7 Surprising and Unexpected Toxic Friends in Your Life
She (or he) gets everything that makes your workplace more dysfunctional than an Arrested Development-meets-The Office crossover show. Finally, someone else understands how redundant it is to schedule a meeting to discuss yet another meeting, and why microwaving fish is never okay, ever! Yet, somewhere along the 21st or 22nd vent session, you realize the two of you are just rehashing the same old things. She isn't interested in improving things, it turns out; she just really likes complaining. The more you get stuck in that cycle, the more trapped you can feel at work, because all of your energy is devoted to feeling frustrated by the situation, not changing it.
Every morning, she's filling up your news feeds: She tweeted about her 3.7-mile jog (and record time); she Instagrammed a "fitsperation" photo of her progress at the gym; and, she tagged you in a Facebook post about an underwater kickboxing class you should try. This friend is an incredible accountability partner, but every time the two of you hang out, at some point it starts to feel like an interrogation. She's so interested in living healthfully that she's always telling you what you should and shouldn't eat, and grilling you on your workout routine (or lack thereof). That motivation—though well-intentioned—can lead instead to a shame spiral, fast.
A conversation with this friend usually goes something like this: "What do you want to do?"
"I don't know. What do you want to do?"
You're always making the decisions; and, she's always tagging along to whatever it is, even when you can tell she's just not that into it. She means to be easygoing, but in the process, you're getting stressed because you want to choose things you'll both love to do. And unfortunately, when you look more closely at your friendship, you realize you have no idea what she really likes.
You've been besties since you finger-painted Mom's Coach purse in kindergarten; and, you two spent just about every afternoon in high school playing MASH, making Tiger Beat locker collages and prank-calling your crotchety neighbor. Every time you two hang out, you talk about those topics, in that order. Those memories are amazing, and you wouldn't trade them for the world; but now that you're older, you don't have anything in common. As hard as you try to bond over your current lives, things inevitably revert back to the good old days. There's no progress with a friend like this; only the looming (and oh-so-wrong) feeling that your friendship peaked in 10th grade. The friendship doesn't have to end, but it also doesn't have to be forced. Years later, you may reconnect over your kids' finger-painting adventures. Until then, you might find you can chat more easily over Facebook messages than lattes.
This friend is practically a mind reader. She can sense what you're going to say, and she's so helpful that she just can't resist jumping in and ending your story for you, even if she's never heard it before. Only that's not the whole story. Her vigorous nodding and thought-finishing are really just tools for what she's actually—albeit often subconsciously—trying to do: hijack the conversation. She's just speeding you up until it's her chance to talk. It makes you wonder if she's looking for a friend, or an audience.
When you're around this person, the cool quotient skyrockets. The woman volleys one-liners faster than the Gilmore Girls; and she does it all while wearing lipstick that never smudges. The problem? Her sarcastic quips veer cruel more often than witty, and, even if the punch line isn't at your expense, you’re left with this generally slimy, gossipy feeling after hanging out. Not to mention a creeping concern about what she's saying when you're not around.
An extra slice of cake? That's what diet cheat days were invented for! Neon harem pants? With your body, they're a must-buy. This friend supports you no matter what. Sometimes, that desire to lift you up can get in the way of her telling you the truth. And, at her worst, she can push you to take risks that only make her look better as she's standing next to you (see: the shag-cut-that-was-really-a-mullet of 2009).
Our free time is limited enough; and, to us, it's better spent with friends who know that being supportive and being honest aren't mutually exclusive, and who can (gently) steer us away from our more questionable choices.
Next: 14 moments that make or break a relationship