Categorized | Friendship, Relationships

Toxic Friendships: When is a friend more trouble than he or she is worth?

The meaning of a friend has been meditated upon by many people, including Aristotle. A friend is typically defined as those persons with whom you have a bond of mutual affection that excludes sexual relations and family. This bond however can be just as strong and complex as the ones we have with romantic partners and family. We support their ups and downs, accept their differences, and keep them around even when they behave badly. But, when does a friend become more trouble than he or she is worth? Aristotle says when the friend becomes depraved:

The dissolution of friendship is warranted when one part has become depraved, since he has changed from being the person who was the object of friendship. Aristotle- Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle himself must have struggled with giving a friend or two their walking papers. Today, friendship experts call these depraved, troublesome friendships toxic. It is not only justifiable to end such friendships, they say, but vital to your welfare.

Which types of behavior define a friend as toxic to your welfare? Some toxic friends dump and impose their dramas on you, drain you of valuable time and energy and take advantage of your patience and support. Others are of the frenemie, backstabbing type. They criticize and put you down, especially when you are feeling vulnerable. But, whether it is through a friend’s excessive neediness or competitiveness or backstabbing ways,a  toxic friend just plain wears you down. Most definitely, the cost of keeping them around outweighs the benefits of keeping them.

You know this, right? But, then, why do you keep them around? Guilt, loyalty and history is what most of you say. No matter your explanation, we tend to give toxic friends a long relationship leash because of a social psychology phenomenon called cognitive-dissonance. In a nutshell, we are biased toward thinking that our choices are correct, even when they start to cause us discomfort. This extends to choosing our friends as well. So, even when friends become toxic to your well being, you may explain away their bad behavior to justify why you chose them as a friend in the first place. Never mind that your friend just told you that the guy you are crying over never loved you. And, forget that when you were in the hospital, in intensive care, your “best friend”  never came to see you. And, what about the “good” friends who are the last to complement you on a success?  To avoid facing that a friend is perhaps a frenemy and now toxic to your personal growth and welfare, you may excuse the behavior as having more to do with outside pressures than a characteristic of the person. Or perhaps, and even worse, you may deny, completely, that the “friend” is mean-spirited and undermining of you.

It’s only after a long list of abuses and insults that we start to seriously consider ending a toxic friendship. No matter how old we are, it’s never easy to end a friendship. Just as recent as seven years ago, I freed myself of a woman friend whose excessive needs and self-centeredness began to wear me down. Like many of you, I knew for some time that I had to end this friendship that had become toxic to my welfare. But, I kept waiting for the right time or circumstance to make it happen. Rather than wait for some fortuitous moment to fall upon you, examine the friendship for its place in your life today. You deserve to be appreciated, supported and valued in this life.

  1. Examine your discomfort with this friend. What is it all about? Are you being dumped on or put down by this friend? How has this behavior been detrimental to your welfare?  Be present to your discomfort, so that you know the extent to which it is hurting you. Remember, a friendship is a bond of mutual affection between you and another person. If that bond has turned from affection to animosity—you are no longer technically defined as friends. This is a sobering insight right!
  2. Replace justifications with reality. Replace justifications for keeping the friendship, like guilt, loyalty and history with what the relationship actually is today. If you haven’t felt good around them in a long time, it’s probably time to do something constructive to feel better. This may mean talking to them about the relationship problem, with the hope of making it better. Or, it may mean ending the friendship.

Dr. Deborah’s Wisdom on the Matter

Give yourself permission to move away from a friendship that is hurting you. Remember, even the great philosopher Aristotle gives you the okay to end friendships that take away from you. Some friendships are not meant to last forever. If you decide it is time to let the friendship go, appreciate what you have learned about people and about yourself through the friendship. Just because it may be time to let go of the friendship doesn’t mean you have to tear up the history you shared with the person. After all, this is your history. Some people join us on our journey for a time to teach us about something valuable to our living, no matter how painful the lesson may be. You can find a way to part graciously, if you try.

Thus, choose your friends wisely, so that you spend less energy and time in friendship dramas. Life is too short for these types of dramas. Friends are important to your happiness, when they affirm your growth and well being.

If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. And, if you wish for others to know about this post, please Tweet or Google+1 it.  I look forward to your comments and thoughts on today’s topic. Warmly, Deborah.



58 Responses to “Toxic Friendships: When is a friend more trouble than he or she is worth?”

  1. great post. Ne’er knew this, thanks for letting me know. cheap vps | best vps host |

  2. avatar maria says:

    And what about other.people.. the other mutual frends or class mates who think.that it must be you who was at fault and the other person was completely docile one .. and if f others start picking sides wont you be left alone?

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Marie, sometimes being in a group of friends is very hard as well as enjoyable, as friends often do take sides when problems arise. Maria, in time, each of us comes to this with regard to friendships– A true friend is the only kind worth having. We need people who value us truly, support our efforts in life, and encourage rather than put us down. Thus, I suggest that you put more energy into your true friends. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of people in your group who may be frenemies, but rather, when you learn that they do not have your best intentions, if you keep them around, just don’t give them ammunition (personal intimate information) to hurt you. Thank you so much for your valuable comment. I hope to see you here again. Warmly Deborah.

  3. avatar pratik says:


    Thank you for this thought provoking post. Your write-up heals me in a way. I feel really good when I get the idea you bring in your post. Some sort of distant counseling I think ! 🙂

    Deborah,eagerly waiting for the next one 😉

    Warm regards

  4. avatar Deborah says:

    Hello Pratik, good to say hello again to you. Thank you for your kind words. This is what I am hoping for, that the ideas, resources, and stories in my posts give understanding and is healing. But, also, is a sort of distant counseling as you say. I like this. I always hope that the distant counseling–turns everyone of you into your own natural healer. Warm regards to you friend. Deborah.

  5. avatar Tanvir says:

    Educative. Thank you Dr. Deborah Khoshaba.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Tanvir. You are very welcome. I always hope that there is something new and information in my post for people. Thank you for letting me know. Warm regards to you Deborah.

  6. avatar Qasim Ahmad Ilyas says:

    You mean you are excluding individual differences that we have. You are saying we must leave those friends who cause discomforts in our lives, and find new ones. What a terrific but workable suggestion! You think relationships develop because we are biased.
    What I noted is that Psychology teaches us to adopt the changes and diversity among individuals, and gives lessons about tackling issues with gentle affection, attention and patience.
    Nevertheless this article has its own worth.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Oh, hello again, I very much like your belief about what psychology teaches us; I agree. And, no, I didn’t mean that we just get rid of the people in our lives who trouble us. Sorry for the misunderstanding, here. We should always try to resolve misunderstandings and problem solve in any relationship. I’m speaking more to friends that we discover are not really friendly toward us; in fact, they often hurt us, do not support us and as Faisal said in an earlier comment, beat our morale down. I think I should have emphasized this statement more in the post.

      I’m glad you think the article had its own worth. Thank you so much for your dedication to reading the posts. Talk with you soon. Warmly Deborah.

      • avatar Qasim Ahmad Ilyas says:

        Honestly it is like owing things. I have been wondering how I could get rid of those ridiculous friends who are pushing me in troubles. Aha! It is noteworthy that we should resolve misunderstandings. I agree. In my view, by doing this we may harm the well-beings of others.
        Thank you!

        • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

          Hello Quasim! I always say if a friend is, as you say, pushing you into troubles, creating more drama in your life than you or anyone else needs, and bringing you down emotionally or spiritually—it’s time to reconsider her or his place in our life. You are so right that, first, we should try resolve misunderstandings. Many of you have mentioned this point and I think I should have said a few things about this. I enjoy your comments and seeing you here. Thank you for your support Quasim. Warmly Deborah.

  7. avatar faisal says:

    great article , an eye opener. this article gave me the chance to sit and to analyze my friends circle @ – A true friend is the only kind worth having. We need people who value us truly, support our efforts in life, and encourage rather than put us down but many of our friends make our life miserable and indeed tries to force our moral down . ohhhhhhhh. i hv deleted those few frm my life and even deleted thier cel numbers .let me hv a healthy life .thx thx

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Faisal, I’m glad it was an eye-opening. You are right, there are people who act like friends but their behavior says otherwise. They try to force our morale down. Human beings are complex creatures, indeed. Some people start out truly wanting a real friendship but their insecurities and competitiveness does not permit them to stay friendly. And, age doesn’t matter. If one is insecure and easily feels threatened, then no matter the age, it will be difficult to be a good friend to them. I too, Faisal, over time, have had to delete (:) a few friends from my life. And, although, it’s true that we learn to choose better with age, it is also still the case that we cannot completely know how a friendship will evolve overtime.

      The one thing I do know is that we value our friends; they become like family to many people. So, the loss of a friend can be painful. Thank you for stopping by. I look forward to your thoughts in future posts. Warm regards, Deborah.

  8. avatar zareenkhan says:

    im wth one of my friend bt i dnt understand tht tht person is gud for me
    or not but i feel gud when i talk to tht person.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello it’s not always easy to know, at first, who is going to be a true friend, one who supports us and doesn’t wish harm. When you meet someone new, one of the good things to do with regard to making friendships is to take time before trusting people with very intimate details of our lives. It’s important in friendships that we open ourselves to knowing others and for other people to know us, but we can do this and still protect ourselves by keeping some information back. Thank you for this good question. Hope you visit again. Warm regards, Deborah.

  9. avatar Naima Farooq says:

    Hey, can i please have your email address? I need help.

  10. avatar Adnan Javed says:

    Hello Dr Deborah, hope you’ll be doing good.
    I read your post, it’s good, but something is irritating me,
    Are we in this world to protect us from troubles and live a comfortable life? doesn’t psychology teaches us to bring a change in not only us but also impart it to others through our words, actions?

    Why don’t you suggest to take a stance of forgiveness and love in our every kinda relations and with every kinda people, good or bad, till they realize, feel embarrassment over their stupidities, vices, selfishness, and embrace the love of that relation ?

    I think its not a big deal to bear some pain in the hope to make others value that relationship, as not everyone of our circle would be mean. And Isn’t it the height of sincerity and love, that you bear pain for others to make them come over the right point?

    I just had these questions in my mind, hope they aren’t too stupid to answer. 🙂
    And Dr I need some guidelines from you about an issue of mine, which I’m suffering since last 1.5-2 years. May be some precious moments and guidelines from you can help me come outta vicious circle.

    Can you please just send me an email from your ID which is in your regular, daily use, coz I don’t have much time to decide. Or if there is some other way to have a correspondence with you.
    Thanks, hope to get your +ve response 🙂
    Take Care. stay blessed


  11. avatar Adnan Javed says:

    Hello Dr Deborah, hope you’ll be doing good.
    I read your post, it’s good, but something is irritating me,
    Are we in this world to protect us from troubles and live a comfortable life? doesn’t psychology teaches us to bring a change in not only us but also impart it to others through our words, actions?

    Why don’t you suggest to take a stance of forgiveness and love in our every kinda relations and with every kinda people, good or bad, till they realize, feel embarrassment over their stupidities, vices, selfishness, and embrace the love of that relation ?

    I think its not a big deal to bear some pain in the hope to make others value that relationship, as not everyone of our circle would be mean. And Isn’t it the height of sincerity and love, that you bear pain for others to make them come over the right point?

    I just had these questions in my mind, hope they aren’t too stupid to answer. 🙂
    And Dr I need some guidelines from you about an issue of mine, which I’m suffering since last 1.5-2 years. May be some precious moments and guidelines from you can help me come outta vicious circle.

    Can you please just send me an email at (javeedadnan@gmail) from your ID which is in your regular, daily use, coz I don’t have much time to decide. Or if there is some other way to have a correspondence with you.
    Thanks, hope to get your +ve response 🙂
    Take Care. stay blessed


    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Adnan. Welcome. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you liked the post. I understand what you say about trying to resolve misunderstandings and solve problems. Adnan, you are so right. I think I might have said a sentence of two about this, even though I assumed it. So, YES, we should try to do what we can to clear up misunderstandings, before we have to move to end the relationship. And, also, I agree wholeheartedly that forgiveness and love is vital to making any type of relationship a good one (family, friend and corworker). Adnan, with toxic relationships, the idea is that trying to resolve the problem and forgiving and being loving has been done, but it hasn’t changed things. I like what you say “it’s not a big deal to bear some pain” Most definitely, Adnan. A toxic relationship suggests that no good efforts have helped. But, I think I should have said this in the post. So, I hope I have taken away some of you irritation. 🙂

      Adnan, you can write me privately on my facebook page for this website.
      I am the only person who sees and answers the messages; so your information is private. Because of how many people I have, I don’t do Skype or give other emails or phone numbers. I hope you understand. But, I will look for your message to me. Thank you again. You stay blessed as well. Warmly Deborah.

  12. avatar sana durvesh says:

    Myself ended a close and long time friendship for same reason but never been able to put to words what made me do it.You did it so well.Thanks

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Sana. Thank you. I’m glad that this post puts words to what your heart told you to do. I often say with regard to ending a friendship, we will know that we did the right thing by how we feel, in time. Talk with you soon Sana. Warmly Deborah.

  13. avatar Ali Reza says:

    Its a very good article. I used to feel like that and act like that about my toxic friends. You have written it in very simple words. Some time I felt guilty of my act about my toxic friends but but your writing encouraged me.

    There are some toxic friends with whom you already closed your relationship but they are still giving pain in your daily and family life in any ways they can just to harass you. These persons are just your enemy but you can not go for any legal action. This situation is very critical.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Ali. Good to say hello to you today. I’m glad that you found support for having to end some friendships of the past. Yes, you are right. We do feel guilty. There’s something about calling someone a friend; it’s like we are taking them in as family and of course, we give family members a long friendship leash because of the familial relations, even when they upset us. I understand the sadness and guilt that you may have felt having to recognize that the friendship no longer made sense to you. Thank you for your support Ali. Talk with you soon. Warmly Deborah.

  14. avatar angel says:

    great post..This is my personal experience ..The feelings explained are what i felt when i left my best friend whom i still miss alot because i never wanted to end..I kept searching for reasons to stay in a relationship but i had to let it go .I still miss my best friend seems like i left yesterday but its being 3 months since we r seperated and my best friend never looked back to ask the reason just because of ego

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Angel, I understand. I too missed the friend I spoke about in my story. It’s interesting isn’t it that your friend never questioned your reason for the ending of the friendship (Yes, ego)? I think you got a confirmation that you did the right thing, although I know it’s hard. You showed courage and also a valuing of yourself. Thank you for stopping by. See you soon. Warmly Deborah.

  15. avatar Fatima says:

    Dear Deborah
    I always love to read you, despite that I am not psychology student but your articles helps to all. Thanks for consulting & kindness

    Stay Blessed

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Fatima, thank you for taking the time and interest to read my posts. I am touched by your dedication and friendship. I’m glad for the feedback that the subjects are helpful for everyone, not just psychology students. This is exactly what I want. We are all psychological and spiritual beings, so I have always viewed psychology as a normal part of human experience. You stay blessed as well friend. Deborah.

  16. avatar Lenaz says:

    This is just something i needed. Thank you Doctor.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      I’m so pleased Lenaz. We take friends into our hearts. So, it is not easy to think through the value to maintaining or ending the friendship. It is usually an emotional and often painful experience. Nonetheless, it is healthy to give yourself permission to change something that is no longer good for you. Take good care Lenaz. Warmly Deborah.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      And, that pleases me very much Lenaz. Thank you for taking time to comment. Warm regards to you Deborah.

      • avatar Lenaz says:

        I do like your writing always take a good time reading them and It does help me alot. And I need your help or better say an advice If u are free to help I appreciate it alot.

        • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

          Hello Lenaz, thank you. Lenaz, do you belong to my facebook page ( This is the facebook page for this site. You can email me a private message there, if you wish, or you can write me at Warm regards to you Lenaz. Deborah.

          • avatar Lenaz says:

            Yes I do belong to your face book page. And it as an amazing page I do enjoy reading your blogs. I will write for u soon I hope 🙂 Thank you very much.

          • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

            Yes, I see now. Thank you Lenaz. I’m glad you are here and like what you find. I look forward to you writing for PIEL someday, soon 🙂 Warmly Deborah!

  17. avatar Aini says:

    helo madam… i have also a frnd like toxic frnd in early days of frndship she were v sweet and help ful to me..but as my famly got financail crises she treat me like stranger and always want to put me down and 7yr have passed our frndship though she always put me down…but through ur this kind info i can undrstand the behavior ov persns … thank u

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Good to say hello to you Aini. I’m so glad that this article helped you to better understand her behavior. I know how she treats you must hurt you Aini. Friendships can turn for the worse and it hurts when they do. I think when we have tried to make it better and given the relationship a chance, but still nothing changes, it may be wise to let it go and know that the friendship was only meant for a certain time in your life. Warmly Deborah.

  18. avatar angel says:

    well i dun know if it was right or wrong because sometimes i regret thinking that i was the only person who understand him…what hurt is not only because m alone but because i feel like he needs me but m not there..He will never let me know if he miss me..I ask about him from his friends because i dnt have courage to contact him and let him know how much he is missed

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Angel, it’s hard to feel like your have the best desires and intentions toward a person who doesn’t give the friendship back. Angel, we can’t impose what we think and believe on someone else, no matter how strongly we feel, if the person doesn’t accept it. You must take his separation at face value and not read into it with your hopes and desires. Please know, I know how much you feel alone and wish this could work out for you. But, you have no other choice. There’s a saying, I’m sure you know. If you set a bird free and the bird comes back, the bird is really yours. Thus, trust, if your friendship or love with this person is really meant to be, you don’t have to do anything because he’ll come back. And, if he doesn’t, he wasn’t yours to keep. Now, you take good care of yourself. Warmly, Deborah.

  19. avatar eisha says:

    @adnan what if you give 2 years to ur relation bearing every pain and torture.But u are always hurt in return of your care and support ???how much time should be given to the relation for letting the other person realise your importance???Some people enjoy hurting those who are always with them through thick or thin..They take them for granted being knowing that he/she will never leave him/her no matter how much he/she is insulted or hurt..

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Eisha, that’s a very good question: “How much time to give a relationship that causes you so much pain?” Eisha, two years is too long, indeed. The real rule for your question is that any pain and torture that is destroying you is too long. You should never put up with abuse, especially for two years. And, yes, you are right; the more you stay and be insulted, the more the other person thinks you are okay with being abused. Thank you for your good comment Eisha. Warmly Deborah.

  20. avatar Aini says:

    hi mam…. here i wana share u 1 of my persnol that 7yrs before i contact to boy we made frnds but aftre some time he purposed me i refused he again nd agian purposed me i also fell in love with him after some time he used to ignorng me i hurt alot i wanted talk him daily but he never want to talk every moment he ignored me i hurted alot… but mam i truely loved him.. after some time i heard that he has too much grlfrndssss … now v r not in contact to each other…. he hipnotized me i stil cant look forwrd to any guy for my life partner ….. many boyss wants to be my life partner as truly but i cant give them a love like bfor… help me mam

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Aini, I’m sorry for the little delay in responding to you. I understand what you are saying here and your feelings. Aini, remember something, the feeling of rejection is so powerful that it actually can attach us to someone quite strongly. You are attached and hypnotized as you say, because you don’t have closure on this situation. You cannot get it from him because the relationship is over. But, you can give yourself permission to close the relationship up in your mind and heart, forever. You will find true love Aini. I believe strongly if a relationship doesn’t work out that it wasn’t meant to be on a psychological and spiritual level. Remember, there is no relationship when only one person feels love. Dear, you have to accept this; I know it’s very hard. But, you will find true love in your life. Thank you for sharing this painful situation with me. Warm regards, Deborah.

  21. avatar Ali says:

    Hi dr deborah i just wanted to tell u about me. I liked a girl in my class she is shy type and i just instantaneously gave her gift on valentine day and before that i talked to her only two three times. and she rejected it badly. after that i took her cell no. from one of my friends and i texted her she said to me that she dont want any friendship etc and then i tried again after some time but said the same thing…. i told her every thing but she still rejected me.

    then a few days back she inboxed me fb that we should talk and she said that she did not want to hurt me and she wants to be my friend only. i told her that i wanted a relationship she said no for a relationship and told me that i donot want to complicate my life etc etc. i said that if u dnt want a relationship than we should not talk anymore… and then we stopped talking…

    out of all this story i just wanted to ask
    is it possible that she has feelings for me? or i should contact her again for friendship… or what should be my next step.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hi Ali, oh, I wish I knew what she was thinking and feeling. But, I don’t because I do not know her, even by your words. From your words, I can say, that it is always best in such matters to take her words at face value Ali. I mean, you have to accept what she says as fact and move on from there. If you want to send her a message at all, you may simply say that you said you just want to be friends and if she wants to write you back, you are open to it. But, after this I would not write her again, unless she writes you back.

      Best to you Ali, Warmly Deborah.

      • avatar Ali says:

        Thank you Dr. Deborah. She said once that she dont want to be in a relationship because her life is good without it and she donot want to complicate it more. What does this really mean? She want to be good friend but always hesitating to be in a relationship.

        Waiting for reply.

  22. avatar aini says:


  23. avatar Arman Ali says:

    Myself ended a close and long time friendship for same reason but never been able to put to words what made me do it.You did it so well.Thanks

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Arman, I’m glad these words spoke to you. It’s hard to put words to the conflicted feelings we have when a relationship gets toxic. Be well my friend. Warmly Deborah.

  24. avatar David says:

    Over the past three years or so I’ve experienced a significant drifting away from the ‘friendship’ circle I once frequented.
    I’m a pretty honest and straight up individual who generally calls a spade a spade but this has continually been getting me in trouble with mutual friends as I attempted to explain situations arising with a certain ‘frenemy’ ex friend who absolutely displays the characteristics of NPD or is indeed in fact a narcissist.
    About 12 months ago I made a difficult decision to cut ties with a lot of friends due to rumour, lies and innuendo spread around by this individual. It seemed that no matter how I tried to respond to questions arising from what the narc had told mutual friends, I was forever being told that I 1. Was in the wrong. 2. Needed to “Get over” my feelings of resentment and / or 3. Actually had to apologise to the narc, even though they had only listened to one side of the story.
    I hope that gives just a simple overview.
    Anyway, another mutual friend has a housewarming party coming up. My beautiful partner (She has been an amazing support to me throughout)and I have been invited. No doubt other mutual ‘friends’ and the ‘narc’ will also be present.
    The easy option was given to me by my partner, saying I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. However I know she wants to attend and I’m of the belief that the above isn’t an option. Having said this, I’m pretty anxious about this particular night coming up.
    I do have my own faults, don’t we all but can tend to be reactive to someone else given a specific situation if I feel I’m hard done by via words or actions especially this particular narc who was, WAS very good at pressing my buttons.
    I fear a similar situation arising in the company of these people and would appreciate some decent ideas on how to be present at this event and be steadfast in maintaining my dignity.
    Whilst it’s been very difficult, I’ve accepted things as they are but made the decision not to put up with it so I walked away from these people.
    I’m extremely wary of putting myself into the social situation I’ve described but in no way do I want to take the easy way, not show up and not display the support for my partner that she has shown me.
    Please help!

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello David, thank you for taking the time to share your experience on toxic friendships with us. We have all been there ~ I know I have most certainly David. Sometimes life requires that we clean house of frenemies. And, it’s hoped that over time that we increasing only bring people into our lives who are supportive of our personal growth, happiness, and well being in life. Life is a precious journey and we only need those whom are ready to really be our friends to share in it and vice versa.

      Well, to your question David. I so wish that I could give you a direct go forward or stay back answer, but, as you know much of this has to do with what is good for you and for your girlfriend. I think the important thing here David is to know yourself. If you feel you have too much upset in you still and need time to work all of this through so you can gain emotional distance from it, then, you may not be ready to socialize them without appearing awkward, withdrawn or any other behavior that will put you and your loving girlfriend in an uncomfortable position. I think you need to honor the feelings you have and not judge them as good or bad if you feel you are not ready to interact with people who have hurt you. You say at the end of your comment that you are “wary” of putting yourself in this social situation. Trust your gut and don’t judge this intuitive understanding as bad or good. It is just there to tell take care of you. I’m sure your girlfriend will understand this.

      It takes every one of us time to emotionally work things out. Also, I believe that your desire to take care of yourself emotionally is not going to harm your girlfriend. I’m sure she would agree.

      Oh, narcissists! David, have you read some of my posts on narcissistic personality disordered persons? Take a look if you haven’t. I think you will find these frenemies in these writings. You take good care and remember, the best way thing we can do in love is to love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. This is a good role model for your girlfriend and other people who are in true friendship to you. Take good care David. Warmly Deborah.

  25. avatar annie says:

    My husband plays golf once weekly with a very good friend. They have a wonderful relationship. However, the wife seems to constantly have it in for me when we socialise – which is becoming infrequent ( thank heavens ). She is condescending, patronising & will find anything to insult me or embarrass me publicly. I am well-bred, mannered & kindness has always being top of my chart to others; have a caring nature & many talents which my husband is immensely proud of. I come away from their visits tearful, devastated, complete break-down of self-esteem & basically feel mentally challenged! I cannot find the words at the time to respond politely, therefore I just move away. She has even gone so far now as to check with her doctors re my eye condition & that I should have an operation. My eyes are perfect with my glasses which I love. How do I run away without leaving my husband. The men have discussed in the past & things seem to right for a while, & then it starts again. I might add she is 8 yrs my senior. I am almost 60. Thank U for listening.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Annie, know that we’ve all been there. It doesn’t feel good when you know a person is what the younger generation calls a frenemy. You have a couple of choices. You can avoid her altogether or muster up the courage to let her know how you feel. Now, that being said, she may not be the type of person who can really hear and understand her impact on other people. She clearly pushes boundaries. Perhaps she’s jealous or envious of you.

      I’d think through what you are getting from this association. If you always end up frustrated and in tears, it doesn’t sound healthy for you. Unfortunately, people like this don’t take honest communication very well. So, even if you talk to her, she may deny what she’s doing, which is not going to make you feel better. If it’s possible, you may try to avoid socializing with them. This doesn’t prevent your husband from golfing and having lunch with his good friend. The most important thing is that your self-esteem isn’t terminated every time there’s a social event with this couple. Best to you Annie. Warmly Deborah.

  26. avatar Nigel says:

    Hi Deborah, I have been reading about frenemies and toxic relationships for the last few days online and this is the BEST article that I read about it honestly! Your article covered everything and I felt like you were talking about my actual life issue itself.

    My story is, I’m a guy and I have this childhood friend (lets call him B) whom I have known for 20+ years. When I was a kid, I very much liked hanging out with him and playing together and all and his family became friends with my family through us. He was good friend, but very naughty and always got me into trouble with his work as well (Although I wasnt a trouble maker I honestly did enjoy the fun things we did and therefore always wanted to be friends)

    I wasnt much of a social kid and was always sitting back in school but had a few friends there, he (B) was a social type and had a lot of friends in school. (we went to two different schools). when we were like 17 years, he introduced me to his friends and I became friends with his friends as well. Some of his friends were bad and some of them were good and with time I became closer to his friends than the few friends I made myself.

    We both went to different Universities and in my University, I met and hung out with a few genuine good friends whom I value even today. I did well in my University life and personally grew up during this time and the subsequent years in my career. I am currently doing well in life as well and now we are both almost 31. My friend didn’t do well in the latter part of his life and still acts like a kid to this day and his mom keeps calling me and others saying his son is playing the fool (at age 31)

    My problem is, I mostly hang out with the mutual friends I met through ‘B’ and two of them are more closer to me than him. Most of his other friends have left him because of his childish narcissistic and self centered behavior and some of them even questioned me why Im still friends with him?

    After I did well in life and he didnt (because of his own failures) He is now jealous and is always putting me down. He says personal things and is always looking to pick on me. He always says what I have achieved and done were out of luck and not hard work and I think he is bitter of his own failures. He has changed from being a naughty fun kid to a spiteful jealous narcissist liar and have lost almost everyone in his life. Because of this I have always felt sorry for him and put up with anything he said or did coz I was always his oldest friend. I now believe he doesnt appreciate me and is hurt by this. He never called me his best friend although I was the only one who stayed with him and I always considered him to be my best friend.

    I have come to a point in life where I just dont want to deal with him as meeting him is just a fight and it affects me psychologically for the next few days every time as i feel bullied. I tried to let go of his friendship an year ago but then he realized this and tried to turn all our mutual friends against me. but then as usual my stupid self decided to remain friends with him coz i didnt want to lose the only people I hang out with.

    today almost all his friends have left him and only a few remain and of the few of them they like me more than him. I want to end my relationship with ‘B’ once and for all as I cannot take seeing or interacting with him anymore. The toxic relationship we have is so detrimental it affects me in the relationship I have with my Girlfriend and family! So I now know who is valuable to me in my life and have decided to throw him out as I believe he is now a fake friend.

    Please tell me what I should do to completely cut ‘B’ off and how to deal with social events where I have to attend with his mutual friends? (he openly laughs at me saying why am I hanging out with his friends although a couple of them love me more than him and appreciate me, which he probably doesnt know). And given that I live in a small city, its hard not to not run into him although I could ignore him but Im scared Ill lose everyone else. Your advice will be much appreciated Deborah 🙂

    P.S – I didnt relaize I have written so much but I wanted to convey my true full story!

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Nigel, not to worry about the length–you are letting me know the whole story so I understand. What makes this relationship so difficult besides his frenemie behavior is the history between you two. I know it’s hard to let go of a friendship when we have shared so much together.

      I think the most revealing thing you said with regard to should you keep the doors open to the friendship or close them at least for now is how you feel. Nigel, it’s okay to walk away when a person is damaging to you on some level. Your paths have changed and you are not closing the door because the paths have changed as much as how he treats you right? I do think that we should try to mend relationships that are meaningful to us, if possible. But, if a relationship is no longer good for your self-esteem and you share little in common — it may mean it’s time to close the door, at least for now. Or at least to minimize contact with him. I know you have mutual friends. You may not be able to avoid seeing him from time to time because of this. Just don’t give him the chance to hurt you.

      Nigel if the friends you have in common reject you because you are protecting yourself — then you may want to reexamine your relationship to them as well. I hope this isn’t the case. But, remember, sometimes we have to have the strength to do what is right for us even if there are a few consequences that we don’t like. Trust your gut, I know you will work this out.

      Thank you for writing me. Warm regards Deborah.


  1. […] Toxic Friendships: When is a friend more trouble than he or she is worth? […]

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