Many of us think it’s important to surround ourselves with fun friends. These are the guys and girls who are the life of the party, people who can keep our spirits high in good times and lift us up when we’re down– and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all need a support network to help us stay true to ourselves and get through the day.
The problem? When the people we believe to be our friends are actually toxic leeches sucking the goodness out of our lives. Remember the movie Mean Girls, anyone?
None of us plan to have these kinds of men and women in our lives, they just sort of end up there. Sometimes they’re friends from a time when we were less discerning and we’ve kept them around because of that shared history. Others are associates we consider friends but who don’t give back the support we offer them. And still others are just hitchhikers we take on, people we think are fun and cool, people we want to emulate, but who in the end aren’t actually helping us to become a stronger, stable or better person.
With that in mind, we turned to writer Colby Scott for some assistance. He’s written numerous articles about “behavioral transformation,” where one works to improve his or her internal and external qualities in order to make strong, lasting changes that benefit both the body and soul. He’s helped us create a list of friend archetypes, why they may be keeping you from creating positive changes in your life, and what to do so you can be yourself in a positive way.
The Cool Club Kids
You feel popular around them, but when you’re hanging out it usually involves drinking or partying. Is it healthy?
That depends on what happens when you’re away from that scene. Real friends stand by you during tough times, so ask yourself some tough, uncomfortable questions. Will these friends be there if…
- A loved one died
- You got kicked out of your place and needed somewhere to crash
- Your car broke down at the side of the road
If so, great! But if you suspect they’ll only be there to party, then they’re not a support network.
First, make sure that this person is really one of your good friends. If so, and if you suspect that she’s really suffering from depression, then help her get professional help. It’s not your job to “fix” her.
However, it’s more likely this is someone you ordinarily like, but who is often depressed for the sake of getting attention. Scott warns that this person could end up bringing you down, too. “Tough stuff happens to all of us, but in order to grow, there comes a point when a person has to stop being a victim and start being a survivor. You can’t help this person make that change– they have to be willing to do it on their own. And above all, be careful not to get too sucked into that depressed world. Misery really does love company.”
These peeps are users who take advantage of your kind heart, calling on you whenever they need something. Yes, it’s good to be there for friends, but they should also be helping and supporting you in turn. If they’re constantly using you, subtly sucking your time and energy to help them out with their latest crisis, then it will build resentment on your part. That resentment can scar your good, giving side and make you less willing to help other deserving people in the future.
Don’t hurt your good qualities because of other people. Take a realistic look at your friendships and see if certain people only call you when they need something. If so, it may be time to reevaluate their role in your life.
It’s always great to have a partner in crime, especially if you’re single. Just make sure your relationship transcends neediness. You’re investing time and energy into this friendship, and you don’t want to be dumped whenever your friend meets the next hottie.
That said, one should always look in the mirror when making these evaluations. If you’re the lady who forgets her friends when she starts dating someone new, stop it! There’s nothing wrong with having other friends when you start dating a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Keep in mind that some friends have a hard time dealing with their best-y going off the singles market. A real friend supports you on your journey-or helps you see things clearly when you start dating a loser. If you’re faced with a friend who’s not supporting you, talk to her or him. Any real friend will want to resolve the issue.
Finally, Scott offers this thought on whether or not you have toxic friends. “Ask yourself, ‘When I hang out with my friend, does my overall life get better or does it get worse?'” If life gets better, then you’re probably on the right track. If not, then maybe it’s time to make some changes.
Top image: Mean Girls, Paramount Pictures
Other images: iStock