Are You In a Toxic Friendship?
"Did I do something wrong?"
"I probably shouldn’t have said that."
"Why would they do that to me?"
If any of these thoughts sound like you after hanging out with a "friend", you’ve probably had at least one toxic friendship. This is the kind of person who belittles you one minute and sings your praises the next. Maybe they're nice to your face and then talk about you behind your back.
Friendships aren’t always easy. Just because you might occasionally disagree with a friend doesn't mean they're a toxic person. It’s important to separate our real friends - those who have been and continue to be kind to and supportive of us - from people we keep around out of habit or because we're too afraid to have a difficult conversation about their behavior.
We're going to use three well-known movie friendships to help you identify the potential toxic friendships in your life. Do any of these situations sound familiar?
Tracy And Evie In Thirteen: The Bad Influence
Certain people have charisma. These are the people who make you want to go along for the ride. (Even if the ride may lead you to some pretty sketchy places.)
You know you’ve found the Evie to your Tracy if you feel pressured to do things that make you uncomfortable. We're not talking about trying new things outside your comfort zone - these are things that go against your morals and values. This friend may make you feel bad for not wanting to join in. They might pressure you to abandon your own principles and morals in favor of theirs. These are giant red flags in any relationship, but especially in friendships.
Kathryn and Cecile in Cruel Intentions: The Control Freak
If you find yourself wrestling for control in what seems like a one-sided friendship, it may be time to reevaluate. Kathryn took advantage of Cecile’s naivety and used it to her own benefit. This type of toxic friend is often difficult to identify because their manipulation is served with a side of flattery. Beware of anyone who's constantly trying to control your actions, whereabouts, or ways of thinking.
Regina George and Cady Heron in Mean Girls: Jealous and Insecure
Some people make decisions based in their own insecurities. These people might use fear as tool to make and keep friendships. Regina was so insecure that she acted arrogant to cover it up. She manipulated everyone into being afraid of her because she was sure that if she was her genuine self, no one would like her.
Regina used materialistic things and wielded her social power to manipulate Cady into being friends with her. She felt threatened by Cady and tried to control her. If a friend tries to woo you with material things or social status while also belittling you, chipping away at your individual identity, and making you feel like you can’t share your accomplishments, growth, and interests with them, they could be a toxic friend.
No relationship comes without complexities, but the above illustrate unhealthy patterns of behavior. Remember that you have control here too - you can get yourself out of these situations. Once you realize a friendship is unhealthy, you can refuse to continue to participate in it.
Make the first move toward your own mental wellness! We're with you all the way.
Natalie Stoclet for The Bumble Hive