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The Fallout of Not Facing the Toxic Behaviors of a Selfish Friend

The Fallout of Not Facing the Toxic Behaviors of a Selfish Friend

Back in high school, my best friend and I would hang out all the time. We were in the same grade, we lived pretty close to each other, and we shared a lot of interests – tennis, the piano, and reading. We spent hours and hours talking about everything. She was smart and easy to talk to. But the problem was, she only seemed to care about herself. So when I wanted to share problems or successes in my own life, she was totally uninterested. Hanging out with her only left me feeling sad and lonely.

It can be hard to identify toxic aspects of any relationship. But just because you see your friends often doesn’t mean you’re not lonely. Toxic behaviors turn your good intentions into vain acts. Selfish friends will focus far more on their own needs, neglecting yours. While hanging out will be fun for a while, they will consistently drain your energy and leave you feeling abandoned.

The Flawed Ways to Handle a Selfish Friend

Imagine a friend who is constantly minimizing your own life stresses and always talking about troubles in his own love life. You have a deadline coming up when he calls you one evening. You explain the situation to him and ask if you can talk another time. Outraged, he yells and gives you an ultimatum. He doesn’t want to hear from you again.

You have a lot of ways you might respond to him. These are some common ways people use to deal with such relationship.

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1. Take In Everything

Many people simply accept the toxic behaviors by staying silent and sometimes even enabling them. You might call your friend back, apologize, and give him some time to talk about his latest disastrous date.

This is the path of least resistance, so it’s easy to fall into this kind of pattern.

But this isn’t a real solution. By accepting your friend’s toxic behaviors, you hurt your own ego, feel sad and more stressed in your personal life, and overall feel like your friendship is extremely turbulent. Sacrificing your own needs won’t fix anything. Gradually it will start to take a toll on your mental health and make you feel depressed.

2. Cast Shadow Upon Others

Another option is to steer into the skid: mimicking the friend’s selfish behavior when you hang out. It feels better to do this than to be victimized. But by doing this, even unconsciously, you become the toxic friend in other relationships. It’s harmful to you as well as the friendship.

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Imagine that, in response to your friend’s selfish behaviors, you also start behaving this way to everyone in your life. Instead of giving your friends space when they need it, you demand all of their time for your problems. You feel like you’re always forced to take your friend’s bad behaviors, so you take it out on your friends, family, and your significant other. This vicious circle will harm everyone in your life and only spread the selfishness onward like a communicable virus.

3. Cut Ties Sharply

Finally, some people sharply cut ties with their toxic friends. While this will get rid of your problems, it doesn’t really fix them. What’s more, your selfish (ex-)friend may not understand your motivations or actions and return with passive-aggressive behaviors.

If your selfish friend suddenly can’t get in touch with you for weeks upon weeks, they will feel totally confused and abandoned. Think about how they might react — not just with confusion, but anger. They may lash out at you in other ways, perhaps talking to mutual friends about how selfish you are, or trying to get in touch with you even more aggressively. This too can take a mental and emotional toll on you. Avoidance isn’t the answer.

Real Solutions to Save the Friendship

Lots of people want to fix toxic relationships with band-aid fixes, but band-aids don’t fix relationships. To deal with feelings and relationships, it takes time and effort. These are the real solutions to deal with a selfish friend and genuinely fix your friendship.

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Openly talk about your feelings with your friend.

Let them know how their actions have been harming you personally. Be specific but kind here. It’s important to communicate that you want honesty and that you’re committed to sustaining and improving the friendship.

Share your personal boundaries.

Explain what exactly it is that you need from your friend in order to make the relationship feel equal. For example, you might tell your friend that you can’t always talk on the phone late at night when you have deadlines. Don’t tell them that you can’t ever talk on the phone late at night, but explain that you need them to give you space when you are stressed or busy.

Listen openly and be willing to compromise.

Be open to hearing their honest feelings and reactions to what you are saying. It’s possible that their actions might be related to your behaviors too. Be honest with yourself and with your friend, and you are likeliest to have the best results.

Finally, if your friend simply refuses to listen to your feelings and clearly has no interest in engaging in an honest conversation, admit defeat. If you can’t fix the relationship, then that’s that. Leave it be, move on, and focus on building and maintaining your healthy friendships.

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But oftentimes, a friendship is worth salvaging and you never know how wonderful a friendship can be if you never try. Many friends don’t realize that they are behaving selfishly, and talking with them honestly can really turn things around.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on February 28, 2019

The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

Admit it, you feel good when other people think you’re nice. Maybe you were complimented by a stranger saying that you had a nice outfit. You felt good about yourself and you were happy for the rest of the day.

    We all like to feel liked, whether by a stranger or a loved one. It makes you feel valued and that feeling can be addictive. But when the high wears off and you no longer have validation that someone thinks you’re a good, sweet person, you may feel insecure and lacking. While wanting others to like you isn’t in itself a bad thing, it can be like a disease when you feel that you constantly need to be liked by others.

    Humans are wired to want to be liked.

    It’s human nature to seek approval from others. In ancient times, we needed acceptance to survive. Humans are social animals and we need to bond with others and form a community to survive. If we are not liked by others, we will be left out.

    Babies are born to be cute and be liked by adults.

      The large rounded head, big forehead, large eyes, chubby cheeks, and a rounded body. Babies can’t survive without an adult taking care of them. It’s vital for adults to find babies lovely to pay attention to them and divert energy towards them.[1]

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      Recognitions have always been given by others.

        From the time you were a child, whether at school or at home, you have been receiving recognition from external parties. For instance, you received grades from teachers, and if you wanted something, you needed approval from your parents. We’ve learned to get what we want by catering to other people’s expectations. Maybe you wanted to get a higher grade in art so you’d be more attentive in art classes than others to impress your teacher. Your teacher would have a generally good impression on you and would likely to give you a higher grade.

        When you grow up, it’s no different. Perhaps you are desperate to get your work done so you do things that your manager would approve. Or maybe you try to impress your date by doing things they like but you don’t really like.

        Facebook and Instagram have only made things worse. People posting their photos and sharing about their life on Instagram just to feels so good to get more likes and attention.

        Being liked becomes essential to reaching desires.

          We start to get hyper focused on how others see us, and it’s easy to imagine having the spotlight on you at all time. People see you and they take an interest in you. This feels good. In turn, you start doing more things that bring you more attention. It’s all positive until you do something they don’t like and you receive criticism. When this happens, you spiral because you’ve lost the feeling of acceptance.

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          But the reality is this is all just perception. Humans, as a species, are selfish. We are all just looking at ourselves; we only perceive others are giving us their focus. Even for those who please others are actually focusing on making themselves feel good. It’s like an optical illusion for your ego.

            The desire to be liked is an endless chase.

              Aiming to please others in order to feel better will exhaust you because you can never catch up with others’ expectation.

              The ideal image will always change.

              It used to be ideal to have a fair weight, a little bit fat was totally acceptable. Then it’s ideal to be very slim. Recently we’ve seen “dad-bods” getting some positive attention. But this is already quickly changing. In fact, a recent article from Men’s Health asked 100 women if they would date a guy who had a dad-bod, about 50% of women claimed to not care either way, only 15% exclusively date men with a “dad bod”.[2]

              People’s expectations on you can be wrong.

              Most people put their expectations on others based on what’s right in the social norms, yet the social norms are created by humans in which 80% of them are just ordinary people according to the 80/20 rules.[3]

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              Think about it, every day, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, you filter what you believe to be truth. If someone compliments you, you take it and add it to an idea of what the best version of yourself is. When someone criticizes you, even in a destructive way, you might accept it altogether, or add it to a list of things you’re insecure about. When you absorb the wrong opinion from others, you will either sabotage your self-esteem or overestimate yourself by accepting all the good compliments and stop growing; or accepting all the destructive criticisms and sabotage your own self-esteem and happiness.

              Others’ desires are not the same as yours.

                If you live your life as one long effort of trying to please other people, you will never be happy. You’re always going to rely on others to make you feel worth living. This leads to total confusion when it comes to your personal goals; when there’s no external recognition, you don’t know what to live for.

                The only person to please is yourself.

                  Think of others’ approval as fuel and think of yourself as a car. When that fuel runs out, you can’t function. This is not a healthy mindset.

                  In reality, we’re human and we can create our own fuel. You can feel good based on how much you like yourself. When you do things to make you like yourself more, you can start to see a big change in your opinion. For example, if being complimented by others made you feel good and accepted, look in the mirror and compliment yourself. Say what you wish others would say about you.

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                  Internal approval takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. You have to re-train your own mind. Think of the dog who knows there is food when the bell rings, the reflex is hard wired into the dog.[4] We need our own triggers to reinforce the habit of internal approval too. Recognize yourself every day instead of waiting for people to do it for you, check out in this article the steps to take to recognize your own achievements and gain empowerment: Don’t Wait for People to Praise You. Do It Yourself Every Single Day

                  Notice that when you start to focus on yourself and what to do to make yourself happy, others may criticize you. Since you’ve stopped trying to please others to meet their expectations, they may judge you for what you do. Be critical about what they say about you. They aren’t always right but so are you. Everyone has blind spots. Let go of biased and subjective comments but be humble and open to useful advice that will improve you.

                  Remember that you are worth it, every day. It will take time to stop relying on others to make you feel important and worth something, but the sooner you start trying, the happier and healthier you will be.

                  Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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