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Toxic/Co-Dependent Friendship Patterns?

Community Member

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone else on the board has struggled with this? And if so, how do you personally manage it? I'm not really looking for advice or instruction, it would just be nice to read some anecdotes.

I've only recently, after stacks of guidance and self reflection, realised that the reason why I end up unhappy with my friendships and eventually end them is because I'm not making healthy friendships in the first place. I'm in my 30's now and while I began addressing my poor boundaries in my early to mid 20's, I'm still picking people who have poor boundaries themselves or who have very different values. I've spent time looking at my experiences in friendships recently and realised that while I can easily state my boundaries, reinforcing them repeatedly is something I need to work on. I need to have a clear limit of how many times I should have to reinforce a boundary before questioning why I'm still in this friendship. Having good boundaries is great and all, communicating them is better, but if I've engaged with someone who has poor boundaries then they sure as heck aren't going to respect mine.

And I don't mean that in a bitter way, it's actually quite sad. 😞 There have been a few people I really wished I could have stayed friends with, but just couldn't because they didn't like it when I put up a boundary and then I got frustrated with them for not listening to it. Or I got tired of them trying to take care of me. I'm an adult, please don't try to take care of me unless I ask you to and please for the love of little kittens, let me reciprocate. Also, 'no' means 'no'. Not 'yes', not 'maybe', not 'try again tomorrow'. Gah.


3 Replies 3

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Ner. welcome

Well at least you know where you are going and what you don't want in your life. As the saying goes "if you have insight into your mental illness you indeed are one of the lucky ones". So you seem to know where you are at.

In a way I try not to complicate things too much. Analysing friendships too much leads to over criticism of them.

But this isn't advice, its just an opinion based on your assessment.

Tony WK

Hi white knight,

Thank you for welcoming me again, you welcomed me back in May, too. You're incredibly congenial. 🙂

It was very kind of you to share your opinion, but I'm not really talking about analysing friendships per say.

Really, I'm analysing myself and the relationship I form with people and they with me. Over analysis of friendships is absolutely a negative thing to do, but there is a difference between analysing something and finding out if you have a pattern of unhealthy behavior. The way I see it is that friendships and relationships are largely mutually exclusive. It's absolutely possible to be good friends, have a good friendship, but still have an unhealthy relationship at the same time. That's pretty much how a co-dependent relationship can function and survive.

If I'm unhappy or keep ending friendships, I've got to ask myself some questions. How do I feel. When was the first time I felt this way. Is it important enough to me to want to change it. What happened when I tried to change it. And go from there. But yeah, if anyone has any experience with this sort of thing, I'd really like to hear about it.

Community Member

Hi Ner.  I know exactly where you're coming from.  However, having said that, isn't 'true' friendship 'give and take'.  If you set boundaries and expect to have them respected by peers, friends whatever you wish to call them, then surely you must show them the same respect.  If you set boundaries the minute you strike up a friendship, this can drive prospective friends away.  Once you 'get to know' people, you can then decide if they're the sort of people you want in your life.  If you're just looking for acquaintances, you'll get that as you meet people.  True friendship can take years to grow.  They are the ones who are 'there' for you through thick and thin.  They accept you for who you are and expect nothing but friendship in return.  A person who criticises you repeatedly is not someone you would value.  They usually try to change you into whatever they think you should be.  Unfortunately, families are quite often the worst offenders for this.  If you frequently meet 'toxic' people, may I be so bold as to say, you're meeting the wrong people in the wrong place.  I, personally keep away from people who blow 'hot and cold', once I realize they're like that, I don't even bother.  There's too many good people out there to worry about false people.  If you're exuding genuine warmth and caring, you will meet like minded people.  I only have one or two people I consider true friends, I have several acquaintances who I've found have been great in a different way.  Acquaintances will try and change you sometimes if they feel you need changing, but normally they accept you.  Friends don't care, they're 'there' regardless. 

Just an opinion.