A new study on relationships revealed that 84% of women have poisonous relationships.
Today.com and Self Magazine did a study asked their readers to come clean about relationships and got an earful from 18,000 women.
In fact, 84 percent of women said they’d had a toxic friend at some point, with 1 in 3 survey said they had a toxic BFF.
Sixty-five percent of women have self-absorbed sidekicks and 59 percent have been friends with one of those draining emotional vampire types.
“I recommended a woman I knew for a job and she’d come in and you’d say hello and she’d sigh and grunt and tell you she had a headache or a back ache,” says Lucia Patritto, a 53-year-old educator from Ironwood, Mich. “We’re a positive bunch at work, but she was like this emotional wet blanket. She wasn’t just a pill; she was a suppository. You could practically hear the Debbie Downer music.”
“My friend — who I’ve known since high school — would always make these snide remarks about my weight or my house or even my daughter,” says Kerri LaFond, a 39-year-old executive assistant from Chicago. “It was always followed up by ‘Oh, I’m just kidding. Come on.’ I started wondering if I was blowing it out of proportion. But she would say things I would never say to my friends.”
Finally, flakes ranked fifth on the toxic turnoff list, with 37 percent owning up to an unreliable best friend.
Still, in all, we’re a loyal bunch, with 83 percent of survey takers confessing they’d held onto a friendship longer than was healthy simply because it was hard to break up with a buddy.
The reason it’s hard to dump a toxic friend is the same reason people stay in all kinds of dysfunctional relationships,” says Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a TODAY show contributor. “There’s something in it that you find compelling or familiar. Depending on the nature of what’s going on in the relationship, you may feel guilty [about breaking things off]. Or it could be that the person has implied you need them in some way — that you would be a bad person to walk away.”
It’s not that we have no standards at all. One in three readers say they’d call it quits with a friend who wasn’t trustworthy.
“My friend wasn’t just spilling secrets, she was making stuff up,” says Brenda Della Casa, a 32-year-old managing editor from Manhattan. “I had a very serious health scare and was having cocktails with people I didn’t know very well and she blurted out my health scare. But she made it much worse than it was — to strangers.”
Della Casa says her friend of 10 years also regularly spilled the beans about her past relationships to potential suitors.
“We could be thoughtful and sweet but there was nothing she provided that I don’t get from 20 other friends,” says Della Casa. “There was something she provided that I don’t get from them, though, and that was disloyalty and disrespect.”
“Women’s friendships tend to be more about intimacy and exchanging feelings,” says David Frederick, visiting assistant professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “The downside is that leaves them more open to attack from toxic friends. Men’s friendships tend to be centered around work and activities like basketball as opposed to exchanging feelings. They’re not as vulnerable to undermining toxic attacks.”
- Self-absorbed sidekicks: Change the conversation from him/her to you (which won’t be easy). Change the subject and/or explicitly tell your narcissistic friend that you need and deserve their attention.
- Chronic downers: Set firm boundaries and tell him/her your limits (and enforce them!). Also encourage them to befriend other people — as in, spread the misery over more friends.
- Overly critical chums: Have confidence in your own values and opinions. Also realize you may need to agree to disagree or else your relationship will be filled with contention.
- Underminers: Recognize that this person is probably a “frenemy” and exercise caution, i.e., watch your back. Also, if the undermining is excessive and leaves you feeling badly about yourself, you may need to back away from the friendship.
- Unreliable flakes: You may need to remind them of their commitments. Also remember, if someone is consistently unreliable, why would you ever rely on them?