I think with the passing of 2016 we are all in the mindset of new beginnings. Not just resolution-related but the actual sense of starting fresh with a new year and a clean slate. New Year’s is my favorite holiday because I feel a sense of power with a fresh start, everything becomes very clear, and the problems of the past I felt powerless to change suddenly don’t seem so overwhelming.
In the new year, we focus a lot on our bad habits and vowing to get rid of them. However, what about bad friendships? How do we know that a friendship has become toxic and we need to step away from it?
Being a single mother comes with it’s share of challenges, one of those challenges is finding other people to rely on when there is not a stable partner in our life. It leaves the door open for a lot of great times and great new people, and also not so great times and people. Toxic friendships with insecure people can weasel their way into our mental dojo without us even knowing it.
Here are several good indicators for every single mom to watch for when questioning whether a you have toxic friendships in your life. I think most of these indicators can be useful for women who are not single mothers as well. I wrote this blog in two parts, as I have a lot of wisdom to share!
Toxic Friendship Sign One: The fear of saying “no”.
Sometimes you just need alone time. Sometimes you have plans with some one else. Sometimes you can’t afford it. Regardless of the situation, being afraid to tell your friend “no” is a good indicator that the relationship is not a healthy one or at best some boundaries need to be set. As adults, we develop our own lives and interests, friends are just the icing on the cake. When a friend tries to make your life all about their life it’s a pretty good sign this person needs to get a life. A friendship should not be an all-consuming thing.
Toxic Friendship Sign Two: Anxiety around their text messages or phone calls.
“Sweet Jesus are they calling me again? Are they texting me AGAIN? DOES THIS PERSON NOT GET THE HINT?! Wait, are they mad at me?!!!! UGHH!!!!”
I’ve had my share of those thoughts. Sometimes your friend is just bored out of their mind and wants to aimlessly chat. Fine. Yet sometimes this person is a control freak who is monitoring your every move. The first step is to always be honest and say, “Hey I’m really busy right now, I’ll hit you up when I have a minute, no worries!” But if that doesn’t clear the air, then perhaps a more serious conversation is in order. I’ve had friends I was very blunt with about needing alone time, they were fine with it. I’ve had other friends who took it as an excuse to verbally berate me or take an emotional crap all over social media.
Toxic Friendship Sign Three: The constant feeling of “Us vs. Them” when this friend is around.
Great Pink Floyd song. Not so great friendship philosophy.
Once upon a time, I was friends with some one who was great. We had so much in common and I felt like I could tell her anything. She was always there when I needed her and was a great source of support through a troubled time in my life. We were a dynamic duo. Then little by little I started noticing that, hey, no one else in my life was worthy according to her. I’d have other close friends around and she would need to pick apart their actions when they left the room. Or she would bring up ways that any other friend was not a good person, or how they faulted me in some way. It felt like it was a constant battle between her and I versus the rest of the world. And guess what? I started to take on the same mentality and pick apart friends I had been close to my whole life. I even went so far as to alienate everyone else aside from her. Luckily, I got wise pretty quickly after I realized “Oh hey, you have no else in your life aside from Crazy McCrazypants!” and I learned a valuable lesson about toxic relationships taking on many forms.
Toxic Friendship Sign Four: Interfering with your relationship with your child.
This is a big one, as being a single parent is not easy and sometimes all of us need a break from the stress of our lives. I am an advocate for stress relief. I am an advocate of a night of dancing and laughing. I am an advocate of a glass of wine or three. But by all means, be careful of the habits you develop as you have little eyes watching you and taking notes. Be careful of friends in your life who don’t respect that your child comes first. This means respecting you for not wanting to ditch your child for a night out. This also means maintaining financial responsibility in a single parent household and not blowing your entire paycheck on lunch dates or shopping trips with certain friends. I have friends I like to go out with but they respect my responsibilities as a mother. A good sign you’re in a toxic relationship is when your “friend” can’t understand why you don’t dump your kid on a sitter and go out partying every weekend instead.
This concludes The Single Mom’s Guide to Toxic Friendships: Part One. Stay tuned for part two next week, as I have a lot to say on the matter of toxic friendships. How about you? What opinions do you have, my readers? Single mother or not, I’d love to hear from you.