Five toxic friends you can do without

Toxic friends you can do withoutAs I get older, I’ve realised that my friends don’t always have to play the part of the leading lady and be my best friend and it’s ok to have acquaintances that stand in the chorus line but what do you do if you have a friend who always wants to be the star of the show?

Here are ways to recognise toxic friends, identify a friend from a foe and ultimately decide whether you want your friend just to be a part of the opening act, return for an encore performance or just cut your losses and announce the final curtain call.

The competitor

  • When you tell her about your promotion, your new job, upcoming holiday or anything remotely good in your life, she always tries to one up you with stories of how she has the best boyfriend, an amazing job or apartment with great views.
  • She only seems happy when you’re unhappy and is all ears when you want to discuss your problems but only feigns a look of interest and can barely hide the look of disappointment on her face when you want to discuss something good in your life.
  • ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ was her favourite song at school and sometimes you think you can hear her faintly humming it under her breath to gather courage when she’s caught in an awkward situation.
  • Her favourite shows are The Apprentice, The Amazing Race, America’s Next Top Model any basically any show involving a lot of females being nasty to each other and a prize at the end.

Conclusion: The upside of this friendship is that they are constantly keeping you on your toes even if it is only just to stop them from pushing you over the edge but a little healthy competition is ok and they can bring you to greater heights. On the downside, it can be very draining to have a friend who is always trying to downplay your achievements to bring themselves up.

Single White/Black Female

  • She goes to the same hairdresser, manicurist and even dentist as you and if you wear an outfit you love she will turn up in a similar ensemble the next week right down to the shoes and accessories.
  • You introduce her to your friends and your new boyfriend and in less than a week, she has all their email addresses, adds them as friends on her Facebook account and invites them to her holiday house in the Gold Coast.
  • She has your number on speed dial, sends you text messages on the hour, invites herself along on your dates and gets upset if you can’t meet up with her every single Saturday night.
  • She badmouths your friends and your boyfriend, is trying to isolate you from your friends and none of your mutual friends like her. She has  a persecution complex and thinks everyone is out to get her.
  • She emulates your life and breaks up her with boyfriend when you break up with yours so you can be single girls together or you fall pregnant, she desperately tries to fall pregnant to her boyfriend of only six months so your children can grow up together.

Conclusion: This person has obsessive tendencies and this is one friendship you should consider cutting dead. They do not have your best interests at heart. While imitation may be regarded by some as the highest form of flattery, you cannot grow and develop as a person if you have friends who mirror you, are yes women and don’t challenge you as a person or let you breathe and spend time with other friends.

Ms Self Absorbed

  • She rings you at all hours of day, morning or night to discuss her latest break up, work or weight loss problems in agonisingly, painstakingly and graphic detail but if you have anything of import to discuss, she either changes the topic back to her or says she will call you back and never does.
  • She always starts a conversation with ‘I or my’ and the friendship is always at her convenience, revolves around her social life or you only hear from her if there is no one on her A list available. You’re the first one she thinks of when she has a problem but the last one she thinks of when she has a hot event to go to.
  • She has over 500 friends on her Facebook, most of whom she hasn’t met. She constantly updates her Facebook status and tweets about what she had for breakfast, her latest boyfriend or work dramas. She loves the instant gratification of social networking and thinks the ‘reply all’ button is a Godsend.
  • She is always on the lookout for a better opportunity. Dependency and reliability in a friend is low on her priorities. If someone with more status, money or connections comes along, she will start spending less time with you and more time with her friend of the moment.

Conclusion: It’s important to set boundaries with self absorbed friends. If you’re working or busy, cut the conversation short and ask her to call back at a more convenient time. Keep her at a distance, enjoy her company in small doses and try and spend time with her in a group so she can’t monopolise your company and you won’t be used as a dumping ground for her problems. Keep your expectations low and don’t use her as your go-to person because you’ll only end up disappointed and frustrated.

The Clayton’s friend

  • She always cancels at the last minute due to a family drama, overtime at work, her new love interest or a problem with a pet that you never even knew she had or has some inconceivable or weak excuse that wouldn’t fool a five year old let alone stand up in court.
  • She treats her friends like the latest fashion trend – disposable and interchangeable.
  • She always has a new best friend every week that she just discovered and spends all her time with but a few weeks later, you never hear their name again.
  • It’s like Ground Hog Day everything you happen to run into her. She always says that you should catch up for a coffee but when you follow up on her invitation, she’s always too busy to meet up with you and you walk away with a sense of de ja vu.
  • If you try and address her behaviour, she just disappears off the face of the earth and it’s like she never existed. Six months later, you hear on the grapevine that she’s engaged (six times and counting but hasn’t made it to the altar once yet) and a 100 new followers on Twitter.

Conclusion: Humour her when she asks you out to events but have a back-up plan or plan B and keep the thought at the back of your head that she will probably cancel on you at the last minute. These friends are great for socialising and very charismatic but just laugh it off when they cancel your plans for the umpteenth time. This person is usually very good company when they are in their element but just don’t count on them for anything remotely important like being your bridesmaid at your wedding.

Ms Happily Ever After

  • You only ever see this friend when she is single but when she has a boyfriend, she is nowhere to be found. Once she has broken up with her boyfriend or Mr Right Now, she’s calls you and wants to pick up where she left off like nothing happened.
  • She loves playing the perfect hostess and having intimate couple dinners or couple only events. Of course you’re not invited because she wouldn’t want to make you feel awkward or the third wheel. She doesn’t want to be one of those bad friends that do that.
  • She loves being part of a couple and she’s one of those couples who have a shared email account, invites her boyfriend or husband to girl’s nights out and uses the words ‘we, us and ours’ constantly. You only hear from her when her partner is not available.
  • Her conversation topics revolve around her partner and her family. Anytime you can get a word in edgewise about your job, upcoming holiday or your achievements, she cuts you dead and asks you about your love life with a look of pity on her face.
  • She has her favourite movies Bridget Jones, the Sex and the City Movie and any Jennifer Aniston flick on high rotation so she can exhale and be thankful that she’s not single anymore.

Conclusion: This friend does have your best interests at heart but it is better to see her when you’re in a group situation. Now she has reached her mission in life ie finding the love of her life and seemingly has nothing else to do, she’ll throw all her energy and sacrifice her time in helping you find your soul mate. So unless you want to be constantly interrogated about your ‘Peter Pan complex’ or want to throw yourself off the nearest bridge after every time you see her, keep contact to a minimum.

With some friendships, there is an imbalance of give and take and that’s ok but if the balance is more like 70:30 than 60:40, then you may have a problem. It’s also important to address whether you are the toxic person in the relationship. I think if we all look at ourselves honestly, at times we may have been the bad friend or the one whose behaviour needed to be addressed or as Sarah Wilson says in today’s Sunday Life magazine, perhaps we should just lower our expectations.

Have you got any friends that shouldn’t have made it past the audition stage? Drop me a line below and let me know your experiences.

Comments are welcome. However, please  note that personal remarks and attacks or comments not related to the topic may be deleted or edited.  Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to email notifications.


  1. Julie, 21 February 2010, 12:44 pm

    A refreshing look at female friendships but surely there could be a positive one in there somewhere. We all have had friends like that.

  2. Gillian Nalletamby, 21 February 2010, 12:57 pm

    I’ve added a conclusion based on your comment. I think the positive we can take in all this is to look at ourselves honestly and question whether we have been this person to our friends at one time or another and whether we can become a better friend. Perhaps, I’ll do a followup on the type of friends a woman should have.

  3. Emma, 26 February 2010, 12:45 am

    I don’t have any toxic friends, but unfortunately I cannot say the same for my family members – who are a bit harder to cut from your life. The ‘competitor’ version in particular rings a bell. One relative is exactly that. According to her, her hardships are always more challenging, her achievements always better, her dramas more dramatic, her stories funnier. As a result, her favourite – often only – topic of conversation is herself. But that’s family for you, I guess. And don’t even get me started on in-laws!

  4. Gillian Nalletamby, 1 March 2010, 9:54 pm

    This whole thing was supposed to be tongue in cheek and a cliche … not to be taken seriously but if you do find someone is wearing the same outfits as you and trying to steal your boyfriend, tread cautiously 🙂

  5. Maria, 28 March 2010, 3:19 pm

    Funny article again … I have a friend who is Ms Happily Ever After. She was ok before she was married and maybe before she had kids but now every conversation has to revolve around marriage and her family. She’s like an annoying aunt asking all those uncomfortable questions she shouldn’t ask. I’m just trying to avoid her phone calls!

  6. Sexysinglegal, 21 July 2010, 7:38 pm

    Girl, you hit the nail on the head with this article. The older you get, the more you realise that you can only have a handful of real friends and the rest are all acquaintenances.

  7. nostalgiajones, 5 May 2011, 4:41 am

    Very well written article, I must make a mental note to stay away from the frenemies!

  8. Gillian, 5 May 2011, 9:32 pm

    You know what they say … keep your friends close and your frenemies closer! Thanks for the compliment and for visiting my blog. I love your blog!


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