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Old 27.07.2013, 12:34
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Toxic friendship?

Hi all,

I thought I would share something I have on my mind and hopefully get some opinion/hard truths/advice from the EF gang. Here goes:

Have you ever had a friend whose company you really enjoy, who almost feels like family? I do, and better yet she lives here in CH. It is great to have a good friend who feels like family nearby, doesn't it? Except (I feel) she does not treat me very well and for some reason I let her do it.

We have known each other for a long time (before and now with families) and have always gone through this cycle of getting along great, lots of get togethers, then more or less out of the blue she goes off the radar. No call, often no answer to my messages. Then pops up literally months later like nothing happened. Me, sucker that I am, always go along with this game of "nothing happened" because, quite frankly, having her friendship makes me feel just a little more at home in this country. I also get the sense (based primarily on how she bad-mouths mutual acquaintances and things said by mutual friends) that she is critical of me.

There has never been any reason given for these absences. Sometimes (actually four times that I know of) I have learned through mutual friends that her and her husband have found a new couple to hang out with, and drop us to the curbside until they inevitably have a falling out with these new friends. Other times she stops talking to me because of some ridiculous reason only to be found out through mutual friends or by reading between the lines (ie: when I was first pregnant and they were trying with not much luck - apparently they could not take being around my own good fortune - that one lasted for the better part of my pregnancy). The one time I confronted her (we had been traveling together for a wedding and she stopped talking to me when I went to get my hair done without telling/inviting her) she sent me an email of such defensiveness and venom that I ended up apologizing!

So, flash forward and we are back in CH. We both have kids now. Times have been good and we always say how we love having our kids growing up together. We do Christmases together, and celebrate birthdays like families do, etc. Except, not surprisingly, I am much more of an "auntie" to her kids than she is to mine. She seems to have a hard time coping with her family sometimes (no judgement here, kids are hard work) so I help when I can and do not judge if she cancels engagements or does not get back to my messages due to being busy with family. That is what having small kids is like, I always figured. Yet, I would never do the same to them, despite also having small children. And increasingly, they show a complete disregard for our feelings, etc. For example, a few years back, at their initial urging, we all planned a tropical trip together. My husband and I did a great deal of research and planning to make the trip happen, only to have them cancel on us, with no apologies or explanation, a few weeks before the trip. We went and had a great time of course. They later said that they felt it would be too stressful with their young children. More recently, I invited her and her kids to my youngest child's birthday. She did not RSVP and would not answer when I asked her if she was coming. On the day, two hours into the birthday, I get a text saying that she just couldn't manage to get her act together to get out the house so would not be coming. Just like it was nothing. No present later, no indication that she had ever planned to come. Once again, I told her "no problem" but really it hurt me. None of my other friends would ever so casually blow off the party. I am not perfect by any means, I can be selfish or unthinking, but I generally try to be there for the people I care about. It seems a little thing but I would not do that to her or her kids.

So, anyway, long and short of it is she is again off the radar (more or less two months at this point). She might simply be busy, as we all get. But experience tells me this is another of her cut-outs. I cannot talk to my husband about this (he only puts up with them for me - he likes them but would have dropped them years ago for the way they treated us). I likewise do not want to speak badly or whine to our mutual friends - that is just bad form. Thus I am writing to you. At this point I am just tired and have my own family to worry about. I also have friends that give as much as they take, and would always be there if I needed to talk to them - as I would for them. I am thinking I will just back off gracefully. Not confront her because, with her, that is pointless but just ease off contact (when she actually gets back in contact, that is). I will miss her kids, and feel a bit like I am letting them down. Mostly, despite her treatment, I will miss her "friendship" - I actually mourn a bit at the thought of not having her in my life. Not sure why, with how unreliable she is, but that is how it is.

What are your thoughts on this? Am I being way too oversensitive, or just a complete pushover.
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Old 27.07.2013, 12:39
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Re: Toxic friendship?

You have more patience than me. I would have cut them out of my life years ago.
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Old 27.07.2013, 12:44
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Re: Toxic friendship?

To put it simply, successful friendships involve both give and take. It sounds as if your friend is all about the "taking" part, and not so much about the "give."

The good news is that you can choose your friends (unlike your family).

Begin spending more time with friends who enjoy your company and do not take you for granted, as the friend whom you mention seems to do. No need to discuss the change with other mutual friends.

Before you know it, those newer friends will become the ones who feel like "family" to you!
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Old 27.07.2013, 12:57
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Re: Toxic friendship?

I think it's a girl thing to forgive and put up with stuff like that ( i know that's a huge generalisation) .. My wife knows a couple of people who've blown her out at the last minute or dropped off the radar. I would simply drop off the radar too or make it very that I don't approve. If they don't like it then they can "Foxtrot Oscar".
Similarly friends of mine know another couple who regularly let them down. One time the they were coming to dinner, even chatted same afternoon on the phone.. 7pm, dinner on the table, no show.. Friends wife ends up phoning them to be told oh the kids were tired,, we just stayed home. My friend like me would have dropped them ages ago but his wife puts up with it.

So in short .. Take your husbands advice and drop them! If you decide not to then you're not alone, plenty of other women are putting up with same
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Old 27.07.2013, 13:11
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Re: Toxic friendship?

I don't think your friend is ever really going to change her ways. So this leaves you with two options: 1) End the friendship, or 2) Change your perception of it.

A friend of mine (who is also a psychologist) once gave me good advice (about another friend) and told me that some friends are takers and some are givers; some are both. So I shouldn't expect every friend to act like my BEST friend or to always give back as much as I give.

You wrote that you do value her friendship (makes you feel more like home) and have grown close to her kids. So if you're willing to accept her "ways," then I suggest maybe just sitting back and letting her come to you, in the future. I've had friendships like this in the past, where I've given much more than I got in return. And at some point I actually had to make a conscious effort to NOT give so much, which may seem strange but it was the only way I could put some control over the situation and not feel so taken advantage of, while still maintaining the friendship.

I think it really does become difficult to maintain friendships as we get older and become so busy with work, family, etc. But I have a few very good friends where we can go months without speaking or e-mailing each other but we never let this damage the real essence of our friendship.

I hope your situation with her improves... and you can find a way to save the friendship that leaves you both feeling good about it.
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Old 27.07.2013, 13:22
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Re: Toxic friendship?

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You have more patience than me. I would have cut them out of my life years ago.
And me. I had toxic friends before and gosh it feels good to be free from them.

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To put it simply, successful friendships involve both give and take. It sounds as if your friend is all about the "taking" part, and not so much about the "give."

The good news is that you can choose your friends (unlike your family).

Begin spending more time with friends who enjoy your company and do not take you for granted, as the friend whom you mention seems to do. No need to discuss the change with other mutual friends.

Before you know it, those newer friends will become the ones who feel like "family" to you!
I already have a toxic mother and refuse to keep friends who give me an hard time. I have a lot of wonderful friends to who I would drop anything to run to them and help in needs. I know it is mutual. Any people I can't stand or play childish games like that are dropped like an old sock by me.

Life is too short to be surrounded by toxic people.

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I think it's a girl thing to forgive and put up with stuff like that ( i know that's a huge generalisation) .. My wife knows a couple of people who've blown her out at the last minute or dropped off the radar. I would simply drop off the radar too or make it very that I don't approve. If they don't like it then they can "Foxtrot Oscar".
Similarly friends of mine know another couple who regularly let them down. One time the they were coming to dinner, even chatted same afternoon on the phone.. 7pm, dinner on the table, no show.. Friends wife ends up phoning them to be told oh the kids were tired,, we just stayed home. My friend like me would have dropped them ages ago but his wife puts up with it.

So in short .. Take your husbands advice and drop them! If you decide not to then you're not alone, plenty of other women are putting up with same
My husband is much more diplomat than me.
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Old 27.07.2013, 13:27
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Re: Toxic friendship?

In my book, friendship is work, just like a love relationship. I'm ready to give a lot to my important friends, but I must feel that they can do the same if need be.

I was in a friendship like the one you describe a few years ago. I grew more and more frustrated, until I realized I was the one getting upset by the fact that I was the giver and she the passive receiver, not her!. This was toxic, and the simplest solution was to turn a cold shoulder and simply cut ties. A huge weight fell off my shoulders.

You chose your friends. If their contact upsets you, then you can do what is best for you, and cut ties. That's what I would do in your situation.
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Old 27.07.2013, 14:08
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Re: Toxic friendship?

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I think it's a girl thing to forgive and put up with stuff like that ( i know that's a huge generalisation) .. My wife knows a couple of people who've blown her out at the last minute or dropped off the radar. I would simply drop off the radar too or make it very that I don't approve. If they don't like it then they can "Foxtrot Oscar".
Similarly friends of mine know another couple who regularly let them down. One time the they were coming to dinner, even chatted same afternoon on the phone.. 7pm, dinner on the table, no show.. Friends wife ends up phoning them to be told oh the kids were tired,, we just stayed home. My friend like me would have dropped them ages ago but his wife puts up with it.

So in short .. Take your husbands advice and drop them! If you decide not to then you're not alone, plenty of other women are putting up with same
This reminds me of an ex friend I had we were very close like sisters, godmother to my son best friends for yrs. Then suddenly she got a boyfriend and everything changed we would make plans then she would cancel at the last minute. The icing on the cake was she was coming over for dinner, I asked her what she wanted for dinner she wanted fresh veg for the wok ( a lot of hard work for me ) so I went shopping bought all the food prepped it all, then a few mins before she was due to arrive she texted me saying she was not coming, I don't like it when people think they can use me when they want to, so our friendship was dissolved. I have many friends that never let me down, I don't let my friends down either.
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Old 27.07.2013, 14:27
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Re: Toxic friendship?

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This reminds me of an ex friend I had we were very close like sisters, godmother to my son best friends for yrs. Then suddenly she got a boyfriend and everything changed we would make plans then she would cancel at the last minute.
Females do that! Drop everything for the guy!

"Toxic"? This seems to be a trendy word for describing relationships at the moment.

Keep calm everyone. Some friends you see a lot. Some you don't. Some relationships are more about being the receiver. Some are about being the giver.

I just about have the feeling with this thread, that there are people who keep score with their friendships.

If you have never been in the position of being in need of support, with nothing left to give, then be thankful. For most of us, the moments change with the balance tipping one way or the other. And even then, we are not always in the poisition to give back to the person who has supported us. Sometimes, paying it on is the answer.

Also, when people cancel at the last moment, yes it can be annoying ( and I find it is increasingly happening with the increasing ability to use modern techie instant messaging) but also be aware that you may not be given the real reasons behind the cancellations. EG: "the kids were tired, could actually be "my husband and I have had an arguement and he refuses to come," or worse.....

And if you are finding that a friendships has become annoying, frustrating, stressful,or you are feeling used, then just give it a rest. en tend to do this better than woen. Things may, or may not come right again later.

Right, I am off for a swim.... by myself.
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Old 27.07.2013, 14:46
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Re: Toxic friendship?

It depends very much on how you are using the word "friend". Personally, I don't use the word lightly and it sounds to me that this is not just a casual friend but someone you really appreciate and care about.

She will never change. There really are only two solutions you either cut her loose or you accept her as she is. If you accept her as she is then you need to be ok with her bailing some times, dropping off some times, being b!tchy some times, etc.

Then you work within her limits. You know she is not reliable. So don't make plans for long holidays with her, don't expect her to be as close to your kids as you are to hers, and if you invite her over assume that she won't show up but keep a plate of food warm for her just in case she does.

I think it is the same as family when we talk about friends we love but know are limited in what they can give back. The difference is I HAVE to accept my family as they are. I CHOOSE to accept my friends and all their idiosyncrasies.

Is what you get out of this friendship worth the price of admission? The price of admission includes all of her weaknesses, quirks and foibles as well as all the good things. Is there enough good that you get back?

Only you can decided that.
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Old 27.07.2013, 14:54
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Re: Toxic friendship?

As others have said, you can choose your friends. If you're unhappy and dissatified with the relationship either, as Carrie F suggests, step back and let her come to you or simply end the relationship altogether. Yes, it's sad that a friendship that has lasted so long ends, but we all grow and change over the years.

You may find that if you just step back she may never even contact you again, going her own way while you fade out of her preview as it were. If so, then the relationship has run it's course and you don't have to feel bad about dumping her. But if you want a clean cut, then you'll have to say you're not happy and let her go.
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Old 27.07.2013, 15:20
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Re: Toxic friendship?

Perhaps the friendship described in your text comes across as too close on your side and too complicated on hers ?
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Old 27.07.2013, 15:28
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Re: Toxic friendship?

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)

she does not treat me very well and for some reason I let her do it.

. Me, sucker that I am, always go along with this game of "nothing happened" because, quite frankly, having her friendship makes me feel just a little more at home in this country.

one time I confronted her ,she sent me an email of such defensiveness and venom that I ended up apologizing!

I cannot talk to my husband about this (he only puts up with them for me - he likes them but would have dropped them years ago for the way they treated us). I likewise do not want to speak badly or whine to our mutual friends - that is just bad form. I also have friends that give as much as they take, and would always be there if I needed to talk to them - as I would for them.

I am thinking I will just back off gracefully. Not confront her because, with her, that is pointless but just ease off contact (when she actually gets back in contact, that is). I will miss her kids, and feel a bit like I am letting them down. Mostly, despite her treatment, I will miss her "friendship" - I actually mourn a bit at the thought of not having her in my life. Not sure why, with how unreliable she is, but that is how it is.

.
From your above sentences, it is apparent that you are the one who is always adjusting to her moods. And you are reaching the limits of it ....
And confronting her, is not going to be of much use , as she is good at evading the real reason.
And as you opine, and I second it , the best way is to gradually pull out of this friendship - as she might bad mouth you if you confront her and completely cut her off. It has to be done in a very systematic way and I think , with your husband constant support and reminders, ( to cut off your friendship , as I feel you are unable to persevere with this decision ) you can do it.this will only help you in the long term as I feel suppressed frustrations are bad for health
All the best in your endeavor
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Old 27.07.2013, 16:57
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Re: Toxic friendship?

Hi all, I just want to say thank you for the thoughtful and very valid responses. It made me feel better to "talk" about it, and a little more at peace with how I am handling it, and will in the future. Hope you are all finding a good way to escape the heat!
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Old 27.07.2013, 18:56
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Re: Toxic friendship?

I wonder if your friend is a little insecure and maybe not very happy?
Saying that though, she hasn't been very fair to you, and does seem to use you without thinking of your feelings.
Would it help to have a proper talk with her about how you feel? Then if she still doesn't change, yes maybe all you can do is drop her for good.
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Old 27.07.2013, 19:49
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Re: Toxic friendship?

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I wonder if your friend is a little insecure and maybe not very happy?
That, and maybe she's afraid that her kids like you more than her.

Thinking about it, from the description of the OP (which admittedly is only her POV), it looks as if her friend carries a big rucksack of psychological problems that probably never get discussed, treated (and thus build up over time).

She envied your pregnancy, she probably envies your relationship with her kids... the list is probably much longer and the envy (probably) masks something completely different.
I mean, being " a little insecure" is hardly an excuse for being - excuse me - a backstabbing bitch.

There's hardly anything you can do about it.
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Old 27.07.2013, 20:22
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Re: Toxic friendship?

I would run, and let the friendship take its course. Your friend has gotten so
used to treat you anyway she wants to, and she gets away with it! There is a certain attachment you have for her that doesn't sound mutual from the way you described things. It wasn't easy reading your post without feeling the hurt that you feel. Perhaps it won't be a bad idea to let go, and see if she would make an effort to build true friendship, because she , I feel, isn't being a friend to you. She seems to be more of a rival. I hope you get to find true friends, those who'd really care for you, in good times and bad times. It's not easy, but it's possible.
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Old 27.07.2013, 23:46
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Re: Toxic friendship?

I, for one, would like to hear the other version of this story. Maybe you OP hurt her feelings and didn't even realize that. Maybe not, and she is just a superficial person.
For all it counts, don't feel bad (or silly, or a "sucker" as you put it) for giving her more chances, again and again. It doesnt work, for some reasons, and probably it is the time to get her out of your circle for good, but don't regret anything you did for a friend.
On the other hand, I believe in the friendship that is still there, after some time, without hanging out together every day. I still have my friends with whom I don't meet that often (mainly because of me, I am simply not there)
If it helps, many people had their fair share of toxic friendship. Sometimes, one of us is trying too hard.
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Old 28.07.2013, 07:42
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Re: Toxic friendship?

Greenmount has a very valid point about "not being there".

Eventhough the OP's friend does sound quite difficult, she also might be feeling too close for comfort.

For a loved one or a love I can understand the closeness, but for a friendship ?

I do prefer friendships where there's no need to really see the other all the time. Being an independent free electron I wouldn't feel comfortable in such a close relationship. I'd only be that close for a limited period of time if I felt something was wrong or either friend needed help.
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Old 28.07.2013, 07:57
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Re: Toxic friendship?

Why would you want to be friends with someone who upsets you so much and lets you down? Bin her I say. Life is way too short to be bothered with people that bring misery to your door. x
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