For gay people, our friends are often our family. They’re there for us through thick and thin, even when our blood relatives let us down – which, as unfortunate as it is, happens more than we’d like it to. As a result, we devote more of our time, energy and love to these friends who become our support systems, but that doesn’t mean they always have our best interests in mind. On occasion we befriend people who seem benign on the surface but who will also stab us in the back as soon as we turn it. If you’ve got a “friend” like this in your life, it’s time to cut ’em loose. Here are four signs to look for when determining that detrimental presence – and how to eliminate the negativity altogether.
1. They’re creating drama for you
Yes, gay people are prone to drama – and at times it’s just playful, devious fun – but when one person’s backhanded habits, like spreading gossip about you, starts affecting your own happiness, it’s time to reevaluate the positives they provide in terms of friendship. When the cons outweigh the pros, you’ve got to drop the dead weight before it drags you down further.
Rhonda Milrad, a licensed clinical social worker and founder of the relationship app Relationup, provides an anecdote for perspective.
“You hear from sources that your friend has been commenting on your relationship, your career and life choices to others. Sure, they’re ‘only sharing their opinions,’ but who needs this?” she asks. “Don’t bother discussing this with them; it won’t change. Instead, make sure that this person is no longer in your inner sanctum of go-to people. If approached, don’t discuss your life with them. When other confidants are telling you things they have said, set a firm boundary and tell them you don’t want to hear about it. Your friend will lose their privileged position of knowing what’s going on with you and will fade to an acquaintance.”
In other words, #gurlbye.
2. They’re not there for you when the going gets tough
One of the greatest aspects of friendship is expecting that your friend will provide a proverbial safety net when you’re experiencing the hills and valleys of life. But when they’re nowhere to be found as the ground starts to shake, can you still count them among your besties? You shouldn’t, and mental health professional Noemie Dupont offers advice on how to navigate those murky waters.
“My main tip is to know the difference between comfort and safety,” she says. “Sure, a lot of people make us feel comfortable, but can they really keep us safe? And plenty of people who make us uncomfortable are not actually unsafe for us. So what do we want in a friend? True safety. Meaning, someone who accepts you and also challenges you. These challenges may cause us to sit in discomfort, but learning something new always feels like that. It makes us even better people. A friend who can be with you through uncomfortable learning periods or uncomfortable life stages is the perfect friend. They won’t be there for ‘fair weather’ or ditch you until you work it out yourself.”
3. They flirt with your partner in a way that makes you uncomfortable
We’ve all had that friend who gets a little too flirty with our partner. In many cases it’s harmless, but you shouldn’t let your guard down. This “friend” may have designs of their own, without any regard for your feelings – especially if they think they can come out on top while leaving you lonely and in the lurch. Thus, unless you want to spend your weekends scarfing down Ben & Jerry’s by the gallon, nip the problem in the bud before it comes back to bite you.
“Share your feelings with your partner and get on the same page,” Milrad suggests. “No more dinners, brunches or get-togethers. Stop extending invitations and start denying request to this boundary-crossing friend. Drag out responses and appear disinterested. Before long, they’ll get the message.”
But not your partner.
4. They’re a perpetual victim
Have somebody in your circle that always seems to invite trouble then plays the victim? Take that trash to the curb. Because at some point, we all need to grow up and accept responsibility for our actions, and if your friend is still acting like the world owes them something, it’s your duty to open the hatch and wave goodbye.
“It’s always something – a fight with their partner, a problem at work, a dissing from their family – and they are always the victim,” Milrad relates. “It’s draining and ugly and you just can’t show up for it anymore. This is who they are, and it’s time to fade out of their life. Don’t be so available. Delay replies, tell them you can’t talk, don’t ask what’s going on, and soon you’ll no longer be considered one of their go-to people. They need an immediate audience, and if you aren’t there they’ll fill your seat.”
And Godspeed to that poor sap.