Three types of friends you should avoid
Take a moment to think about your closest friends (we’ll give you a minute).
Then ask yourself: which ones are interfering with my happiness? Which ones are bringing me down, eroding my self-confidence, my good mood?
As a general rule, we tend to undervalue how important friendships are and the role they play in our lives. Associate Professor Raj Raghunathan, writing for psychologytoday.com, asks: “What is the single biggest determinant of your happiness? The answer to this question, as you probably know, is not ‘wealth,’ ‘fame,’ ‘beauty’ or ‘power.’ Rather, it is how others, particularly those closest to you – friends, family and colleagues – treat you.”
And it makes sense, as Raghunathan notes: “The reason our happiness depends so much on the quality of our relationships is because humans are supremely social creatures.”
So it’s important to choose your friends wisely and, from time to time, evaluate your social circle. Explains sociologist and author Jan Yager (“When Friendship Hurts”), as quoted by Amanda MacMillan for health.com: “Negative friendships can cause stress, frustration, and even put you in harm’s way if their behavior puts you in situations that could jeopardize you and your loved ones.”
Here are three types of friends capable of making you sick (literally): the critic, the complainer and the competitor. Who in your friend circle fits this profile?
“Critics are known for finding something derogatory to say about everyone,” writes Daniel Milstein, in a piece for success.com, “and they are especially famous for trading confidential or negative information about others. Critics use gossip to bond…Make sure you’re never tempted to engage in their shenanigans, for everyone is fair game, including you.”
Energy vampires – that’s how the authors at personalexcellence.co describe critical friends. “No matter what you say, they will always find some way to derail the conversation. You can’t even remember the last time they gave a compliment or encouragement. They tend to scrutinize and zoom into every little problem, after which they harp on these problems and offer unwanted (negative, unconstructive) opinions…Rather than praise, they can only criticize.”
Elle Kaplan, writing for medium.com, says simply: “No matter how positive of a person you are, negative people can affect your life, unless you take the right precautions.” Adds Kaplan: “Scientific research indicates that negativity is contagious, akin to a cold…”
Sherrie Carter agrees. In a piece for psychologytoday.com Carter explains: “Because emotions are highly contagious, if you catch a bad bug, the consequences can be life-threatening…Simply put, as a species, we are innately vulnerable to ‘catching’ other people’s emotions.” The good news is, it goes both ways. Adds Carter: “Referring to emotions as contagious may connote a negative experience. However, this is not necessarily true. Being ‘infected’ by another person’s happiness or enthusiasm can be a very good thing…Simply put, when you hang out with happy people, you tend to feel happier, have more energy, and feel less stressed.”
Carter cites research by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler who said: “A person’s happiness is related to the happiness of their friends, their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends—that is, to people well beyond their social horizon.”
“If your friend’s goals or achievements serve as motivation for you,” note the authors at yourtango.com, then “some competition can be healthy.” Writing for stylecaster.com, Vanessa agrees: “There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. However, the keyword here is friendly. When a friendship becomes more of a competition, it might be time to end it…The Competitive Friend doesn’t have the ability to simply congratulate another friend on his/her accomplishments or positive news. Everything is turned into a game of one-upmanship.”
So choose your friends wisely.