SIGNS OF AN UNHEALTHY FRIENDSHIP
Friendship is undoubtedly one of the most important relationships for healthy living and it is very helpful to have someone who shares your faith, ideas and enthusiasms. It is sweet to have a comforting shoulder to lean on in our journey to heaven, but it can be so frustrating and damning when you find yourself hitched in friendship with someone who breaks your heart and hurts you over and over again. We know well not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever, but friendships with some so called believers are simply not worth keeping if it isn’t adding value to your life (emotionally and spiritually).
Friendship is supposed to make this pilgrims journey easier, since two is said to be better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9) but when the opposite is happening and your life is harder and filled with discord and fights, you might want to reconsider. Don’t get me wrong, friends fight, but when it becomes the order of the day and always one sided…
Whether consciously or not, we categorizes our friends; some are very close while others are mere acquaintances; some are multi-purpose while others are single-purpose; and while some are all-weather others are seasonal. Now, the pain you will feel is inevitable when you misplace a friend in the wrong category. When you put a seasonal friend in the place of your everyday friend, there’s bound to be problem. There’s a saying that goes thus; “never make someone a priority that makes you an option,” you are going to get hurt. When you adore and love someone who hardly remembers you until she sees you, well, that is a pity.
There are so many friends who are true Christ’s disciples that love us, but we are oblivious to see their real and genuine love because we are busy making excuses for that person that keeps stepping on your feelings without showing any remorse. I can testify that it feels really good to have someone you can trust with your secrets and fears, having the assurance that this person has your back come what may; when you do not get this, including the love and care that you need from any relationship, be it friendship or romantic, you should quit making excuses for such people; it is time to do a quality check, and sweep out foes like friends. That friendship isn’t worth the secret tears and the continual heartache. God didn’t intend for you to miserable at all times. In the book of 3John1:2, The Lord says, “I wish above all things that though mayest prosper and be in good health even as thy soul prospereth.” Your emotional health is important to God, so also the friends you keep.
How do you know for sure that a friendship is unhealthy and in fact quite toxic? It is indisputable that humans make mistakes and even those that love us genuinely hurts us sometimes; but when you begin to notice a pattern, there is definitely need for re-evaluation. Here are some red flags that should give us warning that a friendship is both unhealthy and toxic…..
- When you find yourself trying hard to please a friend
While any relationship that will flourish surely needs the hard work of both parties, nevertheless, whenever you find yourself trying so hard to please the other person, going out of the regular way to make them happy and to be at peace with you, this is not healthy one bit. Friendship should flow smoothly for all parties involved. It shouldn’t entail so much tension in pleasing the second party. Making each other happy in a healthy relationship should be without pressure and there should be no consequence for failure. It should come easy as the air that we breath. Trying to please someone so that they can love you is such a huge burden to bear and a catastrophe for any friendship that is meant to go the distance.
- Constant irritation at your mistakes;
A good friend ought to have your back any day of the week, so when you find that “friend” getting constantly irritated whenever you do something “improper” to them or around them, you should steer clear. A friend should be your “partner in crime” not your parent. Truly, good friends should tell each other the truth always even if the truth is going to hurt, but when the other person never overlooks your fault but shows immediate and constant irritation at every mistake, be sure she will embarrass you in front others someday soon. To avoid public embarrassment by someone you call a friend, it’s better to find a friend that loves you and accepts you with all your flaws, while giving you enough room to grow.
- When she doesn’t share your pain;
Imagine a scenario where you were supposed to go to see a movie with your friend and she comes to pick you up or calls to know where you are and realizes you are hurt because of something, probably from work or school and that friend answers with disappointment… “so, you won’t be able to go?” and you replied “no… I don’t feel like going anywhere” and this is the next thing you hear…” okay, no problem, I’ll just go with Janet”. This goes to show that having you as a company is not her priority, she has other friends she can go with and still have fun thoroughly. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being disappointed that you are cancelling your date, but a good friend even though disappointed will offer to stay with you to cheer you up till you eventually feel like going, watching the movies with “you” is her priority. Don’t give someone that doesn’t share your pain the all important seat of your closest friend. Put them at arm’s length.
- Shuns you while with others
It’s a very painful thing to feel secluded and left out. I’ve been there; very unpleasant. There’s nothing wrong with having other friends but when you notice that your friend constantly shuns you whenever in company of her other friends, there is tendency you probably do not fit the criteria for her friendship. There’s no point being friends (which ever category of friendship) with someone who is ashamed of you in the public and fears their reputation might take a hit if seen with you when amidst their cycle of “regular” friends. A good friend is not ashamed to introduce you as her friend to anybody, they are proud of the friendship you share. Take a cue when your friend won’t own up to your friendship publicly. You don’t need such a toxic friendship that leaves you high and dry always. There are children of God who will gladly hang out with you and love you as Christ commanded.
- Constantly making comparison
Now, here is a tricky one; comparison and envy. While good friends are supposed to challenge and encourage each other to greatness and achievements, when you notice your friend is in a constant race to meet up to you or outrun you, you have to be careful. This is a sign of an unhealthy friendship. I’ve experienced this before and I was totally tired of trying to convince her that we are running different races and that our timing in life totally differs. Friendship ought to be sweet and filled with leisurely fun, but when it becomes a game of who can do it better and finishes it first, it’s going to be a draining experience. One key point to note is that with comparison comes an unbidden envy. An envious friend will most definitely sabotage your chances one day. Both superiority and inferiority complex is a nasty thing and if not dealt with, that friend will end up breaking your heart through betrayal.
- Makes you feel less about yourself
When you have a friend that is constantly reminding you of how better she is than you without minding your feelings, that is not healthy at all. Quite toxic in fact. I had a friend once who was very bad for me. I always felt bad, insufficient, lesser, unwise and inadequate after conversations with her. It got to a point that I started avoiding her calls, because I would be tempted to exaggerate when talking with her so she won’t be able to make me feel insufficient. But then, who am I deceiving? Myself!!! When you find yourself in a friendship where you constantly have to prove your value, reaffirm your potentials and establish your worth, get out of there. It isn’t worth it at all. God made you fearfully and wonderfully dear daughter of grace. You are enough.
- Someone very secretive but always poking;
Do you know any friend that always keeps her success and failures a secret but is always poking her nose into your own private business? This is a pertinent sign of an unhealthy and toxic friendship. Beware.You will think that a secretive person will know how to mind her own business, but no, they are the ones that poke their nose more. Do you know that friend that will always change the subject back to you when you ask them some personal questions? It’s very likely that you will hear about their success from someone else or way later, and then they will act as if it is no big deal, when it is most definitely a big deal. What then are you doing in a friendship with someone who wouldn’t share their joy and tears of failure with you but wants to be the first to know when anything happens to you? You don’t need such people in your life, cut them loose. There are children of God that can be a friend that will stick to you closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), ask God to send such your way. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer to find a true friend. God answered mine.
- Never makes attempt to savage your relationship
Friends fight all the time, sometimes over the silliest misunderstanding; but when the other party never makes an attempt to savage your relationship after a fight, you may need to re-categorize that friend as a mere friend. When true lovers fight, both parties will be unhappy and always find/welcome an opportunity to re-unite; it is the same with good friends. But when you are the one that is always going to your good friend to make up after a fight and she always put up this attitude of “it’s your loss if we fight”, please snappily rid yourself of this yoke. You deserve better fellow pilgrim. Friendship is a two way street where both parties puts in effort to ensure continuity. There is absolutely no shame whatsoever in calling up your friend to apologize or even ask for an apology, because the friendship is worth way more than your pride.
Someone said, when people show you who they really are, try to believe them. Quit making excuses to remain in a friendship where your love and trust is constantly being abused. Friendship is a beautiful bond to be shared with someone who loves you enough to care about your feelings. An unhealthy and toxic friendship drain you out and eventualy lead to broken trust and a broken heart (which will happen). Take these flag signs serious and replace the misplaced friends and cut off completely from the toxic friends who gives you nothing but heartache and sadness than happiness.