Often times in life we do what we think is “best” versus what’s right.
The same holds true for the friends we keep and the advice we take in from those same people. I’ve had my fair share of learning when it comes to trusting the wrong people at the right times and as result found myself alone navigating life.
We will meet 3 types of friends in life: Those for a Reason, those for a Season or those for a Lifetime.
I never really understood the power of this quote until I got older but now it makes perfect sense. Each of these types of people will undoubtedly serve you in your life experience and growth – the key comes down to:
- Who you let in
- Why you let them in
- What are they adding to your life
“When you get older, you realize it’s not as important to have a lot of friends. It’s more important to have true friends”
So, what is a “true” friend?
Everyone has their own answer which is unique to that person so I won’t go there but I will lay out one undeniable common thread which are the friends who suck our time, energy, spirit and overall happiness. The ones who can rob us from our own dreams and happiness with a certain and sometimes not so subtle comment that chips away at our confidence.
You know who I am talking about?
We’ve all invited these types of people into our circle like vampires into our homes. However, just like vampires – once you invite them in (according to all the episodes of True Blood I used to watch) they can enter at will and come and go as they please. Sure, friends can, and should come and go as that’s life but what about those times when you really need them and they aren’t around or are too busy, then what?
Some of us have learned our lesson when it comes to these types of friends, while others still struggle with what to do. Fear not. Here are 5 common friend archetypes to watch out for:
- The Glass Half Full. This person can typically be heard saying phrases such as: “You’ve tried it before and it didn’t work out, so why bother?” or “Why risk it?” or “Don’t you know most people fail at this?” or “That’s a great idea but I don’t think it will work” or “Are you sure you can handle the criticism, or pressure or…” – all of these types of questions are rooted in fear and limited possibility. A true friend should raise your level of awareness around something but not at the expense of delivering self-doubt or disbelief.
- The Flake. This person is as hard to track down as the loch ness monster. They appear for moments at a time and then vanish into thin air. Sometimes they fall off the grid without a moment’s notice only to reappear when it’s convenient for them. They are notorious for backing out of plans and will make you chase them down. A true friend will be there for you not just in those good times but mostly definitely when the chips fall and you need them the most.
- The Dumpster. This person always unloads their garbage on you without a fair exchange of emotions. They are quick to have you listen to their “stuff” without any concern or interest in yours. A true friend will offer up their listening, heart and sometimes home if needed to support you and your concerns. They recognize that friendships are a two-way street, not a one-way road leading towards a dead end.
- The Bad Influence. This person is always in trouble in one way or another. Drama and gossip seems to follow them like stink on a skunk. No matter where they go, what they do, who they date or where they work – there is always trouble. The problem here is that this type of person doesn’t take accountability for their part in how their life got this way and as a result encourages others to play a role in their drama and circumstances. A true friend encourages you to be the best version of yourself by challenging you to make decisions based on your wants, goals and desires – not theirs.
- The One-Upper. This person is a classic Seinfeld stereotype. Their own insecurities evoke the uncontrollable urge to constantly one-up every story or experience you share with them or others. Because they don’t have high self-esteem, they look to co-opt your experiences into theirs to make them feel better about themselves. A true friend will genuinely be happy for you and with you and give you the stage without stealing the spotlight.
There are countless ways on how to best deal with these types of people should you find yourself entangled with one or more of these individuals. Below are the 5 basic steps I use to ensure the people I need are around when I “need” them.
* Important Note: Recognize that friendships take work and are about a healthy exchange of give and take. True friendships that are sustainable get this fact and although it may not always be 50/50 and at times 70/30 – it always finds its way back to even playing field.
- Recognize that there is a breakdown and friction between you and the other person. Look to find the source of the issue.
- Try to understand them if possible. Sometimes they may be going through something you simply aren’t aware of. Make the effort first to understand before writing them off.
- Weigh the pro’s and cons of having this person in your life. Take out a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. Put Pro’s and Con’s on each side of the line and start listing them out. Once you’ve exhausted this list the evidence will be clear as to what action you need to take.
- Understand the impact of cutting the cord. It’s common to cut people off or out of our lives but rarely do we take into consideration the impact this may cause for ourselves and others around us. Take a moment and explore how removing this individual from your circle will impact your career, wellbeing, finances and (other) relationships. There’s cost for both keeping this person in your life as well as letting them go – get clear on this.
- Take action & be responsible. If you’ve gotten to this stage then it’s time to cut the cord. There isn’t one proven best practice here but I will say from experience that being truthful (as hard as it may be) is the best policy. Own your “stuff” and be clear as to why you are doing what you are doing. Don’t expect the other person to simply agree to an amicable exchange – they won’t. Stand your ground and remember the list from Step 3 if you have any doubt.
Final thoughts: Toxic people are everywhere and it’s highly likely you will meet someone or already have met someone that fits one of these profiles. There are a few things to remember to ensure you don’t get sucked into their vortex. I have found the most helpful thing to do in creating a positive energy within myself and my life is to not take other people’s negativity personally and definitely spend more time with positive people. Remember to let go and move on when you need to – you owe to yourself.
The floor is yours: How do you create & maintain a positive circle of friends?