6 Types Of Friends You Don’t Need

six types of friends to avoid

Friendships are vitally important for our happiness; everybody knows that. The exploration of close friendships has been integral to the success of pop culture hits that run the gamut from the obviously-titled Friends to Marvel’s sprawling Avengers franchise. A University of Michigan study found that friends, not family, help you to live a longer, happier life. And this is especially true for women. One study found that over half of the women interviewed valued their relationship with their best friend more than their relationship with their husband.

In school, popularity is defined by how many friends you have. If everybody loves you, then you’re one of the elite few who can claim they’re one of The Cool Kids. As adults, research shows the number of close friendships we actually need might be a lot smaller than our high school days led us to believe.

The aforementioned study found that those who reported maximum happiness had between 4-5 close friendships, with those who had 2-3 coming right behind them on the satisfaction scale. Don’t worry if you only have one close friend. You’re still 50 percent happier than those who report having only acquaintances.

So if we don’t need that many close friends, we can afford to be a little picky about who we let into our inner circle.

First, let’s differentiate the various types of friendships. According to Aristotle, there are really only three types of friendships:

1.) Friendships of utility: These are the people you chat with at work but don’t really know, that one mom you share carpool duties with but aren’t close to, the mechanic who fixes your car without charging you an arm and a leg. These friendships serve a function. They keep the workplace civilized, help to lessen the daily work load, and fuel business transactions.

2.) Friendships of pleasure: This is that guy or girl you like to hook up with when you’re between relationships, your workout partner, or a group of buddies you only really hang out with during football season. You come together for mutual enjoyment, and you share at least one common interest, but you wouldn’t call them at 2 in the morning ugly-crying because you just got mugged. Or possibly need bail money.

3.) Friendships of virtue: The tried and true friends. These are the ones you can call at 2 am for any reason, because they know if you’re calling them at the crack of why-are-you-awake, something is horribly wrong. They’re the ones who know the real story behind why you have a tattoo of Pikachu dancing the Harlem Shake. (I don’t have that tattoo, but wouldn’t it be amazingly bad?)

avoid constant negativity

Now that we have a better understanding of the three main types of friendships, we can delve into the nitty gritty the six types of friends you don’t need to count as one of your close friends. And, more importantly, why.

1.) The Soap Opera Star: You know the type. Everything is always about her. She always has to one-up everyone around her. When you get a new car, she gets a better, more expensive car. When one of your friends gets pregnant, she announces she’s going to have IVF so she stands a higher chance of having twins. When you have a cold, she suddenly has the worst case of the flu, and would you please bring her some chicken soup? And on and on it goes.

Not only is it catty and immature, but it’s given you heartburn and a new gray streak in your hair because the non-stop competition is driving you crazy. If she’s really fun to go clubbing with, knock her down from the inner circle to a friend you see once in a blue moon. Who knows? Maybe she’ll realize her friends are distancing themselves and ask herself why. It’s unlikely because these people tend to be shallow and self-absorbed, but anything is possible. But until that day, keep her at a distance.

avoid gossips

2.) The Gossip Girl: You’re having a bad day. Something truly horrendous is going on, and you have to tell someone. You swear her to secrecy on pain of death, and she promises to never tell a soul. And yet… the next morning, you have 17 texts, 8 voice mails, and 5 messages on Instagram, all asking what the hell happened, and are you okay? Wait, what?! You will never make the mistake of trusting her again. Hopefully.

The good news is that gossips are easy enough to spot in advance. You know the type. “Don’t ever tell her I told you, but Sarah is leaving Steve!” If she’s telling you Sarah’s business, don’t you think she’s going to tell someone yours? Exactly. Cut this one out of your life. Even if she’s fun. Even if she’s “so sweet.” Because she is going to talk about you, and if you don’t give her anything to talk about, she might just make something up.

3.) The Reverse Cheerleader: You have a new job, and you’re super excited. You can’t believe something this amazing has happened to you. All your other friends congratulate you, ask you how you like the job, and are genuinely supportive. What you get from her? A grudging, “Hey, that’s great. I’m happy for you,” and then mutinous silence any time the topic of work comes up. You can feel the resentment pouring off of her in waves. Mention anything wrong in your life, and she’s glad to lend an ear. Mention anything good, and she becomes distant and cold.

This is a huge red flag. Friendship is reciprocal. When times are tough, we meet in a place of genuine empathy and do our best to help each other get through it. When things are going well, we celebrate each other’s successes as if they were our own. Someone who is spiteful and envious is not your friend. It’s okay to think, “Wow, Annie’s career has really taken off. I wish mine was going so well.” But if the thought is more along the lines of, “Why does Annie always get the best breaks? It’s not fair! It should be me!” Then we’ve crossed the line into resentment territory, and this type of person will gladly stab you in the back if it means they get ahead. Especially if it’s instead of you.

avoid disrespectful friends

4.) The Debbie Downer: Nothing is ever good. Nothing. The emphasis is always on the worst aspect of every situation. They had a date and saw a movie, but the popcorn was stale, the soda was flat, and they ran out of gas on the way home. They have a great new job with a corner office, but the windows make it so drafty. Their kid made straight A’s, but can you believe that loser didn’t make the football team? If you bake them a pie, the crust was a little soggy, but, no, don’t worry, it still tasted okay. When you buy them a birthday present, the color isn’t really them, but thanks for the thought! Every single thing is tinged with negativity.

I am 100% against toxic positivity. You know those girls posting “no negative vibes ever” on Instagram who unfollow you because you complained when you broke your leg? The ones who refuse to watch the news because they can’t handle seeing anything distressing? Yeah, refusing to acknowledge a problem only causes it to fester. It isn’t possible to always be a little ray of sunshine. But constant negativity will kill you. This one is tricky, because some people have depression, or they could be going through a divorce or another traumatic event. I don’t subscribe to toxic positivity’s “cancel culture,” which says it’s totally okay to ditch someone for “lowering your frequency.” But you have to remember that, according to science, negativity is contagious. Vaccinate yourself. Take steps to back away from “co-brooding,” where you both sit there bitching about everything, and start to “co-reflect” instead. Understand the problem. See how you can improve it. Then move on to another topic.

5.) The Frosted Flake: They’re going to meet you in a half hour, but they suddenly text saying something came up. It’s okay. It happens. You’ll meet up next week instead, but then something else comes up. They miss your birthday party because they have a work deadline, but you see pictures of them out clubbing all over Facebook. You always go shopping together on Black Friday, but… sorry, she’s going with her mom this year. (Spoiler alert: She’s probably just ditching you again.)

This is the type of friend you can cut out of you inner circle with relative ease simply because… you rarely ever see them anyway. Maybe have a chat with them and let them know you miss spending time with them. Maybe they didn’t realize how much they were ditching you. Or maybe they’ll ghost altogether. You never know. Whether they have a new bestie, a new partner, or you’ve just grown apart, you’ll be much happier when you stop setting yourself up for a sad evening spent on the couch watching Netflix because your plans fell through… again. Take a pottery class and make friends with someone who is dedicated enough to show up every week and get her hands dirty instead of moping over someone who won’t make time for you.

6.) The Asshole: This one should be self-evident, but you would not believe the number of people who are friends with assholes and wonder why they always feel like shit after spending time with their “best friend.” You’re a devout Catholic, and your Atheist friend always jokes about you talking to “Sky Man.” Or maybe you’re an Atheist, and your very Christian friend always tells you she “hopes you’ll accept Jesus into your heart.” Maybe your only goal in life is to be a mother of two, and your friend won’t shut up about how much they loathe children and won’t spend any time around yours. Maybe you don’t want kids, and your friend keeps telling you you’re not really a woman until you have a baby; it’s what you were born to do, and you’ll never know real love until you hold your baby; you’ll change your mind, you know.

I get it! Their beliefs — or lack thereof — are what they find comforting. Their values are what helped them to create a sense of self. They want their friends to experience the same level of joy they feel when they pray or meditate or read Dawkins. They love their children beyond reason and want you to feel the warm, fuzzy feelings they do when they look in on little Timmy sleeping at night. But when they know you have different beliefs and keep trying to help you “see the light,” they’re not actually helping. They’re just being an asshole. Sometimes you can get through to these people, but when they’re fanatical about it and determined to make you see how wrong you are, then they’re being disrespectful of your core beliefs and values. And that is not okay. That’s when it’s time to walk away.

avoid toxic positivity

Breaking up with a friend is never easy. You’ll even miss the flakes and the assholes, but it can be done, and sometimes it’s in your best interest to inventory the people you’ve invited into your heart and evaluate whether or not they’ve earned the right to be there.

Or maybe you were reading this list and said to yourself, “Oh, my God… I’m a Frosted Flake! I have to call Kelsey and apologize!” If you recognize yourself as one of the “toxic” friends and want to improve your friendships, take steps to correct your behaviors.

Confession time: I was the Asshole type. I went through a Militant Atheist Phase™ in college and would aggressively mock anyone who believed in a higher power. Bonus points if I could upset them by pointing out inaccuracies in the Bible. I am so fortunate that I didn’t lose any close friends because of it, but it did cause upset in my family. (I’ve got Irish priests and nuns in the family! Yikes!)

But I grew up. I calmed down. I became more open-minded and less adamant that anyone who disagreed with me was stupid. I’m no longer an Atheist, nor am I a Christian, but I consider myself spiritual. That doesn’t mean I think all Atheists should “see the light.” I don’t want them to. I don’t want anyone to believe in something that doesn’t resonate with them. What I want is for us all to be a little kinder. I want us all to be healthier and happier.

I don’t want someone in my face calling me a dumbass for not being an Atheist any more than I want them attempting to run my life based on their religious beliefs. I didn’t want to deal with assholes, so I stopped being one. And it helped. I am by no means claiming to be a perfect friend, but I care. I make an effort to be supportive and positive. My friends know that if they tell me something in confidence, they won’t be bombarded with texts asking what’s up. They know if I say I’ll be there at 8, barring a major emergency, I’ll be there. I don’t take them for granted, but I’ll never be perfect. No one is. We can only be better than we were.

So take a look at your friends, and then take a look in the mirror. We can improve our lives by removing toxic influences, whether they’re “friends” or internal traits.

Think of it as kind of like The Breakfast Club:

Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basketcase, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.

We can all be a bit of a soap opera star, a gossip girl, a reverse cheerleader, a Debbie downer, a frosted flake, and an asshole. For the most part, don’t hang out with these people. And don’t be one.

Be honest… Have you ever been one of these types of friends? Are you now? Drop me a line in the comments or send a DM on Instagram.

I’m Not Dead!

brokenglassupdateSorry for the disappearance! Things got a little crazy around here, which I’ll detail more in another post. But here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on:

  • My aunt coming to visit.
  • Mom’s chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Loads of different projects (you can check them on my Instagram, which you should go follow if you don’t already!)
  • One of my cats dying.
  • My brother and his wife coming to visit.
  • One of my dogs dying.
  • Breaking my leg and avulsing the patellar tendon. Yup, on the knee I screwed up in the wreck. Lucky me, huh?

So that’s what’s up with me. How are all of you guys doing? I’ll be back soon (as in tomorrow or Monday) with my September favorites and the tea on my mom’s cancer treatment.

10 Things To Make You Smile

I had a panic attack today.

Nothing specific to the moment prompted it. I was drinking a dark chocolate and coconut latte contemplating what I wanted for lunch, and despair hit me like a wave.

As bloggers or social media influencers or weirdos screaming into the void, whatever we are, we talk a lot about products we’ve tried, restaurants we’ve loved, and movies we’ve seen, but we don’t always talk about the unpleasant things we all face.

Sometimes we have panic attacks. Sometimes we wake up grumpy, and nothing goes according to plan. Sometimes we feel hopeless about the future even though things seem to be going perfectly. That’s natural. It’s normal. You aren’t a freak for feeling this way.

We, the human race, have been through a lot recently. I’ve personally been through a lot recently, and I’m sure the same is true for a lot of you. So I’m placing several posts I’m writing on the back burner to say this: you aren’t alone. Someone, somewhere, feels the way you feel right now. Maybe it’s even me.

Sometimes we need to stop and reflect on the good things out there so the bad things don’t overwhelm us. It’s not the same as ignoring what’s happening in the world; it’s a form of self-care, and it’s vitally important.

Let’s all take a break and enjoy the good in the world. Think of it as spring-cleaning for the soul.

We all live under this sky. All of us.
Is there anything cuter than a sleepy kitty?
Or a basket of puppies?
Look at this view. This is real, not Photoshop.
Nourishing your body nourishes your soul.
There are so many good people in the world, and we are all part of that global community. How can you make it better?
Human beings just like us built this city from rock and metal.
There are so many gorgeous places just waiting for you to visit them.
We live in a world filled with gorgeous plants like this one.
Don’t worry about the future right now. Take a deep breath and enjoy the present.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. 😉

Life, Interrupted: Dealing with a Narcissistic Family Member

dealing with a narcissist is like playing chess

Diet Narcissists have become the comic relief figures of pop culture.

No, not Narcissists obsessed with dieting. I mean the lightweights. The ones people call Narcissists when what they really mean is that they’re laughably vain.

For example, in Mean Girls, Regina George asks, “Why are you so obsessed with me?” and everyone laughs, but she’s become a better person by the end of the film. Blanche Devereaux’s vanity is often used as an amusing plot device on The Golden Girls, yet her devotion to her friends and family always shines through. And who can forget the Designing Women episode where former beauty queen Suzanne Sugarbaker receives an award for “most changed,” acknowledges that it was intended as a dig due to her weight gain, and then states she will cherish the award because she is a changed woman at heart?

But in the real world, dealing with a Narcissist — a real Narcissist — is hardly a barrel of laughs.

It’s exhausting and heartbreaking and isolating.

living with a narcissist makes you feel isolated

So how do we navigate the treacherous waters of dealing with a Narcissist? What is a Narcissist, anyway?

According to the Mayo Clinic, those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
  • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

When the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (known as the DSM-5) eliminated Narcissistic Personality Disorder in 2013, it did so in the face of heavy criticism. World-renowned Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Gunderson called the decision “unenlightened” and claimed, “They have little appreciation for the damage they could be doing.”

I’ll come right out and say it: if you’ve stumbled upon this blog desperately trying to find a way to deal with a volatile family member, I’m sorry for what you’re going through. And I will not apologize for being sorry. Sometimes I think we focus so much on wanting to help people who have mental illnesses — as well we should in many cases — that we discount the painful fact that not everyone who has a mental illness wants help.

Some people enjoy being able to inflict pain on others only to fall back on the feel-sorry-for-me-I’m-sick routine when it suits them. That’s the kind of person I’m talking about here. Not someone who may lash out and later feel horrified by it. Not someone who realizes they have a problem and seeks help.

I’m sorry to those of you who feel like you’ve been silenced by polite society’s overwhelming desire to coddle — or make excuses for — Narcissists instead of helping people who’ve been hurt by them.

what to do when you have a narcissistic family member

Now that we have the textbook definition of what we’re dealing with, we can delve into how to actually, you know, deal. The first step is understanding what makes them tick.

A vitally important thing to remember about dealing with Narcissists is that they are extremely predictable. When a certain set of behaviors earns them the drama and attention they crave with minimal (or zero) repercussions, they will repeat said behaviors over and over and over ad nauseum.

Why? In addition to never having to face the consequences of their actions, a Narcissist will repeat their behaviors because they have no emotional empathy, which is not the same as lacking intellectual empathy. Intellectual empathy allows them to be aware of the pain they cause others, but emotional empathy allows them to feel the pain they’ve inflicted. A Narcissist can’t do that, and because they tend to view others as inferior, the intellectual knowledge that they’ve hurt someone has no more emotional impact than knocking a pawn from a chessboard. If they feel anything at all, it is a smug sense of superiority.

Additionally, Narcissists are incapable of whole object relations (the ability to see others in a whole and realistic way, possessing both positive and negative qualities) and object constancy (the ability to maintain a positive emotional connection to someone during times of stress). Once you’ve done something to cross a Narcissist, they don’t think about the good times you’ve shared. They don’t think about the number of times you’ve been there for them. From that moment on, you are worthless to them and always have been. It’s a very Orwellian mindset, one from which the Narcissist never wavers: Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.

One of the most traumatic aspects of dealing with a Narcissist is that someone who claims to love you will abuse you. To make matters worse, it can lend to more stress when family members disagree on how best to handle the situation. The increased tension and family in-fighting act as icing on the drama-cake for the Narcissist: “Look at them dance! I’m so smart! I’m like a puppet master, and they’re too stupid to realize this is exactly what I want!”

Granted, not all Narcissists take abuse to such extremes that it causes rifts between family members. Some will sing your praises to a group of mutual friends one minute only to talk about you behind your back the next. It’s annoying and possibly harmful to your social life, but the vast majority of people are quick to realize that when a certain individual has a slew of flash-in-the-pan friendships and always ends up wailing about how they’ve all “bled her dry,” she is the problem, not you. After all, Narcissists are consistent in giving off signs that they are Narcissists.

You’ll spot the signs even in the earliest stages of a Narcissist’s abuse pattern. It may begin as “constructive criticism” along the lines of, “I don’t mean this to sound hurtful, but your thighs look big in those jeans. I just don’t want you to be embarrassed!”

Telling a Narcissist you find their words hurtful sparks anger, not sympathy. When you disagree with their criticism, you’re disagreeing with them, and they can’t handle being wrong.

coping with a narcissist

This is often what starts massive blow-outs in which a Narcissist rehashes every time they feel you’ve wronged them. Every Narcissist has their own hot button topic (or topics). In monogamous couples, there may be a fixation on fictitious infidelity, “you cheated on me; I know you did!” Every single argument they have, no matter what triggers it, will involve the accusation of cheating.

If your Narcissist is a relative, it may be something like the ‘misuse’ of their possessions. One individual had a cleaning rag soaked in dog urine thrown directly at their face while a Narcissistic relative accused them of ruining their ‘good towels,’ screeching, “How could you do this to me?!” Over a cleaning rag. But that cleaning rag has more value than a human being in the Narcissist’s eyes. That rag is theirs and is therefore an extension of their perfection.

Another individual has been accused numerous times of stealing everything from a rosary to tens of thousands of dollars. As is so often the case — because Narcissists love to accuse those around them of committing infractions they, themselves, are guilty of committing — the Narcissist is the one guilty of stealing from their wrongfully accused relative on more than one occasion.

Yet another has been physically assaulted more than once while the Narcissist tells anyone and everyone who will listen that their partner is the one who is the abuser.

However it happens, whether it turns physical or remains emotional, the abuse is ugly and circular with no resolution in sight because the Narcissist will never admit to being wrong.

Gaslighting (a term that comes from the film Gaslight, in which a man seeks to convince his wife she’s gone crazy) often plays a major role in Narcissistic abuse. A Narcissist will repeatedly deny their own words and actions so vehemently, often insisting that a third party agrees with the Narcissist to further validate their claim to rightness, that you may find yourself asking, “Did I really make that up? Am I exaggerating what happened because I’m so upset? Am I going crazy?”

This is their aim. To elevate themselves, Narcissists have to devalue those around them.

So what do you do about it? And why is it so damn hard to just cut ties with someone who hurts you so badly?

Because, according to Dr. Elinor Greenberg, you’ve “trauma bonded” to your Narcissist. We, as humans, are genetically hardwired to form emotional attachments to those around us. In times of stress, we instinctively reach out to those closest to us in order to feel safe again. Problems arise when those around us abuse us. We’ve bonded to them, and each time they hurt us, our intrinsic need to reach out only serves to strengthen the bond.

As Dr. Greenberg says, “Unless you walk out immediately and never look back, you are well on your way to becoming this person’s psychic prisoner.” Once that happens, “…you refuse to see the obvious: This person never loved you, cannot love anyone, and they are too Narcissistic to care how you feel or how much damage they do to your life.”

Once you begin to withdraw, the Narcissist will try to reel you back in. Not because they truly love you, not because they miss you as a person, but because they hate to lose control of those around them. It may be subtle at first, such as liking your posts on Instagram or calling “just to see how you’re doing,” but if they don’t immediately get what they want, the “Love Bombing” begins.

how to deal with a narcissist

They’ll make promises they don’t intend to keep, such as, “I can’t live without my sister in my life. We fight sometimes, but doesn’t everyone? We’ll just leave it in the past.”

But a Narcissist can’t leave things in the past. No matter how much they make you feel loved and wanted, the criticisms will start again. Then the fighting and the gaslighting and the blaming. The cycle will continue because the constant push-pull is the closest approximation to a real relationship a Narcissist is capable of having.

Greenberg uses the example of an animal psychologist working on her dog, a German Shepherd who constantly bit people. The psychologist punched the dog in the head several times, praising her each time by saying ‘good doggy, good doggy.’ He explained, “The punch was to stop her from biting me and to make her think. The ‘good doggy, good doggy’ was to reward her for not biting me.”

The dog never bit anyone again.

This is how Narcissists condition those around them. They follow abuse with presents and promises. In return, we learn to stop standing up for ourselves.

We learn to stop biting.

Of Narcissists, Dr. Dan Neuharth writes: “They seek to be fed; nothing is more important. This drive is so powerful that Narcissists will betray those closest to them when it suits them. This is what you are up against.”

All of this sounds awful, so what should do when dealing with Narcissists? According to Dr. Neuharth, sometimes it’s more about what you shouldn’t do, so he created a list of eleven don’ts when it comes to dealing with a Narcissist, which I’ve summarized here:

1.) Don’t take them at face value. Image is everything to a Narcissist. What you see is not what you’ll get.

2.) Don’t over-share personal information. Talking to a Narcissist is like being interrogated by the police; the things you say can and will be used against you. No matter how trivial a detail may seem, they will use it to humiliate and manipulate you.

3.) Don’t feel a need to justify your thoughts, feelings, or actions. “No JADE,” Neuharth says. This stands for Justifying, Arguing, Defending, and Explaining. Narcissists love to gaslight and make you second-guess everything. Don’t fall for their trap.

4.) Don’t minimize their dysfunctional behavior. Narcissists tend to wear people down over time. Don’t become numb to their antics or convince yourself their manipulating and humiliating of you or other is normal or that it should be written off as “you know how she gets.”

5.) Don’t expect them to take responsibility. Narcissists truly believe they have a higher status and more rights than others. They “take credit and give blame.”

6.) Don’t assume they share your values and worldview. “Narcissists view others as sources of gratification, not as equals,” says Neuharth. Expecting to share in the spotlight or have your own accomplishments acknowledged is setting yourself up for disappointment.

7.) Don’t try to beat them at their own game. They’re better at it than we are because they’ve dedicated their entire lives to the pursuit of self-gratification. Trying to beat a Narcissist at their own game is like trying to squash the mosquito on your cheek. Maybe you’ll hit it, but you will certainly smack yourself silly trying.

8.) Don’t take their actions personally. A Narcissist will abuse anyone unfortunate enough to catch their attention. Being the target of their abuse can make you feel isolated. Sometimes you even wonder if you deserve to be treated this way. Maybe it’s something you did? No. It’s not personal at all. It’s just who they are.

9.) Don’t expect empathy or fairness. Because empathy and fairness require the inherent belief that we are all worthy, Narcissists are incapable of expressing either. Respect yourself; you’ll be waiting until the end of the world if you expect even a modicum of acknowledgement from a Narcissist.

10.) Don’t expect them to change. To quote Neuharth directly, “Narcissists view others as either threats or potential victims and are trapped in an endless quest for attention and approval. To hope that they will change is a setup.”

11.) Don’t underestimate the power of Narcissism. Narcissists are like addicts. Their lives are dedicated to an endless cycle of seeking attention and approval. How their behaviors affect others isn’t a factor. Other people aren’t a factor unless they’re currently serving as a source of praise or a target of hatred.

So what’s the best course of action? How do you deal with a Narcissist? If you can’t physically distance yourself from them for whatever reason, remember Dr. Neuharth’s guidelines and protect yourself at all costs.

But if you have the means to cut ties with them completely, do it. You can sympathize with a Narcissist for their inability to have love without sacrificing your mental health. Putting your own interests before those of a Narcissist isn’t Narcissism; it’s survival.

Disclaimer: Only a doctor or a mental health professional can officially diagnose a mental illness. However, there are observable symptoms that can be used as indicators of personality disorders. I am neither a doctor nor a mental health professional, but in addition to studying psychology at university, I have thoroughly researched the topic of personality disorders. I have also consulted with medical professionals prior to the publication of this post.

10 Ways To Heal From A Best Friend Breakup

best friend breakup

Think of your best friend. What are their favorite movies? Favorite books? Long-term goals? Darkest fears? They’re all questions you can answer, right? Sometimes you even know their answers better than your own.

Whether we have a massive circle of friends or one best buddy, we all have someone we know as well as we know ourselves. We’ve been there for each other through major life events, through laughter and tears, and we come to believe that’s the way it always will be. We don’t live with them or declare “for better or worse” in front of two hundred people, but we have people we love and trust as much as a partner, people we think will be in our lives forever.

But sometimes we lose them, and it can be just as devastating —  or sometimes more devastating — than any “real” breakup. When a romantic relationship ends, your best friend is there to help you pick up the pieces. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry some more, and you’ll ultimately heal. Losing your best friend, on the other hand, feels a lot like having every happy memory sucked out of you by a Dementor, and Professor Lupin is nowhere around to give you chocolate.

(Yup, totally sprinkling a serious blog entry with Harry Potter references).

What really sucks about being dumped by a friend — apart from the actual dumping, and the lack of your best friend to vent to, and everything in general — is that everyone’s response seems to be the same: “It happens. What can you do?”

It’s not like an episode of The Golden Girls; there’s no sympathetic invitation to vent over a cheesecake. Nobody asks how you’re holding up. The way society handles a friend breakup can make us feel like we’re blowing everything out of proportion for grieving, and that’s simply not true.

Friendships end for different reasons, most commonly because people grow apart. Maybe one of you moved away, and all your good intentions to stay in touch weekly turned into the occasional poke on Facebook. Maybe one of you had a baby, and you just don’t have the time for anyone else. Maybe you’ve both found yourselves spending more time with a new group of friends and don’t have much in common anymore. A gradual parting of ways is certainly the most painless form of a breakup, especially when it’s mutual, but it still stings.

get through a best friend breakup

It can also be more insidious — plans to meet up at your favorite Mexican restaurant for mango margaritas are repeatedly canceled. Karaoke night becomes a thing of the past. She ditches being your gym buddy. Suddenly you realize you’re the only one who makes an effort anymore. It’s similar to the aforementioned friendship drift but usually happens in a shorter period of time, and it’s almost always glaringly obvious as it’s happening.

And sometimes they can be absolutely brutal. A series of squabbles could lead to deeply-rooted animosity that drives a wedge between the closest of friends. Sometimes, though, there’s a catastrophic blow-out. Accusations fly, a few choice curses are hurled, and the damage is irrevocably done.

That doesn’t mean all friendships end after a fight. Of course they don’t. But what happens when there’s no hope of reconciliation?

According to Georgetown University’s Dr. Andrea Bonior, “Sometimes, there are specific things that you will hold out hope for… but you have to realize your own lack of control in any of that happening.”

This is especially true if you are the party “at fault.” No judgment here. It happens to the best of us. We have a bad day and say things we wish we could travel back in time with a roll of duct tape to stop ourselves from saying. We get caught up in our own lives and forget to take a time out to catch up with our loved ones. We cancel plans one too many times when a friend really needs our advice and support.

And sometimes making amends is equally impossible when your friend is the one to blame for causing the blow-out. Maybe you couldn’t handle their self-destructive drinking and gave them an ultimatum. Maybe they always treated you like a second-class citizen, and you finally called them on it. (Some of you may be saying “good riddance,” but it still hurts). Maybe they did something horrible, something completely immoral or even illegal, and you rightly said, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Every friendship is unique. So is every ending.

So, what do you do when you’ve lost your best friend, whatever the reason? How do you heal?

brutal friendship breakup

1.) Deal with it. No, not in the condescending, “put on your big girl panties and deal with it,” sort of way. Process your emotions. For many people, myself included, the knee-jerk reaction is to bury it all and hide the pain behind a wall of sarcasm, and that’s not healthy. Even if you’re not entirely sure why it’s over, you have to accept that it is and work through all the pain and anger you’re feeling. Evaluate what happened and why you think it happened. Write your friend a letter (don’t send it) apologizing or venting. Put it down somewhere so you’re not carrying it around with you anymore.

2.) You need some (cyber)space. We live in a world that’s on 24/7, so chances are good you’re following them on more than one social media platform. Unfriend them on Facebook. Unfollow their Instagram. Do not creepily stalk their every move, no matter how tempting it is. Think of it this way: do you really want to see someone who broke your heart out there having a blast with their new date? The same thing applies here. Seeing your friend at the beach with their new bestie will feel like a knife in the heart. And please, please, please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t engage in a social media flame war. Just don’t. Regardless of who was at fault, you will look like the asshole, and they’ll look like the victim. Cyber-bullying is never okay.

3.) Speak no evil. You might have friends in common, so it’s going to be rough explaining why you two aren’t BFFs anymore. Be vague and polite. Something as simple as, “oh, we just don’t see much of each other anymore,” is a perfectly acceptable response to any questions you may be asked. Resist the urge to talk shit about your former friend. Even if you have the very best of intentions and want to protect your joint friends from a malignant narcissist, you’re going to come off as spiteful and childish. Eventually they’ll find out the truth on their own, possibly when your ex-friend slips up and badmouths you. And even if that never happens, you’ll still have the satisfaction of knowing you handled yourself with grace and civility.

4.) Don’t look back in anger. I’m not gonna lie. The first few days post-breakup are going to be hellish, but try not to connect every single thought in your head to that person. Don’t dwell on how you’re never going to finish binging that one show you both love. Stop tormenting yourself because you said this when you should have said that. Realize that the end of your friendship might be the only closure you ever get. The last thing you said to them might be the last thing you ever say to them, and that’s okay. They may never call out of the blue to apologize for being such a shithead. Similarly, if you reach out in search of closure or to reconnect, they might not answer at all. You might not like the answer you get if they do.

5.) Eat that pizza. Go ahead and do it. The same romantic-relationship-breakup tips apply to friendship breakups, too. Order that pizza. Have a glass of wine (but make sure you stay hydrated, too). Eat the entire pint of ice cream while watching late night reruns of Mom with your mom. Just don’t make a lifelong habit of it. There’s a thin line between indulging in self-care and the Pizza Hut delivery guy knows my cats by name.

6.) Do a little dance. Or meditate. Take a yoga class. Relax and take some time for yourself. Do something to get that adrenaline surging if that’s more your speed. You can even tape their picture to a punching bag and go a few rounds if it makes you feel better. Hey, nobody has to know. What happens in the gym stays in the gym.

7.) Netflix and avoid people. If you really want to finish watching that show you used to watch together, go watch it. Let it be your show from now on. Or if you’re just not ready for that yet, watch your favorite movie, or maybe watch something that makes you laugh in case your favorite movie is, say, Grave of the Fireflies. (I highly recommend Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby. It’s hilarious).

8.) Take a nap. No, seriously. The upset of losing a friend can keep you up late at night trying to pinpoint exactly where it all went wrong, not to mention crying your eyes out because you’re lonely, damnit. Experts recommend a 20 minute catnap to boost your alertness and concentration. If you have more time, 45 minutes has been proven to improve your memory, and a 90 minute nap makes up for the 90 minute sleep deficit most of us cope with on a daily — or is it nightly? — basis.

9.) Get by with a little help from your friends. Find a new Netflix binging buddy in your friend group, or go out and make new friends! Take that pottery class you’ve wanted to take ever since you watched Ghost, and chat with someone with a shared hobby. Or hit up that acquaintance you’ve always meant to go see a movie with because she’s a laugh a minute. You can get through this, and you will.

10.) Reach out. If the grieving process seems to last forever, and you just can’t let go of what happened, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Sometimes all you need is an unbiased ear and a shift in perspective to turn the corner. Grieving isn’t a linear process. You’ll have bouts of sadness months down the line when you thought you were “over it,” and that’s okay. But if you find yourself at a loss, please reach out. There are computer and phone-based options like Talkspace and BetterHelp if you don’t have the time or don’t want to talk in person. (I’m not sponsored by either service, by the way. I’ve just read good reviews).

The end of a friendship can feel like the end of the world. There are thousands upon thousands of songs about the end of a romance, but there’s no Unbreak My Heart written for the death of a friendship. I’m not sure why since it’s ultimately the same sentiment rattling around in our skulls: they don’t want me anymore.

Sex and the City and Beaches have given many of us the unrealistic expectation that friendships are forever, so we’re completely blindsided and confused when a friendship does end.

Don’t let a lack of cultural sensitivity bring you down when you already feel like you’ve hit rock bottom and started to dig.

Treat a friendship breakup with the same respect as you would a romantic breakup. Don’t push yourself to “get over it” in the blink of an eye, but don’t torture yourself over what might have been, either.

If you gradually outgrew each other, look back on the good times fondly. Even if your split was fraught with screaming, a painful ending doesn’t negate the happy times that came before. One day you’ll be able to remember them without the whole requiem-of-a-Dementor thing going on. And if, upon reviewing your friendship, you realize you were being taken advantage of or even abused, you’ll be able to say, “thanks for the memories even though they weren’t so great.”

Have you ever gone through a best friend breakup? How did you get through it?