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6 Reasons Why Some People Are Toxic Friends

6 Reasons Why Some People Are Toxic Friends

Friendship is a wonderful thing which most people in the world would be lost without. Friendship provides a basis for support, stability, sociability, and emotional well-being. When these factors are compromised, it may be that you have surrounded yourself with toxic friends. While no one is perfect, and friendship is all about unconditional acceptance, there are still some people who could cause a lot of grief. It is confusing as to why people who affect us negatively can be classified as ‘friends’ to begin with. However these toxic friends may not be so easily identified as it seems.

They may have been a great friend in the past, so how did this happen? Why are they suddenly considered to be ‘toxic friends’?

1. They only keep you around to feel superior.

After coming out of an exam believing you have failed it, spending some time with friends either in-person, over the phone, or on the internet should be a positive experience. Friends should be supportive, understanding, and leave you feeling uplifted. The moment you hear something such as: “I found the exam really easy, and you’re smarter than me, so you probably did well,” you might want to re-think the company you are keeping. As harmless as the statement appears, there is an undertone of competitive nature. What if you did fail the exam? She is just waving her victory around in the form of an encouraging statement.

A common trait of toxic friends is the inability to resist competition and often they will take any opportunity to prove that they are superior. Chances are that is the only way they keep you around. When a person is insecure she can turn into a toxic friend very easily. Competitive friends will begin to feel frustrated when they can no longer ‘win’ against you in anything, and will seem to withdraw and appear glum all the time.

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When it seems that all your friends ever do is completely against you, then it’s time to have a very serious chat with them.

2. They cling to you for life.

It is acceptable to be a certain amount of clingy in every friendship, especially in times of hardship and when in need of support. However if your friend is calling you everyday at 2 a.m. for no particular reason, this can become both annoying and exhausting. You can try to avoid him for a little while, making a few excuses as to why he can’t contact you. Eventually this is only going to give him an excuse to make you feel guilty about abandoning him. He will say things like, “If you were my REAL friend, then you wouldn’t try to avoid me and ditch me all the time!” Although this sounds like an elementary school problem, these issues can carry on into adulthood, especially if you have been together for a long time. It is easy to feel trapped in an obligatory friendship, but there is nothing worse than having to feign friendship. It takes a lot of effort and will end up harming both of you in the process. Don’t get trapped in a friendship with a toxically clingy person.

These kinds of friends are also most likely chronically jealous people. They will feel threatened by other friends, especially new ones. This can be harmful to you in the sense that they will try to claim you for their own, scaring off your other friends in the process. Although the clinger might have been a great friend in the past, he is now becoming dangerously possessive. It might be a good time to re-consider the company you are keeping.

3. They are always asking for something.

It’s normal to share things in a friendship. It’s alright to ask for things, but it should be an equal amount of give and take. When a friend is constantly and shamelessly asking you for something every time you see each other, you might have a toxic friend problem. Her logic behind this reasoning is that as her friend, you should be obliged to cater to her every need. Some can even deceive themselves into thinking that they are putting a lot of effort into the friendship and you owe it to them to give them everything they request. Money is always a factor in friendships like this. You will always be the one paying for every meal and taxi. This complex not only leaves you broke, it also makes you appear as a push-over, meaning more people will try to take advantage of you the same way.

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When you stop giving these people everything they want and start resisting, they will either leave you for someone else more gullible or they will take this as an opportunity to make you feel guilty. Without you catering to their every need, they will find themselves in tough situations and they will blame you for not caring about them.

This kind of friend doesn’t take responsibility for anything and you have to remind yourself that your friend is your friend, not your child. Sound familiar? Time to reconsider that relationship.

4. They are full of unhealthy gossip.

All friends gossip — it can be a healthy behavior that allows you to keep up-to-date with current affairs and important information. However when this gossip is predominantly negative information about everyone and everything then gossiping can become dangerous. Most of the gossip this kind of friend spouts can easily be a lie or a clever twist on the truth.

Compulsive liars can become very good at making lies look like truth, so you have to be careful not to get pulled in. They find no better pleasure than in being in the know. They will use their valuable knowledge to ensure they have leverage over people. If they are a particular close friend of yours it can be dangerous. You have probably heard some horrible things about other people who have made this friend angry, and you have probably mistaken this back-stabbing act as an attempt to protect you from the true nature of these people.

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In the start you would have put a lot of trust in this person and have probably vented one too many secrets to him. You only realize too late that you have given him a great deal of leverage on you and if you got on his bad side, you could end up in a lot of trouble. He simply wants to feel powerful and in control. Once he no longer have any secrets to use against you and once you stop taking an interest in his gossip he will most likely lose interest in you.

5. They incorporate themselves into your life at unreasonable levels.

They say that friends are the family that we choose for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with having friends who feel like family to you. However, with a friend who has self-appointed themselves above your family and even above your ‘significant other,’ you might be in a toxic friendship. She will feel offended if you haven’t told her every single detail of your plans. She will appear at every gathering, sometimes uninvited. She will try to compete with your friends and relatives who have known you your entire life. She wants to have the most knowledge about you and will be upset if she finds out someone else knows something she didn’t know about you.

While this is an extreme example, this does happen to people and is very unnerving. The sad thing is that these friends have no malicious intent. The main logic behind it is that they are very lonely people who have attached to you to make themselves feel like they have someone.

It would be good to explain to this friend that there are boundaries she needs to maintain. As innocent as intentions seem to be, she is still a toxic friend, since she invades your privacy and surpass the title of ‘clingy,’ which can be scary both to you and the people around you.

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6. They are never ‘OK’.

It is natural for friends to occasionally check on each other to see how life is going. When you hear your friend is having a bad week, then you feel obliged to comfort him until you know he’s okay again. However there is that one friend who replies to every ‘How are you?’ with ‘Upset, as always.’ This can get annoying and frustrating very quickly.

These are the overly negative friends who are just never OK. There are several reasons to categorize these people as toxic friends. No matter how much good advice you give them, they will continue to avert it, saying nothing will ever help them and no one cares about them. Excessive negativity is unhealthy in any friendship, and if a goal of making your friend happy is the only reason you stay in the friendship, then you are setting yourself up for a lot of grief.

Chances are that they need psychiatric attention, not your company or advice.The only thing staying with this kind of friend will accomplish is making you upset, frustrated, and feel like a failure. They will make you feel guilty about being happy and having a good day and they will always be too self-absorbed in their own unhappiness to celebrate any of your achievements.

Toxic friends are not the sort of people you want in your life. You can’t impress everybody and you don’t have to be friends with everybody, so choose your friends carefully and it will save you a world of hassle.

Featured photo credit: Portrait of two sad girls, dark sepia toned. via shutterstock.com

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Elizabeth Andal

Elizabeth is a passionate writer who shares about lifestyle tips and lessons learned in life on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2020

3 Simple Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship

3 Simple Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship

In helping many people solve their relationship woes, I am often asked for the signs of a good relationship.

Well, what’s fascinating about relationships is the dynamics of two individuals coming together and staying together amid an array of perceptions and misperceptions.

Our relationships are not only influenced by our current actions but also by our past relationships and the life experiences that we bring forward into the current relationship. How we deal with misperceptions and misunderstandings determines the strength and health of our relationship and the level of happiness we are able to experience.

Much of the subconscious programming that takes place throughout our life causes us to sabotage our happiness by preventing us from engaging effectively, especially when we become emotionally triggered.

These mostly unconscious “scripts,” which we tend to run on autopilot, include our thoughts, words, and actions that result from these. Some may even refer to them as “baggage.” While we can rewrite these scripts and stop them from contaminating our relationships, we only become aware of them when we are in an emotionally empowered state.

So, what are the signs of a good relationship?

It boils down to these four essential requirements:

  • Emotional empowerment
  • Aligned attraction
  • Sexual functioning
  • You and your partner

While we can take it upon ourselves to develop as an individual, a strong and healthy relationship results from both personal growth and teamwork with our partner in order to resolve any problems.

Let’s take a look at how we can do this.

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1. Emotional Empowerment

A clear sign of a good relationship is that both partners stay focused on what they want to create and how they want to feel. It can be too easy to blame our partner when we’re not feeling good about ourselves or somewhat overwhelmed with the curveballs that life seems to throw at us continually.

You may have heard of the saying, “Making mountains out of molehills.” When we’re not in charge of our emotional state, that’s precisely what we do!

Someone also said, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Our words and the emotional power behind them are either being constructive or destructive in our relationships.

By trying to override your emotions and dredging up past situations, you may blow a current situation entirely out of context, keep retriggering yourself and your partner, and prevent essential issues from being resolved. Aside from that, it makes you feel disconnected.

As a reminder, allowing yourself to indulge in petty annoyances and sarcastic comments will likely drive a wedge between you and your partner. So, is that worth your attention?

When we focus on what we don’t want, we continually default to the old subconscious programming cultivated from our life experiences. These “scripts” can become self-destructive when expressed through negative rumination and self-talk or critical observations of our partner, rather than being the fun, uplifting, and naturally motivating partner that they fell in love with.

Many couples start competing against each other when they are emotionally triggered instead of supporting each other to create the best outcome. While we can quickly become obsessed with being right (or not being wrong), it’s essential to stay present, focus on how we want to feel, and align our words and actions toward that outcome.

Couples who enjoy a strong and healthy relationship consciously monitor their emotional states and can therefore influence the impact of their verbal and non-verbal communication in a positive manner. This offers a long-term benefit of enhancing their overall desire to be together and connect on more intimate levels.[1]

2. Attraction in Alignment

Known as the love and bonding hormone, oxytocin doesn’t just play an important role in intimacy. In truth, it’s also vital for increasing trust and attraction between two people. Synthesized in the human brain when you trust someone, the oxytocin molecule also motivates reciprocation.

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We’re living in an age where an individual’s independence is ruling the day, and the social codes of chivalry have become sadly redundant. However, it’s never a good time to become complacent in how we interact with each other and in respecting the environment we share.

According to Paul Zak, a neuroscientist and researcher at Claremont Graduate University, oxytocin is generated in the brain only after some concrete event or action, such as someone making way for you in the street.[2]

“When someone does something nice for you such as holding a door, your brain releases oxytocin, and it down-regulates the appropriate fear you have of interacting with strangers.” — Paul Zak

Suddenly, you feel like the person in front of you is not a threat. Then, according to Zak, this feeling disappears quickly for a good reason,

“If you just had high levels of oxytocin, you would be giving away resources to every stranger on the street. So, this is a quick on/off system.”

This has important implications for those in a relationship. Zak says:

“If you treat me well, in most cases my brain will synthesize oxytocin and this will motivate me to treat you well in return.”

In a relationship, our actions and behaviors are either attracting or repelling our partner. This is especially true when we have conflicting values. Common conflicting values include personal hygiene, health and fitness, and general tidiness.

It’s important to know and respect what’s important to our partner. After all, one of the real signs of a good relationship is having the desire to continually step up and live your “A” game.[3] When our partner takes the time to communicate something important to them, we need to acknowledge that it’s essential to keep a relationship long-term.

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While we like to think that our partner will be attracted to us no matter what, this is not realistic at all. “A” is for attraction, and we need to keep attracting our partner instead of being lazy and pretending we can get away with unappealing or inappropriate behaviors.

Any unresolved issue can build up resentment and undermine the quality of a relationship. However, the thought of approaching a challenging topic can increase stress and anxiety to the point where it is nearly impossible to clearly communicate the problem without it sounding like an accusation or blame.

Due to the fear of retriggering our partner by bringing up the same topic repeatedly, we often delay dealing with the issues that are of utmost importance to us. Over time, it can result in frustration, annoyance, and disconnection. We are sentient beings, so this type of emotional resistance can often be felt by the other person.

Furthermore, we usually communicate a part of a request out loud and then complete the reasoning behind it internally. Unfortunately, our partner doesn’t hear this internal monologue, so they have no idea about the extent or importance of our need. Therefore, many problems aren’t fully discussed, and the main issue remains unresolved.

“Prolonged stress and anxiety are like poison to oxytocin,” Paul Zak said. The underlying biological hypothesis is that stress — particularly the type that does not have a clear ending point — inhibits oxytocin release.

In a healthy relationship, both partners can retain the desire to step up and continue to attract each other through verbal and non-verbal communication. Try remembering the following:

  • Every person has their own preference for how things are done, so effective communication requires actively listening as well as clearly communicating your needs.
  • Before talking about an important matter, make sure you have your partner’s full attention. Then, try to keep your words focused in the here and now.
  • Instead of rehashing a similar experience from your past for context and risking triggering each other emotionally, get to the point and explain what you want at once. If you feel uncomfortable doing that, try starting a request with “I like it when…” or “It makes me feel…” You may also ask, “How can we work together to create a win-win situation?”
  • If something is important enough for your partner to mention out loud, then you must respect, consider, and adhere to it whenever possible. For example, if a partner is brave enough to open up about their need for sexual intimacy to feel more connected, it may be an issue that needs to be addressed in your relationship.

According to psychiatrist and Emory University professor Larry Young, increased intimacy can strengthen your connection as a couple, especially when you combine it with other rewarding experiences that get your brain’s reward system going.[4]

Verbally appreciate your partner’s effort in supporting your needs and make sure to retain your individuality and interests outside the relationship to keep your mutual attraction.

3. Sexual Function

Sex is the one thing that differentiates a strong, healthy relationship from a platonic friendship. Sexual intimacy is one of the most important signs of a good relationship and has often been described as the glue that holds a relationship together.

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Sexual intimacy allows two people who seek the ultimate connection with each other to come together. However, intimacy problems can lead to separation, loneliness, and disconnection — feelings that can eventually tear a relationship apart.

Unfulfilling sex leads to an increase in stress hormones which results in a lowered libido as sexual intimacy becomes a souce of discomfort on all levels. A common cause of a low libido is, for example, sexual function issues such as early ejaculation and erectile dysfunction challenges in men; and orgasmic dysfunction for women.[5] An unwanted sexual technique such as hard and fast or constant changes of position can also be off-putting.

While work stress, children rearing, and communication issues can all lower your libido and affect your overall desire for sex, a sexless marriage or relationship is not favorable for the vast majority of couples long-term.

One of the most important things for women in a relationship is to experience a sense of connection or feel loved and close to their partner. But this is where things can become tricky pretty quickly, considering women naturally have much higher levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin than men. For men, higher levels of oxytocin are generated through intimate connections.

What is the takeaway here, you may ask? Our hormones influence our behaviors, and oxytocin is said to be responsible for allowing us to experience love. In reality, studies have also shown that oxytocin can even work as the brain’s “moral molecule.” The more intimate moments we have, the more our bodies release the said hormone.

This is especially important for a male to feel more connected and attentive toward his partner. Research indicates that a man who is often sexually intimate with his beloved can produce increased levels of oxytocin.[6] In turn, it boosts his desire to hold and connect with his partner and stimulate positive social interaction.

A positive sign of a strong and healthy relationship is both partners’ desire to be intimate with each other. If either of the partners has little or no desire for initiating intimacy, then they need to address the issues mentioned in this article to restore intimacy in order to enjoy a truly fulfilling partnership.

Final Thoughts

The most important sign of being in a strong and healthy relationship is that you feel happy within yourself and in your connections.

While it’s not always possible to stay happy and connected with someone, ensuring that you are emotionally aligned with yourself and aware of your partner’s needs will go a long way to guarantee the health and longevity of your relationship.

After all, compelling narratives also cause oxytocin release and can affect your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

More on Maintaining a Healthy Relationship

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

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