How many toxic people do you have in your life? You know the ones that perch there, seemingly innocuously, but in reality they’re having a silent but deadly effect? A bit similar to cholesterol really; you don’t experience the impact on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute basis, but you just know its corrosive effect is quietly creeping up on you.
Toxic people come in all shapes and sizes. One person’s toxin might be another person’s elixir. I certainly have known many the toxic person that has existed within my friendship circle. In fact, I may have even been toxic for others.
But how do you recognize a toxic characteristic? Some are easy to identify, and others are more toad-stool-esque in their appearance, growing away in the darkness, not yet brought into awareness. Here are seven toxic friends, and seven ways to turn them from a toxin and into an elixir.
We all have one. The one that pretends to be really happy for you, but deep down they’re burning an inferno of Dante-esque proportions. Let’s face it, we all experience the odd spot of friend-envy, but it usually stays within check. The envious friend goes that step further. It becomes quite clear they might spontaneously combust at any point when you mention the dinner party you had last night, the dress you bought on the weekend, or how wonderful your partner is.
Recognizable catchphrase from envious friend: "I’m not a jealous person. I’m not jealous of anyone." (When these words are uttered a slight facial twitch will appear, and a poorly concealed maniacal expression.)
Elixir: Call them out by saying "Hey, you look kind of uncomfortable when I'm talking about ____? Why's that?" At the very least they'll be aware that their concealed jealousy is not so concealed after all, and you can begin a dialogue to try rectifying the problem.
They never really tell the truth. In fact they would much rather go to the grave than admit that anything in their life is amiss or that they might have inadvertedly made a mistake. Pride is their mantra. They’ll never reveal themselves as the human being they actually are, and as a result you’ll never be able to empathize or connect with them on a human level.
Recognizable catchphrase from proud friend: "My life is perfect. My partner is perfect. My kids are perfect. My job is perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect."
Elixir: Concede something not so perfect about your life. Often an omission leads to another omission (hopefully from said proud friend) and before you know it you'll both be baring your souls unreservedly.
The friend who will always, always, always (without fail) lead you into some gluttonous under taking. By gluttonous, I’m referring to anything which falls into the binge category, whether it's food, alcohol, or any other form of general debauchery. Every time you encounter this friend you're almost 100 percent certain debaucheries will go down. You’ll then spend the next week, year, or maybe lifetime, trying to recover.
Recognizable catchphrase from gluttonous friend: "One more drink! What harm could it do?!" (Uttered with a shrill, excited, infectious tone, which instantly wipes any hangover fears from your mind.)
Elixir: Bring a friend who shares your values when you might chance across the gluttonous friend. The two of them will act like a polar opposite magnetic field and nullify their effect. Or simply say no. It might be hard at first, but practice makes perfect.
The friend that seems to always be angry with you, but you’re not quite sure why. What did I say again, you wonder, to make them go into such paroxysm of anger? Why am I listening to this tirade? And finally, of course, you end up apologizing because there’s no conceivable other way around it.
Recognizable catchphrase from wrathful friend: "How could you do that? Didn’t you know how upset that would make me?" (You have no idea what they’re referring to.)
Elixir: Don't apologize. Instead calmly point out your rationale story, and have no part in the emotional debacle.
The friend that wants it all. The emotional vampire friend, who might literally suck the life right out of you. They want your time, your energy, and sometimes even your money. It’s all about them, and it’s as though you’ve been put on this earth simply to make it a better place for them.
Recognizable catchphrase from greedy friend: "Why do you think he said that? What do you think he meant? Could you pass me a tissue?" (Said with a sorrowful, intense, searching look on their face.)
Elixir: This friend is likely very sensitive, so it's important try to empathize. Encourage him or her to look at the bigger picture. If your friend still has a problem, don't push it. Everyone is on their own journey.
Nothing ever happens when they’re around. They somehow always talk you into staying in, watching a movie and eating pizza. They’re not a person of action, and around them, neither are you. All of that goal setting and planning goes out the window, and instead of reaching for that dream you end up reaching for that Sav Blanc on the sofa, lamenting your woes with said slothful friend.
Recognizable catchphrase from slothful friend: "Why don’t we just stay in? Some pizza, a vino, maybe a rom-com. Who wants to go out anyway?"
Elixir: Only see them on your planned nights in. Everyone needs some downtime, and this friend may actually come in handy when you're looking for a laid back night.
The friend who is sometimes a friend, and then sometimes a lover, and you can never really figure out how you feel about them, but they somehow manage to block every other conceivable relationship, leaving you in a perpetual status of single-dom with no other comfort than the lustful friend.
Recognizable catchphrase from the lustful friend: "You know, we’re just friends right?"
Elixir: Really consider whether you need this person in your life, otherwise you might need to let go and move on.