Friendships can be one of the most important relationships we have, with lots of laughs in good times and support when it is rough.
But there can often be a lot of expectation which comes from our friendships, which are sometimes formed in childhood and based on our own culture and values.
Experts have now revealed what happens when these friendships go too far and become harmful.
Dr Lisa Turner, a trauma expert and founder of CETfreedom, told FEMAIL how to recognise if a friendship has become toxic and unhealthy.
Experts have now revealed what happens when expectations in a friendship go too far and become harmful (stock image)
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF A FRIENDSHIP IS TOXIC?
Dr Lisa explained: ‘Some people may have specific expectations around things like how often they like to speak or see each other, what kind of activities they do together.
‘What makes a friendship an “ideal” one is when the expectations are similar and each other’s values are similar or at least respected.’
Trauma expert explains the UNHEALTHY behaviours in a friendship
1. You should tell your friends everything
2. Your friends should always agree with each other
3. You should prioritise each others needs over your own
4. You would sacrifice your needs or desires for the sake of the friendship
It is when we cannot understand each others values and beliefs that things start to become harmful and toxic.
Dr Lisa said: ‘It’s important to note these rules are different based on our culture, families and even society.
‘There is no fixed set of friendship rules that are written down that everyone follows.
‘We all make it up as best we can, test them and see what works.’
Meanwhile she explained there are universally unhealthy beliefs which are not appropriate to apply to friendships.
Among her list of harmful beliefs in friendships are the belief we need to tell our friends everything.
In addition, some people have fixed beliefs that friends should always with agree with each other, that they should prioritise each other’s needs above their own, and that they should be willing to sacrifice their own needs or desires for the sake of the friendship.
Rob Brennan, life coach/NLP practitioner, expanded on this and said that it is an unhealthy expectation to believe that someone is going to drop everything and be there for us whenever we want them to be.
He said: ‘We’re not being understanding of the fact that they’ve got their own journey and their own life, and that not coming over, doesn’t mean they don’t like us or care about us.’
Jealousy is another toxic friendship issue, according to the life coach.
He explained: ‘For instance, the sort of BFF posts on socials presenting a perfect sort of relationship where they’re constantly supporting each other and do everything together just aren’t realistic.
‘If one of them does something with someone else, then that could be seen as a betrayal, or if they spend a bit too much time with someone else, there could be jealousy – these are all red flags of an unhealthy relationship that need to be worked through.
‘You should be happy for them to spend time with other people and happy for them to follow their own paths and their own journeys.’
‘These beliefs can create an unhealthy dynamic in which one person feels like they are constantly giving and the other person is constantly taking, leading to resentment and frustration, said Dr Lisa.’
HOW TO HANDLE UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS IN A FRIENDSHIP
To deal with these expectations, it’s important to take a step back and examine why you have them and whether ‘they are realistic or fair.’
She said: ‘Try to be honest with yourself about what you expect from your friends and whether these expectations are reasonable.
‘It can also be helpful to communicate your expectations with your friends and have an open and honest conversation about what each person needs and wants from the relationship.’
She added that things become toxic if someone is being unkind either deliberately or unintentionally because of the expectations they are holding.
They are so fixated on being correct and right, that they do what they can to prove it, which results in hurt feelings.
If you cannot speak these problems out and respect each other’s boundaries, then she explained ‘you may need to consider whether it’s healthy for you to continue the friendship.’
It’s important to remember that ‘it’s okay to set boundaries and prioritise your own well-being, even if it means ending a toxic relationship.
‘If you’re struggling to cope with a toxic friend, it can also be helpful to seek support from other friends or a therapist.’
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