• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

How NOT to be a good friend

ByIsla McLellan

Dec 5, 2022
three friends walking together in the snow

The term ‘friend’ is loosely thrown around nowadays and the basic criteria have been lost. A ‘friend’ is typically described as someone that you like and someone that you know well. However, the building of a friendship at its core is a mark of trust, mutual respect, and genuine care for someone. However, some people don’t seem to recognise this.

Currently, I do not have a ‘friendship group’. In my own experience before coming to uni, the drama and gossip caused such a strain on my mental health that some days were physically challenging. At the time, I did not realise what was causing such negative and anxious feelings. It was not until I moved away that I realised how toxic my ‘friendship group’ actually was.

Before I came to Edinburgh I attended the same school for around 10 years. However, I’ve come to realise, the toxic environment my ‘friends’ created held me back and prevented me from enjoying my teen years.

For the purposes of this article, I will pay these people more decency than they paid me, and allow them to retain their anonymity. (You’re welcome!)

My group consisted of ‘A’, ‘H’, and ‘J’. And in my ‘friendship group’ I was the outsider, the ‘friend of convenience’ (as I’ve come to label it). It was simple, regular occurrences that built up over time to create this feeling. Being forgotten, excluded from things, speaking but being ignored, being physically excluded when walking or sitting together. The focus was always on ‘A’,’H’ & ‘J’. They weren’t the kind of ‘friends’ you could confide in either. When I made the mistake of doing so, telling ‘H’ about my feelings of exclusion, ‘A’ and ‘J’ magically heard from ‘H’ that I was talking shit about them. 

There was also toxic friend ‘F.’ This was the kind of ‘friend’ that can not be happy for or support other people’s achievements. When I was awarded the role of Head Girl, ‘F’ acted like a narcissistic bitch. They distanced themselves from me, began twisting stories to make me the enemy, and refused to acknowledge my existence as much as possible. This was purely out of spite for their failure compared to my success.

‘L’ is another example of the toxic friend, but more of a subtle bitchiness – ‘L’ was an introvert that would ignore you when someone ‘better’ comes along. ‘L’ is also an attention seeker that claims to hate attention and is not afraid to cause drama when they feel you’re not providing them with every ounce of your time. For example, when I decide to sit with someone because they looked lonely, ‘L’ thinks this is rude and I’m ignoring them and tries to claim this is bullying.

All of these experiences combined led to an overall general feeling of worthlessness, of being unwanted, and a diminished of my own self-value. It led me to believe that the only form of acceptance and validation I needed was from others and not from myself. It causes you to have a hyper-focus on what you think you should be, look like, say, do. Instead of focusing on yourself, you focus on how everyone else thinks of you, and your likability.

So some overall tips for dealing with toxic friends. Move to Edinburgh and make new, better friends that actually care about you, don’t only spend time with you when no-one else is around, and respect you for who you are.

Image “Marching Through Edinburgh Snow” by Martin Burns is licensed under CC BY 2.0.