Toxic Friends: A Manifesto
We all have one: the friend who blows you off, who drops you like a hot potato as soon as she meets a cute boy, who just needs to borrow $5 and seriously she’ll pay you back like, tomorrow. If this girl was your boyfriend, you would dump her a**–but can you really dump a friend?
I met Rebecca in the Spring of our senior year, in an English class, and it was like we had known each other forever. In only a few short months, I felt like I had a new best friend, someone I could rely on and who always understood me. I could totally be myself around her; my sometimes-goofy, sometimes-awkward sometimes-downright-weird self.
In short, it was friend love (Flove?).
I was leaving for grad school in the Fall (in another country), so we resolved to spend as much time together as possible that Summer. Now, I’m known among my friends as being a leeeeetle bit on the anal side when it comes to making plans, keeping them, and being early. I’m always early, at least by 10 minutes, to just about everything. If I make a plan with you, I will be there, rain or shine. Rebecca, on the other hand, always seemed to be in the midst of a calamity. The subway was delayed, or she accidentally fell asleep, or there was some kind of crisis, so she was going to be late. I spent a lot of time waiting for her to show up. Sometimes she’d never show up at all, calling later to apologize, and I always just acted like it was fine.
While I worked in a soul-killing temp job to earn money, she focused on her writing, occasionally doing odd jobs with unreliable paychecks. As a result, I often picked up the tab when we went out. She always meant to pay me back, but never did. At one point she had racked up about $100 in money she insisted that she owed me, so she decided to take me out on the town, dinner and drinks. Then the bank was closed, she couldn’t get her paycheck cashed…it was a calamity, as usual. I paid for everything that night, for both of us.
When my Dad came to help me pack up my U-haul at the end of the Summer, Rebecca promised she’d come around to say goodbye one last time before I left the country. I waited for her to call until my Dad insisted we couldn’t wait any longer—we’d get stuck in traffic out of the city, and it was over an hour past when she said she’d come. I tried calling but her phone was off. She sent me an instant message later, something about her phone dying, but I ignored it. We didn’t speak for months.
Like a pleading ex-boyfriend, I eventually took her back. She visited me at grad school, and we had an amazing time…my faith in our friendship was renewed! In August of the following year, I came back to the city. She was in Chicago with her new boyfriend, but she promised she’d be back in time to see me before I left. Surprise surprise, there was a storm in Chicago she told me, huge delays she said, and instead of staying at the airport to wait for a flight, she booked a new flight for the following week, when I was already back at school, and spent the weekend with her man.
I stopped returning her calls. I felt so stupid and petty, but a few months later I had a pretty zen realization:
Sometimes, friendships just don’t work out.
Seriously girls: we are here to support each other. We don’t need to be dicked around by our girlfriends…we get plenty of that from the men in our life. If a friend has an annoying habit that bothers you (lateness, tendency to “forget” that she owes you money), the first thing you should do is talk to her about it. She may not realize it upsets you, even though you put on your very best “I’m MAD” face when she shows up late. We are not mind readers, ladies. Annoying habits are, well, annoying, but they shouldn’t be a deal breaker; no one is perfect!
If she treats you really bad though, and talking doesn’t help..then she doesn’t just have an annoying habit, she’s a toxic friend. It may be a tough process, but you’ve got to cut her out. You’d never tolerate it from a boyfriend, so don’t tolerate it at all!
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