Do you have a toxic friend? If you are a woman, chances are you have had a toxic friend, and surprisingly, you may have kept that friendship for a while, according to a new study.
Self Magazine and Today.com asked 18,000 readers about their experiences with toxic friends. 84 percent of women said they’d had a toxic friend at some point, with 1 in 3 survey said they had a toxic best friend.
The disturbing part is that 83 percent said they had held onto a friendship longer than was healthy simply because it was hard to break up with that friend.
Yet a dysfunctional relationship is still dysfunctional, even if it is between two female friends, so why is it so difficult to end the friendship?
The reason it’s hard to dump a toxic friend is the same reason people stay in all kinds of dysfunctional relationships,” says Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a TODAY show contributor. “There’s something in it that you find compelling or familiar. Depending on the nature of what’s going on in the relationship, you may feel guilty [about breaking things off]. Or it could be that the person has implied you need them in some way — that you would be a bad person to walk away.”
They also point out that women’s friendship are centered around feelings where men’s friendships focus on joint activities and business. Some of the toxic friendship types include those who are are chronic downers, self absorbed, overly critical, undermining, and unreliable.
The popular movie, Mean Girls that focuses on high school social cliques and the detrimental effect they can have on girls, reflects not only high school, but often grammar, middle school, and even the workplace.
What we should teach our girls is that if anyone treats them poorly on a consistent basis, they probably shouldn’t be their friend. Furthermore, they shouldn’t feel bad for ending a friendship; they should feel empowered for protecting themselves. Of course, most of us don’t want to be intentionally mean, but setting boundaries for what you accept from others is one of the most important things you can teach your kids.
I am just now learning how to do this over the past few years. Growing up, I was always taught to be polite, help others, and and extend yourself, which are all good things. It’s just that I never learned how to set boundaries for myself or even realize when I was being taken for advantage in my friendships, and being helpful can quickly turn into being an easy target. It’s ironic how many of us can recognize when a boyfriend or a boss is being insincere or sneaky but don’t immediately see it in our girlfriends.
The ironic part is that my friends, my best friends in adulthood have showed me through example how to be set boundaries without being mean and how to cut off those female friends who are there for the wrong reasons, in other words, toxic. It’s the most freeing thing I’ve done.
Have you had a toxic friend? Did you stay friends longer than you should have?
Why is it so hard to make mommy friends? Babble explores Momances.