2 February 2007

The Dictionary of Toxic Friends

Friends. You gotta love them. Both with their qualities and their faults. But sometimes, staying away from potentially toxic relationships is in one's best interest. Failure to do so leaves one exposed to all sorts of ruthless, callous behaviour, the kind that finds you nursing a broken heart and blaming yourself for being such a fool. Here's an example of the toxic creatures I have met so far in my 31 years on the Milky Way.

The Martyr - A veritable wolf in sheep's clothing. At first she's a blank page and seems to have no personality. She wouldn't hurt a fly. But don't be fooled. She's a vampire butterfly waiting to spring out of her ugly cocoon, all she needs is a template to emulate. That's where you come in. She'll constantly lament about her supposed lack of abilities and her clucky ways so that you'll feel so guilty and let off your guard. You'll bend over backwards to please her, defer to her in everything, polish her self-esteem, help make her over and basically let her walk all over you. In time, you'll find her adopt your style, endorse your brilliant ideas as if they were her own, steal your friends and just about scheme to take over the world. Soon, you'll be the one with no personality, you're nothing but a tool for her metamorphosis.

The Temp - As the name implies, this one's here for a short while. During the attachment period (defined by you and her sharing a common school, class or workplace) she's intensely involved with you. In fact you click like soulmates. She makes you laugh, shares life stories, gives you the best of her and you respond in kind. She's godsend and you quickly believe that she's your best friend for life. But all good things must end apparently. She begins a new job or moves interstate, and soon you find her ignoring your emails and making a speedy exit out of your life.
Recognise the temp and humour her. She lives for the highs and has very little endurance.

The Networker - She's a veritable dispenser of compliments. To hear her, she loves your clothes, your ideas, she'll do anything for you (except in deeds) and is desperate to find common grounds. She'll want to meet up or catch up or do lunch. You click with her? Unfortunately, so does every other person in her busy network schedule. Is she sincere? Hardly ever.

The Cult Seeker - She's tried every cult and you're next. She LOVES everything you do. You're her inspiration. She wants to know what you're doing next so that she can jump on your bandwagon. She's lost and looks for something to hang on to. Imitation is the best flattery, you say? I think it's downright freaky. Keep it cool and detached. Dont encourage the poor girl.

The Childhood Cousin - You grew up together in Dakar, you share unique common life experiences, you sleep in the same bed at family sleepovers, watch movies together, cuddle, go out...You understand each other. But puberty has surprises for you. Soon, she begins to see you as competition in her quest for social status and boyfriend material. She ceremoniously dumps you for another, more popular friend, hoping to catch on to the limelight. Then, you simply cease to exist as she sucks up to her other friends in order to secure potential dates with eligible Lebanese males. Cut the umbilical cord. Fast.

The Manipulator - She's your best friend for a while. Then she begins to slowly hint at behaviours that she thinks you should adopt, or clothes that you should wear. She makes unfavourable comparisons between you and her other more 'cool' friends and challenges you to live up to their daredevil ways. I had one of those in Grade 9. I stopped talking to her and never looked back.

So then, what about toxic male friends?
I have to say that my male friends have a pretty good record.
(Ex-Boyfriends, though, are quite another matter.)
Here's one I have to share.

The Prude - He's your best friend until he begins to develop unwelcomed sexual feelings for you, a married woman. At this point, he panics, freezes, begins to treat you callously as though to punish you for enticing these not so noble sentiments in him and slowly, but surely makes a clean, self-preserving exit from your life. In short, a wuss.


Reuben said...

Grrr to The Prude. Weak minded fool.

I have one. The Worm. A patronizing git whose ambition for power through leadership is thoroughly undone by their lack of (or rather, over expressed) sincerity. Him, perhaps not a toxic friend; more of a toxic work acquaintance.

Mariana said...

Great post. I've met friends like these too. I've also met "the needy" friend, who only calls you when she's about to do something stupid like attempting suicide or has just broken up (for the 20th time) for her no good boyfriend.

I'd love to post this text on my blog, with reference and quote to your blog of course.