Monday, September 22, 2014

About Friendship : 5 Types of Unhealthy Friendships

Seine River, Paris, France

Making friends came easy for all of us when we were children. There were also minimal duties embedded in childhood friendships - all we needed to do was to play with each other, with the permission from our parents. Then it evolves. There comes more responsibilities : now, as a good friend, we most likely need to not only be a committed play date, but also a good listener, life coach, travel companion, event planner, relationship expert, food buddy, and much more. In a way, we spend a lot more time and money establishing these grown-up friendships to eat-out together, party together, travel together, shop together, and explore new activities together. This greater and deeper involvement between friends creates more conflicts, especially when you are not compatible. So through time, I've learned to spot friendships that felt forced, incompatible, or unhealthy. Here is a list of 5 types of toxic friends:

1) The Bitter Melon
Jealousy seems more prominent between women, but this scenario could very well be among men. One becomes jealous of the other's happiness, success, accomplishment, or wealth, that sour feeling soon turns bitter, and it becomes simply painful for both parties to stay close. I've been through one like that.  We were great friends throughout high school, then went on separate ways after graduation. I went to the U.S. for university, and during that period, I was blessed with many excellent opportunities for improvement. She, on the other hand, was quite unfortunate in both academics and relationships. I tried to support and assist her whenever she needed as she did count on me for comfort. Then things became strange. It was not a sudden change, but gradually, I started to notice a change in her tone whenever I brought good news. She stopped congratulating me, instead, she made negative remarks. She took every possible opportunity to mock me - from judging my taste in men to my new purchases. Naturally, I stopped sharing with her my happiness, or anything at all, and that's when I know the friendship has turned bad. She distant herself too. I know we both knew we no longer make each other happy. So that was the end.  I don't know how her life is now, but I wish she is happier with it. I was disappointed, of course. But looking back now, I don't blame my friend, for we were all too young. We were all relatively more similar when we were in high school, then as we age, we branch into different directions.  Friends grow apart as our lives change, we run out of common topics, depth, knowledge, and understanding.  It's human nature to not feel entirely happy for your friend when your own life isn't as adequate. However, when envy turns into jealousy, and when that bitterness starts to emerge into negative energy, it's better to be apart.

2) The 365-Day-PMSer
This is another negative energy case. As women, we all know how PMS is. During that annoying time, we turn into crazy people who are unreasonably frustrated, depressed, and will cry for no apparent reason (albeit at that time we somehow really believe in that reason).  Fortunately, this usually only lasts for a week. And for me, I make a conscious effort to remind myself that I'm probably PMSing and am not actually feeling this miserable.  For some people, nevertheless, PMS lasts 365 days non-stop. In other words, these are the people who fail to control their anger and emotions. Yes, it is their personal emotions, but those consistent negative force can affect you easily. What's worse is if that emotional friend casts her frustration on you. She blames you for making her upset, gets angry at you for petty reasons , and refuses to see sense. You become almost fearful of any interaction because you can never predict when or what will offend her. I understand this could happen to anyone from time to time as our behaviors are partly driven by emotions, and at times, we couldn't help but let it out on the people close to us. But imaging receiving that blame on a regular basis. It is very exhausting and will eventually take a toll on your emotional health.

3) The Bad Influence
This various with everyone because a friend can be a bad influence to A but makes no affect on B. So it really depends on you. You need to decide what can sway you away from your supposed path and try to avoid that. Bad influence is not just the usual parenting fears: drugs, smoke, gambling, gangs, etc. It can be simply friends doing the right things but are wrong for you.  For instance , if your financial situation does not permit you to spend lavishly, don't let your pride take the upper hand and force yourself into your friend's luxurious activities. Whether it's partying , shopping , or traveling, if you can't afford it , don't put unnecessary burden onto yourself just so you don't feel left out or different. Spend within your capacity. If a friend keeps pushing you beyond your own means, and you can't refuse, maybe you should avoid him or her before you acquire better will power. Don't buy branded bags just because all your friends do. If shopping with her or seeing her owning expensive goods often makes you feel devalued (which you shouldn't have) and if you feel the need to spend equally in order to diminish those feelings, then it's time to distant yourself from her for a while before finding the right self esteem.  This goes the same for anything that can be a bad influence for you. If you want to quit smoking, stop being around smokers. If you have drinking problems , avoid situations and friends that will make you drink.  But remember, in the end , it's your own will power that matters, and once that's mastered, nothing can be an influence if you don't let it.

4) The Off Balance
Friendship, like any other relationships, takes two to make it work. You should never feel like you are the only one making effort. You should never question this : Am I caring too much or is he/she caring too little ? Everybody weights friendship differently, and that's okay. However, if you and your friend weight it on completely different levels, then the one who values it more will get hurt. Some people don't see friendship as an important element in life. Some people simply vanished from the face of earth after getting a bf/gf. Some people can throw away years and years of friendship because of a small conflict. Some people only use friends as convenient companions and will not offer deeper support. Have enough pride to walk away when you know your friendship is not being appreciated the same way.

5) The User
It's inevitable to run into friends like that. This type of people usually make a very friendly entrance into your life. They spend time to become closer friends, you are happy to return the friendship, then before you know it, they are gone. As you reflect, you realize they were using you for something. It could be that, they got close to you only to find out that you were useless to them, so they exited the scene. Or, they got close to you, benefited from you, then left. They choose friends base on the various advantages they can attain, hence they will not treat you with sincerity but like a stepping stone. Recognize these type of friends and learn to say no when you feel like you've been treated unfairly.

We encounter a huge variety of friends throughout our lives. It's alright to welcome all types to explore and to learn.  But categorize your acquaintance and your close friends carefully. Acquaintances don't usually share enough life with you to make any difference, but close friends can affect you greatly. Choose your flock carefully. Although we are individuals at core, our actions, behavior, and attitude are partly made up of bits and pieces of everyone who's closely associated with us.  Surround yourself with friends who help your personal development, who contribute positive energy, and those who truly care.

1 comment:

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