Are you in a toxic friendship? Is your BFF actually a friend frienemy? It’s a question that many adults and adolescents ask themselves when thinking about those in their social circle. No, it’s not the movie Mean Girls. Sadly, its real life and it often doesn’t stop after you leave the halls of high school. Many times, people put up with these toxic friends because they are tough to let go. In the end, these toxic friends take a huge toll on your self-esteem.
Toxic Friendships Destroy Our Self-Esteem
The more time you spend with negative and possibly abusive friends, the more likely your self-esteem will suffer. You feel worse about yourself during and after your interaction, even a memory of them can bring you down. What keeps even some of the smartest and nicest adults looped into these toxic friendships? The inability to accept that friendships change and toxic friendships can happen to anyone. People change and grow apart and your old BFF may be anything but a good friend.
This doesn’t just go for women. Men, too, often have a jerk in the group, that guy who puts others down to appear or feel superior. He, too, has a tribe of buddies but when you step outside of this circle do you notice how insecure they look for being friends with that guy? They appear insecure by association.
Ask yourself: would you ever put a small child in the face of a bully? Of course not. You would shield them or teach them to stand up for themselves. So why do you put up with toxic friends who continue to bully or belittle you? The healthier the friendship, the more self-respect you are showing yourself.
Remember these truths and ask yourself “Am I in a toxic friendship or a healthy one?”
- A friend who gossips about others, will gossip about you.
- A true friend will never post, email, text, tweet, or put something online to intentionally embarrass or hurt you. A true friend never wants you to be in pain online or in person.
- A true friend treats others the way he/she wants to be treated.
- A friend who tells you someone else’s secrets, will tell your secrets too.
- A true friend apologizes when he/she has hurt someone’s feelings even if it wasn’t on purpose. They don’t make excuses.
- A friend doesn’t judge others based on outer appearances. A true friend won’t judge you on your looks; they love you for who you are on the inside.
- A true friend forgives and expresses when they are having trouble doing so.
- A true friend doesn’t make fun of you or tease you about shortcomings. “Just kidding” is never an issue because the intention of a joke is make others laugh, not cry.
- A true friend is supportive. They will stand by your side, be your cheerleader, and stick up for you because they know you would do the same for them.
- True friends are honest and tell you how they feel because they care about your best interests.
If you notice that some of those so-called “close friends” have qualities that are not in alignment with these truths, take a break. Sometimes, we don’t have the energy or the self-esteem to talk it out; maybe this is the type of person that just won’t listen. Toxic friendships can exhaust you emotionally and spiritually.
Start to surround yourself with more positive, loving people. You don’t have to abruptly end or sever ties with these people; rather slowly start to become self-aware. Start to check in and see how your self-esteem is higher or lower around certain people and begin listening to logic. Once you are aware of toxic relationships, the easier they are to let fade away.
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.