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Toxic friendship and how to handle it

The problem with toxic friendship is that other people tend to dismiss it, but friends who are more like enemies or “friend-enemies” can be very abusive. Relationships between friends tend to be more emotional (controlling, passive-aggressive, or degrading) than physical. It is usually not as intense as domestic abuse, because it is easier for friends, in most cases, to walk away from the abuse than romantic or family relationships. Because people tend to minimize abuse from a friend; the victims keep it a secret.

How to tell if a friend is a “friend-foe” (alternative pronouns)

1. She gossips behind your back. If he says bad things about yourself to your friends, or tells other secrets that you shared in confidence, he is trying to strengthen himself by undermining you.

2. It is not reliable. If they don’t keep their promises, or they’re always late, or they likely won’t show up, they don’t care enough about you. He’s too out of control or too self-absorbed to be a good friend.

3. She is jealous or upset when something good happens to you. This is not the attitude of a friend, it is a competitor.

4. Only listen to him if he wants something from you. If he only contacts you when he wants a ride, or to take him to lunch, or help him with homework or a project, or be his “support man” when he wants to troll in a bar; so he’s just using you, and he’s not really a friend. Friendship must go both ways.

5. She lets you know that you are second best. If she suddenly breaks a date or is unavailable if she receives a “best offer” from a date or a more popular friend, she is not a true friend.

6. Criticizes you, your achievements, your family, your home, your job, or your friends. A good friend doesn’t subject you to a constant barrage of negativity and criticism. And if you are a good friend to yourself, you will not accept it. A good friend may feel the need to tell you a harsh truth, but even that can be expressed with kindness.

7. She lets you pay for things and give her things and do things for her, but she rarely or never reciprocates. Even if there is a difference in her financial situation, a good friend will try to match what she can afford: a home cooked meal or a snack in exchange for taking her to lunch; or help you with something in exchange for something you bought.

8. Flirt with your girlfriend or someone who knows you are interested, or try to steal your best friend. This is not a friend, this is a competitor. A good friend will be happy to see you happy and to support your other relationships.

9. When there is a problem between you, she will not admit that she is wrong, apologize or talk about it. She blocks you and tries to make you feel guilty for not liking what she did. Friends can have problems, it is a natural part of relationships; But good friends can talk about it, work it out, apologize, and forgive each other.

10. He is jealous of your success or happiness. A good friend can support you and celebrate with you, even if you are doing better than him.

How to handle jealous friends sensitively and diplomatically:

• What a pain in the butt! He is late for lunch, he always complains or complains, he does not return your money. But she’s your friend, so what do you do? Work with her! It’s easy to teach, if you do it right. Let him know what you like about what he does, then he’ll listen to you when you say he doesn’t like something. Use silence: if you don’t like what you do or say, don’t respond; she will get the message, without a word.

• Set limits: if he is usually late, make sure he knows when time is important (you hate missing the first 5 minutes of the movie) and when time is not an issue (you can read a book or talk to a friend until he arrives) When time is of the essence, tell him that if he isn’t ready by xxx time, he will leave without him. It’s amazing how well it works.

• Don’t be too strict about it: if she has a good reason, or is only occasional, leave her a little relaxed. But don’t be easy prey either.

• Don’t react to unpleasant things, but just politely ignore what you are doing or saying, and maintain a pleasant demeanor. Be an adult, whether you are or not. If you have to treat him like a misbehaving child, so be it; just don’t let it drag you into your own bad behavior.

• People who react in this way often suffer a lot of emotional pain for their own lives. Be as supportive as you can, be willing to listen to your friend’s feelings to a reasonable degree, but don’t let their struggle ruin your good feelings about yourself. If you can, give the friend some alone time with you to help her feel special and important. Often publicly thanking her for the nice things she has done will help keep her at peace.

• Understand the underlying causes of misbehavior: People who have always felt competitive with you are likely to misbehave to attract attention in that way. If someone’s behavior becomes a problem, set some limits. Tell your friend directly what behavior is unacceptable (such as making nasty comments when you’re with other friends) and let them know that you can’t be friends with them if their behavior doesn’t improve.

• Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends about what friendship means to you: is it okay to cancel a date with a girlfriend (or she with you) because you get a better offer from a man? Because of family problems or illnesses? How much loyalty do you expect in friendship and what does that mean?

• Be honest. Lying to your friend about whether you’ve broken an agreement does more damage than breaking the agreement. If you do something with another friend, tell the truth, don’t protect the jealous friend. It gives you a false impression.

• Handling difficult personalities requires skill and knowledge. Here’s a technique anyone can learn to use that works every time.

Dead time for adults:

If someone misbehaves in your presence, giving that adult a “break” is a powerful and subtle way to fix the problem. Modern parents use time to discipline young children. An adult variation of time out also works for any adult friend who behaves childishly or misbehaves. Just be very aloof and polite to the person who is not treating you well. No talks and personal interactions, no jokes, no emotion. Be very polite, so you can’t accuse him of being mean, mean, or rude. You do not need to explain what you are doing: the problem person will get the message of your behavior, which is much more effective.

If you’ve never tried this, you might be surprised how effective it can be to become polite and personable but aloof. Most of the time, your friend’s behavior will immediately become more subdued around you and often much more affectionate.

Over time, he may ask what is wrong with him, or why he has changed, and at that point he has a chance to tell him what the problem behavior is and why he does not like it. Learning to put unpleasant friends on timeouts right at the beginning of an unpleasant behavior can make harsher tactics unnecessary. And if the behavior of the person does not change, you can put it in “time out” and you will be protected.

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