CARMI HEYMAN

Friends. We have them, we love them and we tolerate them. But what happens when a friend becomes a burden instead of a pleasure?

Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends, explains that “a toxic friendship is unsupportive, draining, unrewarding, stifling, unsatisfying, and often unequal.” Isaacs goes on to say that toxic friends “stress you out, use you, are unreliable, are overly demanding, and don’t give anything back”. It is an inevitable fact that all of us have “toxic” friendships in some way or another. Perdeby takes a look at a few of these toxic friendships.

The leech

The name says it all. It is well advised that you tell them to take a one-way trip out of your life. Much like the blood-sucking parasite, all your money, your social life and emotional well-being will be drained.We all know that social fly that never has enough of anything is a burden not only to you, but also to your other friends.

The green-eyed monster

Competitive and undermining, you should steer clear of this friend. Have a look around during the good times, for the jealous friend is shy to show face and does a disappearing act when things are going your way. However, when the clouds start to roll in, make no mistake that your friend will make a grand entrance just to witness you fall.

The mood swinger

If life doesn’t have constant ups and downs for you, your unstable friend will see you as no more than a vegetable. Emotional, irrational and simply spontaneous, it is almost guaranteed that this friend won’t be around forever. The question is: do you wait around long enough to see who snaps first?

The narcissist

Vain, self-absorbed and destructive. In other words, they think they are the centre of the universe. If your friend can’t stop talking about how “amazing” he or she is, then you’re dealing with a narcissist. In their defence, they probably don’t know that they’re behaving this way, so a sit-down with them might solve the problem. If it doesn’t, a quick fix could be to sound an air horn every time they continue to indulge in themselves.

The shrink

This friend never focuses on your good traits and never acknowledges their own faults. You can be sure that negativity will be the basic foundation of this friendship. Since they are always right, an argument won’t even do the trick. It’s best to cut all ties.

Dr Laura Schlessinger, who specialises in physiology and is a well-known talk show host, said, “People keep toxic friends for the same reason they stay in all kinds of relationships: there is something in the friendship they don’t want to lose. They find something about it compelling, familiar, and/or comfortable. Essentially, they are afraid of the consequences.”

So how do we remedy this toxin? “Remember to do an honest assessment of the ‘give and take’ so that you don’t fool yourself into staying in a bad situation for too long,” says Dr Stephen J. Betchen, who has a PhD in psychology. Sometimes it’s time to put yourself first.

Photo: Tahnee Otto

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