Sunday, September 16, 2018

Friends Can Break Your Heart Too - Toxicity in Friendships

Toxic friendships - how to spot them?

I'm no stranger to fuckboys and heartbreak. Let's face it, I've had the Twitter meltdowns to prove it - and even though, it can feel like the worse pain you'll ever experience, I think the breakdown of these kinds of relationships are a lot easier to accept and deal with because, with these people, deep down, they don't owe you anything and sometimes, relationships just don't work out and you have to let people go so that they can live their life to their full potential, y'know?

But more recently, I realised that sometimes, unfulfilling friendships can leave you feeling just as heartbroken and I don't think it's something I see being spoken about enough...

Personally, though, I feel like it's almost that little bit worse when the betrayal comes from a friend because they're meant to be YOUR friend, your ride or die and when they're just..not, it's a new form of rejection to learn to deal with. I think toxic friendships are especially dangerous because in a normal romantic relationship, the second it starts to enter the toxic danger-zone, you'll more than likely talk to your friends about it and they'll soon help you realise that the behaviour isn't normal or okay and then you can start to make important choices about what you want to do, moving forward. But what do you do when your friends are the problem - who do you turn to then? It can be an extremely isolating situation.

I'm the worst person to end up in toxic situations because no matter what that person does, I feel like I can't leave. I convince myself that they didn't mean that horrible comment, they didn't mean to emotionally manipulate me and anyway, they're definitely not going to do it again - and even if they do, everyone deserves second chances, right? This thinking pattern is not healthy and will only lead you to a long road of misery. I've been there and got the unwanted t-shirt to prove it.

Growing up, I had lots of friends. I was always quite a social person and loved having a big group around me but looking back, none of those friendships were good and most of them were very one-sided and toxic. I could make a video about some of the most shocking moments, like, when my "friend" had sex with my first boyfriend or when another "friend" tried to convince me to break up with my boyfriend because "he didn't like me" JUST SO SHE COULD TRY AND DATE HIM, only to then want to date my next boyfriend too!!!! I try and laugh at these memories now but when you're going through it, it's intense and leaves you feeling very alone and almost like there's something wrong with you.

When you're growing up and you make friends at school, college and then at university, you have it kind of drilled into you that these are friendships that will last forever and these will be the people at your wedding and so, you need to try and keep these friendships alive, no matter what. But I think it's also so important to, sometimes, just take a step back and reassess these relationships and how they actually make you feel because it's so easy to keep someone in your life that drains all of your energy, but it can be the most detrimental thing to your mental well-being.

There's a quote I always see being shared a lot, which says:

"You could meet someone tomorrow that will have better intentions for you than someone you’ve known for years"

And it's SO true. Sometimes, it's really hard to walk away from certain friendships because they've been there, through everything, but if something or someone doesn't have a positive influence in your life anymore, you need to just let it go and walk away. I think maintaining friendships when you're growing up is quite an easy feat, because, you don't even know who you really are yet, you're almost like a blank canvas, just waiting to discover and find yourself. When I think back to the people I was once "best friends" with, I can't even think of a single reason why we were actually friends. We didn't even really have anything in common, we were probably just friends because we attended the same school and it was as simple as that.

Once you reach adulthood, the friendship thing becomes a little more tricky. Not only is it harder to meet friends once you're past the education portion of your life, but the maintaining aspect of friendships seems to become a lot harder too. Let's face it, the older we get, the more trauma we've likely experienced and endured, which means that we all have some form of emotional baggage with us - and it's all about how we choose to deal with this, and ultimately, ensuring that we're not taking our problems out on those closest to us, which can be oh, so easy to do.

Toxic friendships will always be easy to spot...

You dread being around them or them making any form of contact because the experience will always be more draining than enjoyable or fun.

And the common behavioural traits are:

1. They patronise you
This could be about your job, your hobby or literally anything else in between. This is quite damaging in my opinion because it can leave you feeling incredibly small and overthinking everything you've ever said or done.

2. They make backhanded comments 
This could range from a compliment that's completely backhanded or it could be something like a small dig, that they may try and pass off as a "joke". Jokes in friendships and relationships, in general, can be a difficult thing and the lines of what is and what isn't okay can sometimes, become a little blurred. I think it's important to realise the difference between an actual joke and something that you've said that is low-key mean and offensive, but you've disguised it by claiming it's "just a joke". There's a saying that there's always a little truth hidden behind jokes and that is so true! If you make a "joke" and your friend/acquaintance/co-worker/anyone doesn't find it funny and they're actually a little bit hurt by it, you should NOT argue back and make them feel worse by using the narrative that "they can't take a joke" Just admit your judgment was clouded and apologise, it's as simple as that, hun.

3. The friendship is one-sided 
Friendships or any kind of relationships, need to be a two-way street. However, some people definitely do not get this memo and take and take, without giving anything back. Are you always the one reaching out and attempting to make plans? Do you know everything about their life but they don't ever ask about anything you're going through? One-sided friendships don't always mean someone is a shit person though and this definitely has some exceptions. If someone has recently started isolating themselves in your relationship and/or with other people too, it could just mean that they're struggling mentally and maybe it's time you ask if everything is okay. However, the bottom line is - if your friend only contacts you when they want something and it feels like you're putting in SO much effort and getting nothing in return, it's probably time to cut your losses.

4. They constantly give you criticism 
Honesty is such an important thing in any relationship - and sometimes, the best thing you can do for your friend is simply telling them exactly how it is and what you think. This is such a vital thing for me because I'm someone that doesn't always spot the obvious or maybe I'm just in constant denial about a lot of's probably the latter if we're honest lol AND I need a truthful friend to tell me the real tea. But another really important thing? Kindness. There are some people that will just pick and pick and pick about anything they can. It can leave you feeling like nothing you will ever do will be good enough - and if I'm honest, I think I have been the friend to do this in a jokey way, but again, some people won't find it amusing and it's best to just not do it!!! Instead of saying something that could be potentially harmful, say something you like about your friend. Be their personal cheerleader, rooting for them, through everything - or follow what Thumper from Bambi said "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all"

5. They play games with your emotions
Sometimes in friendships or any relationship, I'm left wondering if the other person is toxic or if I'm just being too sensitive and then they start to play the horrible, emotional games and it just justifies everything that I was thinking. The easiest way to spot this is, firstly, by feeling like you're the only adult in the relationship and the other person is just acting like a child by doing things like talking behind your back, punishing you by giving you the silent treatment or excluding you from all future social situations. This kind of treatment is so toxic and you shouldn't put up with it.

In my teen years, I had lots of "friends" but three gals that I classed as my best friends. As I entered my late teens, I was going through A LOT and I started drinking quite often and I also acted out because I was dealing with undiagnosed mental health issues. One day, I had an intervention with myself and knew I needed to change my life asap or I didn't know where I'd end up. I started staying home a little more and looking after myself, I cut the drinking and I stopped reaching out to those friends and it was weird...the second I stopped making the effort, they soon disappeared from my life - and at first, it really hurt but I soon realised, I felt free without the toxicity and negativity in my life. I also realised that friends that make you question your self-worth and constantly make you feel insecure are not really your friends, at all.

As it stands now, I don't really have a "girl gang" and although it makes me a little sad sometimes, I really struggle to let people in these days. I think I'll do another post soon about "the girl gang" situation because Sex and the City made us all believe that we'd be out every weekend, drinking cosmopolitans with the girls - and for some of us, it just hasn't happened that way. 

Since I became single last year, I've been less concerned with dating someone new and I've been making new friends instead and it's made me so much happier than going on failed dates. However, there is a certain friend that I've made, who at first, I really adored...but as time went on, I realised that they had such a toxic and negative impact on my life. The patronising, the small digs, the unfunny jokes at my expense - all very draining. I had to distance myself for my own sanity. If you related to any of this post and have someone in your life that drains you, maybe it's time to distance yourself too. It can seem impossible to cut ties with these types of friends, especially if they haven't done anything *too bad* but if you constantly feel drained, you probably need to take a step back, for your own mental well-being.

If you read this and you're thinking "shit, I think I'm the toxic friend" Don't beat yourself up, I think we all go through experiences in life, where we don't realise how our behaviour or comments can make someone feel. Just apologise, learn from it and move on.


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