I recently broke up with a good friend and, despite being the initiator of the split, was surprised to find that I was still a little sad about it.
Unlike our romantic relationships, which we know could end at any time, we expect our friends to be life-long. However, statistics show that’s usually not the case.
According to a recent study by Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst, every seven years we cycle through and replace about half our friends. This means that in 2016 half of the people we spend time with now will no longer be in our lives.
Sometimes friendships fall apart because one person moves away or your lives differ drastically (i.e. one person has a baby while the other is still single.) In my case, however, the break-up was due to the relationship turning toxic. In short, my friend who started out a supportive force in my life became a crazy and draining one. Perhaps if I had seen the warning signs from the start, I could have avoided the meltdown all together.
Warning Sign #1: She Can’t Be Happy for You
I met my ex-friend because we both were pursuing similar careers; however, even from the start, she was jealous of any successes I had. “Oh, I should have sent my resume in for that,” she sniffed when I called her, excited about a job I had just landed. At the time, I overlooked it and made excuses for her, but jealousy and competitiveness are major warning signs that a friendship is toxic and isn’t going to work out.
Warning Sign #2: She’s a Constant Source of Stress
Friends that bring a constant stream of drama to the table are also not good to have around. My friend in particular was constantly calling me to tell me her woes: She got fired from her teaching job because her boss hated her, she had unprotected sex on a first date and was worried she was pregnant, her mother and sister were ganging up on her, etc. While sharing is important part of friendship, you should never be made to feel guilty about having a happy life.
Warning Sign #3: She’s Overly Critical
“You’re workaholic and never have time for me.”
“They only like ypu because they don’t know you that well.”
“You boyfriend is a jerk.”
Constructive criticism, when asked for, is one thing, but if a friend is constantly spewing opinions about your life, it may be time to cut the cord.
Warning Sign #4: She’s Only Your Friend When It’s Convenient
Friendship isn’t a one way boulevard, but sometimes it can feel that way if a friend is only around when she needs to borrow your clothes, ask you for advice, or only wants to hang out if she is picking the date, time, location, and topic of conversation (most likely her, of course.)
Warning Sign #5: She’s Just Plain Crazy
I knew it was time to end the friendship when my friend started to Facebook everyone I know, invite herself to events I was going to, and simultaneously claimed that my boyfriend was flirting with her and she thought he was hot. Even if you have known each other since preschool, friends aren’t family members and there’s no reason to hold onto a friendship if it’s not a positive force in your life.