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Five Toxic Friends You Don’t Need in Your Life

Five toxic friends you don't need in your life

There’s a lot of emphasis these days on decluttering our lives and living more minimally. Marie Kondo’s method of keeping only those possessions that spark joy has become almost a global movement and we’re even being encouraged to take a minimalist approach to technology.

Sometimes in the course of clearning the clutter, you realise that there are people in your life who also don’t spark joy.  They may not support the highest version of you or they simply don’t add any value to your life. When it comes to friends, quality is much more important than quantity. As you get older and friendships evolve and dissolve, it becomes even more important to invest your time and energy into the people who support and value you.

Of course, sometimes we naturally outgrow friendships. People move away, you develop different interests or just change to the point that there isn’t enough in common to maintain a regular friendship. Other times, friendships can turn toxic and when that happens, you might need to make the hard call to end a friendship that isn’t serving you anymore.

Here are five friends you might need to cut loose if you find them bringing you more heartache than joy:

The competitive friend

A good indicator of a solid friendship is that they are thrilled when you achieve something you’re proud of or get a lucky break. Of course it’s human nature to sometimes feel a little envious of someone’s big success, but the toxic friend will be so fixated on comparison that she’ll find it difficult to experience any happiness for you at all. She might undermine your success by downplaying what you’ve achieved (or finding fault with it), ignoring your news completely, or changing the subject to highlight something she’s achieved and stealing your thunder.

The narcissist

Narcissists have an overinflated sense of entitlement and exaggerated sense of self-importance. At social gatherings, they’re only comfortable if they are holding the floor and rarely stop telling you about their greatness to ask you how you are. The narcissist can be charismatic and popular and make you feel super special, which is why you might initially be drawn to their charm. But narcissists are only interested in you as long as you serve a purpose for them. You are an extension of them and you are there to prop them up and make them look good. Things tend to go pear-shaped if you push back against their demands or they don’t need you anymore.  A true friend will take on board your feedback if you point out they’re being a little self-absorbed. The narcissist will turn the tables and make it sound like it’s you who has the problem, or else they might cut you off, get angry or turn other people against you in order to preserve their own self image.

The emotional vampire

We all like to have a whinge when we’re having a bad day, but sometimes there’s that one friend who only ever seems to be complaining and telling you what’s going wrong. Usually the emotional vampire isn’t interested in hearing your suggestions about how she might change things or make improvements; she’s only interested in venting. When she’s done, she goes away feeling a million bucks while you’re left feeling like you’ve had the life literally sucked out of you. Unless there is some positivity to balance things out, you might want to put some space between you and the bad news cycle.

The Single White Female

Based on the classic 1992 thriller “Single White Female”, the SWF is the friend who copies everything about you and your life. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and it’s lovely if someone lets you know they find you inspiring. For the SWF it’s usually more a case of her not having a strong sense of her own identity therefore she models herself, her preferences, opinions, personal style or even major life decisions on yours. You know you’re dealing with an SWF when she doesn’t acknowledge that she’s been inspired by you but instead begins cloning you while acting as if those choices are entirely her own idea. If you complain about having a SWF, people might assume you’re being petty or paranoid, but it’s up to you to make the call and put distance between you if you feel this is not a healthy, balanced relationship. (Oh and in true SWF style, when you do create distance, you will probably quickly become the enemy just like in the movie).

The Unreliable Friend

If someone constantly makes plans to catch up, then cancels at the last minute you can probably tolerate it to a degree because we all know life gets busy; but when it becomes so routine that you don’t feel you can trust her to commit to anything, you might want to stop making those plans. As you get older, life gets busier and making time for friendships becomes more and more difficult. If you’re making an effort to schedule time for someone, it’s nice to know you are as important to your friend as they are to you and that they’ll do what it takes to keep commitments.

Every friendship has ups and downs, but some friendships reach the point where the balance has tipped so far into the negative that you know it’s time to walk away. If you know a friendship can’t be saved or that your feedback would fall on deaf ears (or cause a drama you don’t need), it’s perfectly ok to start putting some distance between you and the friend. Losing a friend can be painful but the more you free up space by cutting out the energy drainers, the more room you have for positive, fun and mutually supportive people in your life.


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Cass Dun clinical psychologist
Hi, I’m Cass.

I'm here to help you find freedom from psychological struggles so that you can live your happiest, most meaningful and fulfilling life.

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