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Toxic Friends: Less Friend, More Foe

They put you down and expect you to pick them up, or drain the life right out of you for their own gain. With toxic friends like these, who needs enemies?

Third-Party Toxic

It's bad enough when a person has to deal with a toxic friend firsthand but when the toxicity is impacting not you personally, but someone you love, like a spouse or a friend, it can be even harder. How do you handle it? As much as you want to jump in and help, sometimes patience is key.

"The person who is affected by the toxic friend has to approach you," says Figley. "Then, you have every right to provide your observations. But you need to be honest, be objective, avoid criticism, and listen more than you talk. And the worst thing you can do is put down the toxic friend."

Negativity, explains Figley, will have your loved one defending their toxic friend. The focus should be on how you perceive the situation is impacting your loved one, and how you can help.

Reciprocity, Not Toxicity

Roberts' relationship grew increasingly toxic as time went on, and eventually, grew so negative and unbearable that Roberts had to call it quits.

"That's the hard thing about toxic friends," says Roberts. "Sometimes you can't be friends with them anymore. You can't go from being really good friends with someone, to being not really good friends. Sometimes, you have to totally cut them out, which is what I did. It got to the point where I couldn't forgive her."

In every relationship, you need balance, as Roberts demonstrates. Each person needs to be happy and feel good about the other. Ultimately, you want to feel good about your friends, not dread their ridicule.

"You want the right amount of reciprocity of affection and assistance in a friendship," says Isaacs. "So if you've got a friend who is always in need, always in trouble, always wants to talk about her problems, then there isn't any reciprocity if there isn't any room for you in the friendship. It doesn't have to be 50-50 every minute, but overall there should be some kind of balance in which you feel you are getting your needs met, and so is she."


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