There was a time when I needed an abundance of friends. I made it a priority to keep in touch with lots of people, to reach out, to plan things, to spend time. My husband and I were constantly with friends…trips, nights out, house parties, cookouts, events of some sort. Then life happened. Our kids grew up and had busy, active lives outside of us. Work demands grew. Money was tight. Life responsibilities created more stress. Marriages were splitting up. Parents were dying. Friends were moving. What once seemed to be an easy task of keeping in touch became hard. And we were all changing.
In the last few years, I’ve started taking a hard look at my friendships. I was not so much interested in the quantity of my friends any longer, but in the quality of the friendships. I didn’t care about being cool, or exciting, or perfect anymore. What I did care about was surrounding myself with people who lift me up, who support me, who make time for me, who bring out the best in me, who make me feel cherished. Friends who are in my corner no matter what, even if my interests are far from interesting to them...they are my biggest cheerleader. Friends who accept my faults as part of who I am, but also don’t hesitate to call me out when I’m not being the best me. Friends who are not jealous, judgmental, or selfish. Friends who have substance. It’s quite a list…do friends like this even exist?
Yes, they do, and I have some of the best of them. Not a lot, but enough for me. The most eye opening aspect of taking this inventory of my friendships was to realize what a poor friend I had been to some people over the years. Friends I was jealous of, friends I didn’t support when they needed me, friends I didn’t make time for. Some of those people are long gone, but others are still in my life and that thankfully gives me a second chance to work on BEING the kind of friend I want to have.
Sadly though, as we take this inventory, most of us will notice toxic friends in our life. People who may have the best intentions, but they complicate your life. Being their friend is just exhausting. It sucks the life out of you. I came across a great blog post about toxic friends written by Angel from the blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. The full post is here http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/04/16/10-signs-your-friend-is-toxic/#more-530 but in the article she offered 10 signs you may be in a toxic friendship.
What Toxic Friends Do
- They drain you. – You feel psychologically and emotionally depleted after spending time with them, instead of uplifted.
- They are unsupportive. – You’re afraid to tell them about new, important aspects of your life because they’ve been unsupportive or downright rude about your ideas in the past.
- They are up to no good. – They regularly partake in activities that are morally unjust.
- Their values and interests are opposite to your own. – Dissimilar value systems often mix like oil and water. This doesn’t necessarily mean the other person is wrong, it just means they aren’t right for you.
- They are unreliable. – They always break their promises.
- They only contact you when they need something. – Otherwise you never hear from them.
- They aren’t meeting you halfway. – If you are always the one calling your friend to make plans and going out of your way to be with them, but they never return the favor and attempt to go out of her way for you, there’s a problem.
- They are jealous of you. – Jealousy is: “I want what you have and I want to take it away from you.”
- They have zero ambition. – Beware; a lack of ambition can be contagious. As the saying goes, “You can't soar like an eagle if you're hanging out with turkeys."
- They constantly drive you to moments of insanity. – You catch yourself daydreaming about how good it would feel to throw a banana cream pie in their face!
I’m certainly not saying if you have a friend who exhibits one of these traits, you should kick them to the curb. There is good in all of us. No one is perfect. What I am saying, it that you should take a hard look at the kinds of friends you surround yourself with, the kind of friend YOU are being, and that you don’t sell yourself short. Angel discusses in her blog ways to end toxic friendships if you feel that’s the best choice for you, but sometimes it may be about taking a step back. Setting boundaries so these friends don’t deplete all your energy. Putting you first and learning how to stand up for yourself. Remember though, there are many loving, kind, unselfish, compassionate people out there. You may have to step outside your comfort zone to find them, but you will be so happy you did. Life is short. Time is precious. Each day is a gift. Spend your days with people who make you happy and leave the drama to someone else. It’s been said you become like the five people you spend the most time with. Have you chosen carefully?