I recently had a conversation with my best friend about toxic friends. I was discussing a particular friendship of mine which is draining me. Her constant competitive nature, sly indirects on social media and side swipe put downs are taking their toll. Despite how exhausting this is I continue to keep her in my circle of friends.
This kind of behaviour is toxic. It’s almost impossible to tackle due to the insubstantial nature of the incidents. I can pull her on the verbal swipes but they are always worded in such a way that she can claim it was banter or a joke, leaving me feeling over sensitive. Toxic Friends love to use the double-edged comment to inflict maximum damage. Show Toxic Friend the new dress you just ordered online;
“Oh, that’s lovely, I do hope it fits…”
This is an instant way to piss on your biscuits. You were feeling excited about your new addition to your wardrobe and now you’re wondering if it will fit over your hips. Toxic Friend wins again.
Social Media Snideness
Social media in directing is distilled frustration. It’s gutless behaviour intended to incite paranoia. To me it smacks of someone lacking the temerity to stand by their convictions. When mentioned, the standard reply of “it wasn’t about you” when you know damn well it was drives you insane. Toxic Friend loves vague posts with thinly veiled insults aimed at those around her. We all have these people on our Facebook or Twitter who pepper our feeds with subtweets and indirects. Its shitty behaviour of the highest order.
I’m not competitive as a person at all. I don’t care what others have or want. Good luck to anyone who works hard to achieve their goals. Life is hard enough trying to achieve my own without competing with those around me. However, Toxic Friend turns every tiny aspect of life into a competition. Dead chuffed with your new shoes? Toxic Friend will have better ones. Got a pay rise? Toxic Friend will congratulate you appended with details of their own recent work success.
Even worse than extreme competitiveness is the copy-cating. We all work hard to be individuals and to carve out our own niche in life. Whilst a certain amount of imitation is flattering and we all love to inspire our friends. Direct mimicking is a different matter. Toxic Friend lifts all the best bits of your style and passes it off as their own. This is even worse if Toxic Friend is a Toxic Colleague. When someone is piggybacking on your success resentment is bound to build.
“TOXIC PEOPLE WILL POLLUTE EVERYTHING AROUND THEM. DON’T HESITATE. FUMIGATE.”
I outlined the pattern of behaviour to my best friend who confirmed he thought it was pretty toxic too. He suggested cutting this person out of my life. Easier said than done. How do you remove a Toxic Friend whose toxicity is disguised to the rest of the world?
This is the golden question. If someone was outwardly causing me this much grief and bad feeling I’d have told them to sling their hook long before. But Toxic Friend is clever. None of this behaviour can be solidly pinned down. As long as its delivered with a smile it can all be put down to your own insecurities and paranoia. This is so damaging, it’s like friendship gaslighting.
Airing the issue without proof is hard without making yourself look petty, and this will only increase your frustration. The thing about Toxic Friend behaviour is its often rooted in jealousy. The need to tear down other women to make ourselves feel better is one of the worst female traits we exhibit. Toxic Friend behaviour is rarely found in the male of the species.
The thing we should remember when frustrated by Toxic Friend is they’re merely threatened by our existence, envious of our talents and successes. Whilst it’s easy to pity this kind of behaviour it shouldn’t be excused.
Detoxing our Friend Circle
So how do we detox our friend circle? I think the easiest way to do this without creating major drama is the phase out. Gradually reduce your contact with Toxic Friend. If you must be in social situations together try to avoid prolonged conversation where she can find opportunities to make you feel bad.
When thinking about my own Toxic Friend we came to this same conclusion. My best mate issuing me with some good advice,
“Sometimes Deb, you can be too nice”
We should always remember the importance of our own mental wellbeing. We don’t owe anyone our time or attention unless they earn it with love and respect. If someone is draining you or causing you to feel bad its perfectly acceptable to remove them from your life.