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Toxic Friends

Toxic Friends

We’ve all had them: the friend who seems wonderful at first, but then goes bad.

You’re best friends one day, and the next day, you discover she’s been gossiping about you when you aren’t around. She’s been so nice to your face, while at the same stabbing you in the back with all sorts of nasty comments that make you die a little inside. She’s become a toxic friend.

What did I do to her? you ask yourself. How could she betray me like this? I thought we were BFFs…

At the same time, you see this friend acting wonderfully supportive to others, and you begin to wonder, is it me? She’s so nice to everyone else.

The good news is, you didn’t do something to make her reject, bully, and/or try to control you. Rather, something inside of her is making her toxic, like an infection that has been festering and is finally coming to the surface.

What’s going on inside a best friend gone toxic?

Jealousy

Many times, a friendship goes bad because of jealousy. People become jealous for many reasons. Maybe you’ve been shining so brightly at school that she feels like no one can see her because of the glare coming off of you. She wants that same kind of attention, and is annoyed with you for getting it.

Or maybe your family is better-off financially, and she’s jealous of the nice clothes you wear, the car you drive or the vacations you take…while she sits at home, thinking about all of the fun you’re having.

And so, her attitude turns nasty in order to bring you down a peg, to her level. At the same time, she’s a wonderful friend to anyone who has not made her feel jealous.

You’re not to blame, here. You’re just being the best version of yourself that you can be. The problem is rooted in her jealousy.

Insecurity

Children are raised in all sorts of environments, some of them less supportive than others. She may have grown up with parents and/or teachers who constantly criticized or abused her. She could have a bad body image (I’m, like, SO FAT!) or have unrealistic goals placed on her, such as getting straight A’s at school.

These situations, and others like them, can lead to her having low self-esteem.

People with low self-esteem are just waiting to be rejected. They worry about making mistakes, making the wrong decisions, doing something to embarrass themselves or becoming the butt of someone’s jokes.

When a person feels inadequate like this, she tends to be on the defensive all the time. She lashes out, even when it makes no sense.

As the friend of someone with low self-esteem, you’re usually on the receiving end of her acting out, even though you don’t deserve it. The more time you spend with her, the more verbal beatings you receive.

In the end, you become so bruised and bloody that her own insecurities begin to disappear. Compared to the “you” that she has diminished through her lashing out, she suddenly sees herself as being in pretty good shape!

Bad Family Values

Some people are raised in an environment to believe that certain behaviors are normal, regardless of what everyone else thinks. For example:

  • The child of a smoker may think it’s fine to smoke, despite all of the warnings that smoking leads to lung cancer.
  • Children who are abused may abuse their own children without feeling any empathy.
  • The pro football player Michael Vick freely admits he never understood that forcing dogs to fight was wrong, because he was raised to believe that this was an acceptable form of entertainment.

People often carry on with what they learned as young children even if the world tells them it is wrong. She may have been raised to think that her toxic behavior is perfectly fine and a normal part of friendship. Teasing, bullying, and in general controlling your every move may be something that has been done to her, and now she’s doing it to you, too.

Still, this kind of friendship usually develops, rather than happening right from the start. Because the world tells her that her behavior is wrong, she may hide it at first, then introduce it slowly, to test your reaction to it. If you don’t complain too loudly, she may ramp up the toxic behavior.

Before you know it, you’re dealing with a monster, and you don’t know how to end the friendship.

Get Out While You Can

Whatever the reason for your friendship becoming toxic, the important thing to remember is that this is not about you. It’s about the poison inside of your toxic friend. While there are no friendships in existence that haven’t had trouble at some one point or another, toxic friendships often end up destroying everyone involved.

And so, if you find that your best friend forever suddenly seems to want you dead, you need to find a way out of the relationship as fast as you can, before you’re no longer a best friend, and instead have become dead friends forever.

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