Saying Goodbye to Toxic Friends is an important Narcissistic Abuse recovery step.
Toxic friends — these are people who put their own special interests, need for attention, and control-seeking desires ahead of that of the people closest to them in a friendship circle. How do you spot them and what do you do if and when you find yourself caught up in a whirlwind relationship with them? One reader shared her experience with FRIEND ABUSE, noting that all the red flags and hallmarks the person who targeted her for social use is likely to have one or more Cluster B personality disorder issues. Ultimately. learning how to say, “Goodbye!” to toxic friends with grace, ease, and dignity is truly one of the most important milestones in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery.
The following is a letter from a gal who had a wake-up call. After researching toxic family issues and toxic parents, she began to look closely at her own historical pattern of being drawn to abusive people in romantic as well as friendly and professionally-based relationships. Here, she offers her account of what it was like to be targeted for abuse by a person who clearly did not have a true friendship goal in mind.
Whether you have to say goodbye to one toxic friend or a host of narcissistic peers, the method of identifying them by personality type and letting go of the relationship remains the same. Regarding the process, the Anonymous post contributing author writes:
Becoming aware of the increasingly obvious facts that you are in a close, personal “friendship” relationship with someone who is emotionally abusing you is not easy. Turning to the internet, Google searching ‘ my friend doesn’t ever apologise’ , ‘my friend has stopped returning my calls’, ‘my friend can never admit she is wrong’ throws up a plethora of links to narcissism, toxic relationships and online forums for victims of abuse.
Devouring them for clues, the dawning realisation that the descriptions of behaviour fit and would seem to follow the stages of my friendship. Idealise, devalue, discard. Yup that’s the inevitable sting of being involved with someone with NPD and not knowing anything about it.
But, the majority of anecdotes and websites talk from the view of the ‘victim’ being involved in a romantic relationship. Now, I find it hard to believe that I am the only person who got tangled up in a messy friendship which was only ever that, a close female friendship with no sexual attraction ever thrown into the mix?
Well from my side anyway, although the ‘friend’ did once confess that she had considered our relationship might have become sexual but when I told her that wouldn’t be happening, the relationship continued, apparently unaffected.
So, the mind-blowingly shocking realisation for me is, I have been completely and systematically manipulated, used and emotionally abused in the exact same sequence and by using the same techniques (gas lighting, blame shifting, projection etc) as I’ve read about now, by someone who professed to be, not just a friend, but my ‘best friend’ .
Trying to get my head around the fact that this person has never really cared about me at all, despite her repeatedly telling me how glad she was that we were friends, always commenting to others about close we were, how she wanted to head off on a “Thelma & Louise” trip round America (no doubt it would only have been me that ended up over the cliff though!) but hey, wait a minute… that was when we first started spending time together.
Oh yeah, that was the love bombing I’ve read so much about. From someone who seemed so honest, so sincere, so completely genuine. I felt so comfortable in her company. We could talk for hours and hours and how attentive she seemed, how keen to know all about me, how genuinely interested in my life…How lucky was I to have found this wonderful friend when so many of my other friends had moved away or were too busy with husbands & children to meet up these days!?!
Fast forward a few months…why do I have this strange unsettled feeling that I have done something to upset her – I’ll text her to apologise .
Not quite sure what I’m apologising for but hey, if it helps sort out this slight coolness I’m detecting, can only be for the good. There, text send… No reply. Strange, as she is usually pretty good at replying quite quickly. Must be busy. Still no reply. Wish I hadn’t sent it now. No reply. Must have sounded needy and weird. Days later no reply. Mention it next time I see her – ‘Yes I got it, it was ridiculous – did you actually expect me to reply to it, keep that sh** to yourself in future??’ Ehm okay. Must have got the wrong end of the story somewhere but I can do that sometimes as I overanalyze everything don’t I? Read too much into things. Maybe she was just joking cos I don’t always find her jokes that funny even when she is roaring with laughter. Move on and get over it as she says.
And so we‘ve (meaning I, as target) moved into the next, inevitable stage of the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse — THE DEVALUE PRIOR TO THE DISCARD PHASE. The damage to my self esteem and psychology was both dizzying and great in the most alarming of no-so-great-in-quality-but-massive-in-quantity sort of ways.
From being someone who apparently had a lot of good qualities and was great company, it would seem that I now have a lot of areas I need to be working on. Always smiley faced, frequently delivering comments about me being ‘too sensitive’ ‘a people pleaser’ and of course ’too nice’ ; all for my benefit of course and told ‘honestly’ from a friend that ‘cares’. And yet, sometimes I have a nagging doubt, some of these ‘comments’ are actually harmful / too direct/ almost cruel but then yes, I am a bit sensitive, and yes, I do sometimes overreact and she is my best friend who just wants the best for me, trying to toughen me up for my own good. Take it on the chin and don’t be such a thin skinned idiot.
A year on, from when we first.. it is now always me who suggests getting together. Often she doesn’t reply and I’m left uncertain about our friendship these days.
I have other friends who tell me this is not a good friendship and that I seem preoccupied with her. ‘She doesn’t treat you well’, ‘she doesn’t deserve your friendship’, but she is ‘just a bit forgetful, a bit unreliable, a bit flaky’ I reply, but somewhere deep inside, I know this is not true — that she claims to have not gotten my voicemail messages, seen my emails, read my texts, etcetera. I feel like I am being ghosted by a person who uses push-pull to keep me feeling strung out on the friendship bait and switch hotline.
I’m lucky. I have always had lots of friends and find it easy to make friends. People tell me I’m funny, the life and soul of a party, a kind, considerate friend so why, why does this friendship matter so much? Why am I so keen to pursue a friendship with someone who doesn’t seem too bothered about me anymore and who on occasion has actually been downright nasty to me? Ever the people pleaser, I bash on with it though.
So sometimes people can’t let you know they can’t make it to the cinema until 5 minutes before the film starts and you are standing waiting in the cinema, right?
And sometimes, they do change their plans really suddenly, get delayed, forget their phones, get blind drunk, don’t pay you back for the money you lent them, shout at you aggressively when you disagree with them, hang up on you when you are on the phone and say that sometimes you find their lateness a bit irritating , forget your birthday, tell you the present they bought for you at Christmas was ‘actually cheap as chips’ when you say how much you like it, turn up with that pal they said they couldn’t be bothered with without telling you she was coming too, always expect a lift even though they have a car, scream in your face that there must be something f***ing wrong with you and how f***ing dare you call them annoying when they cancel on you yet again at very short notice and who the actual f*** do you think you are. And that this friendship is way too f***ed up for them…..right??
Time to reconsider this whole thing. But then, a text message suggesting a night out to see a band you love. And then an invitation to dinner. So, must have been a really stressful time for her what with all that overtime she had been doing and the problems with her house.
But somewhere, down in the depths of my consciousness, something is beginning to rumble, louder and louder.
Watch yourself, she isn’t who she seems to be. Look at the actions not the words. How about a suggestion to discuss how things have been? Suggest maybe we need to re-evaluate, spend a bit less time together to appreciate each other again, familiarity breeding contempt and all that…
Yes, that is a great idea. She will welcome the opportunity to build bridges and sort all this out.
But text , not phone as she said she is usually too busy to answer her phone these days. Okay, so no reply yet, but give her time because I are quite impatient and not everyone can reply as quick as me and although she does always seem to have her phone to hand in my company, doesn’t mean she always does, so give her time…
Days later – ping, a horribly worded, dismissive, abusive text stating that, amongst other things I have ‘killed the friendship now’. Stunned, I pick up my phone and dial her number to ask her what she means. I’m left in no uncertain doubt as to just what a hideously unpleasant and downright messed up person I am. Weeks go by.
Welcome, I think, to the DISCARD PILE. The silent treatment coupled by my fake friend actually ghosting — lurking about on social media profiles of friends and family but never actually making a point to stop pulling a disappearing act, vanishing after behaving abusively then quite manipulatively engaging in stonewalling.
What to do now? If I avoid dealing with the situation and my feelings, I am likely to repress my own needs to honestly confront and process this… but seeking HER out for validation of hurt and confusion is certainly not going to help me get over this. So — what to do, what to do?
Think things here carefully through…
If the person who is showing signs of having a personality disorder is JUST A FRIEND, does it really mean that he or she is not going to follow all the same patterns as they would when duping a new boss, love fraud target, or con artist mark? Time to rethink all I know and have learned about Cluster B people and toxic family members.
No contact. Fastest way to heal and deal… realize what truly happened, figure out my own vulnerabilities that allowed her to exploit me emotionally as well as to psychologically invalidate me, and after purposefully self advocating to set healthy, clearly established boundaries disengage like a Star Trek ship at port pulling away.
Then the dreaded realization hits — Oh no. Have books of hers still. Books she insisted on lending to me — get this — to improve myself!!
Want rid of them, the books that I know legally belong to her that are taking up space in my house while acting as crappy abuse reminders. No ties — her psychological crap, not mine. Now under no illusions that this is an extremely unhealthy friendship and I want out. She’s abused me, yet wants ME to think that her problems are caused by me somehow.
Do the thing I am dreading most, realizing that I am now officially willingly participating in the cycle of abuse by doing something showing respect for HER that is likely to end up hurting or sacrificing MYSELF.
Text to ask what is the best way to return them to her. Text back immediately… ‘just drop them off on Saturday.’
SET AND ESTABLISH firm and clear boundaries. Psychologically position myself to go and remain GRAY ROCK during any period of time I am exposed to her personally, noting that cell walls that are porous are likely to take in toxins. Meditate before arrival on establishing a firm delineation between what is HER nonsense compared with what’s actually true for ME, noting that there is no reason to give credit to someone’s subjective opinion who is a pathological liar, abusive, or a known manipulator.
THE DEED IS DONE.
Did so. Felt great. Head high. Did not engage on any personal level. Did not revisit the ‘friendship’ as a conversation.Successfully handled what I was there to do to ease my own conscience and mind without inflicting harm on myself or (ultimately) even her.
She looked small and pathetic. And lost. ‘Did you take milk in your coffee?’ So hard to remember when you’re making that ten thousandth cup isn’t it?? Let’s keep it civil. Drink some coffee then get out out of there.
So, dropped off the books and wished her well in the future. Don’t mean it but hey — be the bigger person etc .
She says the same “wish you well” future speak words, but coming from her lips they sound… sarcastic. Her parting words sound as vibrationally hollow as the icy cold glint in her eye (known as the “Sociopathic Stare” appears to be. When she opens the door for me to leave, I temporarily look uncomfortable as I realise I’m not sure what to say on leaving…(see you never again ?) but opt for a simple goodbye. That’s the most polite and appropriate thing to do in such a situation — to offer a socially appropriate but non-personalize form of closure.
All contacts blocked /shut down for good now. I’ve seen behind that carefully crafted mask of decency and charm. The real disorder. The rage and fury of someone who thought they could continue to take advantage of my good nature barely able to conceal it behind that oh so flimsy mask now.
Wiser now. Still reeling from it but working on myself so it can never happen again. Deciding to accept the ‘gift’ of having had a close encounter with a disordered person who will never change themselves, but did shine the light on unresolved hurt from childhood and made me see where I need to make changes.
Hope this post letter helps other who have gone through similar experiences. You have my full permission to publish it, although I think it best to remain anonymous.
I just really want other victims and survivors of toxic friendships to note…
We are stronger than them, we can look at ourselves honestly, we can take responsibility for our actions, we can be wrong sometimes, we can hurt without hurting others AND now we know that they choose us for our qualities , qualities that they can never have themselves.
If you or someone you know is currently being used and abused by a friend (or if you notice that you yourself seem to “attract” toxic and abusive people into your life), read on. We hope that you will found it a candidly inspiring and sociologically validating read, noting the writer handled taking personal responsibility for ending the abuse enabling cycle she found herself feeling psychologically and emotionally trapped in with a gracious sense of dignity, self-care oriented poise, and ultimate ease.
Bottom line, all breakups HURT (friend, family, employment, romantic, or otherwise). But losing toxic friends who do not respect or appreciate your time, friendship, loyalty, or commitment to forging a healthy and loving, reciprocal and mutually beneficial adult relationship with you or your loved ones is actually a gain for Narcissistic Abuse victims — never a “loss”.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again… as Narcissistic Abuse recovery writer Anonymous Jones regularly tells friends, family, abuse victims, and adult children of toxic parents, People Pleasers learning to say, “Goodbye!” in a gray rock manner to toxic people and egocentric friends is one of the most crucial of all collectively suggested, tried and true, empirically and statistically validated Narcissistic Abuse recovery steps.
Human beings fail to thrive when and if they surround themselves with Cluster B people. Just because you are not biologically related or romantically tied to one does not make YOU any less of a mark, narcissistic supply source, or target.