Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Britney Spear’s friends go in TV talk shows to discuss her private business. On New Year’s Eve we saw pics of Lindsay Lohan being passed a bottle by people knowing she was in recovery from alcohol. It’s said to have happened again on Friday, when Lindsay was spotted sipping vodka cocktails, with “friends.” Hmmm…. Not exactly the kind of support I’d want from my friends.

A real friend is someone you trust, who supports you and wants what’s in your best interest. Yet these pop stars can’t trust their friends to watch out for them. That certainly doesn’t bode well for their recovery from all the problems that plague them. People grab onto them for the wrong reason. Friends can become enemies fast in the world of pop stars. Toxic friends are exactly that. I do believe that both Lindsay and Brit have more problems than someone like Paris Hilton because they don’t have a solid support system of healthy friends and family.

It’s not just people in the spotlight that attract toxic pals. I’ve cut some off over the years. It can be painful but necessary for your happiness. Just as pollution is toxic to your lungs, friends can be toxic to your soul. When you recognize the people who pollute your life, you can take action to change it or cut them off.

My colleague Irene S. Levine, PhD, has a blog called Fractrured Friendships. She’s a freelance author and journalist who blogs about female friendship and is on the faculty of the NYU School of Medicine. Irene is currently writing a book about friendship and how it affects us. I asked her to be a guest today and share some signs that your friend may be someone to reconsider. She created a list of things to ask yourself about a friend who might not be good for you.

Twenty Questions: Spotting a Toxic Friendship
By Irene Levine, PhD

While most friendships have their highs and lows, toxic ones are characterized by consistent patterns of negativity.

Yet, the signs of a toxic friendship aren’t always obvious. Women tend to overlook, forgive, and forget to keep up our friendships—but here are some ways to determine if one of your friendships may be bad for you, either mentally, physically, or both. Ask yourself:

1. Does scheduling time to see your friend feel like an obligation rather than a pleasure?
2. Do you ever feel trapped when you are together?
3. Do you feel tense in her presence?
4. Does she often show off at your expense?
5. Is she never reliably there when you need her?
6. Is she self-centered, sneaky, deceitful, or disloyal?
7. Does she have habitually bad judgment?
8. Are you giving more than you’re getting?
9. Does the relationship feel out-of-sync?
10. Do you feel emotionally drained when you are with her?
11. Do you come away from her feeling depressed?
12. When you talk, does it feel like she isn’t listening or just doesn’t get it?
13. Do you dread her phone calls?
14. Do you hate when you see her screen name online when you look at your buddy list?
15. Are her emails too long to read?
16. Does she always choose to spend her time with men, over you, given the opportunity?
17. Has she flirted with the man in your life?
18. Has she done anything to undermine your position at work?
19. Can you trust her to keep your confidences?
20. Has she betrayed you?

Check out Fractrured Friendships to learn more about the dynamics of how friendships affect you in order to create healthier ones!

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