Life by Shelby presents: Toxic Friendships

This week I’d like to switch it up a little bit and take a break from the dating scene. Let’s talk about another type of relationship that is even more important, friendships.

Friends play a huge role in our lives.

Author Shelby Otto launched her new column, Life by Shelby, for West Orlando News readers! Feel free to send in letters, topics or situations (see below) you would like Shelby to cover and she’ll offer honest personal advice!

They help us through the bad times and they make the good times even better. Sometimes they stay with us our whole lives, and sometimes we have friends that are only in our lives for a short period of time. No matter how long they’re around, they make an impact on who we are. Not everyone who walks into our lives has a positive impact. Today we’re going to talk about toxic friendships.

Toxic friends are those people in your life that you may not even realize are bringing you down. After you hang out with them, you might feel drained or question whether you really had a good time with them. I want to talk about a few different types of toxic friends that you might have in your life.

One of the most difficult toxic friends to identify is the negative friend. This friend is the one who only needs you when they need boosting up from a bad mood. You find yourself having to console them about every little thing, leaving little room for you to actually have any fun. The reason this type of toxic friendship is hard to spot is because sometimes being a good friend comes with having to do some cheering up when your friend is having a bad day or going through a break up. The issue comes about when you seem to be doing this every time you hang out with that friend. Pretty soon you won’t be able to talk about the happy memories you’ve made with that person because there aren’t any happy moments that you’ve shared together. You should be surrounding yourself with people who can take a negative situation and turn it around because they are happy to just be around you, their friend.

Another type of toxic friend is the self-centered person who turns every situation into a movie about themselves. No matter how hard you try, this friend turns every conversation back to something about them, leaving you wondering if they’re even listening. If there’s something going on in your life that you are really excited about, a real friend will be happy and celebrate with you. A toxic friend will start talking about their own accomplishments or even worse, try to make your accomplishment seem less important. You start to wonder if you should even share the positive moments in your life with this friend because you’re afraid they will turn the tables. Have you ever been having a conversation with a group of people and one of your friends just seems to keep interrupting with a great story about themselves and no one else can get a word in otherwise? You might have a toxic friend.

The last type of toxic friend that we’re going to discuss is the needy friend that you dread being around. Do you always find yourself rescheduling your plans with a certain friend? Do they text you constantly asking why you haven’t hung out recently or why you didn’t answer their phone call? A good friendship is one that doesn’t need constant reassuring and one that doesn’t put a priority on hanging out all the time. If you have a friend that texts you constantly to meet up, and your first thought is, “How can I get out of this?” then you may have a toxic friend. Good friendships come naturally, and it should be something that you can get excited about, not something that feels forced. If you have someone in your life that instills a negative feeling with their presence, it could be your body telling you that this friendship is not beneficial in your life.

The most difficult part of having a toxic friendship is not identifying it, but eliminating it from your life. You may feel guilty for cutting this person out of your life, but remember; we can’t choose our family and we don’t have to like them, but we DO choose our friends and we shouldn’t feel guilty for choosing people who play a positive role in our lives. If you’ve identified a toxic friend in your life, the best thing you can do is detach yourself from the situation. Breaking up with a friend can be even more difficult than breaking up with a significant other, but it is just as important. You can’t stay friends with someone out of guilt or just because you’ve been friends for a long time.

Please email me at if you’d like some sincere advice on the current dilemma in your life! Or you can send an anonymous submission directly through our WON contact form and reference the Life by Shelby column.


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