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girls who are together in friendship

Embrace Healthy Friendships and Maintain a Distance from Toxic Ones

What do your friendships look like? Who are you choosing to be your friends? If your circle of friends consists solely of people who need to be rescued, and individuals who join you in poor-me pity parties, it’s time to expand your circle.

Friendships are healthiest when they include

  • someone you mentor
  • peers
  • someone who mentors you

Healthy friendships do not allow you to perpetually be the victim, nor do they drain you dry with their own insatiable needs.

“Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear,

or a fool from any direction.” ~ Cowboy wisdom

Friendship Fears

People sometimes fear becoming too vulnerable in a friendship because we fear

  • rejection
  • competition
  • appearing needy

Research shows that people feel balance when they experience interactions with family, friends, and work associates. When one of these categories is missing, we experience a level of loneliness. While rejection happens in relationships, when you are healthy and your friendships are quality, rejection will still be disappointing, but not overpowering.

Healthy friendships:

  • encourage you to be the best you can be
  • don’t buy your excuses for staying stuck
  • have unselfish motivations
  • can say no to each other and remain strong
  • share feelings honestly
  • can trust each other to honor confidences
  • are accountable
  • are available
  • give each other freedom to fail — as we all will on occasion
  • are built on equal footing
  • ask each other about progress on our goals

Healthy friendships are not:

  • always there
  • They can be seasonal.
  • competitive
  • envious
  • exclusive
  • rescuing
  • smothering
  • testing

“Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” ~ Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life

Friendship Check

You attract healthy friendships when you are healthy. Here are questions that help bring your best self to friendships:

  • Am I seeking fulfillment from another?
  • Am I drawn to people because of our common pain? Or do I relate to the greatness and potential in others?
  • Am I focused on the opportunity to participate together in community?

Healthy friendships are a two-way street. You bring your best to friendships when you are:

  • Content with your age
  • Content with your weight
  • Developing your talents
  • Not sabotaging your potential
  • Working with your limitations
  • Not taking on more than you are able

Toxic associations talk about others while beneficial friendships focus on ideas, dreams, and potential. When a typical topic of conversation is a common enemy (political, family member, neighbor, or work associate), this is a negative relationship. People who talk poorly about others to you, talk poorly about you to others. This scenario never ends well. Change the conversation and/or change the relationship.

These associations don’t have to be completely jettisoned — and in the case of work associates or family members that is not even an option. Move them to an outer ring of relationships where your conversation is less intimate and always more uplifting.

You are involved with healthy relationships when your friends and you both dream big and accomplish goals. Vibrant friendships support and encourage each other to be their best.

“Friends … they cherish one another’s hopes.

They are kind to one another’s dreams.”

Henry David Thoreau

For You

Use the free list of conversation starters to initiate quality conversations with others.

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Meet PeggySue

We’ve heard of soccer moms and stage mothers. I’m a writer who trailers my kids and horses across the nation. My Apple computer, fondly christened MacBeth, is the essential I bring along.