Friendships—they are sacred.
The bond between friends is something quite extraordinary. The way you can convey a whole conversation via one, simple glance. That second sense, the often shared serendipity of timing between your life’s major milestones. It’s not uncommon for women to even align their periods (and PMS) with their besties. But sometimes, that closeness can turn into something else.
Have you ever had a friend who became so codependent that you almost felt responsible for them? A friend who demanded exclusivity to you like a jealous lover? A friend who made you feel like sh*t if they were not your first call, on every social event list, in every conversation—dominating your every spare hour?
These types of friendship can be toxic, and if you feed the codependency, you will contribute toward the creation of a beastie instead of a bestie.
Here are three signs you might be dealing with a beastie:
1. You feel small around them.
Passive-aggressive friendships are not only toxic, but incredibly depleting. You might find yourself drained of all energy, and more pleased by their absence than by their presence.
We are social beings. Many of us have a wide circle of friends who have separate interests and who represent different elements of our lives. This is good; variety is growth, and we need these different groups and interests. These unique friendship groups may include school friends, co-workers, childhood friends, old uni buddies, or mom’s groups. Having these separate and distinct groups is great—sometimes they may crossover and intermingle; other times, they may not. And both are okay.
But if your needy friend is not happy for you to have these outside interests, then maybe it’s time to consider their position in your life.
Quite often, the type of friend to which I am referring will try to undermine you in such group settings. They’ll attempt to bring you down, belittle, and even insult you. They will prey on your weaknesses, purposefully trigger you, and say and do things that make you uncomfortable—all of which delivered in a “playful,” jesting manner—a joke. Your closeness allows them to tease and belittle, doesn’t it?
No sis, no! This is not okay.
This is a control mechanism. In their subconscious (and sometimes conscious minds), if they can make you feel as uncomfortable as possible in these groups, they feel it will somehow enrich your feelings toward them or even prevent you hanging out with this crowd again.
2. You feel lame around them.
Another red flag is their lack of acknowledgement of your achievements. Your “needy” friend will prefer your self-esteem at its lowest. They’ll try to keep you in check and might seem to ground your joys—especially if those joys do not involve them.
If your friend is not ecstatic about your wins, your good news, or your bloody great accomplishments, you need to lose them. Immediately.
3. They get defensive when they’ve crossed one of your boundaries.
Just as you get to the point of no return, your rage will be turned into a simmering pity. At the point, your needy friend realizes they have gone too far, they will go into full victim mode. Your loyalty will quickly disperse any thoughts of their toxicity and turn into concern, sadness for them, or even an exaggerated sense of responsibility.
This hoovering effect is just effective enough for you to keep them close. You will make the excuses for them. They aren’t so bad. I feel for them; its loneliness. They have always been there for me. And bang! The cycle repeats.
A true friendship is never one where you feel threatened or judged. It is not a competition nor a trial.
A true friendship is built on trust, loyalty, love, and understanding. Do not feel that because you have known someone a long time, you are forever indebted to them. The only debt you have is to yourself, your mental well-being, and not being made to feel like a mug.
Alas, this is not a “dump your friend and run for the hills” message. This is an awareness piece—an objective view on a situation I have seen so many times. But what can you do?
Ultimately, you do not want to fall out with this person, but you cannot continue on in the cycle and you know it.
There are a few things you can do to maintain a friendship with your passive-aggressive buddy:
1. Really listen to them.
Give them your undivided attention when you are alone. Maybe this active listening will be enough to temper their insecurities.
2. Create some boundaries (& keep them).
Make it known that this is your time, and they are not part of it. Perhaps try giving them some definitive dates for when you will next meet. But be clear that you need your space and a variety of other people in your life.
3. Confront their behaviours.
Sometimes, enough is enough. If your needy friend is getting too much to handle, it may be time for a tough conversation to discuss their actions and how they make you feel. A true friend will take this on board even if it hurts them. Sometimes, it takes us pointing out a toxic trait to someone for them to even become aware of it.
Sometimes it just takes an honest conversation to save these types of friendships from becoming sour.
A soul-bearing, no bullsh*t talk about friendship could benefit all of our relationships, honestly. Sometimes our people just need to understand, you love them but that they are drowning you.
Sure, your well-meaning conversation may turn into a bitter confrontation. But what do you have to lose by dealing with this head-on? You will either save a friendship, or save yourself.