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Sometimes even the best of friends have to break up. Like a romantic relationship that turns sour, so too can a friendship spoil. And these breakups can be harder to handle than romantic ones. We invest so much time and energy into our friends. They know our deepest, darkest secrets. They’ve seen us at our absolute best and our utmost worst. Ultimately, they’ve got so much dirt on us, what would happen if something went awry? Because there is so much to lose, people often avoid doing what is best for them—moving on.

A 13-year study at Harvard Medical School showed that people who have strong friendships have less stress in their lives, recover quicker from heart attacks, are less susceptible to colds and live longer than friendless people. While there are many health benefits from friendships, they only come from good relationships. No friendship is perfect. But when a “friend” gets in the way of your personal, emotional or spiritual growth, he/she may be no friend at all. These lopsided relationships can actually do more harm than good.

The Good News

Some toxic friendships can be remedied. If you notice consistently bad behavior from a friend, tell him about it. Confront him with love, respect and honesty, and try to evoke a change. After all, you can’t expect things to improve if your friend doesn’t even know there is a problem. But you can’t expect all the changes to come from the other person. Change your own behavior as well. Don’t just take hurtful comments from the judge. Speak up about the way her words affect you. Don’t let the dependent barge in on you every day. Tell him you need your space. You have to work together to fix the problems.

The Bad News

Once you realize a friendship is causing you harm, either shape up or ship out. If you’ve tried to fix the problems but still feel like things are the same, you can’t expect things to change. Don’t invest too much time into a relationship that isn’t going anywhere. A friendship should benefit both parties equally. You should help each other grow and mature. If that’s not the case, then you shouldn’t be afraid to move on. Pray about it. Let God show you what to do instead of relying on yourself. After all, He is the only friend you can completely rely on.

Types to Avoid

The Gossip—This type might act nice to your face, but once you turn your back, all you say in confidence becomes fair game. You might censor yourself around them to avoid secrets being told. If you can’t completely trust your friends, whom can you trust?

The Promise-Breaker—You make plans, but this person hardly ever follows through because something more important comes up. If you ask them to do something for you, they are always quick to agree, then back out at the last minute. Promise-breakers make you feel like they are always there for you, but ultimately they aren’t very dependable.

The Dependent—This type needs you more than you need them. They will try to control all of your time and don’t like it when you have other friends. This person will often use your friendship for some purpose or goal of his own.

The Complainer—Drama, drama, drama. This type of friend always has something to whine about, and it’s always your job to listen. You serve as your friend’s therapist and can’t get advice about your own problems. With this type, it’s all about them.

The Judge—From what you wear to whom you date to where you work, this type of person always has something negative to say. And to make it worse, half the time you won’t even know it’s an insult. If you’re constantly hardening yourself up for a jab against you, you have fallen victim to this type of toxic friend.

The Bad Influence—Chances are, you’ve got a few of these hanging around. You know them. They’re the people that tempt you to do things you shouldn’t. They’re usually the people who are really fun to be around, but ultimately, nothing productive comes from your time together.

There are many types of toxic friends, and many of them are difficult to spot while you’re engulfed in the relationship. The only way to determine if a friendship is good is to open your eyes a little bit. Ask yourself if she is supportive of you. Does she keep promises? Do you feel secure about yourself when you are around her? Do you feel like you benefit from the relationship as much as she does? Your answers should say something about the quality of your relationship.

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