Tuesday, January 10, 2017
How To Spot A Toxic Friend Before It's Too Late
Looking back, I should have seen it. There were warning signs that I chose to ignore. There were times when I wanted to say something, but didn't. Toxic friendships can end in many different ways, but mine went up in explosive fireball that took some of my other friends and left me wondering what had just happened.
I remember the day we met. My son had been invited to a friend's house and I went to pick him up. I rang the bell and five minutes later I had a new best friend. A few weeks later she even joked that she felt like we had been friends forever and she wished we had met much sooner. That should have been a warning sign, but I overlooked it and welcomed her with open arms. She asked me many questions and the answers were, "Wow, me too!". One sure sign of a narcissist or possibly a psychopath is that they will lie to you to make you feel like the two of you are so much alike that you can't help but be best friends. I fell for it. I was sold a lie. I was sold a person that did not exist.
She welcomed me into her circle and insisted her friends invite me to their parties. I felt like we were a close knit circle of four. I felt like I had found my tribe. We were four women who enjoyed being together. Little did I know she was undermining the friendship by making jealousy within the group towards me.
She had a party one day and invited neighbors. A few hours prior to the party, she told me all about her neighbor and how they were friends. I was more shy than she was and she suggested I start of by asking the neighbor what she had done that day. She said her neighbor had spent the day decorating her master bedroom and would be really happy to talk about it, and it was an easy topic. The neighbor walked in I was so excited to meet her. I asked her what she had done that day, and I felt the ice daggers. She shut down and walked away from me. I stood there wondering what happened. I later found out that she had a horrible day. One son had been suspended from school while she was told the other could have a serious disease. She had phoned my friend and confided in her, and my friend used it to make friction between the two of us.
Another time, I invited a friend to join us for a ladies night out. She had just moved to town and didn't know anyone but me. After our ladies night out, my friend pulled me aside and told me to never invite that woman to anything again. She took an immediate dislike to her for no reason and made me choose between the two of them. Of course I chose my "I cant believe we didn't meet at birth" best friend over someone who had just moved to town.
The day of the blow up, she revealed something to me. She was angry with me, and kept demanding I apologize. I would apologize, but then she would say I wasn't really sorry, and that I had not apologized. I got an email from one of Queen Bee's friends calling me a bad friend. I knew the two of them had been talking badly about me, it was obvious by the content of the email. I decided that Queen Bee meant I had not apologized for the specific thing that had offended her. I phoned one of our mutual friends and asked her if Queen Bee had mentioned anything to her that I might have done. I told her that I wanted to fix the friendship, and I wanted to know what I did, and I wanted to apologize. She said she would phone my friend and find out for me.
Two minutes later, my phone rang. When I looked at the caller ID, I knew I had been set up. There was no way there was any time for a conversation. Our mutual friend had phoned Queen Bee and said, "She is talking about you". Even with realizing that I had been set up, I was not prepared for that phone call.
Queen Bee exploded at me on the phone and had me in tears. She said I had no right to involve anyone else in our friendship. I made a statement that sent Queen Bee running. I said, "So what I hear you say is that it's OK for you to talk badly about me to someone, but it's not OK for me to ask a mutual friend what I did that offended you". She then let me in on her true self. She said, "Well, it's no secret that you don't get along with the person that emailed you, and of course I am going to talk badly about a you to a person that doesn't like you". I responded, "But I want friends that talk nicely about me when I am not around". She announced our friendship was over and slammed the phone down.
Our friendship was over, but the gossip was not. She used all the tension and jealousy she had cultivated to make our mutual friends turn against me. She convinced them that I stalked her and that it was unhealthy for anyone associated with her to hang out with me. She had to be sure that no one wanted to talk to me, because if anyone would listen to me, they would realize she was lying.
That was a year ago. I have moved on and from what I hear, she has too. She no longer has any of the friends we hung with and instead has a new clueless group.
There are many types of Toxic Friends and Narcissist Friends and they can have different goals, but I have developed a guide that helps me cut these people out of my life sooner rather than later.
#1 If someone claims we are so much alike, I find ways we are different and point them out. A real true friend celebrates differences and does not feel that we need to like the same things. If a new friend does not want to reveal anything except a script of her accomplishments, I know this will turn toxic and distance myself early. Toxic friends put a lot of time into the front end of a relationship, making you feel you are so much alike. They can't seem to handle it if you point out their differences.
#2 Early in the relationship, I spend time with other friends and make sure that my new friend finds out about it. Anyone that is not happy that I share my time with others is toxic and needs to go. Queen Bee only wanted me to hang out with people she controlled and got angry once when I went shopping with a friend she didn't know.
#3 I refuse to talk badly about other people. If a friend suggests we talk badly about someone, I just say, "I don't talk badly about others, so let's change the subject". Normal people will move on quickly. A toxic friend will stare at you with their mouth open, unable to comprehend why you won't play their game.
#4 I make sure that I plan some of the activities. I really do not enjoy planning things to do with friends and Queen Bee planned everything, making me feel like she took a burden off me. It also gave her control of every situation.
#5 Any friend that tries to play the victim card and tell me how they have spent their lives as a victim is probably a narcissist in hiding. Best to distance yourself from damsels in distress. Queen Bee confided in me that she found her husband in an online relationship. I comforted her while she cried. I found out later that she had played that same game with someone else three years prior. Same exact story, same exact person she caught him emailing. I later recalled that her and her husband share an email address. I doubt it ever happened.
Looking back, every moment I spent with my "best friend" was one big lie. I was told what to do, who to hang out with, what to think. When I miss my best friend, I remind myself that I was sold a lie. I was sold a person that was "just like me" and the only person just like me is....ME. I pull up old emails where she was telling me how horrible I was for not apologizing for an unknown offense, and I read them. Once I remind myself that I was sold a lie, it's easier to admit that she was never really my friend at all.
I now have a great group of friends that are very diverse and I enjoy spending time with them. I am so glad that I got rid of the Queen Bee. Have you had a toxic friend? How did you rid yourself of them?