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Nine Types Of "Toxic" Friends That You Don't Need To Ditch

Hear me out.

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If you've been reading magazines and websites the last few years, you have probably been told that you are surrounded by "toxic" friends.

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This list suggests 10 friends you can "kick to the curb" (rude) and this one goes so far as to say they're sabotaging your happiness, while this one makes the case that forgetting a birthday is an offense worthy of friendship termination. This handy guide that calls them "poisonous" and suggests "how to get rid of them" as if they're vermin ironically calls for the dismissal of your "worst critic" and friends who "have no respect." Know what's critical? Calling human beings poisonous. Know who has no respect? Friends who feel entitled to perfect friends who exist only to build them up all the time.

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There are absolutely abusive, miserable, and soul-sucking friends you don't need in your life. But what all of this advice does is obscure the difference between truly unhealthy friendships and friendships that consist of flawed human beings that are not always a walk in the park. You and your friends deserve better than outright dismissal for being imperfect and human. The types of friends below are hard to have, yes. But it can be better for you and for them to establish boundaries and communicate rather than ditch each other.

1. The "Forever Alone" Whiner

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This friendship is definitely exhausting, mostly because all of the reassurances in the world don't seem to make this friend feel better. But they are also single in a world that constantly, relentlessly tells them they should be partnered. Also, being in a relationship is shown to be good for your health and well-being. So their suffering is real, it is not just self-pitying moaning. This is not toxicity, this is loneliness. And unless the chances of your current relationship lasting are 100%, you will probably need this friend at some point later when you're feeling all alone.

2. The Romantic Critic

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This friend is known for being the first to notice that your new boyfriend or girlfriend is not quite perfect, and that bums you out. During relationships, they are the likeliest to call out your partner's shit when you secretly want your friends to help you justify ignoring their bad behavior.

It is tempting to think that this friend is just jealous. They aren't — they just aren't playing your "yes man" because they know you deserve better than the treatment you're getting, and others are sometimes able to see our worth better than we can. A good friend will certainly not relentlessly pick on your partner when they aren't doing anything wrong, but when they notice a pattern of bad behavior and call it out, it is for your benefit and not their own. Keep them around; they'll be awesome during a break-up.


3. The Professional Naysayer

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Ugh, this bitch. The truth is, this friend might be legit terrible and only good for gloating at later. They are always putting down your dreams, telling you to stick with what you know, play it safe, and not try out anything professionally risky. This friend is jealous of your ambition, intimidated if you're thinking of going into her profession, or she is genuinely scared that risk-taking is a huge mistake. If it's one of the former two, it will feel that much better when you do succeed and can be a living embodiment of the nail-painting emoji while they sulk. If it's the latter, then they probably genuinely care about you winding up happy and financially secure. Either way, they have an important role to play in your life, so you don't have to ditch them just yet.

4. "Debbie Downer"

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She is the Eeyore of friendships, and yes, it is hard that she is a source of negativity. But this one is in quotations because it is actually a pejorative way of describing and undermining the interior lives of women who are often actually clinically depressed. The idea that the best option is to ditch this friend entirely is straight-up cruel.

How would you feel if you had a disease that caused your friends to be like, "Ugh, your negativity about this whole being chronically ill thing is really spoiling my mood. LATAH." Spoiler alert: You would feel like shit. You are 100% justified if you set boundaries to make sure she doesn't become dependent on you rather than on a substantial network of friends and professionals. But friendships don't exist just to lift you up — they exist so you can lean on each other.

5. The Forever Young YOLO FOMO Kid

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This friend loves to fucking party and they have an Instagram feed that'll let you know it too. They are probably partying right now. They have bad tattoos and drink a lot and their name is probably something like Trevor, Tyler, Crystal, or Kimmy. But is their behavior actually irresponsible, or do you just think they're too old for it? Why do you care if they keep partying if it isn't harming anyone? If they will only hang out with you whilst partying, and you hate partying, then you can give them their walking papers. And if their behavior is actually dangerous to you, then by all means, ditch them. But if this is just about you wanting to feel that you are only around cool and sophisticated people who drink martinis instead of tall boys, maybe you're the not-so-great friend. Also, this might be the friend you need when you have an "oh my god, I'm so old and missed out on everything" moment, which, chances are, you will.

6. The Trend Evangelist

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He has been gluten-free, vegan, and Paleo, and has sworn up and down that they all changed his whole life! She has "leaned in," followed The Rules, and she ate, prayed, and loved for one endless summer then she wouldn't shut up about it. And then they were like, "YOU GOTTA TRY IT!" and you're like, "LOL, nah." These friends can be annoying, and you should ask them to stop pushing you to try out trends that you're not interested in, because it's rude. But it is a little bit endearing that they can still get overexcited about a fad in such a cynical world — and also a little sad that they are chasing down the impossible dream of a perfect fix, not yet realizing that one doesn't exist. Be firm but kind to them, but don't leave them behind.


7. The Crunchy Yogi

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Practicing yoga is one thing — littering your Instagram feed with inspirational quotes over sunsets with silhouettes of a lithe body in a sun salutation with the hashtags #namaste and #enlightenergy is quite another. This friend is even worse if they are always trying to get you to do all that inner peace shit when your idea of a spiritual practice is a binge-watching My Cat From Hell over pad Thai delivered straight to you door. But our instinct to be annoyed with this friend is a cultural distaste for earnestness and unpretentious joy; the fact that they've overcome those instincts and found joy in this shouldn't be a cause for dismissal.

8. The Smug Coupled One

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You know the one: They say things like, "I married my best friend!" and talk a lot about their new refrigerator like it's exciting. Whether it is a woman who always says underhanded things about your dating experiences, like, "Oh, I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that anymore!" (barf) or a guy who gives his bros what he thinks is sage advice about finding that special someone when no one was asking, young coupled people can be insufferable.

But coupled people who put up a super-happy front are often just as insecure about their romantic lives as single friends are. If they're married, they made a big decision to lock it down and they want to feel like they made the right choice, but it can backfire as making it seem like you haven't made the right choice yet. Tell them that sucks! You can be straightforward that their smug platitudes are meaningless and weren't asked for. But seriously, you don't have to abandon them completely, especially if they throw good dinner parties at their married house.

9. The Flake

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This friend seems intent on driving you insane by having their read receipts on but not texting back right away. They cancel often and don't respond to group emails on time, and that understandably makes you want to rip your hair out. To be clear, this is annoying when the friend is always missing drinks and camping trips but totally unacceptable when they're failing to show up at weddings or the hospital when you're sick. One has bad time management while the other has bad priorities. You can totally ditch the latter, but the one who keeps missing hangouts might just need a firm "it hurts my feelings that you fail to make time for me" to get their act together.

If these friends don't take the hint that their actions are harming you, you can leave, of course.

This isn't about being a doormat — it's about investing wholeheartedly in your friendships, and you can leave if the harm people are doing is real and can't be corrected. But ditching friends and calling them "poison" for forgivable errors is just going to leave you without friends. And chances are, you've been that same friend who bothers you once in a while.