We all know them. That person that appeared to be one of the greatest friends you ever had, only to turn out to be one of the most poisonous wolves in sheep’s clothing. We ask ourselves how could we have missed the early signs. To be fair, poison sometimes slowly manifests itself in little words, actions, and attitudes before it makes its grand reveal. And when we finally acknowledge that it’s there, that it’s taking its toll on our peace, that it’s taking advantage of our kindness, that it’s seeking to mock and destroy us, sometimes it’s easy to look for reasons to hold out the hope that maybe that person will one day realize how toxic they are and change their ways. But who are we kidding. If they don’t want to change for themselves, how can we expect them to change for anyone else?
So, in my experience of dealing with such toxic “friends”, I have come to recognize some of the early signs to watch out for:
- SELF-RIGHTEOUS. They feel the need to have a say on your mistakes, as if they have the right to actually judge your shortcomings because they ALWAYS get it right. Oh, but when they don’t, they’re totally justified. And you don’t have a right to speak God’s truth into their situations because what they do is “none of your business.” They’re never wrong. Don’t worry. Gasp! How dare you call them out on their screw-ups? Anyway, they’ll have to settle that with Him.
- HYPOCRITICAL. Need I say more?
- PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE. Social media is easy to hide behind. You can say whatever you want behind the comfort of a screen. But God forbid you confront the offender and they lash out in defense because they know they’re in the wrong but don’t want to be called out on their tomfoolery. Just take the high road, right? You don’t want to be considered insecure when someone makes a public post about you and your business, a post that oftentimes isn’t even completely correct because the person never has all the facts straight or they omit certain facts so that others can view you a certain way.
- NIT-PICKY. They always seem to be bothered by something you do, say, or even think – or what you don’t do. You find yourself making all of these accommodations for them, many times for extremely petty reasons. It’s usually their way or the highway. Honey, you do you. They’ll survive.
- SELF-CENTERED. This one is one of my biggest pet-peeves with a toxic person. It’s ALWAYS about them. They just won’t shut up about how great they are, how much of an “adult” they are, how they can always handle their own, etc. You try to talk to them and share bits about your own life, struggles, accomplishments or whatever the case may be and they somehow find a way to make it all about them. Two-way communication? I think not.
- TWO-FACED. It seems like they love using your name more than you do. Behind your back, they slander your name, concern themselves with your business and share it with others. But wait! The confrontation part is the best part. It’s always the “I just meant…”, “I didn’t say that” or “I didn’t mean it that way.” So tell me, what exactly did you mean and why did you feel the need to say it behind my back? #adulting though….
- ARROGANT. We get it. They think they’re oh so important. I think they fail to realize that they’re not the only ones that have great things going for them. And when you do have your triumphs, it all of a sudden turns into a comparison game. As if there’s not enough room in this world for us all to be successful??
- LIAR. And why does it seem like they never own up to their wrong-doing? It’s always a game of placing blame on others or turning themselves into the victim. The worst part? When you have the proof that will catch them in their lie and they STILL misplace blame…Charade’s over, sweetheart. We all see you. You’re not fooling anyone. But nice try.
When it gets to the point where that person is hindering you, trying to steal your joy and peace, trying to undermine you at every turn, LET THEM GO. We can pray as much as we want for that “friend” but sometimes you just gotta love ’em from a distance and that is more than okay. No one’s ego boost is worth your happiness. They don’t get to drain you. They don’t get to use you. They have operated within their designated season of your life. They help us to understand what to look for in genuine friends, people who will uplift us and chip away at our baggage. Not add to it. But if that season is over, don’t hold on to what God is removing. If that means Him revealing someone’s toxicity in your life, unfriend and walk away. It’s for your own good.