What Toxic Friendships Can Teach Us About Ourselves
Friendship, a bond most of us associate with unconditional dedication and reliability, which brings us joy and companionship. But like every relationship, friendships are prone to having faultlines that we bring to it as people. Two people in any relationship bring to it their personal strengths and weaknesses. In most cases, it only adds to the charm of companionship. But what happens when someone’s personality turns a relationship toxic? Especially in friendships, toxicity creeps in subtly and it takes a long time for you to understand that it is unhealthy for you. However, even such draining relationships can arm you with valuable life lessons and teach you about yourself.
- Toxic friendships leave us feeling depleted and demotivated.
- However, they can also impart us valuable lessons that can last us a lifetime.
- Bouncing back from toxic friendships gets easier with ageing as our priorities and rationale shift.
- Toxic friendships can also help us be better people and empathetic to our other friends.
It takes two hands to clap
While it is easier to blame an unhealthy friendship on your friend, it is essential to ask oneself, just how and why did I end up with this person as my friend? Why did I tolerate her demanding nature or his pushy behaviour for so long before putting my foot down? Did I encourage my friend to cross me in some way? Did I make it easy for them to take me for granted?
All of us are prone to making poor judgements while making friends, but how fast do we distance ourselves from such people is crucial to our well-being in the longer run.
Remember that the aim is not to internalise blame in a friendship gone sour, but a self-check to ensure that you do not find yourself in a toxic company ever. And while there is no guarantee that you may not end in bad friendships ever again, you’ll be equipped in reading signs better, when things aren’t working out in a friendship. All of us are prone to making poor judgements while making friends, but how fast do we distance ourselves from such people is crucial to our well-being in the longer run. This is why a little self-analysis will last you a lifetime.
I can bounce back
A draining friendship affects us psychologically just like a bad relationship does. Betrayal, being pushed to the edge of our emotions, having to deal with constant scheming, friendship tests and mind games takes its toll. Only when a toxic friendship comes to a definite end, do we realise in what ways it had broken us. We are scared to make new friends, or just too exhausted to hang out with other people. Nursing a broken heart and confidence can be a tedious process. But we do manage to get over it sooner or later. What does that tell us about ourselves? That we are resilient, a quality necessary to survive in this brutal world.
Heartbreaks, betrayal and spats are indefinite in life. Bad experiences with people will come and go. But when let these things not affect you permanently, or just let them leave a cautionary nudge on your conscience, you know have evolved as a person.
Lesson to improve your own behaviour
Didn’t like the way your friend treated you? Well isn’t that a good lesson on how not to treat those around you. Toxic friendships are not just lessons in what kind of people you should stay away from, but also what kind of a person you shouldn’t let yourself become. It is easy to criticise someone else’s behaviour than look at your own. But toxic friendships help you be more empathetic towards your other friends.
If you truly care about a friend, you do not want to be a person who causes them hurt or brings them sadness. At the end of the day a better person is a better friend and correcting your behaviour based on mistakes others made only shows how much you care about them.
Toxic friendships are not just lessons in what kind of people you should stay away from, but also what kind of a person you shouldn’t let yourself become.
Age brings you strength
Is it me or it gets easier to deal with toxic friends as you age. I remember enduring a terrible close friendship in my twenties to a point that it broke me as a person. Perhaps it is all the romantic ideas that we carry around as teens and youngsters that makes it difficult to back out of a toxic friendship. We see it as a personal failure that we didn’t stand by a friend, so what if her or his behaviour wasn’t boding well for us.
With ageing, the priorities in life shift, and so does what we seek from friendships. Whereas in your twenties you may desire constant companionship and unquestionable loyalty, perhaps in your thirties all your heart desires from a friendship is some space and a patient year as and when required. Women especially, develop a no-nonsense attitude towards overbearing friends. We have so much on our plates and thankfully there is just no space left to accommodate a friend’s tantrums and unreasonable demands.
Choose your friends wisely, we are told in childhood. However, I feel that sometimes friendships just happen and sometimes they aren’t good for us. While you may have sworn unconditional devotion to each other always remember that your first priority should be you. Nothing teaches you to value your own integrity and dignity like a toxic friendship, once you show the courage to reject it. Besides, how can you be a good friend to others if aren’t to yourself?
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.