Food for thought – How To Recognise (And End) A Toxic Friendship
October 28, 2015
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Food for thought – How To Recognise (And End) A Toxic Friendship

Friendship is one of the most rewarding and important aspects of life. But unfortunately, there are times when a bond we create with another person slowly begins to deteriorate and a certain friendship stops bringing emotional reward and joy. Quite simply, spending time with this person begins to feel as if it’s doing more harm than good.

It can be challenging to recognize the damage caused by a toxic friendship, especially if you’ve known and cared about the person for a long time. But if you’ve resolved to be happier and healthier in the new year, taking stock of your relationships is a good place to start.

Karen Valencic, founder of Spiral Impact and an expert in conflict-resolution, says all relationships are complex but you have to consider one crucial point: “Am I being honored and am I honoring the person?” She told CBS News, “Conflict happens when a person is not feeling honored in a relationship.”

And this, according to Valencic, goes for all types of relationships, whether platonic, romantic or professional.

In a harmful relationship, you may feel the friend insulting, critical, needy, petty or selfish. A friend may ask for honest advice and then become angry when you deliver it, or do the opposite of what you suggest. A toxic friend may persist in giving unsolicited advice, or talk only about their own life and problems without considering your needs and feelings. Sometimes a friend may burden you with his or her own problems, whether it’s job, money, or relationship woes — but not offer any support in return.

Certainly, people go through stuff, and you don’t want to drop a friend just because they’re having a rough patch. But when there’s a consistent negative pattern, you need to make a change.

It turns out the burden of a toxic friendship doesn’t just damage your psyche — it can be harmful to your long-term health. A study conducted a few years ago by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles asked 122 healthy adults to keep track of their social interactions for eight days. They found those who reported having negative experiences with friends and acquaintances had a higher level of proteins related to inflammation in the body, compared with those who reported positive interactions with people. These proteins are associated with a number of chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer and depression.

The researchers of this study identified three types of friendships that could lead to poor health: friends who pick fights, friends who compete with you, and friends who are clingy and demanding of too much time and attention.

Valencic says if found spending time with a certain friend fits one of those descriptions or makes you feel rotten for whatever reason, it may be time to cut that person out of your life. If the situation has become chronic, it’s time to break that cycle.

“I do think that we have patterns in life that get set up when we’re really little that we tend to repeat in relationships,” she points out. “If it happens once, shame on you; if it happens twice, shame on me.”

Valencic recommends answering the following four questions about the person before making a decision:

Can I trust you?

Are you committed to excellence?

Do you care about and respect me?

Do we bring out the best in each other?

 

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