Toxic Friends – Falling to pieces

Men seem to kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn’t seem to crack. Women treat it as glass and it goes to pieces. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Toxic Friends by Susan Shapiro Barash is a book for – and about – women. 

Barash  is no stranger to relationship wisdom and has gone on to write books about mothers and daughters and the marriage relationship. Books before Toxic Friends were about women supporting women – or NOT. Sidenote: Does it amaze you… as it does me… how many women stab other women in the back… or in the heart, while they look into your eyes?

I’ve written quite a bit about this subject and don’t want to rehash old stories. No, this time, we’re starting from scratch with a book that is one of the best, if you’re wondering how to detangle yourself from a sticky, webby friendship that’s making you heart-sick (or sick to your stomach).

Let’s begin at the beginning. What kinds of friends do women have? Shapiro interviewed 200 women (of all stripes) and came up with the following list of friendship “types”:

  1. The Leader
  2. The Doormat
  3. The Sacrificer
  4. The Misery Lover
  5. The User
  6. Intimate Frenemie
  7. The Trophy Friend
  8. The Mirroring Friend
  9. The Sharer
  10. The Authentic Friend

Pretty good lookin’ list there, right? I’m sure we could all go through it and plug-in names…

The Leader? Oh, that’s Jane, for sure! The doormat? Good grief, that was Sally… and so on. The book (of course!) goes into detail about each type, which is important. If you’re to move away from toxic friends but also determine who NOT to invite into your life next time? Yeah, important to know who you’re attracting and WHY.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The women Barash interviewed for the list (above) are those whose friendship stories she cultivated for this book, which is rich in content. It’s an easy read and is filled with anecdotes, studies and questions to ask yourself.

So. I’m asking you: How are your female friendships? If you’re like me… you have a handful of close friends and a whole whack of … what are they? Instagram or Facebook friends? Real life friends? Acquaintances? Work buds? People you know? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference, isn’t it?

Going back to the list (above) it might surprise you to know that it is further distilled down to three sections.

  • 1-4 = Those We Tolerate – Romanticizing Our Friends
  • 5-7 = Those We Ditch – Trial by Fire
  • 8-10 = Those We Keep – The Evolution of the Female Friend

I guess the question now becomes… how can we tell the difference? And I have to say, this book will help you figure it out! Especially if this information is new to you… or you’ve suddenly figured out that you keep attracting women who hurt you and you want to stop.

If you’re older – like, er, me – you may have a steady gut that does a lot of the heavy lifting but it still doesn’t hurt to have a book like this around … because … friendships can be so darned complicated… difficult… messy.

There is a part of me that wants to scream out… NO! That’s not true! Friendships DON’T HAVE TO BE complicated, difficult or messy! Can’t they be simple, warm and comfortable as an old sweater and jeans? Why do we make things so darned difficult? Indeed!

All I know for sure is that a good friendship is worth the effort. I have a handful of friends that have been with me, in one way or ‘tuther, for years. Most are hundreds to thousands of miles away… and it’s not ideal but it’s okay. These friends have stood the test of time… like… in a few cases, it’s been 40+ years time. Newer friends have come and gone… a few have stuck around for the long haul. Truly, I’m blessed. But I’ve been hurt, betrayed and, honestly, devastated by friendships-gone-wrong. In one case, it went so wrong, I’ve never fully recovered. Ouch! Smarts just thinking about it.

Yes, it’s worth it to weed out the baddies. Yes, this book will help you to do it.

It will also help you see that you have good, wise, loving friends, too.

It’s a great read and the kind of book you’ll want to keep in your collection. Highly recommend.


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