Lost friendships — we’ve all endured them. For me, it happened back in high school. At the time, my previous friends and I were losing common ground, heading in different directions, and I was feeling a little alone. What I really wanted was just one companion I could relate to, someone to eat lunch and hang out with on the weekends. I didn’t think that was asking for too much. And maybe it wasn’t: Before too long, it seemed I’d found her. We were fast friends, eating lunch together, hanging out on weekends, and the like. Suddenly, we became best friends. In fact, I was her only friend. She didn’t know what she would do without me.
I thought it was a little odd for that to happen so fast, but who was I to complain? I had needed a friend, and here she was! I thought maybe this was the person I’d been waiting for: the one I would room with at college, and go wedding dress shopping with, the one who I could always count on in a pinch.
However, our friendship didn’t work out that way. Not at all. In fact, she was a bit of a Trojan horse: amazing and awe-inspiring on the outside, but filled with subterfuge. As her only friend, I was surprised to discover how many parties she didn’t invite me to, and how little I actually knew about her life. Our friendship left me feeling inadequate, isolated, and confused. But, thankfully, it didn’t last long. She transferred to a different school, and I rarely saw her after that. We remained friends, but the distance was good for me. I had the chance to make other friends friends who were open and honest and genuine — friends whom I remain close with today.
Relationships are like that sometimes. You think you’ve found someone you really connect with, only to realize you’re involved with a bad friend that drains you emotionally and mentally. Finding a true friend, one that is as energized and rejuvenated by you as you are by her, is truly a rare thing. That’s not to say that true friendship won’t be difficult or have rough patches, of course! After all, we all make mistakes, have hard times, and sometimes we do stupid, thoughtless things. But if those things dominate your friendship and leave you feeling exhausted, emotionally depleted, and depressed, instead of happy, refreshed, and validated, it’s a good bet that it’s time to move on up.
In honor of Friendship Day (it’s Sunday!), here are 10 toxic friends you should kick to the curb.
Is She Really a Good Friend? 1 of 11
Sensing you might be in a toxic relationship? If these describe your "friend," she may have turned the corner into frenemy territory.
Debbie Downer 2 of 11
Some people have really hard lives. It's true. And often they need a lot of support and help. But when every single cloud in the sky becomes a reason to complain about rainstorms that haven't even happened, it can be too much for any friend to deal with. All that negativity can be soul-sucking, and we kind of need our souls to be in top-notch condition. So if you notice that you're hanging around someone who can't seem to shine a ray of light on anything, ever, it might be time to hand them some rose-colored glasses and move on.
The Competitor 3 of 11
Good friends inspire you to be better. Good friends teach you ways to be better. Good friends are happy for you when you do better. They appreciate your success and cheer you on as you try to become your best self. They don't feel threatened when good things come your way. And if you've inspired them to make a positive change in their life, they let you know what a good influence you've been on them.
But if your "friend" has to one-up you every time you share some good news, or she sees your every accomplishment as a challenge, she may actually be a frenemy in disguise.
Backstabber 4 of 11
This friend is extremely nice at least to your face. She's probably really fun to be around, and seems to have a good time with you, too. In fact, you really enjoy spending time with her. So it is especially confusing and hurtful when you hear from others that she thinks you're kind of a slob and that your kids are personality-less blobs.
Give her a chance to explain herself, but don't be too shy about giving yourself plenty of distance from her in the future.
The Critic 5 of 11
It's one thing to have different backgrounds and opinions about life and how things should be done, and having friends with different viewpoints is one of the great things about life. But there's a line. And when a friend crosses it by critiquing the way you live your life, or the way you parent your children, they've crossed it. Helpful feedback and solicited advice are one thing, but unsolicited criticism is not something a true friend should give.
The Manipulator 6 of 11
This friend needs you so badly. You're the only one who understands her. In fact, you are her only friend. She feels betrayed whenever you imply that you have other friends, and she blows even the smallest perceived slight into a catastrophic event. Before too long, you realize that not only are you constantly apologizing to her for things she thinks you did wrong, but you are also feeling more and more isolated in your relationship. It feels like you are always jumping in to help her through life's little unfair moments.And this is when you should step away, give her some distance, and not feel guilty when you go to a girls' night without her.
The Un-Confidante 7 of 11
It's always fun to find out that the whole neighborhood knows something you told a friend in confidence. Oh, wait, no, it's not. But at least it makes it easy to know who you can really trust. A true friend respects your wishes for privacy and even secrecy — no matter the circumstances.
The Un-Confident 8 of 11
We all have insecurities, and sometimes we need reassurance that we are okay. But if you find yourself thinking, "So, wait, is it my job to constantly build you up?" when you are with a friend, that's kind of a drag. Self-esteem issues can be really hard to deal with, especially because your friend might go even deeper into self-loathing if you ditch her. It couldn't hurt to let her know that self-deprecation can only be tolerated in small quantities. Very small quantities. And then don't feed the troll. Even if she's trolling on herself.
The Stepper 9 of 11
This friend knows a good thing when she sees one and you're the good thing. But the good thing about you is that you're standing right where she wants to be. If she gets close enough, she can have everything you have, and then push you out of the picture. In fact, it feels a lot like she's stepping on you or holding on for dear life. The second you're no longer in the "right" place, you're not useful anymore. That's the best thing about her: She'll usually move on by herself and leave you in peace.
The Preacher 10 of 11
Does it feel like you are hanging out with a salesperson rather than a friend? We all have our passions, things that we're excited about, things that have changed our lives and those are often things we want to talk about and share with the world. But it can be beyond tiresome when those things are the only things your friend talks about, and you wind up feeling drained, inadequate, and confused rather than rejuvenated. A friendship should be a safe place, not one in which you feel constantly hounded. It's enough to make you crazy.
The Taker 11 of 11
You are a generous, giving, thoughtful person who loves to help people out. But even you are feeling depleted by the friend who sends her kids over to your place all afternoon, borrows your car while hers is in the shop, and then invites herself (and her family) over for dinner. Every week. Without any indication of either gratitude or intention to repay.
As generous as you are, you have limited resources. And a friend who drains them all physical, mental, emotional is taking what rightfully belongs to you and yours.
All photos via istockphoto.com.