By David Joel Miller.
5 Ways to evaluate a friendship.
Some friendships are destructive; some drain the life out of you. Why then do we hold on to those friendships even when there is something inside of us telling us this is not right?
Certainly one quality we want in a friend is someone who cares about us and likes us all the time. It is not much of a friendship if their feelings towards us are dependent on us being a certain way or doing a certain thing for them.
If we expect that kind of total acceptance from a friend then we might tell ourselves that we need to be there for them even when it is painful or has its emotional price. How then do we decide if this friendship has become toxic? When do we need to let friends go?
Some of us stay with unhealthy friends out of guilt or duty. We feel we owe it to them to continue the friendship. Others stay in unhealthy relationships because of an inner fear that if we did not have this friend then we might have no one.
It takes courage to look at this relationship and realize that this “friendship” is not healthy. When you spend time with this friend how does this make you feel?
1. Friends should be uplifting.
You should part company with a friend feeling better than when you met. That conversation you had with the friend should make you feel happy and good about yourself.
If you leave your time with that “friend” feeling drained, down or bad about yourself then you should reconsider this relationship.
2. How do you feel when away from this person?
Do you feel relieved that the visit is over? This is clearly a bad sign. Do you dread seeing them again but feel you owe it to them to visit?
A clear sign of a toxic friendship is that dread you get when you think about going to see them.
3. What do you do when you are together?
If the time together is all about the other person, when you are there to cater to their wants and needs, then this is a one-way friendship and they are on the taking end.
Some people are ill. We may take care of them. When we leave this person we may feel a sense of joy at having been able to be helpful. But it that person seems to constantly demand more, then this is not a healthy relationship.
4. What does this person like to do when you are not around?
If this friend’s primary interest is in doing things that make you uncomfortable then this is not a healthy relationship.
People who like to drink, get drunk or do drugs, want those around them to do those same things. Is there a pressure to be like them?
Does being around them place you at unnecessary risk? Are they involved in an illegal lifestyle? Then how healthy is it for them to involve you in their problems?
5. Do you feel pride or shame when you see how they treat others?
If how this person is treating others makes you feel badly, then consider that they are probably treating you that same way but you are avoiding looking at those behaviors.
Positive friends should make you proud, not ashamed of their behavior.
Take a look at your friendships, and the other relationships in your life, look at the unhealthy ones and consider how you can cut these off or limit your contact with people who are harmful to you and your recovery.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books