22: What Happens When a Friendship Turns Toxic

Navigating the Ups and Downs of Friendships:

Suzanne Degges-White is professor of counseling, adult and higher Education at Northern Illinois University.  Her research interests include intimate relationships, friendship and motherhood. Suzanne is also a blogger for Psychology Today. She is author of Toxic Relationships: Knowing the Rules and Dealing with the Friends who Break Them.

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In her book Toxic Relationships, Suzanne shows how broken friendships can be mended and bad friendships ended. What does it take to be a good friend? How can you identify bad friends? How do you move forward when a friendship turns sour? How do you decide when it’s time to let go of a relationship that is bringing you down instead of keeping you afloat? Stay tuned as we discuss these critical issues with Suzanne.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • As we enter the empty nest, we no longer tolerate “the fluff” relationships we had before.
  • Toxic friendships do not feed our souls, they vex and agitate us.
  • As we age, we seek more meaningful connections with others.
  • As hard as it is to see your last child leave, letting go can really rewarding.
  • Focus on relationships that bring you the most joy. A lack of respect and trust can ruin a friendship.
  • “Friendships are every bit as vital and as important to us as romantic relationships are,” Degges-White says. No one person can fulfill all of our needs.
  • Friends can lighten our emotional burdens: “A burden shared is a burden halved,” says Degges-White.
  • When a friend takes what we’ve shared in confidence and broadcasts it, that is a breach of trust and can be the breaking point of a friendship.
  • Some people can’t keep secrets. Gossip was once a positive form of communication to keep friends and family safe. For example, one person might issue a warning about poisonous berries, which would help the rest of the village. In modern times, many people gossip in a salacious or judgmental way.
  • Good relationships are reciprocal. Take the time to build relationships that reflect who you truly are.