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Everyone knows the qualities of a good friend. Generally, a good friend is caring, honest and has your best interests at heart. They’re good at helping keep your spirits up when you’re feeling low and some good friends know what you need before you know it yourself. There is a healthy balance in a good friendship and each person’s needs are being met. A good friendship will contribute positively to most areas of your life. Even your best friend can have a bad day or two, but the nasty traits of a toxic friend show themselves on a rather consistent basis. You get that same anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach just thinking about spending time with them. And after spending time with them, you feel bad about yourself. Maybe they’ve been critical of you in some subtle way and it leaves you feeling drained emotionally and mentally. You may not recognize the effects this friend is having on you, but others will. By this point in time you’re probably asking yourself, “Why would anyone in his or her right mind continue with a relationship such as this?” How about guilt? Do you feel sorry for the other person? Does this other person have no one else to turn to? Have you been friends for a very long time? Is this friend also a relative? Are you afraid of what might happen if you try to end the friendship? Let’s have a look at what a toxic friendship might look like.
IN THE BEGINNING – Friends vs. Associates
You may have just moved to a new neighborhood or acquired a new job. Now the task becomes getting to know the people around you. It’s not always necessary to take a path that leads directly to friendship. Sometimes, you are better off keeping certain individuals at arm’s length as associates rather than allowing them into your life as bosom buddies.
First of all, be the observer. And as you observe, ask yourself if others exhibit behaviors that match your ethics and beliefs? It is likely you will be drawn to individuals that think and feel as you do anyway. But some people can be deceiving.
Initial interactions are the time to listen to your instincts and to teach others how they can treat you. If something doesn’t feel right in your interactions with another, take notice of this feeling. Your intuition, or “gut instinct” is telling you something of great importance and value. If you let someone take advantage of you, they may not see this as a kind gesture. They may decide you are someone they can manipulate and use to their own advantage. If this is the case, they will show their true colors the next time they try to take advantage of you. Remember, it is simple to be courteous to others while establishing well-defined personal boundaries at the same time.
You may wish to employ the “three strikes” rule. It may not be clear if someone is acting on impulse or from an entrenched pattern. Just remember, leopards don’t change their spots. If an individual consistently treats other badly, they will most likely treat you badly as well.
TOXIC RED FLAGS – How To Spot Toxic Traits
I Know I Said I Would…
This is the Promise Breaker. Time and again, this individual will come up with valid-sounding reasons as to why they can’t follow through on a promise they made. In their mind, they have every right to break a promise. To you, they will always be unreliable and continue to disappoint.
It’s All About Me
These individuals are usually very demanding and can’t see past the drama of their own lives. They will take advantage of you, citing that this is what good friends do for each other. However, when you ask them to return the favor, there is always a good reason (in their own mind) as to why it would be impossible for them to do so.
Their selfish attitude shows up in conversation when they ever-so-gently imply that they know better than you on whatever topic you may be discussing. This could be misconstrued as a superiority complex but see it for what it is. They will not hesitate to use guilt to further their own cause of manipulating the situation to their own advantage.
Running Off At The Mouth – Is Nothing Sacred?
A true friend keeps your deep, dark secrets. A toxic friend can’t wait to tell the world what you have confided in them. Sometimes, something will truly slip from someone’s mouth accidentally, but if it happens consistently, this person is poisoning your friendship on purpose.
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
Competition is natural, normal, and sometimes very entertaining. However, when a friend consistently tries to better you, there could be problems on the horizon. “Stealing your thunder” is a sure sign that a friend may not be considering your feelings first. Conversely, if you relate a topic of great concern to a friend and their response is always one of “I have worse news than that”, they are truly not listening to your story or invested in your heartache as a good friend should be.
If You Don’t Mind Me Saying So…
Some toxic friends are on a fault-finding mission to make themselves feel superior or better about their own lives. They will find small, yet significant, ways to point out your shortcomings instead of trying to help. They will interject their own opinions, without being asked to, about how you should handle situations and then feel slighted if you don’t take their advice. When called on their actions, their response will be one of “well, if you don’t want my help…”.
This type of toxic friend is obvious. They will continually ask to borrow your things, even if your answer is always no, taking no note of your objections or non-compliance. If you do give in and lend them something, it will inevitably come back in worse condition than when you gave it to them. This shows a distinct lack of respect for you, your opinions and feelings, and your belongings. This situation can be even worse if the “borrower” is a family member.
The Favor Counter
You know the type; they did you a favor and now they expect one in return, regardless of how it inconveniences you. This trait is obvious and can turn this friend vicious at a moment’s notice if you don’t comply with their request. They may stop talking to you without explanation and it could be weeks before the truth comes out, if at all, leaving you to wonder what happened.
Following are a few points to consider if you think you may be in a toxic relationship.
You Might Be In A Toxic Relationship If:
As a complete reversal, you might want to stop and consider if this friend upsets you because they are mirroring back to you traits you recognize in yourself and admonish yourself for having. Ask yourself if there is anything about their behaviour that reminds you of less-than-exemplary behaviour in yourself? For instance, it upsets you to hear this friend gossiping and then you catch yourself doing the exact same thing. This is a hard concept for most people to come to terms with but if you stop and honestly look at what bothers you about others, you may find some of the same within yourself.
Is Your Health Suffering?
Toxic relationships can take their toll on your health. If you find yourself in this situation, there are steps you can take to guard your health as you begin to choose how to handle things or extricate yourself completely.
Handling the usual stresses of the day is complicated enough without adding a stressful friendship. Keeping calm throughout the process is essential to your health. St. John’s Wort may be one supplement option for you to consider during difficult times.
As a relaxant, St. John’s Wort helps to relieve edgy nerves due to overwork, tiredness and fatigue. It helps to return disrupted sleep patterns to normal. As a nerve tonic and restorative, St. John’s Wort extract is now recognized by the medical community as being effective in treating mild to moderate depression.
Current studies indicate antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of the compounds that are oil-extracted from St. John’s Wort. It can also be used as a digestive anti-inflammatory to soothe ulcerated membranes, nervous bowels and gastritis.
Infrequent allergic skin reactions have been reported with the use of St. John’s Wort. Individuals with photosensitivity should consult their health care professional before using St. John’s Wort.
Your body undergoes serious physiological changes while you’re under pressure. You can support your body during tough times with the following supplements:
Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) have long been held to reduce blood pressure and be beneficial for cardiovascular disease. Omega 3 promotes hormonal balance, provides relief from PMS symptoms, improves concentration, reduces the risk of depression and aggression, and supports brain functioning and nerve cell regeneration. EFA’s regulate smooth muscle reflexes, oxygen transport from red blood cells to tissues, proper kidney function and fluid balance and transmission of nerve impulses.
Natural Factors Tranquil Sleep is a safe, fast acting formula containing: the amino acid 5-HTP; the hormone melatonin; and green tea’s stress-reliever, L-theanine. Together these natural compounds exert a powerful synergistic effect to promote restful sleep.
5-HTP can help you get to sleep faster and reduce night-time waking. Melatonin helps initiate sleep, and is used for jet lag and insomnia. L-theanine (patented Suntheanine®), from green tea, is a stress reducer that can enhance the tranquility of sleep. Tranquil Sleep is safe and non-habit forming.
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner, registered with Natural Health Practitioners Canada, who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 9 years experience in her area of expertise, naturopathic medicine, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch ® Practitioner and Reflexologist.
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.