Toxic Friends - When to Be a Grown Up & Breakup with the Bullshit

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By now, we’re all at a point in our lives where we’ve had to say goodbye to a friend or two and the bullshit they’ve brought into our lives. I’m the kind of gal that loves hard when I’m close with someone. To be completely honest, I have few friends that I consider to be best friends. That’s because to me the title of BFF isn’t one I’d give to just anyone. Some of my dearest (best) friends are the ones I don’t see or even speak to every day. That’s not because I don’t make time for them – it’s because we’re at a point in our lives where we can accept each other for who we are and where we are in our lives. As a wise friend once said, “I’m in our friendship for the long haul.” Me too. So, if there are times that I can’t see my favorite people every week, that’s ok. I know they are there when I need them and they know that if they need me I’ll be there in a heartbeat, no questions asked.

Now that I’m married, have a family and am allegedly more mature, I’ve made it a priority to be more intentional about the people I surround myself with. I recently went through what I think of as a friendship breakup. There were positives and negatives about that friendship, but at the end of the day the negative outweighed the positive. To say that I still don’t mourn the loss of the friendship would be a lie. It still hurts. The positives and negatives weren’t all on her either. Some of those things were me and who I was when I was around that person.

Below are the basic criteria I have for what it means to be a good friend. Included in these descriptions are things I’m not a fan of and what you might want to consider when evaluating a potentially toxic friendship.

A good friend celebrates your success

They don’t double tap your Instagram post but totally avoid the topic of your recent promotion in person because they’re bitter everyone else’s lives keep moving in a forward direction and they haven’t found their place in life yet. It’s ok to be lost. Own it. Don’t let someone cut you down so they can feel better about themselves.

A good friend knows the importance of alone time

It’s ok to bail on plans. Life happens. Work is important, family commitments are important, the list goes on. I’m not saying being a perpetual flake but you can’t say yes to everything. If you have that friend that makes you feel bad because you can’t go to the movies on a Friday night, sorry, but it’s ok to be tired and need time to recharge so when you are present around those you hold dearly you can be there in full effect and not distracted by whatever was keeping you from meeting up in the first place.

A good friend is caring and emphatic

Plain and simple. Anyone who doesn’t make you feel supported and understood has no place in your life.

A good friend respects you and values your friendship

That means they don’t come to you only when it’s convenient or when they need something. They’re your friend all of the time. They don’t ghost you when they’re upset about something and then not give you the respect of talking through the issue that’s affecting the way you’re feeling about your friendship, i.e. having a disagreement and not returning a call or text to work through the situation.

A good friend enjoys conversation and respects your opinion

Not every dynamic duo is going to agree on everything. You should be able to be friends with someone who wants to have an intellectual conversation and listen to your opinion and the knowledge you bring to the table. Respecting someone’s opinion is a basic fundamental of being a good person. Don’t let that toxic person try to change your stance on something because that’s the view they have on a subject or even someone. I’ve had people in my life where I would just agree with what they said in the moment so I could avoid a confrontation of not having the same view. That is not something a good friend should do.

A good friend believes your word

They don’t doubt you for no reason. If you tell a friend something and you’re known not to be a pathological liar they don’t need the internet to prove you wrong consistently to make themselves feel smarter or better than you.

A good friend calls because they miss you

A common love language is words of affirmation. I think that includes reaching out to someone and letting them know you’re thinking about them. It’s not reaching out letting them know you miss them and then giving a guilt trip because they haven’t had time to hang out because you have a lot going on that does not include them.  

A good friend accepts you for who you are

Safe to say no one is perfect. A friend shouldn’t cut you down because you’re different. They should be able to see what you bring to the table and appreciate your individuality and be inspired by your amazingness.

A good friend knows how to keep a secret

If your toxic friend is consistently gossiping about others, human nature often proves they’re doing the same about you. Those secrets you shared, they’re probably not secrets anymore. That sucks. Don’t surround yourself with people like that.

A good friend knows that everyone has other friends and they won’t judge you for that

If you have a friend that gives you lip about hanging out with another friend group because they don’t like them, that’s what we call immature. I had a friend who came to my very small wedding and was complaining about someone in the group they didn’t like. Not the place, not appreciated, not a real friend. Someone who does not respect that you have other friend group interest is usually someone who is controlling. If they don’t want to be around someone it’s up to them to remove themselves or act as an adult would and be cordial.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not perfect. Not even freaking close, and that’s ok. I’ve made the same mistake more than once but one thing I won’t allow myself to do is have people in my life who make me doubt myself and my relationships with the people who are supportive and caring to me and my family. I’ve likely been a toxic friend. It’s not something I’m proud of but I’ve learned from that. I’ve seen how it feels and I don’t ever want to do that to someone else. I want to be that friend that makes my friends feel good about themselves, supported and empowered.

Go live your life boldly and with intention in the people you surround yourself with, and remember life is too short to put up with additional bullshit that’s not needed. Break up with that bullshit and cherish the friends who are in it for the long haul. Those are good ones.

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Ashely Van Nuck is an HR professional and married mom of two boys and two fur babes. She’s originally from the west coast but made Nashville her home years ago and hasn’t looked back. She enjoys sweating it out in a group fitness class or finding time alone with a book to recharge her batteries for life’s next big adventure.