Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Toxic friends

I’ve just been over reading a blog that I peruse from time to time. I used to really admire her, but frankly lately I’ve been finding her a little vacuous. I was getting all riled up about her comments on what makes a good father and working mothers, and started wondering to myself why I even read her blog at all any more if she so irritates me.

Why indeed?

You know what, I have the same problem in real life. I have friends (no, I’m not talking about you) who more often than not really irritate the shit out of me. Why do I keep them in my life?

I’m not talking about the good friend who has a bad day, or the friend going through a particularly needy time, who might be taking a little more than he or she is giving at a point in time. I’m talking about the kind of friend who hurts your feelings, who doesn’t respect you, who says things that offend you on a fundamental level. Why do I keep letting those people back into my life?

I think this is more a girl thing than a guy thing. I think for the most part, if a guy doesn’t like another guy, he just forgets that the guy he doesn’t like exists. Problem solved. For some reason, girls seem to have to keep picking at the scab of a failed friendship to see if it’s still yucky. Inevitably, it still is. Or worse, girls are unable to acknowledge a bad relationship, and will continue to harbour deep resentment while putting up a sunny face.

I can’t figure this one out. It’s not like I’m starved for friendship. Matter of fact, I am incredibly blessed to have so many people I adore in my life, and who treat me with love and respect in return. In my humble opinion, the most basic definition of a friend is someone who leaves you in as good or, for the most part, an even better state of mind than when you encountered her (or him). You should not leave an encounter with a friend feeling hurt, or annoyed, or rolling your eyes.

So does that make me the hypocritical one? I am so pathetically non-confrontational that I wouldn’t say boo to my own shadow most days, so small pebbles of grievances and petty (or not-so-petty) annoyances accumulate until they become a mountain of bad feelings.

How do you deal with this? There is no ritual of spring-cleaning for friendships. How do you deal with people in the same social circle as you whom you can’t stand to be around? How do you tell someone with whom you used to be quite close that you don’t feel the same way anymore? Or should you? How do you tell a friend that the funny little running joke she’s been making for years is actually something that grates on you like fingernails on a chalkboard?

And no, really, I'm not talking about you.

(Edited to add on 6 April 2006: Would anybody be so kind as to leave a comment to tell me why people who have 'livejournal' and 'friend' in their URLs seem to be stampeding to this post today?? I'm dying of curiousity!)