There are two categories of people in all of our lives—people who fill us with joy and purpose or empty our soul and drain our energy. Instead of focusing on making as many friends as we can, we need to pay close attention to who our friends are. Are they the former type, who lift us up or are they the latter, who keep us down?
A lot of the science on friendships and health focuses on how good friends produce happy, mentally well-adjusted people. After all, our friendships are some of the most valuable relationships we have. We often talk to friends in confidence about things we wouldn’t discuss with our families.
But other evidence increasingly suggests that bad friends, or even well-intentioned ones with bad habits, can negatively impact your mental health. This causes your mind and body severe stress or leads to problematic patterns.
Here are few types of friends you ought to avoid or let go in life:
- The Toxic Friend
If you regularly hang out with a friend or group of friends and notice you do not feel energized either in their presence or once you leave them, that is a sign you may need to examine the friendship and your role in the dynamic.
A friendship should leave you in a joyous, happy mood and not one that consistently leaves you in a negative state. Constantly being around negative influences can hurt your own emotions.
- The Negative Nancy
Do you have a friend who is always complaining? Something is always wrong with their job, their spouse, the traffic, the weather, and the list goes on and on. They have an incessant need to whine about the things that are not going well in their lives and they make sure you hear about it with the full theatrical effect—their hands in the air, eyebrows furrowed, and voice shrill with dissatisfaction.
There’s no danger in having a friend who likes to vent once in a while, but if you have a friend who is always complaining and is negative, that’s a problem.
- The Taker
When good friends lose jobs or lovers, you offer them an ear, a hug and maybe some chocolate – and expect nothing in return.
Takers, on the other hand, drain you without replenishment, causing a lot of negative emotions that affect the whole tone of the relationship. It’s best to cut ties and invest in a more reciprocal relationship instead.
- The Drama Queen (or King)
Some people seem to be forever caught up in messy relationships, heated workplace conflicts, or yet another “crisis”. Drama seems to follow them wherever they go. Friends who revel in drama need an audience who will pay them constant, undivided attention.
If you allow yourselves to become that audience, you will be forced to listen to stories after stories, but have no real value. Before you know it, you get sucked in by their drama and find ourselves empty emotionally at the end of every conversation.
- The Ghoster
Some friends may be good day-to-day buddies, some are terrific in a crisis, and some you don’t see often because of time or distance but know you can count on them to show up for you if and when you need them. Unfortunately, we don’t often know in which camp our friends belong until that moment arises.
It can be hurtful when you reach out to someone expecting them to respond and they are silent. It doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be a good friend, but it may mean you need to either have a talk with them or consider reevaluating to what extent you can rely on them.
- The Bad Influence
Friends who are bad influences are not just from your teenage years. Your grown-up friends can also lead you astray. On one hand you need your friends to pull you out of the drudgery of adult life and remind you that you can still live life on the edge every now and again.
However, problem pals can get you into trouble, increasing your anxiety and hurting your overall health.
- The Competitor
We all know people who are competitive in nature. A little bit of competitiveness in a friendship is not a big deal. But if you have a friend who has to beat you in everything, then it’s not something you can gloss over as a “quirk” anymore.
If you have a friend who is set on outshining you in every aspect of life, then it’s apparent that they can’t bring themselves to feel genuine happiness for your success if it somehow towers over their own. A friend is someone who can be our cheerleader, not someone who will secretly (or not so secretly) boo us on the sidelines.
- The Know-It-All
This is that friend who always knows the best restaurant to go to, the best way to get there, and the best thing to order. They always have to have the last word, and can never admit when they’re wrong or apologize. It’s no fun to hang out with someone who thinks they know everything.
For one thing, they’re not really listening to you, except to correct you or one-up you. And for another, it’s insulting and frustrating to always be put down and belittled.
- The One who holds onto Grudges
There’s nothing more damaging to a friendship, or any relationship for that matter, than the poison of old grudges. No matter how wonderful your friendship is, there will be times when conflicts and misunderstandings occur. We’re humans after all, and no human is perfect. It is how we choose to handle these hiccups that determine the health of our friendship.
If you have to feel like you have to tiptoe around your friends, apologize more than necessary, and “guess” what they could possibly be mad about this time, then it’s clearly not a healthy friendship.