Last week we spent some good time looking at our primary relationship and having a heart-to-heart with ourselves as to whether or not our primary relationship was really working for the future we want.
While we’re cleaning house, what other relationships are weighing you down? A lot of the same rules apply when assessing any meaningful relationship, the ultimate question being: does it contribute or contaminate??
To give our primary relationship – and our lives in general, a fighting chance to blossom, let’s consider pulling a few toxic weeds. Here’s an article from IVillage that I found amusing- and useful, in taking a close look at who you might want to turf out and significantly lighten your life:
Time To Break Up: 20 Toxic People to Kick Out of Your Life — Stat!
We all have one or two “friends” who drag us down instead of make us better. If you have someone in your life who’s taking more than they’re giving, it might be time to go your separate ways.
The Office Gossip
Sometimes, it’s nice to take a break in your day to hear the scoop on who’s ass-kissing who and who’s getting the pink slip. But is the office gossip stopping by your desk way too often?
“The office gossip can be a very destructive force, even if it seems just peripheral; and any interaction with this person calls your own integrity into question in the eyes of your superiors and co-workers,” says Karen Hylen, Ph.D, primary therapist at Summit Malibu Treatment Center. “Engaging the gossip on any level, reinforces a workplace house-of-cards, where perceptions are hugely distorted. Without this type of person in your life, you can focus your energy on your role and make your own assessments of what affects your performance and growth.” It’s deceiving how powerfully this toxicity clings to us outside of the workplace, even when we don’t think we are giving it much merit – beware!
The Ex who Calls for Sex
Sure, it’s nice to have a sex buddy on speed dial, but is their presence in your life adding or taking away value?
“Keeping an ex in your life purely for sexual reasons is essentially building up a barrier to your own happiness,” says Hylen. “By cutting this person out of your life, you can move past old feelings and emotional attachments and in turn open your heart and mind to new experiences and relationships.”
The Sad Sack
You don’t really like them, but you get together out of guilt. The truth is, that’s not good for them or yourself.
“People experience emotions on a very visceral level, taking in their surroundings and feeding off others’ energy,” says Hylen. “It’s more effective emotionally for you to have people in your life who exude positive energy, rather than those who can drain you of the vital life energy you need to maintain your own quality of life.”
The painful truth: You have to give the Sad Sack some space and find friends that are on your level.
The Date “On the Fence”
He says he loves spending time with you but he won’t put a ring on it — or even let you leave a toothbrush at his place! She commits to plans only in the n-th hour – when it seems nothing better has come along. It’s time to tell yourself that you’re worth being “the one” — if not to them, then someone else.
“Being with someone who won’t commit to you on any level or take you seriously as a human being can result in low self-esteem and depressive thoughts or behaviors,” says Hylen. “You are better off being with someone who does not deny you those emotions, which are critical to overall mental health and well-being.”
(SNL version of Beyoncé’s video “Put a Ring on It”, above, is a hoot! – yes, that’s Justin Timberlake! See the entire sketch here: Justin Timberlake parodies Beyoncé. Don’t overlook Zach Galifianakis shaking his booty in the background– OMG!!!)
There’s always that sibling, cousin or aunt who is forever trying to fix your life. They mean well, but seriously… buzz off! “A pitying relative who tries to help you in various areas of your life can lead to a belief that you are not self-reliant or independent,” says Hylen. “Not having this person in your life will allow you to make your own mistakes and be accountable for them so you don’t repeat them in the future.”
The Half-Assed Friend
They forget to return calls for months, don’t acknowledge your special occasions and is generally MIA. When you do make plans, they’re always rescheduling at the last minute or showing up super late. “You should dump this ‘friend’ because they do not respect your time or your life,” says Jessica Leroy, psychotherapist and founder of Center for the Psychology of Women. “You need to spend that time with those who do appreciate you as a friend and who are interested in your life.” The verdict: Time to move on to someone who has friendship to give.
They’re your friend, but also your arch enemy. How is this fun? “People deserve friendships in which they support each other’s triumphs as opposed to bringing each other down,” says LeRoy. “Some people who are a bit more insecure may believe that they deserve this type of friendship, or that this is normal behavior. In reality, supporting each other makes us feel much better about ourselves and our friends.”
The “Old Friend”
Maybe it’s a friend from high school or a different time in your life, but if all you have to talk about is the past, it can get old pretty quick. “It’s great to have friends from your past, but if that is all you have to connect on, you’re not moving forward with your lives or making new memories,” says LeRoy. “Live in the present and spend time with people you would like to make new memories with.” The next time they call to make plans take a pass and spend the time with someone in your present -tense!
From asking you to help spy on an ex to involving you in get-rich-quick schemes, they’re always trying to make you an accomplice to shady plans. You might want to spend your time with someone who has more lofty goals and aspirations! “What are you really gaining from this friendship?” asks LeRoy. “It sounds like this person only wants a sidekick who will take the fall with them. You have better things to do with your time.”
The Bad Influence
Sometimes a bad influence can be fun, but this person just brings out the worst in you — from bad eating habits to low-self esteem. “When you only have one thing in common with a friend, and that one thing is not very healthy, it’s time to ask yourself: Is that how I want to be spending my time?” says LeRoy. “Why not spend time with people who you can indulge with occasionally but you also connect with on other levels?” Next time you befriend someone ask yourself: Does this person raise me up or bring me down?
The Hot Mess
Hot mess, where wonderful meets terrible. The type of show you can’t decide is incredibly disgusting, unbelieveable and embarassing or
if it’s plain genius.
You’re always scraping this friend off the floor — literally and figuratively. A night out with them is full of surprises — in a bad way. “If you’re the one always bailing your friend out of difficult situations then you’re the one dealing with the hot mess, not them,” says Barbara Neitlich, L.C.S.W., a Beverly Hills psychotherapist. “Once you release this type of friend out of your life, you will truly recognize how this individual often drew the mental (and sometimes) physical life right out of you.” Remember, you can’t fix friends’ lives until they’re ready to help themselves.
Your Gazillion Facebook Friends
If you’re spending all your time on the computer, chances are you’re missing out on real life. “Shut off the computer, get off the couch and jump into this game we call life,” says Neitlich. “You are better off having a few true friends that you can confide in rather than a bunch of Facebook friends you barely know. Your true friends will stand by you when you really need them. Your Facebook friends may simply log out!” Facebook is a fun pastime, just be sure not to let those online friends take the place of real life ones.
The Broke Buddy
Whether it’s a friend always asking you to spot her at dinner (and never paying you back) or a relative who expects you to pay for his life, remember you are a person and not an ATM. “Get rid of those who don’t pay their way,” says Neitlich. “In time you end up building resentment for always having to be the one to pay. Cutting the cord with these folks allows you to stand your ground as someone who is savvy and mindful of her money!” Think of all the things you can do with that extra cash once you get this person out of your life!
The Office Husband/Wifey
One or both of you are married but you have a pretty serious flirtation going on. “Set boundaries,” says Neitlich. “Stop engaging in the playful banter. You’re better off moving away from this type of temptation, as it almost always ends in disaster.” Even if you swear you’ll never act on your feelings, it’s better not to go there in the first place!
They make you feel bad about your clothes, your car and your staycation. Friends don’t let friends feel like less-thans! “When you consistently allow someone to make you feel badly about yourself, you turn a great deal of mental power over to them,” says Neitlich. “Most of us are pretty critical of ourselves. Do we really need a ‘friend’ who is so critical of us?”
They wish they had your looks, your relationship, your adorable children…your life. Um, creepy. “This person is a time bomb waiting to go off because they can only take so much envying over what you have,” says Carole Lieberman, MD, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and award-winning author. “They will change from sucking-up to stealing your cool stuff…or even your partner.”
The Judge Judy
They give unsolicited advice even though you’ve politely asked them to stop. There’s no reason to continue being held in contempt of their court. “Too much time spent in their company will make you doubt every decision you’ve made,” says Dr. Lieberman. “They want to give you a life sentence of insecurity without parole.” Find a friend who’s cool with letting you make your own choices — even if they disagrees with them.
The Bitter Bob/Betty
Everything is negative in their life and spending time with them makes you feel like life sucks. “Bitter people are bad for your health,” says Lieberman. “If you want negativity in your life, you can read the headlines and do away with them.” Life’s too short for this type of attitude. It’s time to break up!
They give you compliments that somehow also take you down a notch. How do they do that?! “This so-called friend is passive-aggressive and not to be trusted,” says Lieberman. “They’ll smile while they’re twisting the knife in deeper.” The next time they give you a backhanded compliment, show them to your front door.
Whether it’s who took the nicer vacation or who has better parenting skills, they’re always trying to one up you. “It’s exhausting to try to be friends with The Competitor — and not really worth it,” says Lieberman. “They’re just using you to try to feel better about her poor, pathetic self.”
Seek out friends who support you and you’ll be a whole lot happier in all aspects of your life.