something new does not erase your past. It can help alleviate some pain, but it’s a band-aid that will quickly fall off if bumped too hard.

3. You use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.

Whether you’re drinking your pain away with alcohol, smoking 5 J’s [joints] a day, or shooting up heroin, substances are all the same in what they ultimately do—NUMB. I’ve heard a myriad of responses about why people abuse substances ranging from “I’m bored” to “I hate my job” to the deeper clinical issues of “I was sexually abused” but essentially the common denominator is that the use of substances provides an escape from facing something in your life.

When you use substances, your thinking becomes cloudy. Everything is cast in a different light than when you are sober. Why do you think that alcohol is called a social lubricant? It makes it easier for people to connect albeit it being a superficial connection.

Think about it: if you are struggling with substance abuse before becoming involved with someone, this is a tell-tale sign that you’re not ready for the ups and downs of a relationship. Substances become a crutch for when the going gets tough and if you can’t handle stress while sober, then there’s a good chance that you will not be able to clear-headedly and transparently handle relationship stress that arises.

4. You go into the relationship with the expectation (or hidden agenda) that your partner will finance your life.

Please don’t get me wrong, I know that when you get married, or begin a partnership with someone, the finances will be evaluated. There should be discussion (from the beginning) about how much each person will contribute and what the budget is.

I’m referring to the mindset of marrying for money. You become involved with someone for financial security, quit your job, and swear that you are now a ‘kept’ man or woman. Unless that is the understanding in your relationship, then this is completely unfair to your partner.

We are all adults. We should be taking care of ourselves and when we do meet someone, we should be confident in our ability to care for ourselves. What happens if your partner decides to leave you and you don’t have a penny to your name or decided to drop out of college because your lover was there and you “just didn’t need to work so hard anymore”?

Life happens. People leave one another. It is a sad and hard truth but it is a truth. If you’re unable to support yourself and go into the situation where you’re expecting to be cared for completely in the financial department—then take a step back. You’re not ready to be in a relationship.

You must learn how to take care of yourself independent of anyone, first. Financial independence is freeing and your level of self-efficacy/belief in yourself raises exponentially when you’re able to provide for yourself.

5. You’re insecure to the point it affects your daily living.

We all struggle with moments of insecurity but usually the clinical rule of thumb on whether or not something is a diagnosable issue is whether or not it’s impacting your life and your ability to carry out your daily functioning.

Do you depend on other people for validation of how wonderful you are, unable to realize your value on your own [read self-worth]?

Do you struggle with liking who you are as a person and does this affect your ability to interact with others?

Do you focus more on your outward appearance than you do on cultivating your soul’s appearance?

If you answered yes to those questions then insecurity may be an inhibiting visitor in your life that is taking up the space that a healthy, potential lover could be. Hold off on starting the new relationship and focus on the development of self-esteem and knowing your worth in the world.

 “As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are – what others say is irrelevant.” ― Nic Sheff

6. You don’t know what you will and will not accept in a relationship.

There are the main non-negotiables that I mentioned in my previous post (#Relationshipgoals we should all strive for, 6 non-negotiables traits), but how about the day-to-day interactions that occur that essentially teach another person how to treat you?

Bringing it to life: you’re home on a Saturday night, when your new suitor or suitress texts you. It’s 11:30 and you’ve got your jammies on and are about to call it a night…they ask what you’re doing and do you want to hang out? Would you respond or would you ignore it? I’ve seen men and women respond in various ways but more often than not, the people who allowed the person to come over never had a lasting relationship with the other person.

Figure out what your boundaries are. You teach another person how you want to be treated by allowing them to behave in certain ways with you. When someone is truly interested in you, they will meet you where you’re at and treat you the way you expect to be treated.

Before reacting on a situation, always think about what message you’re sending by allowing it to happen or conversely, not happen.

You are in charge of what you will and will not accept in a relationship.

7. You’ve never owned a pet.

Aright, you can laugh. This one is a bit optional but the validity is there. You will learn so much about yourself when you own a pet. Gone are the days of going out after work, instead it’s “I’ll meet you guys there in 30, I have to go let my dog out!” No more staying the night out unexpectedly, because you now have a little furry buddy that is dependent on you to be fed, let out, and taken care of.

Owning a pet equates to having an added voluntary level of responsibility.

Taking on a new relationship is also usually an added voluntary level of responsibility. Relationships with both your pet and your human have to be nurtured. And owning a pet can be a great precursor to knowing how to show up when you say you will and just step outside of yourself and care for another being.

Tying it all together…

The start of a new, healthy relationship has the potential to be one of the most beautiful experiences in your life! However, in order for a new relationship to be successful, you must deal with inner demons, making sure that you are healed from your past and are currently living a healthy existence. One that is free from inhibiting insecurity, substance abuse, and turning a blind eye to unacceptable treatment from others.

You are worthy of finding your other half. But when you meet them, I encourage you to take responsibility and action in being the best version of yourself that you can be.

 

New day, new opportunities for growth!

 

Wishing you a healthy relationship with yourself and others today and every day,

Rachel Ann