Are You in a Toxic ‘Friend’ Relationship?

Dirt of the DayGirl Power

We’ve all been there – you are having a coffee date with a friend you’ve known forever, listening to them pour their heart out as usual about what is going on in their life and all of a sudden you feel like you’re in a time warp.  You’ve been having this same conversation for years and years – are you in high school? College?  No!  It is right now and in this moment!

They are complaining about the same things:  they wish they were skinnier, why aren’t they more successful, why are they single, why is life so hard – me, me, me, complain, complain, complain.  You of course, being a good friend, console them.  It’s not their fault, it is everyone and everything else.  Then it dawns on you … what am I getting out of this relationship?  I’m constantly giving, but what am I receiving?  They turn to you with every little problem and favor needed, but how do they support you?

As we get older and wiser, we realize it is time to clear the clutter.  If your friendships are not a two-way street, it is time to head in a new direction.  If you repeatedly make it clear that you need more in this relationship and nothing changes, then it is time to cut the cord and move on.  Yes, it will be painful as all breakups are, but in the end you are doing a favor for both of you. Nothing is more empowering than standing on your own two feet and you deserve more than to be someone else’s crutch.

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Stuart Brazell
Co-Founder DirtyandThirty at Dirty and Thirty
Co-Founder of
Stuart Brazell has talent, brains and beauty as distinctive as her name. She’s a fab, fierce, femme who always speaks her mind whether in person or online (just ask her husband). The social butterfly knows how to work a room and dress for every occasion. Equally comfortable on a red carpet or at a yoga retreat, she’s the sassy southern belle who friends call when in need of advice or just plain fun.
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  1. Thanks. That’s good advice. What do you do for whatever reason in regards to levels of toxicity, (Only god knows why its everybody from perfect strangers to people I have known for years both gals and guys) where the relationship turns from all good to Chernobyl in about five minutes. So I gotta run out grab the HAZMAT suit and try to put the fire out so the prevailing winds don’t carry the fallout over seas and screw up everybody else. Its not like it builds over time, its like all of sudden the cooling system fails and the relationship has a core failure and an instant meltdown. If I could walk around with a geiger counter to test the level of the relationship’s toxicity I would. Until then I’ll just keep the HAZMAT suit in the car for such occasions.

  2. An addendum…

    Pulling out is never easy. Just look at the relationships our country has been involved in and tried to extricate itself. I read General Norman Schwarzkopf’s autobiography when I was growing up. He is the guy who during the first Desert Storm was in charge of the combined coalition forces. Essentially a seven nation army. He is also a Vietnam vet as well. He wrote in his autobiography, that after the fall of Saigon, he got drunk and cried like a baby. No joke. It goes to show that no matter how big or powerful you are, we are all human under the surface. The silver lining is its this shared human experience is what bonds us together and over time strengthens our relationships as a whole.

  3. Ithinkimgod says:

    Been there, done that. Basically if you have a so called “friend” that does nothing but berate you and find anything to complain about you or other people……….chances are there is some sort of jealousy involved.

    In all my experiences, there are 3 types of toxic relationships with “friends”.

    1. The other person is jealous or envious of you, and only befriended you only to try and out-do you
    2. The other person is oblivious or insensitive to your personal boundaries (even though you tell them repeatedly). In other words, ignorant.
    3. The other person uses you for what ever reason. You have some sort of social standing or something they desire, and they want to attach themselves to you in order to receive the benefits that befriending you gets.

    It can be hard to identify or recognize at times, but sometimes, your worst enemies in the long run are some of your best friends. Think of this, you have to be alone sometimes, and people who are poly-dependent or mono-dependent on other people or person(s) usually become the victims of that other person’s bullshit!

    The moral of my statement here is, you can not keep friends too close to you. At best (depending on the situation of course) that they should be kept just beyond an arm’s reach.

  4. A couple of years ago I did some graduate work at UCLA for producing and I went to lecture by a studio executive and I asked him about the relationship dynamics in Hollywood. I compared it to Iraq and Afghanistan because they are tribal secular cultures based on historical relationships. He responded by saying “Well its not that bad.” I noticed a lot of trepidation in his voice. I could tell he was not so sure of himself. I was to nice to call him on the carpet about it. As a fellow classmate of mine with an engineering background said, “Everybody here lives in concentric circles.” The other way one could look at the whole situation is the way the U.S. used Pakistan to give us Osama Bin Laden. Our relationship with Pakistan may be tenuous best but we got somebody to give that address to our special forces guys. Whatever they are doing its working because we just killed al Qaeda’s number two with a drone strike. as well. see link
    So in the end, there is no easy answer only more questions.

  5. Very true. A wise therapist shared an analogy with me once… that people are like an audience. Some deserve to be in the front row, while others are moved to the back row where they can be loved or appreciated from a distance.

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