Blogger Header Image

Image Map



18 Nov 2010

As Britney once said... you're toxic.....

I can’t be the only one that has experienced this, undesirable toxic folk just suddenly reappearing out of nowhere and bursting back on to the scene.

I seem to be particularly prone to the “attack of the toxic friend”

I’m going to campaign that all new friends must provide an honest CV with reviews of their friending capabilities, you know, to sort the wheat from the chaff, or wear a badge saying ‘wahey, I’m shit me’

Considering mental destructive toxic friends are not that easy to spot, is it better to be forewarned and forearmed?

It’s clear that some people present themselves as TF’s (see what I did there, Toxic Friends) from the start while others slowly devolve in to TFs either through emotional changes in their life or because of personality traits.  It’s hard to decide which is worse but I think from my personal experience it’s the devolvers that hurt the most.

In the forewarned is forearmed vein, if you know your friend is  TF from the start, you can handle them in a much simpler manner than when your BFF suddenly turns toxic. The latter is a lot harder to digest, and massively more hurtful.

From experience, you can break your TFs down in to basic types, of course these are the ones I seem to get stuck with all the time.

The Cadburys Flake

The TCF TF (I’m getting all corporate bullshitty with these codes aren’t i!) is my pet hate.

Consistently flaking on you, breaks promises, lets you down and then avoids confrontation about actions when all you want to do is ask “what’s your funking problem” right?

After doing some reading and research, it is believed that the TCF TFs behave in this manner because they themselves have been dumped on from a great height, probably at a time when they are still ‘finding themselves’ and are not tenacious enough to say NO! This isn’t how you behave! They then take this to be the norm of how friends treat each other and it manifests itself in to TCF behaviour in adulthood and once it’s there, it’s bloody hard to get rid of, a bit like a biro mark on your favourite white shirt.

How do you deal with a TCF? I’m still trying to work this one out myself. I’m too forgiving and placid to cut off my TCFs even though I know I should as it’s detrimental to me but I’m a sucker for 2nd chances, but when people hurt me and it knocks on to hurt my partner and our life, then theres got to be a line. In one particular case of TCF i tried revenge but that didn’t go to plan…. I’m still trying to keep said TCF at arms length and it is currently working.

A side variant of the TCF is the yo-yo TCF, the ones that come and go in short bursts, rapid contact and TCF activities and then nothing, then just like another flick of the wrist, the yo-yo returns to you, spinning away.

My next approach to TCF TFs is to force confrontation. I shall be trying to help the TCFs understand the consequences of their behaviour. No more 2nd chances and no more keeping it to myself.  "Of course, I understand that you're not in the mood to go out, but I was really looking forward to our planned day and it’s not acceptable to leave me in the lurch."

They need to know it’s a pattern and not a one-off. Maybe they don’t realise?  Who knows, but I shall tolerate it no more!


The SB is definitely the easier type of TF to endure. A little narcissitic, but tolerable

If your friendship was the Dakar rally, or a marathon (groan, exercise) then the SB does whittle away your will to live. It’s detrimental to your self-esteem if they don’t take the time to listen and certainly your pride if they are a Super Spongebob (SSB).

For you to feel good about yourself, valued as a friend, and for your friendship to thrive, you have to be more than an advice column, taxi or payroll. The Self-absorbed does not care; they listen to you because they are waiting to speak, or they socialise with you because they want a free pint.

We all love a bit of  self-absorbed chatter every now and then but for a SB is it a way of covering up an inability to tolerate silence which some, especially those who have intimacy problems, may find excruciating. Should you ask your SB to try and stop talking about themselves non-stop or ask if its a nervous habit designed to fill up the silent gaps?

If your SB or SSB is totally oblivious to how much of a pain in the arse they are, do you just grin and bear it, or maybe in a gentle way  this a trait your friend is aware of and choosing to ignore, or is she unaware of it but ask them if they notice the give / take balance is a little off balance. Now we all know you should never give to receive but it would be nice once in a while if the (S)SB asked what was going on in your life, or offer to buy you a drink for a change!

How are you meant to handle a (S)SB?  Just like the Jones’ below, their friendship ethos revolves around jealousy and eliteness, maybe if we all introduce our SB’s to our Jones’ then they will counteract each other.

Maybe they’d try to out do each other and they’d both explode? Hmm that would rock.

The Jones

A little bit of competition is healthy and to be expected. An appropriate amount of competition will motivate and stimulate. But too much competition between friends starts to destroy the friendship. One of the most important ingredients in a friendship is that one or both friends feel that they can be "themselves" and that they don't have to put on an act to impress one another. Competition implies a race in which one wins and the other loses; those conditions are quite the opposite of what someone usually expects in a friendship. No one likes to be a loser right?

It’s worrying when you behave in your ‘normal’ manner but your Jones TF wants to continually try to out do you. Now, it may start off small or it may burst on to the scene with a big bang.

I do have one particular Jones TF (JTF, a bit like JFK but different) that is laughable. JTF cannot simply be happy for you that you’ve been gifted an item, worked hard to buy something, been somewhere, oh no! The JTF has to go one better, usually at an expense beyond their means. “Keeping up with the Jones’” is a dangerous game to play.

Said JTF has become well known in my friendship circles for their outlandish one upmanship to a point where their facebook status’ reads like a shopping list for a wannabe-wag with out any kind of knowledge or reasoning behind the behaviour other than “want want want have”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to want to better yourself and progress but if seeing someone else’s proud achievements or new items but if it instantly sets of an "I'll show you" reaction then are these the kind of friends you want to keep? Everyone loves to brag now and then but it’s when you “punch above your weight” and try to move in to circles you don’t move in that it worries me.

Friends should be pleased for you right? Not trying to outlandishly out do you. It’s a clear behavioural trait of a diminished self image, giving an incessant need to compete with everyone

Would raising the JTFs awareness about this tendency help her to deal with this proclivity? If you do want to share something that you think will propel her into a "me too" reaction, you could preface your comments, but then again, why should you?

Would this be classed as narcissistic too?

The Judge

Nothing you do, say, or wear is good enough for this overly critical friend. The Judge probably had extremely judgmental parents who were also rearing equally hypercritical spawn. Being criticized during their formative years laid the groundwork for a super critical adult. It's a hard trait to reverse, and your Judgey mate may even be unaware that they are so critical and bitchy or that it annoys and upsets you so much.

The Gore

Have you ever been in a super serious situation such as a break up, illness, family situation and have a friend that keeps asking for every single tiny intimate detail about the situation but doesn’t actually offer any support or love? This is a big flashing waving banner of  the Gore TF!

They want to know all the gory details so that they can either fuel their own Judge or Jones’ interests but either way, as the “victim” it’s both annoying and hurtful and often you see some malicious offshoots of their interest.

You seem to open your heart up to the Gore and never get anything back in return.

The Gore sees you as an object of pity while you need friendly support. What they do with this knowledge and sense of pity is a whole different ball game depending on what other TF traits they have.

To throw in a personal experience, I fell out with a very dear friend over their Gore actions during a really serious time but they didn’t see what they were doing wrong. Couple that with their extreme Jones’ behaviour it was unbearable so I cut them off!

I do keep them hanging round on FB just for the lol-factor and as a firm believer in Karma, they’ve been bitten on the arse. What did I do? Gloat smugly? Stay away and not get involved? No, like the soft mug I am I offered some friendly advice and support. Well, that’s what they thought, I was using it as a perfect opportunity to wear my “been there done that, suck it up bitch” t shirt. (I should start selling these!)

As I’ve had a bit of a self indulgent whine about the crap sorts of people I come in to contact with, I hope you can all empathise with the type of Toxics out there. Maybe you have your own names and types?

As we get older, we can see people in a whole different light with much experience. We tend to expect more from our friends than we are ever likely to get.

I have found that the best kind of TF (if that’s possible) is the kind you can see from the start. No surprises, no pretences, what you see is what you get with full awareness. Go with your gut feelings, recognise when to forgive and forget, or call it a day and move on.

I have to say, I have an amazing group of close friends who I owe a lot too, and they all know who they are. The blonde one, the grown up one, the mental one, the arguer and the husband