Listen: Jo Armstrong talks ‘toxic friendships’ with Katrina Roe.
Toxic dynamics can pop up in any kind of relationship: a marriage or romance, a long-term friendship, or a business partnership.
The relationship may have become one-sided, where one person is doing all the talking, or making all the effort. Negative dynamics may have crept in, like competitiveness, criticism, insensitivity, or one-upmanship. If you have a relationship in which you have to walk on eggshells, or that leaves you feeling exhausted and unhappy, it’s a pretty sure sign things have turned toxic.
Jo Armstrong from the Single in the City blog chatted to Katrina Roe about a friend she once had, who had a habit of running hours late to their catchups. It became a toxic pattern that eroded their friendship over time.
“It was an hour or more that she was late, constantly throughout our whole friendship,” Jo recalled. “I really valued her friendship. But one evening it all came to a head for me. It was one of those times you really need your friend to be there with you. She absolutely completely promised me, one hundred million percent, she would be there at 6 o’clock. At 8:30pm she still wasn’t there.”
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Jo realised that her friend wasn’t respecting her time, and her friendship had become one-sided. She was doing all the work.
“I think this is where toxicity can come into it, where it starts becoming destructive and unhealthy,” she says. “I realised I’d always been there for her, but she couldn’t be there for me.
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“She didn’t reciprocate or prioritise our friendship in the same way I did. To me that was toxic because it was very painful, negative, and I couldn’t trust her.”
Eventually Jo decided she needed draw a boundary, and chose to end the friendship. Despite grieving the loss, and missing her friend, she said it freed her to put time into building stronger friendships. She encourages others to look for people who will place value on your friendship, who will give as much as they receive, and who will help you be a better person.
“Last week a friend said to me, ‘Jo what can I do to be a better friend to you?’ That’s the type of relationship I want to invest in.”