A toxic friendship does not consist of just one person. What is toxic always affects at least two people. In some cases, the two people involved in these friendships have obvious toxic behaviors. In other cases, however, one of the two is an active agent and the other passive, and the latter almost always has a very low self-esteem. It is not a question of identifying the good and the bad, but of inadequate and destructive bonds and ways of relating.
We are well acquainted with a maxim that may seem obvious, but which is instead very wise: “He who looks alike, he takes himself”. In human relationships, consciously and unconsciously, we seek and attract those with similar strengths and weaknesses to ours. It is not often that people with a high level of mental health end up getting involved with a very neurotic or “toxic” person. Perhaps low self-esteem and constant diminution or treatment during childhood lead a person to seek out another with whom this toxic friendship is created.
No one is a “plague” from which to escape. And no one is so perfect that they live without making mistakes or have no aspects to improve. Toxic friendship is a destructive bond in which both sides contribute.
Sometimes you just need to change this link, other times the only solution is to break it. In any case, it is important to learn to identify the symptoms that indicate an inadequate relationship. Below we present some of them.
In a toxic friendship one continually belittles the other
Toxic friendship is common among people with low self-esteem. One of the most harmful aspects of this type of bond is that one does not belittle the other directly, but in secret. If this happened clearly, it would probably lead to a distancing. For this, instead, we resort to digs, irony, sarcasm and messages between the lines.
The content of these messages is aggressive. It aims to diminish the value of the other person and their achievements. In a toxic friendship there is an ambivalence: one is both friend and foe. There are proximity and distance at the same time. To support this double game, veiled criticism is used. Generally this happens on both sides and is constant over time. The two people do each other damage, but manage to hide it.
Friendship or criminal association?
There are friends with whom you always end up breaking some rules. In particular, there are people whose relationship is based on the consumption of alcohol or other psychotropic substances. There are also cases in which the bond is maintained to hide the infidelity of the couple, to avoid obligations or to incur some excess. In this case, it is a complicity in the negative sense of the term. These are the so-called “bad companies”.
In this case we have a toxic friendship because “the friend” is only a tool that supports untrusting conduct. Neither is interested in the welfare of others. We just use each other to bring out some negative aspect of their personality. Usually friendships of this type fail when one of the two wants to improve their condition. The other will try by all means to prevent him so as not to find himself without his accomplice in transgressions.
It feels bad repeatedly
An unmistakable symptom of a toxic friendship is the feeling that sticks around after spending time with a certain person. Sometimes you feel a kind of heaviness. You feel emotionally exhausted. You may feel some kind of irritation, but the cause is not clearly understood. Sometimes it also feels guilty or sad.
There are probably several unconscious symptoms that unite the two people. This is why one feels bad after having been with the person in question, and always for this, however, the friendship is not interrupted. The union that exists between the two people is neurotic and depends on unconscious feelings or desires. What is certain is that they generate discomfort, but it is as if it were inevitable to continue living the same experience, one time after another.
It all revolves around a negative view
Some friends are united by negative elements. Sometimes he gives a biting criticism against others. In these toxic friendships gossip, intrigues and backbiting against others swarm. A disparaging point of view is shared, which feeds already existing conflicts. This attitude is mutually reinforcing, and this is what unites the two subjects.
In other cases, complaints dominate. It’s not about looking for a shoulder to cry on. Rather, it is about arguing over who plays the best role of victim or strengthening each other in victimhood. We think and rethink our difficulties and complain about them, without taking action to overcome them. Far from it. We love wounds and care for each other, with no interest in healing them.
There is no reciprocity
A healthy friendship presupposes reciprocity and balance. However, there are people who seek their friends only to ask something or when one of them thinks that his problems are undoubtedly more important and priority than those of the other. In some cases, a person has a problem and their friend disappears. You can only count on these when things go perfectly.
A toxic friendship takes away much more than it gives. It actually has little to do with friendship. There may be genuine mutual sympathy, but the way the bond is structured and / or the relationship is carried out makes it harmful to both of you. The problem is not only represented by the other person, but also by those who passively endure these relationships.
We always end up looking a little like the people we surround ourselves with. If our goal is to continue to improve, grow and protect our well-being, it is important to choose well the people with whom to establish a friendship.
Images courtesy of Amèlie Fontaine