It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“[According to a survey of 18,000 women and 4,000 men], 84 percent of women — and 75 percent of men — said they’d had a toxic friend at some point, with 1 in 3 survey takers fessing up to a toxic BFF.” (“Toxic Friends? 8 in 10 People Endure Poisonous Pals”; TodayShow.com 8/22/2011)
It doesn’t surprise me that so many people have been in a toxic friendship at some point. There’s no way to know that a relationship will be toxic unless you’re in it.
At least a good number of those people probably got out. Somehow.
That 33% percent of people say they have or had a BFF that was “poisonous,” well that’s a bit more disturbing. Why let it get that far, if it’s such a disastrous relationship? I imagine it wasn’t so bad when the friendship started, but developed into something no-good. Or maybe it’s that when best friends get as close as sisters, there develops that sister-like competition or little annoyances. I’m not sure. I’m happy to say I don’t think either of my best friends are toxic. There might have been–there probably were–unhealthy friendships in my life back in the day, but apparently I’ve blocked them out. Isn’t that how we handle pain?
What makes a friendship toxic, anyway? According to this survey, commissioned by The Today Show and Self:
– 65% of respondents say they’ve been stuck with a self-absorbed sidekick
– 59% say their best friends are the “draining emotional vampire types”
– 55% say their pals are overly critical
– 45% say they are friends with back-stabbers, who undermine with insults or backhanded compliments
– 37% have an unreliable bestie
Let’s ignore the fact that these clearly add up to plenty more than 100%. I’ll assume those surveyed could check as many as applied, and some crappy friends committed multiple offenses. Reading this list, I realize that of course I’ve been friends with these people. There might be someone out there who thinks I am one of these people. I guess I’ve simply thought of these as annoyances, or flaws, but not necessarily reaching toxic levels. It’s such an ugly and clinical word, I try to reserve it for the worst cases.
Some other stats of note:
– 37 percent say they hide friends on Facebook when they’re upset with or sick of them
– 53 percent made a conscious decision to downgrade their toxic friend to acquaintance status.
– 22 percent (57 percent of male respondents, 14 percent of women respondents )say their toxic friend was a man (I really thought men were better behaved in this category. Glad to know they, too, can be the worst.)
So there you go. All you needed to know about crappy friends–and in what ways, exactly, they are crappy. I’ve definitely had friends who only talk about themselves, friends who are unreliable, friends who are soooo emotionally draining. In none of those instances did I end the friendship. In many cases, I moved away, or they did, so the decreased frequency of our visits made the offense seem worse. Or I learned to deal with it. Or they grew out of it.
I hope those pals who put me in one of those categories feels the same way. (Namely that I grew out of it? Maybe?)
Which of these toxic pals do you recognize? Did you end the friendship or learn to deal? And do you think there are people who think you are the poisonous one?