The Good, The Bad and The Toxic Friendships
You may or may not have noticed that I have recently spent a week posting in social media. Each post has had a question at the end of it where it invites people to respond.
Isn’t that what social media is all about, interacting with others, keeping in contact with old friends and creating new friendships?
It has prompted me to explore different friendships and raised lots of questions so I thought perhaps I might explore a bit about friendships here in this blog.
It’s well known that there are many benefits of friendships. We have inherited the need to be social and to mix with others and this can reward us with an overall sense of well-being, higher self-esteem and identity. Friends can give us support and they come in all different varieties. Interaction with friends can raise our spirits and yet can also leave us feeling confused, let down and worthless.
In this era of technology face-to-face friendships seem to be becoming less and less with more online platforms being the preferred method of contact. What is the difference between these types of friendships? Is one more empowering than the other, is one more inspiring than the other, is one more casual than the other, is one an acquaintance and the other a confidant? Gradually this thing about friendships seems to be coming a bit of a minefield as there are so many different types going on!
Then there is this quote by Edna Buchanan ....
“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”
How do we choose them? Is it because they are funny or that they listen to us? Is it because we are thrown together as part of the same group or that they are always online at the same time as ourselves.
And then I wonder what is a good friendship and what is a bad friendship?
The description of a good friend according to Urbandictionary.com is ...
“A good friend is someone who is willing to forgive all that was said in the past, but remember all the good memories and move forward. I good friend is there to listen to you and backs you up 24/7. A good friend makes you feel better, and is there to laugh and cry with you when your in need. A good friend loves you, and would not hurt you, and if they did, would apologize, and become as good as friends again as before. That is a good friend.”
So it seems that good friendships are those which have positive boundaries but not restrictions, those which can make you feel Happy or supported no matter whether you are in a group or on a one-to-one basis, or even on an online platform.
A bad friend might be someone who doesn’t listen to you or talks over you, behaves with a can’t care less attitude towards you and blames you rather than supports you. They might leave you feeling as though you have done something wrong or that you are stupid. The bad friend relationship can also put a strain on your immune system.
There is the casual friend that you only get together with at a regular group meeting or the colleague that you hook up with at lunchtime or at the after work soirée.
Then of course there is the acquaintance who you know but is not really a close friend.
Which of these is the friend that you chat to online? Or can that friend fit in to more than one category?
And let’s not forget the relationship that you have with your partner or husband. Next to your best friend this is probably your strongest friendship. When either of these two friendships break down there can be devastating and traumatic consequences.
There seems to be so many questions surrounding friendships and what they mean to us as individuals.
There is however one friendship we do need to recognise which is the toxic or narcissistic one.
It is the toxic or narcissistic friendship which has the opposite affect of happiness and confidence and identity. This type of friendship can seem positive at first until gradually their dark side emerges which can make you feel negative, worried, low, belittled, uncomfortable and even anxious or fearful and that means that the friendship is having an impact on both mental and physical health and well-being.
So why might you come to counselling due to friendships? Well, the answer to that can be long and varied however in the short it might be due to a bereavement and you feel lost, afraid and alone or finding it difficult to create a life without that person or it might be because a relationship has ended, broken down, is toxic or narcissistic. You may be feeling that your relationship is a rollercoaster ride of emotions where you feel unbalanced and scared or that you feel unsettled or anxious, that you are treading on eggshells or tiptoeing around and it is time to question the relationship & question your self.
Counselling can help you to find clarity, feel supported and can help with communication as well as helping you to find your way forward. It can help you to recognise your boundaries and your needs connected to and surrounding the relationship with your friend.
I have a whole other blog about counselling and its benefits which you can check out.
Hurrah for friendships old and new, close and casual because, it seems, that providing there is a positive element to the relationship this Supports our inherent need to be social, and not only can it bring us support and happiness it can also give us a well needed boost to our immune system.
I’m off to prepare for some social engagement on Facebook but if you need a counsellor to help you explore your friendship/relationship then give me a call
Don’t struggle alone!