On average, female friendships last 16 years, which is six years longer than the average romantic relationship, so it comes as no surprise that whether good or bad, friendships have a significant impact on our mental health.
Life is too short to have unsupportive or manipulative friends. They might judge you, gossip behind your back or even compete with you. You might not even realise that a relationship has turned toxic or unhealthy.
Sometimes we accept emotional abuse from a friend in a way we never would a romantic partner.
Toxic friendships are hugely detrimental to our lives and confidence so you need to register the signs early on to be able to nip them in the bud. It is vital to your happiness and wellbeing to walk away from a toxic friendship before it meta-sizes.
Scarlett V Clark, founder of the Smart Girl Tribe, says ‘toxic friendships are hugely detrimental to our lives and confidence so you need to register the signs early on to be able to nip them in the bud’ (file photo)
Could YOU be in a toxic friendship? Take this quiz to find out
1. You have just got a promotion at work and you’re out celebrating. How is your friend likely to react?
a) She buys the first round and toasts to your success
b) She skulks in the corner and can’t quite bring herself to congratulate you
c) She’s too busy to come out and celebrate with you
2. Your boyfriend finishes with you during a Saturday night date. You call your friend to cry down the phone. Do they:
a) Ditch what they’re doing and come round with chocolate and wine
b) Say sorry but they’re round at their boyfriend’s and will call you the next day
c) They don’t answer, you leave a voicemail but they still haven’t called back 24 hours later
3. You’ve just had a night out with your friend. When you get home, do you:
a) Feel empowered and happy – she always makes you feel good about yourself
b) Feel relieved to be back home, it’s exhausting propping her up emotionally all the time
c) Feel insecure and down about yourself as she made fun of you in front of other people
4. Your friend calls up and invites you to a girls’ night in. How do you feel?
a) Happy and excited – you always have a fun time with them
b) Unsure – you don’t really want to go but don’t know how to tell them
c) Terrible – you know you’ll be the butt of the jokes and they make you feel bad about yourself
5. When you get tickets to the latest Billy Eilish concert, your friend says:
a) You lucky thing, that’s amazing!
b) Nice – I got front row seats at the last tour
c) Billy Eilish? She’s so uncool, I wouldn’t waste my money
If you scored mainly As:
Congratulations, you have a healthy, supportive and empowering friendship! Your friend is clearly a positive influence in your life and will help you to flourish and be your best self.
If you scored mainly Bs:
There are a few issues you need to address with your friend that are bothering you and could be the first signs of an unhealthy friendship.
If your friend’s behaviour seems out of character this could be as a result of COVID – mental health issues are spiking and the pandemic has tested previously flourishing relationships.
Take some time to talk to your friend about their behaviour and explain how it is hurting you, set an intention together about how you can move forward avoiding any further troubles.
If you scored mainly Cs:
You are in an unhealthy friendship and you should end it. Out of courtesy, you could consider talking to your friend first but, given your results, your friend is clearly detrimental to your mental health and overall wellbeing so do not feel guilty about leaving the relationship and blocking them on social media.
If you choose to talk to them beforehand, bring another friend along for moral support. You have clearly given them many opportunities and they have failed to rise to the occasion, but instead have tried to manipulate, control or hurt you.
TOXIC FRIENDS JEOPARDISE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
A healthy friendship requires an equilibrium between individuals – where the needs of each are met.
Thriving friendships have a myriad of benefits including increased feelings of happiness, confidence and belonging. A toxic friend will drain you leaving you stressed, worried and anxious.
Friendships are tied to so many areas of our life- family, work and hobbies – so these negative feelings can permeate into everything if you don’t do something about it.
DRAIN OR RADIATOR?
If hanging out with this friend is beginning to feel like a chore and you would describe them as a drain rather than a radiator you should reassess your rapport.
An unhealthy friend will reach out only when they need something and will be oblivious to the amount of time and energy you offer them.
If you do all of the emotional work and feel responsible for propping them up again and again, this is not a healthy friendship and it may be worth suggesting they seek professional help.
Scarlett (pictured) said that we ‘sometimes we accept emotional abuse from a friend in a way we never would a romantic partner’
HAVE YOUR VALUES BEEN COMPROMISED?
If you look back on your friendship and can see that you have changed for the worse, it might be time to forgo that relationship.
Has anyone else close to you commented on how much you have changed since you have known this ‘friend’?
If you feel that your values have been compromised or you have ditched your own passions to pursue theirs, this is a sign that you are in a toxic friendship.
True friends will encourage you to be the best you possible and will make you feel whole and authentic. Start hanging out with other friends, they might help you realise how toxic your bullying friend has been.
Scarlett V Clark, CEO and Founder of Smart Girl Tribe and author of The Smart Girls Handbook, published by Wellbeck Balance, 4 March 2021, £10.99
DO YOU DIM YOUR LIGHT?
If you feel insecure or unsafe around your bestie this is a tell-tale sign the relationship isn’t as healthy as it should be.
If you find yourself shrinking your ambition, your goals or even the space you take up to please them, the relationship isn’t nourishing you.
Never ‘dim your light’ for someone else – putting out your fire won’t keep others warm.
Decide whether those around you are ‘stops’ or ‘stays’ and remember that if you want a good friendship then you must be a good friend yourself.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
Building an active soldiery of women who you can take with you throughout your life is life-altering.
If you are an optimistic person you will naturally be on the lookout for those just as positive. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have friends that enrich your life.
We all should have someone who can see the truth in us when we can’t see it in ourselves, someone who tells us we are amazing when we’re not feeling like it and someone to call us out when we are making a mistake.
Find your tribe of people who have the same passions as you even if that tribe is online. Reach out to groups on Facebook, join a book-club or even sign up to a new class at the gym (Covid permitting).
Cutting an unhealthy friend from your life could be one of the most empowering and liberating things you ever do. It means recognising your self worth and taking action.
Given that close friendships can still hold the same intimacy as romantic relationships it doesn’t make it any less heart-breaking but ultimately you can only gain from getting rid of the toxicity in your life. Healthy female friendships are full of joy and happiness, both of which you are fully deserving of.
- Scarlett V Clark, CEO and Founder of Smart Girl Tribe and author of The Smart Girls Handbook, published by Wellbeck Balance, 4 March 2021, £10.99
Source: Daily Mail |World News