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Are Your Friends Dragging You Down?

We all love our friends and we all want plenty of them. Good friends are like jewels in our crown and they are priceless. They can be our biggest cheer squad, they can help us to find perspective and support when we are under pressure and they are great to hang out with in our free time.

But what of friends who drag us down by their negativity or their enjoyment of gossiping or putting others down? Too many of us hold on to friendships for fear of having no friends. The reverse is often the case. We become like the people with whom we spend most of our time. Their outlook will eventually affect our own outlook. Negativity breeds negativity and breaking free from negative people will help us to remain positive and attract other positive people to us.

When we share our problems with others, men and women tend to respond in different ways. Men will either try to fix the problem and offer solutions, and if there are no obvious solutions to the problem, they will, usually remain silent and offer no comment. Women generally are more inclined to try to empathize with their friends and often will reflect back negativity.

Researchers are increasingly discovering that women who share their problems with other women may not necessarily find the relief they need to a problem or distressing situation, by sharing problems with other women. If the discussion continues to be negative then the situation can be exacerbated by sharing the problem with others, rather than actually providing relief for it.

It is important that children and teenagers learn appropriate ways of dealing with negative emotions so they don’t need to rely on others when they are feeling them. Dealing with our negative emotions is a skill that many adults also need to learn. Perhaps the most important realization for all of us is that sadness and anxiety are normal parts of everyone’s life and whilst we may think at times that we are the only person facing a particular situation, this isn’t true.

Every day people live through similar feelings and experiences and so will we if we just learn to be patient in them. However, the damage that results from our feelings of anxiety and despair may be the result of the comments of well meaning friends, rather than the problem itself.

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13 comments

  1. Good friends are hard to find these days as people move around so much. With social media it can help us keep in contact, however there are friends I have had to let go of. They drained me, calling or texting at all hours with their emergencies, which were really whinges. I don’t mind listening, but when someone refuses to do something about an issue and wants to complain, then I can’t help them. One friend used to fill up all the space on my voicemail complaining and another I would have to cut off as she used up all my battery. It was a difficult choice, we can all have negative days, but too much negativity isn’t a healthy friendship and you have to cut the ties.

  2. I agree with this article a lot. Looking back to my time as a teenager, I realize there were many times when I was being outright mean to others just because of the people I was around. Although I thought myself to be a leader, free thinker, etc, the people around me still affected me in ways I didn’t realize at the time. For example, if one of my close friends didn’t like someone, I usually ended up pushing the person who they disliked away from me even when they had not actually done anything wrong to me. There were other times when I was so judgmental towards people just because my best friend exhibited that type of behavior.

    To be honest, whether people realize it or not…they often become very much like those they surround themselves with. For that reason, I try not to surround myself with people who are extremely negative, judgmental, and doing things that I just don’t want to be around (like drugs, for example). As a young person in their 20’s, this makes it very hard to find friends who are like minded…which is what drives people to surround themselves with those who drag them down in the first place.

  3. I had a friend like this. We grew up together and it was almost like we were friends by default. We hung out a lot together but I didn’t particularly enjoy her company as she was always so negative and often said things which were often uncalled for.

    Now that we are adults I realized how toxic the relationship actually was and one day it came to a head. We’re no longer friends and it’s actually a relief. At first I felt guilty for losing a friendship, but now it is a great relief to not have that negative energy in my life.

  4. To be honest that was the case with me I was associating with some less than reputable individuals which caused me a slowdown in life because me to digress instead of progress. That’s exactly what I had to leave those individuals in the past and start to move forward to a better position.

  5. You wrote, “… Too many of us hold on to friendships for fear of having no friends.” That has become a challenge in my life. I have a group of friends who all hang around together. One friend has grown to become angry and negative. She is having family difficulties with her adult children.
    I have pointed out to her all the positive issues is her life. The good out weighs the bad. If I choose to cease calling her then the others may turn against me.
    Then I would have no friends.

  6. I agree. Sometimes, we lose friends along the way as we get older. But right now, I am very happy and blessed to have such wonderful friends whom I can usually count on to in good times and in bad. They are always there for me whenever I am feeling depressed and weak, they always give me a shoulder to cry on. I am truly grateful that I have met all of them and I consider them as my treasures.

  7. I think that someone should have to earn the title of “Friend”. It is not something that can be won overnight. I want long lasting friendships to last a lifetime. Personally, I have never had a large circle but always dreamed of one day having a solid group of friends that I could lean on. Of course as time passed on and the older I got I realized that it might not happen as I had planned. Oh Well, I am blessed to say that GOD has given me one friend who has always had my back. Although I may dislike what she has to say she always keeps is short, sweet, and real with me.

  8. I cut off a lot of friends about 10 years ago. I had enough drama in my life without their added negativity or gossip. While it was much needed back then I do wish I had more friendships now as it is lonely being an island. Any advice you have on attracting the right kinds of friends? I could use some advice in that area.

  9. I came upon a similar realization on my own sometime ago and began getting rid of negative friends. However, I did not replace them so I now have far fewer friends, but they are of a much higher quality and it rarely turns into a negativity party. I find an interesting parallel in people who often listen to negative music. They say that it helps them get out their angst but it really seems like all it does is feed the negative side. Great post.

  10. I absolutely agree. It can be really disappointing losing those friends who you were so close to in one period of your life as you grow apart and you see them for who they really are. It’s disappointing not only because you invested so much time and energy into a friendship with them but because they clearly didn’t care the same way about you. Conversely, cutting people from your life who are just fun-sponges that bring you and everyone else down around them can be a hard but ultimately rewarding act. The bitching, negativity, and malicious gossip, not to mention selfish and self-righteous actions of your ‘friends’ can definitely be lost from your life for a lasting improvement on your own well-being.

  11. I tend to have a malleable personality. Sometimes I think of myself as a bit of a chameleon. It’s difficult for me to know if people are influencing me. I behave differently around various groups of people. I slip into it without noticing. I also am not always sure what group is actually appropriate for me to spend time with. Occasionally, I’ve found myself around people I thought were good. But then I see their true faces or sides of them that I didn’t know existed. Those are uncomfortable moments for me. I’ve lost close friends because they were not the people I assumed they were. I’m trying to choose more wisely these days.

    • I can really relate to this. I struggled especially when I was younger feeling that who I was simply wasn’t the kind of person who became popular or had many friends, so I tried to act like the popular girls did. The end result was only that I felt even more isolated. It was only when I threw my hands in the air and decided to be myself, even if that did leave me friendless, that I made any relationships worth maintaining. It was a painful lesson, but ending up with no friends gave me space to attract the right people who would give actual advice and honest opinions, not just gossips and co-conspirators!

  12. Sometimes I feel like they are. Not in the sense of purposefully doing it, but more like their lives is dragging my life down. It’s hard to see your friends walk with the wrong crowds or just flat out do nothing with their lives when you’re trying your best to grow up and be the best person you can be. After long years not dealing well with this issue, I finally realized that I needed to put myself before my friendships. What is the point of being friends with someone if you can’t relate to them at all and feel like the only reason the friendship is still going is because of the people you used to be, not who you are now.

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