So, I was doing some soul searching the other day, thinking about friendships. What makes them good and what makes them toxic? What purpose should they serve in one’s life? Are they worth it if we’re gonna hurt each other at the end of it all?
I remember how I had to make a very hard decision 5 years ago to exit a friendship that was no longer serving the both of us. A friendship I held dear to my heart. Gossip and judgment was the death of it. It’s only now that I can fully let go and learn from the experience.This is how I lost my best friend whom I considered a sister.
In April 2012, my husband had planned a surprise anniversary trip to the Cape Town Jazz festival in celebration of our 2nd year anniversary. This was apparently ‘sin’ according to the church we were attending at the time. My best friend spread false information about our trip to fellow church mates who then escalated it to the elders and leaders of the church. To my surprise, upon our return, church board meetings were held behind my back with her included as a ‘witness’ discussing how my husband and I sinned and were not a good example to the youth.
From that point on, I began to tread carefully and took stock of our friendship. Things weren’t the same anymore. We drifted further and further apart. Then I remembered how she wasn’t there during the happiest moments of my life. Like how she stood me up for my graduation day even after I had arranged transport and reserved seats for her. I remember calling her a thousand times minutes before I ascended the stage with no response. I forgave her and we moved on.
Then she didn’t show up for my wedding day. We had already drifted apart but for some reason I wanted her to experience the day with me, so I invited her without my husband’s knowledge. No word form her! I was shattered. I had to let go. It wasn’t healthy anymore. I was giving, giving, giving and It got to a point where I couldn’t give anymore. That was the end of it.
What was my contribution in all this? I was too forgiving. I didn’t communicate honestly to her about my feelings on certain issues that really affected me. Also, I probably spent too much time with my boyfriend that it took away time from our friendship.She didn’t think he was good for me, so to see me fall deeper in love with him, made her feel like she’s losing me. It was my responsibility at that time to reassure my best friend. To affirm our friendship and let her know how much I still value it.
Over the years I have allowed this one former friendship to be the eyes in which I view every other friendship. This is something I am unlearning. I do believe that some people come into your life for a season and some for a lifetime! I insist on pursuing the ones of a lifetime no matter how long it takes.
Below are the top 5 signs of a toxic friend that I believe contributed to the ultimate end of my friendship.
1.Lack of loyalty
-They are not committed to the friendship at the level that you are.
-They do not dedicate their time and energy to you for the betterment of the friendship.
– A disloyal friend doesn’t support your life’s most important endeavors.
-They are unreliable and will show up only when it’s convenient for them.
-They do not trust you enough to open up to you about their deepest desires, their darkest secrets, their fears, and their wildest dreams.
-e.g ” Hey Friend! I hope your birthday celebration was blissful and as beautiful as you are. I’m so sorry I couldn’t attend, I promise I will make it up to you!”
-This is often a subtle killer in a friendship. This type of friend will passively exert their bossy nature onto you.
-They always have the last word on anything you both do.
-She will accompany you to the salon and you will come back with a hairstyle they suggested on the spot.
– You go shopping together and half the things in your cart are her choices for you.
– You share a business idea with them and they’re already vicariously drafting your business plan.
-This might sound like a good friend but there’s a thin line between being controlling and being supportive.
-e.g ” Hey friend! I’ve got two tickets for a concert this weekend? You’re coming along right! Oh please wear that mustard high-low dress I love on you with your red bottoms! You look so stunning in that outfit! I’m super excited! I can’t wait!”
-Having a friend who you share the same talents and career goals with is fun but can be uncomfortable when the spirit of negative competitiveness arises. We might be gifted with the same talents but our paths are different. Things may happen sooner for me than they do for you.
– A competitive friend wants what you have, no matter what it took you to acquire it. She will study what you study, start a similar business to yours and buy the same furniture, the same clothes, and the same car brand as yours.
-e.g ” Girl I’m so excited! I’ve also started a YouTube video channel but don’t worry I will not be on it, I’ll just be inviting other people to share their personal stories! Maybe you can also feature and promote your YouTube channel”.
– A judgemental friend will drop patronizing comments in the middle of conversations that always leave you feeling down and of low-esteem.
– They will use your weaknesses to put you down amongst a group of people.
-They will criticize your bad decisions and hang your dirty laundry for everyone to see so that they look good in the face of other friends.
-They will keep a file of your past failures and remind you of them every time you want to pursue something new.
-e.g “My friend, I love you too much to allow you to go audition for Idols! There’s such amazing talent out there, they will swallow you quicker than you can get to the next phase of the competition. Maybe go try Joyous Celebration. Your voice will sound so much better in that setup!”
-Insecurities are a major red flag in every relationship.
-An insecure friend demand a lot and puts a strain in your friendship and as a result, you find yourself tired and your energy drained every time you spend time with them.
-They want you all to themselves so that you don’t even have the time to pursue other friendships.
– They are discontent and will even emotionally blackmail you for not being there for them when they want you to.
-All your time and energy must revolve around them otherwise they throw a fit!
-e.g ” I didn’t know you were friends with Martha hey. I saw on the grams you’re attending her gig this weekend. I hope you didn’t forget we’re meant to catch that movie we’ve been meaning to watch, see you then!”
Red flags in any relationship don’t always present themselves as the color red. Sometimes they’re concealed in different shades. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself stuck in a toxic relationship and end up making excuses for it.
What are the things that make you proud of your friendships? Have you lost some precious friendships? If so, what have been some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way? For those with healthy, thriving friendships, what is your secret?