Friendships tend to get less attention than romance in the media for some reason. I guess friendships just don’t seem as sexy in comparison to romance. However, friendships have their own issues as well.
Things like conflict, difficult traits are all things that also arise in friendships, but because they aren’t discussed as much in the media, they can be difficult and confusing to navigate.
So what is it?
They have friendship patterns that are characterised by toxicity, conflict and drama
That was a mouthful.
But yes. People do tell you and show you who they are – if you bother to listen and observe. And a big way in which people tell you what kind of friend they are is through their own friendships with others.
There are two ways that you can use to sus out toxic friendship patterns.
#1 They tell you about their behaviour in other friendships
Pay attention to how people talk about previous friendships.
- Do they tend to have many complaints about their friends?
- Are their friendships constantly characterised by hypocrisy, conflict, or drama?
- Does it seem like every time they tell you something, it’s something negative about their friends they are supposedly close to?
What I’ve noticed is that people like that can make it seem like their friends are the toxic ones. When in reality… it could be – and usually is – them. If someone is telling you all these issues about themselves – well they are the constant in the situation. So they way they are perceiving others or the situation, could be the issue.
Also, be extra wary of people who always seem to be throwing pity parties and acting the victim. It could be a role they like playing or find themselves attracted to without really understanding why.
How does this play out in a friendship? Someone who is used to playing the victim could turn a very innocuous situation into a you-versus-them issue, where they are the victim and you are the perpetrator.
These people can have the tendency to make everything about themselves. You are confiding in them about someone you dislike? They can manage to make your dislike of someone into a dislike about them, and proceed to pick a fight with you – #truestory!
There are patterns in current friendships that you can observe
Each time I had an issue with a friend in the past, it did not come as a surprise as said friend would already have a pattern of behaving a certain way with their other friends.
Case in point #1
Sally (not her real name) had a group of friends whom she hung out with fom time to time. She admitted to me, more than once that she really disliked this group of people. So my question to her was, why are you hanging out with people you don’t like so often?
She couldn’t really tell me why, except that she did not like the personality traits of some of these people. She also always seemed to be getting into big squabbles with them (started by her) over tiny matters like who should be paying for dinner etc. She seemed to always be having issues with them – quarrels over small issues etc – which she made it out to sound like the problem was with them, not her. That she was “different”.
I started to notice that she behaved similarly with other people in the office. She would hang out often with people, seemed to have a good time with them but would tell me awful things about them and how she disliked (usually very minor stuff) them.
It started to made me wonder about her – was she also pretending to have a good time with me but was telling others that she didn’t like me? Or worse, shit-talking me to others? It made me second guess her intentions and I somehow knew that she would one day start finding fault with me, just like she had with others before.
And it happened.
I laugh at how predictable it all was. She found what I said offensive – can’t remember what now frankly – and wrote a long email (6 word pages long – what sort of person does this?) telling me what an awful person I was. I replied with a “Okay, noted” and that was the end of us.
Case in point #2
Sam (not her real name) was nice enough at first. Our parents knew each other and I had stayed over at her house several times before. Over the years, she started revealing a pretty vindictive sort of personality which I found odd and quite unsettling.
When one of our friends came out as gay, she started a hate campaign against our friend and our friend’s partner. It seemed so vengeful, so obsessive and aggressive that it scared me. How was a good friend’s sexuality any of your business and why would you see a need to “take revenge” on her?
She did this to several other people for various other reasons and would cut off friends whom she was close to just cause the person “wronged” her.
And again, like clockwork, I was her next victim. Once she had disposed of our friendship, she embarked on her hate campaign of me – telling our mutual frends how awful I was to her.
To her, I say, good riddance. Knowing the kinds of people we have become since, I can confidently say that I’d never give her the time of day if we were to ever cross paths.
Take a look at the other friendships your friends have…
Do you spot a pattern?
Even better, you could go one step further and take a look at the other relationships in their lives. Their relationships with family and even partners. Take note of how they speak of the people who are close to them, and how they talk about the relationships that they have.
Can you spot a pattern?