You Can't Sit With Us: When Friendships Turn Toxic

We’re bored, hungry and lonely.

We all want someone to play with.

There are two types of friends, the ones who are there for the long haul, and the ones who are there for the a season.

The latter is someone to eat tacos with, or to encourage a binge on chips and dip. We all need a friend who is readily available for last minute road trips and cheap fast food. Someone with expendable time, and an insatiable impulse. You’ll hang on each other like this season’s coat. This person might be someone you’ve just met, or someone who’s flitted around like a hummingbird from time to time. Troublemakers come in all disguises.

These friendships start easy, and they’re just enough to take the edge off a world that’s demanding us to be so serious in order to make it. We need these friends, and we need the laughter and possibilities.

Soon, you are an act of mimicry, a synchronization of whispers and giggles, a combination that awakens sin and disapproval.

This friend is an acquired taste, and you will develop the craving for the taste that others will spit back out. Some of these friends will quite happily float in and out of your life, and some will become a problem.

You know the ones, the ones your other friends tell you to watch out for, the ones your boyfriend doesn’t trust and the ones you’re not quite sure about either.

But the appetite for freedom runs deep, and we abandon our better judgement.

We run around with heavy lipstick, and indulge in cartoon frolics. We boast outrageous words adorned with comic timing, and we forget about the rest.

We often forget that our environment, and the people in it, are influential. We like to imagine that we have control, even when we don’t.

Like any bad habit, a toxic friend can be a threat to our welfare, to our sobriety. They accept us into their state of disarray, and they lead the way to second hand carelessness. Once they start relying on you to fix whatever dreary mess has imposed on their lives, and once they relinquish responsibility, then you know things have gone south. Once their problem becomes your problem, it’s time to rip off their mask.

Once your worries turn into manifestations of this human being, you need to assess the damage.

I can’t help but feel a tragic sense of injustice to it all. The toxic friend isn’t quite aware of their own threat, or their influence. They see a life filled with half loves and half friendships, and they can’t quite figure it out. Yet, we can’t free a toxic mind that won’t go cold turkey.

The truth is, this friend is a catastrophe. In short, they’re a hot mess. Sure, they’re always on hand for a good time, but they wouldn’t know how to see you through a bad time if you superglued a self-help book to their face. They’ll get to where they’re meant to be, but you won’t be there to see it.

Their rhetoric is persuasive, and rooted in action and passion. Their thoughts are problematic, but ensnaring.

We become emotionally conflicted, and we’re drawn to them like summer flies to syrup.

Long after we’ve traded troves of tricks and trouble, we come to the unwelcome conclusion that an entwinement of fire starters and free spirits can lead us to poisoned memories. Fair weather friendships will always lead to dead ends.

Friendships aren’t just smiles and Instagrams, they are bound by time and life’s ugliness, they’re cemented together by history. The friends you really need are the ones who aren’t scared of your dark side, who aren’t distracted by a better party. There’s a freedom in awareness, and the sooner we become more aware of the negative influences in our lives, the healthier we’ll be. The toxic friend is a decoy, a mirror of a life you left behind.

We’ve all had friends lead us down to wonderlands of chance and circumstance. We’ve all let other people pull the strings, and call the shots. But we can decide to be eclipsed by a good time, or by good people. The party’s over, and it’s time to go home.