Relationships are a Mom’s lifeline to the outside, grown-up, world. However, some friends don’t act like friends. Perhaps it is their own dissatisfaction in life that they feel the need to put you down. Perhaps there is jealousy. Perhaps your friend critiques you constantly. When unhappiness, resentment or judgment comes into a friendship – that relationship can become toxic. How do you recognize an enemy disguised as a friend?…
- Spotting the enemy. Frenemies can be hard to recognize because they start out as a friend. However, their comments, actions and tones impact negatively on how you feel about the relationship.
- How do YOU feel? Do you feel frustrated? Angry? Pathetic? Tired? – after meeting with this friend? Your feelings are a flag as to the state of the relationship. Is this person good for you?
- Are they builders or destroyers? Do they build up your self-esteem by loving your new haircut or destroying your self-image by putting down your weight? Sometimes it is hard to differentiate constructive, well-meant, criticism with negative, well-placed, digs. A builder is a friend. A destroyer is an enemy.
- Are they serial-negativity-spreaders? Everyone can have a bad day – saying the wrong thing (it happens) however enemies make put-downs a recurring part of your relationship.
- Frenemy language. Enemies might be perfectly friendly to you – but then say or do things against you behind your back. They may speak negatively about you, your career, your parenting style, your kids or your partner (directly to you or behind your back). You might not even hear the “words” of a frenemy but instead feel the eye rolls, head shakes or pursed lips. Is this a friend?
- Actions make re-actions. Perhaps the friend is perfectly lovely – but their actions are not. Ever hosted a playdate where the friend’s child bullies your child and the friend doesn’t step in? Does it happen over and over – every time the kids get together? The friend’s action (or non-action) is not good for your child. Is this a friend or an enemy?
- Still not sure if your friend is a fenemy? Read 7 Friends Who Might Actually be Frenemies. What should you do if you recognize a frenemy?
- Discuss your feelings with someone you trust. Perhaps there is something you aren’t seeing.
- Consider talking with the friend. Without rant or persecution, honestly and respectfully tell your friend that their comments and/or actions are hurting you. Perhaps they don’t even realize what they are doing?
- Take a time out. Put some time and space between your meetings; allowing you time to think about the relationship.
- How’s your health? Is this relationship causing you stress? Stomach aches? Difficulty sleeping or eating? Does this relationship negatively impact other relationships? A frenemy can influence your body health and relationship health just as much as your emotional health.
- The Break-Up. If you are really being hurt by this friend (or your child – see bully example above) you need to break up. (Given breaking up is never easy – it’s damn hard sometimes). Don’t send breakup via e-mail, or Facebook status or send a good riddance tweet. Have the respect and courage to make a break-up phone call or a face-to-face meeting.
Sometimes making an excuse “Listen, I’m starting a new project and won’t be able to get together” is an easier break line than “I’m just not that into you”. An excuse allows both of you to leave on a positive, respectful, note (not copping out – just moving on). It can also be a means to keep the friend within your social circle without being your BFF (read: you can still be on PTA together – you just don’t have to go for coffee together afterwards).
Sometimes you need to be honest “Our kids just don’t play well together and I think we should take a break from play dates”.
Sometimes you need to set limits “Please don’t comment on my parenting” (or career, or partner, or choice of haircuts).
Relationships are important for Moms. Too important to be filled with any toxic friends.