Cleaning out the Closet and Other Stuff

One of my ‘friends’ dropped in a few days ago as she had time to kill while waiting for another friend to finish shopping in a nearby commercial center.

The ‘friend’ is one of those who show up at the moment with a highly dramatized plea for an item only we can provide. Naturally, the friend does not expect to pay for the item and does expect me to be free and overcome with enthusiasm to receive her. 

However, the encounter leaves me feeling drained, resentful, used, unappreciated, and down. This same behavior has been going on for years – showing up out of the blue, no phone calls, no “how are you, let’s grab a coffee and catch up,” none of that. 

This friend always has needs and wants. I ask myself, do we need to clean out our closets of energy-sucking friends? Guess what? There is a name for this type of person: ‘toxic friend.’

Friends are a big part of our lives, especially in Puerto Vallarta, where many of us are away from family and lifelong friends who have withstood the test of time and change. 

No man is an island, and friendship’s influence is significant; let’s not underestimate their effect on our happiness and self-esteem.

Toxic Friendships 
We need to choose the people we hang around with, especially since friends are often harder to break up with than lovers (for most of us, anyway).

How do you know if a friend is toxic? Actually, you probably already do, even without anyone having to tell you. Because when you’re with him or her, you’re just EXHAUSTED, and probably more than a little resentful and probably lighter in the wallet.

But if you need a description to be sure, here’s a good one from Jenn Berman, Ph.D.:

“It’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you – sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally.”

Still in doubt? Here’s another little list of questions to put it to.

1. Negativity – You know the type, because you roll your eyes or gnash your teeth when you see their phone number light up. You already know they aren’t calling to check in on you, but most likely drag you into their recent drama. They’re always complaining about someone or something engaging you in their negative energy. Don’t do it!

2. Unsupportive – You’re always there for them, but they can’t be counted on to be there for you. They downplay your achievements and act shocked about your successes – if they are even aware of them.

3. Judgmental -They don’t know what is important to you, and you don’t feel comfortable letting them in on it because you know how they talk about other people…negative.

4. Manipulative – They’re only nice and attentive when they need something and know all the right buttons to push to make you comply, including drama.  I hope you don’t still fall for this one.

5. Selfish/Self-centered – If it’s not about them, or if it doesn’t benefit them, they just can’t be bothered. Usually, conversation is one-sided and all about them. If you can get a word in edgewise, they say, “Oh, yeah,” and go right back to guess who?? I usually just drop the call, – ya know Mexican phones. Please don’t waste your time and energy on this type.

6. Unavailable – They expect you to be available for them whenever they need you, but when you’re the one who needs a friend, they’re too busy to pencil you in. (See #5: Selfish) Who needs it, right?

7. Inconsiderate – They don’t care that their demands are inconvenient, and when you do make sacrifices to accommodate them, they’re rarely even grateful and don’t even notice.

Do you have friends like that? If you do, should you dump them? Hmmm. Good question.  

Call me idealistic or even stupid, but I’ve always believed that ‘bad people’ are never bad simply for the sake of being bad, or to make others miserable. 

It’s not like it’s something they plan. So, in many cases, a friendship review is required. If it’s someone I truly value, I try to understand where they’re coming from and just tell them when they bug the hell out of me. That usually works. When people are bad friends, often it’s because they’re just clueless, and we allow them to get away with it, which says more about us than them.

Hold that thought for a moment.

When a friendship is so toxic that it’s sucking the life and goodness out of you, more drastic measures are necessary. Break it off. Just pull the plug. You don’t need that kind of crazy shiz in your life. 

Happy Spring, my loves. And eat your greens.


  • Krystal Frost

    Krystal earned a degree in Asian Medicine from the University of Guadalajara, then Bastyr University for an acupuncture specialty, and has served our community since 2004. She has written a health column for the Mirror for over 20 years. Many thanks to my readers over two decades!

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