Falling-for-the-wrong-friends-400x300When it comes to romantic relationships, I’ve been very, very lucky. My boyfriend and I met when we were young and have been together for almost 10 years. Besides one breakup/get back together cycle in college (I told him I needed to go “sow my wild oats” but just spent six months crying and writing free verse poetry in my dorm room instead), our relationship has included minimal drama. Have we been through our fair share of relationship tests? Of course, but we’ve always treated each other with love and respect.

My friendship history, on the other hand, has been chock full of drama. I’ve had more than my fair share of toxic friendships, conflicts, and friend breakups. In fact, sometimes I feel like my tumultuous experiences with friends have been an inverse reaction to my blissfully boring romantic life. Maybe it’s the universe evening things out (this girl has a sweet, steady boyfriend, let’s make sure she has to deal with some craaaaazy friends!), or maybe I just have a certain amount of fucked up relationship energy that needs to go somewhere, and since I’ve been happily paired up for so long, my friendships became the outlet.

I’ve fostered toxic friendships with all the classic “types” that my friends have dated (and regretted dating): the manipulator, the sad sack, the emotional vampire, the drama magnet, the mean girl. I’ve broken up with friends (and been broken up with) using all the usual breakup methods: angry texts, ghosting, and difficult in-person conversations. A few years ago, I literally said, “It’s not you, it’s me,” when trying to create some distance between myself and a friend who was treating me like shit. When a close friend of mine recently defriended me on Facebook, it didn’t hurt quite as bad as a significant other ending a relationship in such a casual way, but let me tell you, it definitely hurt.

Don’t get me wrong, I have some amazing friends in my life, but my track record includes a few epic misses among the hits. Misses I’m not eager to repeat.

After moving 3,000 miles away from the city I’d lived all my adult life, I’m facing a blank slate when it comes to my social life for the first time ever. The prospect of surrounding myself with new people and being particularly thoughtful/choosy about the people I let into my life is super appealing right now, but it’s also really scary. Like a dater who has been burned by one too many people they were close to, I’m afraid of getting hurt again. My past of failed friendships has made it hard for me to trust my own instincts when it comes to connecting with people. Now when I meet someone at a party and think, “Oh, she seems nice!” there’s a little voice in my head whispering, “But you thought that about Jenna too, and she turned out to be a monster.”

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the ways I could go about forming a new social circle in the face of that fear. I could take the path a lot of my single friends have taken after a breakup, and go out/mingle with a ton of people, widening my sample size to try to find a diamond in the rough. I could be extremely picky about anyone and everyone I spend time with, and put up a ton of emotional walls that potential friends have to earn the keys to, like some kind of extremely un-fun friendship challenge video game. None of these strategies feel right to me, though. None of them feel natural.

The fact is, like anyone considering a new relationship — romantic or platonic — I need to sort out my own issues before I can expect to form positive, fulfilling connections with other people. Looking back, I made a lot of my not-so-great friends during turbulent times in my life when I felt lost or angry or depressed. I attracted people with similar qualities, and then, as the friendship progressed and soured, I had no idea how to create emotional distance or maintain healthy boundaries. This is a pattern I don’t want to repeat, so I need to do some major self-reflection to make sure I understand where it comes from. I need to work on self-compassion so I never fall into the trap of thinking I “deserve” mean friends. The cliche piece of dating advice about becoming the person you want to date? It totally applies to friendships, too. I’d love to add a few more loving, fun, positive, emotionally evolved people to my life, but first I need to make sure that I’m living up to all of those descriptors myself.

Beyond that, I think friendship, like any human interaction, takes guts and vulnerability and humility and a great deal of luck. I don’t want to be so cautious that I close myself off to awesome people, but I also don’t want to fill my life with mediocre connections. I’d so much rather have a few quality friends than an army of so-so ones (or a small gang of really crappy ones, which is a reality I’ve experienced in the past).

So right now, I’m just trying to be open to social opportunities that come along, and create new ones whenever it feels right. Because if friendships are anything like romantic relationships (which they are), then I have to believe that all my ex-friends left my life for a reason: to make room for even better ones. And when those truly great friends do come along, I’ll be ready. In fact, I can hardly wait to meet them.

The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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  • JC

    I am tired of forgiving friends after they have hurt me. I can say hi and bye to you but I don’t have to tolerate your stuff. I am reassessing the word “friends”.

    • Chelle

      Reassess girl! It needs to happen sometimes.

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    Like someone mentioned I didn’t think I’d be having frenemies in my thirties but I noticed how certain friends would behave when good things would happen for me. I have a wonderfully loving and amazing supportive husband and I’ve had to cancel many friendship due to envy.

    There are many women who don’t love themselves who are pretty unhappy in their own personal lives who allow the blessings of others to trigger their insecurities. It simply is what it is.

    Women who aren’t happy with themselves can never be happy for you.

    It does hurt to let go but toxic friendships are meant to be left behind in order to make room for new possibilities.

    • Wong Chia Chi

      I’m 24 and I thought it was just me! One thing I notice also is that with women when you try to downgrade a friendship that isn’t working for whatever reason, early on, they don’t let you. They abuse the social conventions we all subscribe to, like good manners, being polite and they do it to wheedle their way into your life and be in your business or have you in their’s when you clearly don’t want to be.

      The only behavior from men that I’ve seen to be similar is guys that pretend to be your friend to get you into bed. Like they always want to be in your face all the time and can’t respect you needing space, or dealing with them less because of their behavior. Many women have this same attitude but with their friends?

      They refuse to take the hint when you ignore them or when you distance yourself, and they keep forcing themselves to be around you until you’re forced to state your boundaries outright. Then there’s this bug outpouring of emotion like…they’re breaking up with a dude! It’s always the ones(in my experience) that talk to everyone, or try to be popular with everyone. Like they have to have everyone like them, and if you don’t think the sun shines on their ass then you’re automatically the enemy or there is something wrong with you, when the problem is really that you don’t have anything in common with them. Or you just need personal space.

      I never had this problem with guy friends that weren’t romantically attracted to me. I seem to attract these kind of women too and I’m not like them. I’m the opposite of them. Don’t get me wrong, I have great female friends, but this kind of clingy neediness cycle that happens and the drama it causes is just so tiring. Can’t we act like the adults that we are without it being a big thing? Like I don’t want to write off people who are nice to me write away, but I feel like I should.

  • Emma Russell

    I saw Nadezhda Vyacheslav testimony on how she got that guy to love her as she did him.Though i don’t know her, i believed her cos she said Mutton Osun a spell caster help her seen it happen. I didn’t believe her cos she used a spell i believed her cos she made mention of a mutual spell caster i know of that is mutton Osun. I have also see a lot of testimony about his work on the the internet on blog pages and so on. I literally took a lip of faith to contact him and it turn out that it paid off. In my own case i didn’t ask that him to make anyone fall in love with me or ask that my cheating wife comes back. This time i was at fault i messed up.Will really like to say it was an honest mistake or a few hours or days of weakness but then i will be insulting my wife and the love i feel for her. I was in full control of what i was doing i had the choice not to cheat but i still did. She didn’t find out by herself i told hoping if i told her how sorry i am and how much i still love and want to be with her despite my betray she will forgive completely. It was the biggest mistake of my life maybe i should not have told her, i guess she would have still found out if she didn’t catch me then i bet the other lady would have told her what was going on to destroy what me and my wife had. It was obvious my betray really hurt her i could she it in her eye and i was really sorry. That is why i wasn’t so surprise when she asked that we go our separate ways. There and then i realized that i was following the part that ruined my life and my family. I literally lead four month of my life in misery. I have never felt like i needed her like i had felt begging was not an option nothing was an option cos she was gone. It was right about that time Mutton Osun came into the picture or when i asked that he help me get my wife to love as she did before. I was able to provide the items he asked that i get for the spell and send then down to him. Like Nadezhda Vyacheslav said “the spell does become effective at once that ” she was right also cos just after i did what Mutton Osun asked me to do with what he sent me, it took 7 days before anything happened i even thought for a minute that i had met a fake spell caster but in the end i am happy with my wife again. We going to be renewing our vows on the 20th of September. I was on the edge of become a walking dead a woman with nothing to live for thank my star Mutton Osun helped. I will also leave his contact for those who thing he can help them { [email protected] }