Toxic Friends

According to Florence Isaacs, author of True Friends/Toxic Friends:

“a toxic friendship is unsupportive, draining, unrewarding, stifling, unsatisfying, and often unequal.”

Isaacs goes on to say that:

“toxic friends stress you out, use you, are unreliable, are overly demanding, and don’t give anything back.”

We’ve all had these kind of friends even though it’s natural not to be aware of it at first. In her book, Isaacs outlines five types of toxic friend.

Firstly, a toxic friend can be unhealthily competitive. An overly competitive friend is toxic because they cannot congratulate their friends on their accomplishments in life, rather they see every situation as a chance for one-upmanship.

Secondly, what she calls “The Debbie-Downer”, the kind of friend who always calls you up in times of crisis and conversations with them feel more like ongoing therapy sessions. If they never ever share any positive news nor offer the same kind of support in return, they’re a toxic friend.

Next up is “The Promise Breaker”, who, as the name suggests, makes promises but doesn’t keep them yet they expect a higher standard of behaviour from you in return and don’t hesitate to call you on it if you slip up. This self-centred behaviour has no place in your life.

Then we have the critical friend. Whilst a little constructive criticism can be helpful, who needs a friend that picks holes at everything you do? This just causes you to be on the defensive whenever you’re around them.

Finally, there’s “The Gossip”. No, not the band, the so-called friend who betrays your confidence in them by telling anyone who’ll listen your innermost feelings. Here’s a tip for spotting this kind of toxic friend: if they relish in gossiping about other friends’ intimate secrets, imagine what they say about you behind your back.

Personally, I have become ruthless in my old age! I remember reading that the average person has most friends at the age of twenty-two. I was twenty-one at the time and I remember thinking, “I hope not”.

It turns out that the news report was spot on. I partly think this is due to life getting in the way. Our circumstances change in our twenties; we finish our studies and join the rat race, we try to get on the property ladder, we settle down, we travel or move away, not necessarily in that order.

However, it’s also due to us wising up and being cleverer about who we spend our time with as well as having a better idea about who we are.

To my younger self I know I would seem like a Billy No Mates, but the truth is I’m much more selective when it comes to considering someone a friend or not.

Through betrayals and let-downs I’ve realised I can trust very few people in life and I can trust no-one like I trust myself. Sad but true, isn’t it?

Nonetheless, I’ve never been happier because I don’t spread myself too thinly, wasting time on people who are not real friends while neglecting myself.

I used to be a bit of a doormat and I take full responsibility for putting myself in the position to be used and abused. As a former friend used to tell me,

“The first time someone hurts you, shame on them. The second time, shame on you”.

I’ve got some amazingly great friends who have stood the test of time and have been there for me through thick and thin. To friendship!

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He’s The One

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

This poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning has always stuck in my head since I studied it at secondary school. I remember admiring the passion in her sentiments but I couldn’t relate to it having never felt such intense love before.

Now as I read the poem I feel it has newfound poignancy – I can’t totally relate to it because it describes how I feel about my fiancé.

He’s so special and precious to me. He’s the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.

This is not a cheesy first flushes of love statement. It’s the real deal after almost three years of being together, living together and evolving together throughout all the ups and downs that life has thrown at us.

Here’s to the future!

Blood is thicker than water…

“Blood is thicker than water” is a German proverb (originally: Blut ist dicker als Wasser.), which is also common in English speaking countries. It generally means that the bonds of family and common ancestry are stronger than those bonds between unrelated people (such as friendship).

They tell each everything, confiding their innermost thoughts and secrets in each other. Their bond is so strong that noone on Earth could tear them apart, not even their respective partners take precedence (nor should they wish to).

They have their own in-jokes and have shared their childhoods and all-important adolescence together. There is noone like them.

They are brother and sister.

Watching with a touch of the green-eyed monster, I observed my fiancé and his younger sister’s closeness as he was the first person she could turn to when distressed.

“That’s how it should be,” I thought to myself. I’m not envious because I’m an only child, yet rather because I feel the best way to describe my younger brother and I is “a love-hate relationship”.

While sibling rivalry is perfectly normal when you’re growing up, the general consensus is that it’s a phase that we should have grown out by the time we reach our mid-twenties.

Since I first left home for my Spanish Erasmus experience aged twenty, my tumultuous relationship with my brother remarkably improved and went on improving throughout my emancipation at university in Southampton and subsequently moving to Spain six years ago.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and, although there was plenty of bickering and some major tiffs, we always made up.

In December he came to visit me with his new girlfriend and one such tiff ocurred and we fell out but despite apparently talking normally since then, there is an elephant in the room.

I’m saddened by this turn of events and, having just found out that my future sister-in-law has cancer, even more so. I hope this gives him some food for thought as I’ve held out an olive branch by phoning him and suggesting meeting up this summer in England.

There’s only so much I can do… Now the ball’s in his court. Watch this space.

Introducing My Scattered Brains…

Having heard good feedback about WordPress and feeling somewhat uninspired by my four-year-old Blogger blog of the same name, I thought I would take the plunge. So here’s to starting afresh, refocusing on my writing and, hey, my first post of many more!!!

Little Miss Scatterbrain

Little Miss Scatterbrain

(skăt’ər-brān’) pronunciation
n.
A person regarded as flighty, thoughtless, or  disorganized.

scatterbrained scat’ter·brained’adj.