Toxic friends

by DaniGirl on October 4, 2005 · 16 comments

in Uncategorized

I’ve just been over reading a blog that I peruse from time to time. I used to really admire her, but frankly lately I’ve been finding her a little vacuous. I was getting all riled up about her comments on what makes a good father and working mothers, and started wondering to myself why I even read her blog at all any more if she so irritates me.

Why indeed?

You know what, I have the same problem in real life. I have friends (no, I’m not talking about you) who more often than not really irritate the shit out of me. Why do I keep them in my life?

I’m not talking about the good friend who has a bad day, or the friend going through a particularly needy time, who might be taking a little more than he or she is giving at a point in time. I’m talking about the kind of friend who hurts your feelings, who doesn’t respect you, who says things that offend you on a fundamental level. Why do I keep letting those people back into my life?

I think this is more a girl thing than a guy thing. I think for the most part, if a guy doesn’t like another guy, he just forgets that the guy he doesn’t like exists. Problem solved. For some reason, girls seem to have to keep picking at the scab of a failed friendship to see if it’s still yucky. Inevitably, it still is. Or worse, girls are unable to acknowledge a bad relationship, and will continue to harbour deep resentment while putting up a sunny face.

I can’t figure this one out. It’s not like I’m starved for friendship. Matter of fact, I am incredibly blessed to have so many people I adore in my life, and who treat me with love and respect in return. In my humble opinion, the most basic definition of a friend is someone who leaves you in as good or, for the most part, an even better state of mind than when you encountered her (or him). You should not leave an encounter with a friend feeling hurt, or annoyed, or rolling your eyes.

So does that make me the hypocritical one? I am so pathetically non-confrontational that I wouldn’t say boo to my own shadow most days, so small pebbles of grievances and petty (or not-so-petty) annoyances accumulate until they become a mountain of bad feelings.

How do you deal with this? There is no ritual of spring-cleaning for friendships. How do you deal with people in the same social circle as you whom you can’t stand to be around? How do you tell someone with whom you used to be quite close that you don’t feel the same way anymore? Or should you? How do you tell a friend that the funny little running joke she’s been making for years is actually something that grates on you like fingernails on a chalkboard?

And no, really, I’m not talking about you.

(Edited to add on 6 April 2006: Would anybody be so kind as to leave a comment to tell me why people who have ‘livejournal’ and ‘friend’ in their URLs seem to be stampeding to this post today?? I’m dying of curiousity!)

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 nancy October 5, 2005 at 12:47 pm

Move? Change your phone #’s and email(s)? Witness protection program? See – I am a girl too.
I love your comparison between the genders – bang on!!!
Not to make a mockery of your conundrum, but I have been there and will be there again. I think I have just ever so slowly…take longer to return messages, or not return at all and if inquired, plead ignorance that you never got message (can always blame the husbands cause they really do NOT care). When asked to meet or do something socially, just always have something else planned – always. Phone – call display; email – blame a cyber fuck-up, after 83 lost emails, perhaps they will get the message?
TOUGH questions Dani, interesting dilemma, I wish I had the answers cause we all have someone like this in our lives, don’t we? Very well written post, excellent. But now I have to use my brain and think about this one all day long. Thank you? I think?

2 Beanie Baby October 5, 2005 at 12:49 pm

I’m half-tempted to go reading through your blogroll and see if I can figure out who it is….
I have no help. Well, usually I try to be forthright about it, because I’ve been on the end of a friendship-dumping where they never actually said anythign so I was left wondering for a few years if I was crazy or if they really didn’t like me anymore, and it sucked. So I try to be forthright about it, but it’s not easy.

3 Robin October 5, 2005 at 1:29 pm

I think part of the reason we keep these people in our lives is because you don’t want to be the bitch. Even if the person that is irritating you the must is a complete bitch and you are not the only person that thinks it.
It is hard to release people from your life. Sometimes it even means giving up others you like to stay clear of that person…
I wish you luck my friend…

4 suze October 5, 2005 at 3:01 pm

i have a very hard time letting go of people. I think it’s most definately a girl thing. I had a friend who was toxic, hurtful, etc. that i held on for for years, until one day, when she was complaining about her relationship, I told her as gently as possible, that she might not be considering things from her boyfriend’s perspective and perhaps if she did try it might help, and she hasn’t spoken to me since. and yet I still feel somewhat to blame…

5 Casey October 5, 2005 at 3:23 pm

If you figure out a solution to this, write it up in a book, and I will totally buy it from you. My solution has been to just slowly walk away, but the guilt! it kills me.

6 nancy October 5, 2005 at 3:43 pm

One question – how can you feel so guilty about ending a relationship that you stopped enjoying /never enjoyed??
Did you feel so guilty when you would break up with your grade 10 boyfriend??
So why is it so hard now? Cause we are adults? More mature? More emotional (hormonal)? More sensitive? Is it part of being a parent? Not wanting someone to hurt our kids?
Oops – better shut up or Dani will be referring to me!!

7 twinmomplusone October 5, 2005 at 3:58 pm

very well said Dani and oh my haven’t we all been there?
as a fellow pathetic non-confrontational type, I too have endured toxic/negative friends stemming probably from a sense of low self-esteem on my part
BUT it seems that as I’m getting older/wiser, apart from the easy route of “ignoring that person” I’ve become, or trying to be, more blatantly confrontational, in my typical diplomatic way cuz quite frankly I just don’t have time for this b*llsh*t and I won’t allow any negative factors filtering into my beautiful life 🙂 Of course, being confrontational has its repercussions but I can deal with those better too, I think. If something/someone bugs you, do something about it otherwise just learn to live with it: “laissez-faire”
and of course you weren’t alking about me, right? right???

8 SilverCreek Mom October 5, 2005 at 5:32 pm

Funny it must be in the air this week. I have been talking to one of our Mutal friends about this same issue. ANd I have told her that I cannot confont people like this either. I have had people in my life that have done these very things to me and I have left them go. Quit calling, Only just barely polite when I have to see them. And I do NOT invite them to my home anymore. I don’t need to go to bed angry anymore.
I think it is soo totally sad when one has a person with very little tack in a group of friends and this makes a few stay away from others in the group. And I find most of the PEOPLE in the group only tolerate this person too.
I wish I had an answer Dani. We as woman try to nuture and find it really hard to be mean or tell a perosn off for fear it will hurt their feelings, but isn’t it what they are doing to you?
Hugs…Hope it’s not me 🙁

9 Running2Ks October 5, 2005 at 5:50 pm

I feel that way about some people sometimes. Sometimes I purge, sometimes I confront and see if things can work out. It’s hard, though. I don’t lack for friends, either, but it is the people pleasing side of me that makes me want to be friends with everyone. Sometimes you just can’t let yourself be abused anymore.
Hugs to you. Only 1% fears it would be me 😉

10 Danigirl October 5, 2005 at 8:14 pm

Bwhahaha! Yes, it is in fact you, all of you!! You are just the sort of toxic, evil, useless friends I’m talking about.
No seriously, it’s not you. But, it is somewhat reassuring – if not puzzling – to see that everybody deals with this.
So what you’re saying is that I should take the high road? Nah, that sounds like too much work. I’ll go back to bellyaching and avoiding – it’s just easier.
xo Dani

11 SilverCreek Mom October 5, 2005 at 8:54 pm

Hard to take the HIGH road…I wish I knew some place we could call and say this person pisses me off and could you tell here this and OH by the way I’ve moved and changd my phone number.
I mean Sharon

12 Snack Mommy October 6, 2005 at 3:40 am

Nancy, I um, left you a few messages last week, but I haven’t heard back from you. Ah, would you mind giving me a call. Oh, and if you talk to Robin, could you tell her she hasn’t responded to my email.
I’m sure they were innocent mistakes. Really.

13 BeachMama October 6, 2005 at 11:18 am

Dani, I think truth be told we all go through this. Sometimes it just works itself out and sometimes it doesn’t.
But, I will say that I have been on the “Friends” style, just ignore that person, end of things. And really it isn’t pretty. There is nothing worse than wondering what you ever did wrong that someone whom you thought was a close friend stops talking to you. In my case, I had put up with the bullsh** for many years from that friend and was getting sick of it. When I disagreed with one of her parenting tips that she gave me every single day she stopped talking to me. I felt bad, but eventually got way over it. Just wasn’t worth it. I never really knew why but I am a better person for it, and truthfully I make better choices on friends for sure.
If there is ever a diplomatic solution (that I know of) I will share it with everyone.
Anna – always the paranoid of offending others

14 Linda November 19, 2005 at 9:49 am

I hope you “Mom’s” are just busy .. or maybe having coffee. I like your posts. P.S. I dont think this ever goes away~my kids have kids now~I still get in this fix~just not as often or for as long. I look forward to reading more of all your notes.

15 movinon June 30, 2006 at 7:24 pm

I loved finding all of your feedback as I have had the same troubles lately with some girlfriends who were “good times” friends in my 20s, and i knew were not “real” friends. They were self-absorbed and immature, but dang we had some fun in our younger days. Now that I’m married, looking at things for the long haul, they simply are not the kind of people I want around me or my family. They are negative, gossipy, stab-you-in-the-back types. I knew it the whole time, just confronting it now that the “good times” days are over. So, I am asserting myself over their crap and they don’t know what to do since I’ve never done this before. Part of me wants them to not call me again and cut me out b/c it will take care of the “break-up” part for me! Voila! But they keep coming back b/c they are too insecure to actually confront it. We are growing more distant – hopefully it will take care of itself and die a natural death. Honestly, I do not really like these people anymore, and I don’t think I’ve ever really “liked” or admired them at all. We had our fun. I will cherish those memories. Time to move on.

16 Nicole August 15, 2007 at 1:53 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I have found myself in the past few months so overly stressed out about a “friend” that I started to blame myself in the hopes of not having to lose a friend.

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