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Why do I just attract toxic friends?

(81 Posts)
HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 10:03:10

How do I go about finding decent ones?

I've recently bought a book about different types of toxic friend, and I can honestly say that every friend I have fits well into one or more of the categories.

My friends do things such as:

Always being too busy to see me despite having plenty of time to see other people. Cancelling plans in favour of other people. Telling me they are ill and then going out with other people

Expect unlimited support from me when they're having a bad time, expecting me to be outraged if anyone crosses them and to 'side' with them. Not giving me any support when I need it, and 'siding' with anyone except me. Recent example is a friend who has been very needy recently and who I've offered a lot of support to. The other day she was round here after school with her DD and my DD said a girl who isn't very pleasant in their class had hit her that day. Friend just sat there and said nothing, yet it if was her daughter that had been hit she would expect me to be outraged.

Behaving like a frenemy; nasty comments, cutting comments, little digs. Talking to me sometimes and not at others.

I probably have 10 friends and like I said they all seem to fit into categories in my book about toxic friends. I can't think that any bring anything to my life, they all just seem to use me.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 10:04:27

The other trait they all seem to share is talking incessantly about themselves. To the point where if I say anything about me they just ignore it and carry on talking/texting.

Lizzabadger Wed 06-Mar-13 10:05:06

If you don't want to be friends with them, ditch them. Life is too short.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 10:07:10

I'll have no friends then though. Story of my life. No friends, so just had to put up with anyone that wants to be friends with me. Sorry if that sounds self pitying, I don't mean it to be but that's how I feel.

Current thing is a woman has asked me to meet her for coffee tomorrow. She wrote on my Facebook wall last night to say she can't make it, and now I've just seen via other Facebook conversations that she's meeting a group of other friends for lunch. I wish she'd just been honest.

HeathRobinson Wed 06-Mar-13 10:09:59

What does the book suggest about why people attract toxic friends?

LadyBigtoes Wed 06-Mar-13 10:13:58

I used to attract a certain type of friend - not nasty usually, but needy and controlling types who would come round unannounced all the time and bring presents and then expect me to stay up half the night listening to their woes. Or try to organise my life for me so that it involved doing everything with them.

I have gradually moved away from this but tbh I think as much as I've tried to, it's also because having kids and family life as well as work means I just don't have the time, so I became much tougher with these people just through necessity.

So in short, people will use and abuse you if you let them - if your response to this behaviour is to try to go along with it and please people. You need to develop ways to gently drop people - not having a showdown, just saying you're not available, too busy etc. and saying no to demands until they get bored with you as you're not giving them what they need.

These days I do have fewer friends and I don't see them as often, but they are good friends who won't hold it against me if I haven't seen them for weeks or months, and we have a catch-up/lunch/trip away together once in a while. In a way, the friends who have "survived" with me are by necessity the ones who are secure and busy themselves and don't need constant attention and propping up. If you drop the toxic friends you'll make space for healthier friendships, but accept that it may mean you're not always surrounded by friends (which isn't a bad thing).

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 10:27:19

I think I need to develop some strategies LadyBigToes. I've tried to phase a couple of friends out recently but both seemed to suss that was what I was doing, and one got very very nasty with me. Some people just can't seem to take a hint.

The woman that has invited me for coffee and let me down, I've decided will not get the opportunity to become a friend. She wants to reschedule for Friday and I've said I'm busy that day.

A FB friend has done a status this morning about something her husband has done to upset her and she got about 20 replies from her friends, everyone siding with her and agreeing with her. And IMO that's what friends should do. If I did that kind of status I'd get replies like 'oh don't worry about it' and 'I'm not taking sides'

Then another friend expects me to travel around after her all the time, she's always late to meet up. I've done so much for her, and yet she's really rude to me, never ever supports me on anything and challenges everything I say and makes out I'm wrong.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 10:29:00

It hurts that I'm a nice, decent person but I don't think any of my friends would have a single good thing to say about me. I certainly wouldn't get the 'lovely lovely lady' comments some seem to get on FB

LadyBigtoes Wed 06-Mar-13 10:37:29

Stop and think what you're saying. That people expect things from you - and it seems like you go along with it. Why? It's not the end of the world to just be unavailable or uninterested. I think these friends are used to using you because you go along with all this crap, even though you are upset by it. No friends would be better than this lot. And you can make new friends - just take it slowly.

And ditch FB! Seriously. The thought of someone discussing their relationship on FB and expecting everyone to side with them is not my idea of an enjoyable friendship scenario, it just sounds like a pain in the arse.

Can you set yourself up with some activities/evening class/things to do so that you aren't focusing on them so much and might meet new people?

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 10:43:18

Can you give me any tips on phasing people out gently, LadyBigtoes? I don't seem to be very good at it.

You're right, no friends would be better than the friends I currently have. I find I often attract grown women that are quite nasty to me and do childish things. About 5 years ago I tried to join a womens' netball team, which I loved, but one woman on the team, the captain, who was very dominant, didn't like me from day one and would shout at me during matches really nastily if I didn't perform as well as she wanted me to. She was nice and respectful to other people. I ended up having to stop playing.

I also went on a girls night out about two years ago with some mums I met at a toddler group. One mum took a dislike to me and spent the night drunkenly slagging me off loudly to other mums whilst they smiled awkwardly, but very few spoke to me as they felt uncomfortable doing so. I ended up going home early and not going back to that group again.

samuelwhiskers Wed 06-Mar-13 10:50:16

Agree with LadyBigtoes, step back from them and be "busy" more. Try and limit your views on FB, that in itself can make you feel that you are somehow missing out or are out of the loop. I have gone through loads of toxic friends but over the years I have learnt to cull them and dispense of the toxic ones and I am sooo much happier. Remember it is not you but them who have the problem, somehow you need to attract more genuine friends. If you stepped back a bit then you might have clearer vision.

Lizzabadger Wed 06-Mar-13 10:59:02

I think you would be better off having fewer/no friends than toxic friends.

Do you think you might be a bit oversensitive and quick-to-take offence as well, though? For example I can't imagine that I would even remember a one-off incident of somone "slagging me off" two years ago!

LadyBigtoes Wed 06-Mar-13 11:01:20

You just don't ask them to do anything, and if they ask you, you're busy/maybe next time (NOT)/you're tired. It's a gentle way of just not being involved any more, without having to say "I'm not your friend!"

However if someone starts treating you nastily when you do this, that is not a reason to obey them! On the contrary, they are showing their true colours and even more reason to ditch them. You can say "I don't like you speaking to me like that" and walk away, delete on FB, ignore, etc. You've said that people let you down/cancel on you etc - you're free to do the same.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 11:12:35

Well that's very true LadyBig. The friend I tried to phase out I just didn't contact, and every time she suggested doing anything I said I was busy, and if I happened to answer the phone when she called I had a quick chat then had to go as was 'busy'. She has DCs at the same school that my DCs go to, and lets just say she created a bit of a scene at the school gates and told me to grow up and that she wouldn't be surprised if I had no friends at all if I treated them all like I treated her. I just walked off. I didn't know what else to do. I'm pretty sure all mutual friends sided with her though.

Lizza, I can't help remembering it as she slagged me off very loudly literally the whole evening, saying very personal things and that she just didn't like me. I went home in tears. So I think that's why I always remember it as it was a really upsetting night and her behaviour came out of the blue.

badtime Wed 06-Mar-13 12:21:36

HerLordship, I used to have much the same problem as you. I thought about it and realised that many of my so-called friends really just upset me, and I would be better off without them.

I think you have to ask yourself why you want to have friends, and why the idea of having no friends bothers you. Is it because you don't want to be the sort of 'loser' who doesn't have friends (i.e. because everyone else has friends), or because you want supportive, nice people to spend time with? If it is the latter, you have to accept that your 'friends' aren't what you want, and you may well be better off without them. If the former, you might want to consider counselling to address why you are so concerned about not appearing to be a loser. You should at least watch 'Muriel's Wedding', one of the finest studies of real v fake friendship in the history of the world.

I think you did the right thing by trying to join a netball team, but it is unfortunate that it was not a supportive environment - could you try again (the people in the team might have changed), or try a different netball/hockey/roller derby team? I found that having a sport based 'fake' social life (something to do in the evenings, spending time with people without any pressure or obligation) helped me to relax and learn to deal with people on my own terms.

Really, from your comments, your issue does appear to be based in self esteem and assertiveness.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 13:07:10

I think I know the reason for not wanting to have no friends: I was really popular at primary school, never had to make an effort particularly and had great friends. To start secondary school we moved 150 miles away, where they started high school a year earlier than in my old area, and so I started at the beginning of the second year. Everyone already had friends, and I was put into a very unfriendly form and basically bullied from day 1, with classmates saying there were fleas on my chair when I got up, and that I smelt (I never did).

I think I learnt from that day that I had to be a people pleaser and eventually things got better and I did make some friends, but many in my year disliked me from the day I started until the day I left school. Friends that I did make were fair weather friends though and would never stick up for me and would turn on me all of a sudden at times. I'd have periods of up to half a term being 'friendless' at school. One teacher even joined in on it and called me for a word and said I was the most unpopular person she'd ever met. Helpful! Not! She didn't even say anything when one English lesson the whole class drew 'anti her lordship' symbols on their hands. Apparently that was my fault.

At the same time, my parents who were never parents of the year, started being really critical of me, and for the whole time I was at school said I must be weird as no one liked me and that I was to blame. Some boys in my year at school also said to me all the time that poem 'everybody hates me, nobody likes me'. And another boy always told me to 'fuck off and die'

So I guess inside there is something subconscious that says I'm a failure if not everybody likes me. I do seem to attract people not to like me though. I joined an online parenting group when I had my 3 year old and everyone on there is chummy with one another but there are 4 that avoid me all the time and never ever reply to me, so I've stopped bothering with them. Likewise at nursery pick up there is one mum who has made it plain she doesn't like me. She gets on with everyone else, and no one else has anyone that doesn't like them. Think it must be me

BangOn Wed 06-Mar-13 13:07:57

i was going to start my own thread on this, but saw yours & thought i'd let you know you're not alone in this.

my problem is, i have lots of aquaintances i admire, respect & really enjoy talking to, but they don't seem to want to progress to friendhip, whenever i suggest meeting up socially. they seem to havr enough friends & don't have any use for me.

then i have 'friends' with whom i meet up & do playdates etc, but they end up ignoring me & talking amongst themselves, even when we're at mine. one 'friend' in particular takes any opportunity to pit herself against me. i feel like we're in that monty python sketch 'is this the room for an argument?' fgs. last time we met up, i silently resolved to be 'busy' next time they suggest meeting up, but like you, op i worry i'll end up with no-one.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 13:12:14

BangOn, that's exactly how it is for me. I've met a lovely friend, who is on my wavelength and I love her company, but she never has time to meet. She does text me though and we chat if we bump into each other so at least that's something.

colditz Wed 06-Mar-13 13:15:51

You aren't being picky enough with your friends, and also, you're really negative about the groups of people you meet.

If I meet a group of people, and one person is unpleasant, I don't immediately decide that the whole group is a write off. I will either nice at her until she gives up and is nice back, or I will laugh in her face but I don't let one person decide what I do and do not do.

10 friends is too many. I don't have ten friends, I have about five, and I only confide in two or three of those! You cannot have ten good friends, there isn't time in the day, if I were you I'd give the least pleasant half of those the boot.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 13:20:05

Colditz, I know what you're saying but on the night out no one stuck up for me, they all just listened to her with a nervous smile. That's why I didn't go back

colditz Wed 06-Mar-13 13:22:19

For example, I have an acquaintance who has decided that I am her friend. She rings me to offload all about her life. The awful things pople have said and done to her, the problems her kids have at school, her partner and the subsequent drama .... She is always having a bad time.

When my ex hit me in front of the police, and I had to have him removed, she was having such an awful time that she had to ring me at six am to witter about her nine year olds half a degree temperature. She didn't find out that I had split with the ex until several months are wards, because she just didn't ever listen to anything I said, ever. Are your "friends" like this?

Because the problem may be that you are categorising them as friends. I don't. I decide that they are just whiny people I know, and I filter their calls and ignore them if I feel like it, because they are not paying me forty pound an hour and therefore I will not provide a councilling service if I don't want to.

May I suggest that you also filter calls, and ignore the ignorant? And stop calling them your friends, they aren't friends.

colditz Wed 06-Mar-13 13:24:07

You shouldn't rely on others to stick up for you, stick up for yourself. You are a grown up lady, not a frightened eleven year old who is waiting for a teacher to intervene. Look her in the eye and say "gosh, did you mean to be so rude? Because that was SO rude that I can't believe an adult would say it on purpose! Hahaha!"

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 13:24:58

Yes colditz, exactly. Never listening to a word I say. Although strangely they seem to listen to others as they will happily tell me about the 'hard time' others are having.

If said acquaintance phones and drones on, do you just say you have to go? Do you just let her whitter on?

colditz Wed 06-Mar-13 13:25:18

I was bullied at high school too, and it was shit, but this is not high school and adult behavior is expected of everyone, not just you, and you can call them on it if they are behaving like spiteful twelve year olds.


colditz Wed 06-Mar-13 13:25:58

God no, I hardly ever even listen any more. I say "anyway, must go" and walk off lol

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 13:26:14

Colditz, I did tell her there was no need for her behaviour twice but was told by the others to just 'leave it'.

colditz Wed 06-Mar-13 13:29:02

Do you have to do what others say?

I understand what you are saying, it must have been very uncomfortable, but perhaps they knew something about the day she had had that you didn't know?

Maybe I am oblivious to all the pele who genuinely hate me, but I just don't seem to sense the waves of dislike from people that you seem to sense?

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 06-Mar-13 13:29:24

OP you have read a book about toxic friends. May I suggest that you now read some books about boosting your self esteem and learning to be more assertive.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 13:34:49

No I know I don't have to do what other say, but it was very awkward. I don't know what was going on with her, but I don't think there was any excuse for her behaviour really. However I think had I said Things back to her, they'd all have thought worse of me for replying than they did of her for being a cow in the first place. But I have no one in my life that would make excuses if I behaved badly and just overlook it. How they were with her kind of illustrates more how I described I feel in my first post

badtime Wed 06-Mar-13 13:37:03

Is it possible that you think you don't deserve to be friends with the nice people? I know I do that sometimes. If there is someone I think is a bit of a pain, I have no problems calling them etc, as I am not bothered if they don't like me.

I think you need to start only being friends with people you actually like.

I struggle with actively trying to be friends with people (I was also bullied at school, but I have come to terms with the fact that most people won't get on with me particularly, but that's okay, as it would usually be the people I wouldn't particularly want to be friends with anyway).

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 13:45:34

I will do, Dione. I'm on a roll with self help books at the moment. Sort of....

Yes I think so bad time. Nice people always seem to have all the friends they could possibly want/need and have no room for others.

badinage Wed 06-Mar-13 13:48:12

I was on another thread the other day about friends and one of the main problems the OP was having was trying to make friends in groups that were already established.

Getting to know people individually is often better; that way if you form a group you'll have lots of allies or if you join their established groups from time to time you know at least one person genuinely likes you.

What pools are you fishing in? If it's the playground, are there women you've never spoken to? What about a class or a hobby group? Women at work?

something2say Wed 06-Mar-13 13:57:51

I can relate to a lot of this, and the phasing out of that phase of my life coincided with my feeling better about myself. It was like a seesaw, nicer friends who I'd had for years just outdid the less nice friends!

From what you have said, I would advise you to watch people's behaviour more closely prior to becoming friends. For example, you say you are nice and decent, yet you are friends with people who have slanging matches at the school gates. I used to be friends with someone who did things like that. I myself would not dream of doing so. The problem was, I dropped my standards and made friends with someone who is hurtful. I would have been better not getting in there in the first place.

You say you are a people pleaser, that isn't going to work with friends because it is basically a dishonest position.

something2say Wed 06-Mar-13 13:58:54

I have found that taking time to make friends is also good, too much too soon smacks of desperation. Maximise the friends that do work, and be careful in future xx

sweetpud Wed 06-Mar-13 14:02:37

I understand where you are coming from and it really does make you question yourself. I have two close female friends and both of these have let me down at times in the past and left me feeling hurt! I don't even see them that often anymore, just regular texts mostly, but hopefully if I needed them they would make an effort. Sometimes it seems like its out of sight, out of mind, and at other times with my oldest friend, it seems she contacts me only when she need something. I do know more males than females though, and maybe I get on better with them!

LadyBigtoes Wed 06-Mar-13 14:05:50

I have a book recommendation for you OP - I'm so NOT a self-help book type but this book did absolute wonders for me.

A Woman In Your Own Right

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 14:11:40

Thanks all, and thank you ladybigtoes, I've just ordered that book on eBay!

Fillyjonk75 Wed 06-Mar-13 14:18:11

I would suggest trying not to worry about having friends at all or whether people like you and spending time getting to know yourself as a person, what you want to do for hobbies and work and building your self-esteem and self-confidence and becoming more content in yourself.

When you come across as happy in yourself and reasonably confident people gravitate to you, whereas if you are shy and defensive, or appear needy people tend to back away. Perhaps also book some sessions with a counsellor about the bullying at school and the relationship with your parents. Make sure you find the right one though and don't be afraid to change if it isn't working.

Also keep chatting and making online friends, it's a great way to practise for real life contact, you get more time to think before you communicate, and you can actually meet people in real life this way.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 14:28:24

Good ideas, fillyjonk, thank you

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 16:46:37

Just thinking aloud really but what I also find is I make friends with people, but I never seem to move any further upwards in their valuation of our friendship. For example the friend I mentioned earlier has a group of good friends, and I am always second best to them, and on the outside. She won't talk to me if they are there, or if she's with me at the school and they come over then our chat is cut off.

2rebecca Wed 06-Mar-13 22:06:21

In some of the posts you're sounding a bit needy and paranoid. I suspect you're trying too hard and not being discerning enough about who you are friends with. Also I think as you get older most people don't have loads of friends. the women I know with lots of friends always seem to be falling out with them so maybe it's the nature of women who surround themselves with friends that they fall out alot and don't take the friendship that seriously.
I'd get involved in clubs/ hobbies you enjoy and make friends through that, and stop viewing people as friends who will treat you badly. they aren't friends they're acquaintainces. most of us don't have many good friends. All mine live over 3 hours away and I'm not atypical of women of my generation who went to college then moved about a bit. I still have people locally I socialise with and am never bored (but can be antisocial and not want to go out much).
I think you need to accept that people not liking you doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you as well. Some personalities don't get on. Most people have people they avoid. if you don't that's maybe how you've ended up with some dodgy friends.
It's upsetting if you really like someone and they don't like you, but I'd concentrate more on enjoying yourself and deciding what you want to do rather than seeing having a friend as a goal in itself. In general happy people who enjoy life and don't care if other people like them or not attract more people than those who try to find friends and fit in.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 22:13:12

Thanks 2rebecca. Can you tell me where I sound needy and paranoid? I'm not being rude asking that, I am just interested, to help me see where I am going wrong smile

colditz Wed 06-Mar-13 22:22:55

Ok, I'm going to be very honest here.

You sound needy and paranoid when you say that four people on an online parenting group ignored you. Most people would either not notice or not care. You sound needy and paranoid when you talk about a boy at high school saying "fuck off and die" - seriously, kids are vile sometimes, do you honestly think he was a nice boy who was provoked into irrational rage when he saw your face? Or is it more likely that he was generally an unpleasant little twat?

You seem to take things very personally, and most of the time, things are not personal to you, they are personal to the person doing it.

I have a very good friend like you, and she's lovely ... But she's tiring. Because I have to constantly reassure her that X isn't ignoring her, Mr so and so wasn't giving her bitchy looks, nobody cares if she said something a bit embarrasing at a party five years ago etc etc.

It is because you are so sensitive that you are a caring person who listens to your friends, but it is also the reason you are upset right now.

HerLordship Wed 06-Mar-13 22:27:31

Thanks colditz. If the fuck off and die had been just that I think I'd have been fine with it, but combined with the other things I did find it hurtful and difficult to deal with

I agree I am sensitive, I find it hard not to be though....

colditz Wed 06-Mar-13 22:40:33

I'm sure it was hurtful and difficult to deal with, but it was also a very long time ago. Sweetie, move on.

Gintonic Wed 06-Mar-13 23:02:55

I started reading your thread because I have had quite a few toxic friends in my time. At points I have wondered what I have done to deserve them. But I have either ditched them or distanced myself. Nowadays I have 3 or 4 really good friends, but they live far away. I have lots of acquaintances who I enjoy meeting up with but they are not close friends at all.

If I can offer my perspective, I agree with the poster who said you are perhaps being over sensitive - I am not excusing the bad way people have treated you, but perhaps you are letting people push you around a bit, and assuming that people don't like you because they don't "stick up" for you?

For example, you mention the night out with the group of mums, one of them started slagging you off. I have known lots of people like this, basically their tactic to make themselves feel secure and popular in a new group is to pick on someone who seems less confident or different and try to turn the others against them. They do it to establish themselves as "queen bee".

The fact that others did not stick up for you does not mean they agree. If they don't know you well, why should they stick up for you? They were probably embarrassed. The best way to deal with someone like this is to make a joke of it or tell them they have had too much to drink and are being embarrassing. Then they realise you are not an easy target. Perhaps if you had persevered with that group you would have found out that the others thought the nasty one was a complete b*tch?

I am not saying it is easy - it isn't - but don't assume that everyone is like this or that you have to put up with horrible friends.

HerLordship Thu 07-Mar-13 00:59:40

I guess I was just disappointed that not one of them pointed out her behaviour was appalling. Which it was, regardless of whatever her circumstances/problems are/were. Just for someone to say 'that's not very nice'. I know if I was in their situation on a night out I would hate the unfairness of it and would speak up, even if to say I didn't want to hear vitriol being spewed out constantly about someone.

I am sensitive, however I do seem to come across a lot of people that seem to take an instant dislike to me. I am quite quiet, maybe that's why? I try to be louder and more chatty but unless it's with someone I know well I just can't be.

I know I need to work at my self esteem and confidence, and also move forward and phase out some of the toxic friends. I spoke to DH at length about it all tonight and he, like many of you, cannot see why I have anything to do with them. I know deep down I am afraid of being left with no friends at all. To me, having no friends = failure/nasty person. I know that's not the case but I can't help feeling it

badinage Thu 07-Mar-13 01:31:04

I don't think you're being unreasonable expecting the other women at that meal to say something in your defence. I can't abide people who stand back and fail to tackle bullying, which is what it was. But if something like that had happened to me, it would be the quickest and easiest decision that none of those people were worth friendship. This is perhaps what people mean by suggesting that you could be more discerning about the company you keep.

I really would stop trying to infiltrate established groups, try talking to other women on a one-to-one basis and start fishing in a bigger pool than the mum groups or sports teams.

What might really help if you start building up your confidence and assertiveness so that you can effect a different demeanour to the one you're probably showing right now. It sounds like you're attracting bullies who can literally smell your fear and neediness and are exploiting it to make them feel better about themselves. Bullies never even try that with women who have the air about them of not being messed with, so confidence and being self-assured is key, as is standing up for yourself and others when people are just plain rude and nasty.

springyhop Thu 07-Mar-13 02:02:19

If you are being 'sensitive' then it is no wonder when you went through pure hell during your teens. You had an extremely bad time. Bullying absolutely destroys people. If someone had a physical injury that made them 'sensitive', everybody would understand it and allow for it. Your injuries are invisible but no less debilitating.

I would recommend therapy and also getting into the community of people who struggle with similar difficulties because of awful experiences in the past eg support groups. It is a huge community. imo of extreme bullying when I was young, I have had to do a lot of work to address the damage it did to me.

I am also sorry to say that bullying has followed me around, as it seems to have followed you around eg the netball coach (what a cow angry ) and the awful woman at the school gates and your pitifully horrid 'friends' who couldn't care less about you because they are rabid takers.

You say I've done so much for her/them - but why, when they are ignorant pigs? Being nice to people won't get them to like you, it just attracts bullies or ignorant takers who will bleed you dry and throw away the husk. Have you heard of the saying 'pearls before swine'? That's what you're doing when you lavish love, care and attention on people who totally don't deserve it because they have not given you a drop of the good stuff the entire time you've known them.

therapy was good for me in addressing the awful bullying I endured throughout my childhood. I am a changed person but it didn't happen overnight. I value myself and have a very low tolerance for shit. I truly would rather be alone than with the dismal people I tolerated as 'friends' but were nothing of the sort. Learning to properly love and value yourself is at the root of good friendships.

I found it very painful to read of the vicious bullying you endured when you were a child from your peers as well as your parents - who should have been in your corner at that very, very painful time but instead piled in with more bullying sad

readersdigestive Thu 07-Mar-13 06:26:44

My DH says that I attract psychos and incredibly selfish people as friends. Not sure why hmm. I tend to attract people who want to be BFF and want to hang out 3-4 times a week, have dinner every Sat and go on holiday together. When I back off a bit, they get offended and move on to the next person. I also attract people who incessantly talk about themselves and I come away from a coffee with a headache and having not passed on any of my own news. The other type that I attract is the "my small sh!t is more important than your big sh!t". For example, I may not make it to a playdate because my son is suddenly in hospital and on a drip and that is not OK, I have majorly inconvenienced them. However, when their son decides that he'd rather go do X than meet us, that's OK. Finally my favourite is, hey lets meet. I get there on time, they turn up 1 hour later.

I do have some very, very good friends who I would do anything for. I have known them many years and we do not see each other from time to time, but when we do there is no standing on ceremony and it's like we saw them yesterday. That's my favourite type.

I think I have a very low tolerance for other peoples BS and dramas, partly because of my family circumstances (there's a thread on it). I hang out a lot on my own. I do not really need other people as I spend all of my time with my DH and children going out and doing cool stuff. I would never rely on someone to go on a day out or e.g. go to the zoo as I always end up waiting around for them or doing what they want to do. If I want to do something I just organise it myself and go do it with my own family.

HerLordship Thu 07-Mar-13 08:03:01

Thank you badinage, springyhop, and readersdigestive.

badinage, I think you are right. I probably do give off an unconfident demeanor then I attract nasty people and people that are just out for what they can get. I totally agree about the bullying too. I just couldn't bring myself to be friends with any of the women any longer after none of them spoke up for me. I didn't want them to say much or make a huge scene, but basically just to tell the horrible woman to stop saying things or that they didn't want to hear her tripe.

springyhop, sorry to hear you went through bullying too. It's absolutely soul destroying isn't it? I think I shall have to look into some kind of therapy. I think my sensitivity comes from having to tread on eggshells all the time at school just to fit in and protect myself really. It's hard to get out of that mindset. I remember one girl at school who at the time I classed as one of my better friends, used to say things on Mondays like 'If you're nice at school this week and can prove you can be a real friend, I might let you come into town with me on Saturday' and I'd be all grateful that at least there was a chance I might be able to go. Then I'd watch as she'd openly invite other people, and I'd try really hard all week to be her friend, only to be told on the Friday afternoon that no, I couldn't go, but not to take it personally as she liked to have lots of friends, not just me!

readersdigestive, your description of some of the people that have attached themselves to you is exactly like the woman that got angry when I tried to phase her out! Wanting contact with me all the time, most days really, but only to talk about her and her problems and issues. Not caring at all if someone else has any problems and basically just wanting an audience for her car crash of a life!

colditz Thu 07-Mar-13 08:14:01

YourLordship, you do seem to attracted more than yr fair share of tossers. Please please stop trying to be friendly with people who don't reciprocate. I ditched my drama llama friend, I downgraded her to an acquaintance, you can too!

colditz Thu 07-Mar-13 08:14:58

And there is a special place in hell for girls whoso were spiteful at school ... But you have to wonder what her home life was like, to have learned behavior like that.

LadyBigtoes Thu 07-Mar-13 08:29:43

Lordship I have to say you are doing incredibly well on this thread to take all these comments on board, it can't be easy to hear them (I hope that doesn't sound patronising). You sound like you really want to change this now and so I'm sure you can.

springyhop Thu 07-Mar-13 08:34:02

sorry, but imo you can ill afford to be feeling sorry for other people (eg your sadist school friend) right now as you are carrying a great deal of pain yourself. The friends you are attracting are a mirror of how damaged you are. Between you and me, there's nothing wrong with being damaged - you hardly asked for it, did you? It happened to you, you were a child with no possible means to protect yourself. but you can learn to protect yourself now but, because of your history, it won't come naturally and you will have to learn it. re a professional, a therapist, for the long haul (it's worth it btw).

2rebecca Thu 07-Mar-13 09:14:49

I was bullied and went through a difficult patch at school. I think I was more swotty and geeky than other girls and tried to hard to fit in and be like them rather than sorting out where i wanted to go in life and to do what I enjoyed doing. University helped where i met women who were more like me. I also learned that trying to please people doesn't work. The best way to make friends is to do stuff you enjoy doing and have plenty of hobbies and interests and meet like minded people through those. You tried with the netball, but maybe gave up rather than standing up for yourself with the team captain or trying a different team. You do need to stand up for yourself with bullies and see their unpleasant behaviour as their problem not yours, also as a new member maybe she was shouting because you were doing stuff wrong and you were oversensitive to criticism.
I also learned that most people especially girls are quite insecure at school and feel other people have more friends than them. Early teenage girls are quite nasty and I agree that moving on and not dwelling on this is important now. I also think it's better to have no friends rather than nasty ones and that as people get older we often don't have friends in the same way we had them as children as work and family take up so much of our time.
I think seeing a psychologist may help if you have difficulty being confident and difficulty stopping wanting everyone to like you. It sounds as though you need to start valuing yourself more. I think you also need to accept that most people are the centre of their own universes and very few people put their friends first in their life when they are adults.
I'd stop looking for friends for the sake of having friends. I'd rather be alone getting on with something I enjoy than listen to a self obsessed person moan just so I can say i have a friend. It sounds as though you have a supportive husband, stop looking for friends for a while and do stuff to build up your confidence.
Cat's Eye by margaret Atwood describes a friendship with a girl much like your "friend" at school. This may help. In general people who treat other people badly don't end up with a happy life and are best avoided.
I think your previous experiences are colouring your expectation now and making you over sensitive and attracting bullies

HerLordship Thu 07-Mar-13 15:35:21

Thanks everyone for the comments and wise words!

I have a FB friend who pops up on chat to me each day and I usually lamely spend ages interacting with her whilst she talks about herself. She says something about herself and I'll acknowledge what she says, talk about it for a bit, and as soon as I mention anything about myself she ignores what I've said and carries on talking about herself. Anyway, this morning she did just that again, I chatted for 5 minutes, realised the conversation was going the same way as per normal, so after another time of her ignoring something about me, I just went offline and didn't reply any further. She often does this herself, if the conversation gets round to me in any way, so if she says anything I shall say that something cropped up and I didn't think she'd mind as she herself does it.

I do like this friend, but I'm not prepared to listen to her talking 'at' me anymore, and I'm going to start valuing my time more and 'giving' less to her!

colditz Thu 07-Mar-13 15:58:21

Well done! I think you might feel better about yourself, yes? Because she tried to use you, but you didn't let her, you logged off because your time is precious and you deserve it more than she does!

HerLordship Thu 07-Mar-13 17:01:32

Thanks smile

I'm just a bit anxious I'm going to alienate people by not doing as they say, but I guess I need to make these changes

colditz Thu 07-Mar-13 17:10:38

I NEVER do what people say, never ever. Nobody hates me for it. I have a nice friend who occasionally tries to nag me into doing something with her that I would hate, such as going to an exercise class, and I say, really pretentiously, "But DAHHHHHHLING that sounds hideous, I'd much rather throw myself off a bridge. Is that what you want? Is it? Go with Sarah, she likes getting hot and bad tempered, I don't. Yuk yuk yuk. No."

And guess what? She has to live with it, because I am not fucking going to the gym with her. She either lives with it or she can lie on the floor and have a full scale tantrum, but I don't do things I don't want to do unless I am getting paid. The end.

springyhop Thu 07-Mar-13 17:45:22

oh absolutely! You've got it in one colditz gringrin

well done HerLordship! Jolly well BRAVO <round of applause>

springyhop Thu 07-Mar-13 17:49:45

the bottom line is....


If they can't stick with you then forget it. they can go fuck off to the far side of fuck and then fuck off some more grin

I'm not being as aggressive as I sound (just using a well-worn MN phrase!) but this is the bottom line. If people can't even hang around to talk about what's important to you ffs then FUCK EM. They're not worth the breath.

You, meanwhile, are worth a great deal. The sooner you get that, the sooner people will start respecting you and valuing your friendship - and the takers will fuck off to the far side etc. because there's nothing in it for them. BRAVO, I say - it's good to get rid of them as soon as. Good to know from the off what they're about - ie me, me, me <yawn>

BettyBlueBlue Thu 07-Mar-13 18:52:27

So much of what you say resonates with my experience of friends. I realised only recently that the three friends whom I always considered my "secure base" in life, were not really friends at all. Just people I knew for a long time.

It was a hard realisation and I'm still grieving their loss, but I learned my lesson. The problem is that I should have never considered them "good" friends, just old friends.

We tend to idealise friendship so much, always expecting to have a high level of fulfillment from them. I maybe we did for a while, but when things start to rot in the bond, it's best to let go.

I, like you, also feel that my friends never fully support me or endorse me. And when there's a group, you bet I'll be the one who's left out or criticised. I think a lot of it has to do with being an independent thinker, being your own person, never following the crowd blindly.

My heart goes out to you when I read your story of bullying in secondary school, the toddler group mums and the netball team.

I've had a bad experience of bullying as an adult at work, and even though I managed to move on from it, the psychological scar took very long to heal.

One excellent book I'm reading at the moment for women to learn to set boundaries and avoid the psychological predators in life is "Women who run with the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

I'd be interested to know which book you read on toxic friends. I'd like to read it too.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 12:32:04

Thanks again everyone! Feeling much more positive today, even though FB chatty woman seems to be sulking. Oh well, she can get on with it as I'm not going to be her listening service again.

BettyBlueBlue, so sorry to hear you've had similar friends experiences. I'm the same in groups, the person that's left out or criticised, and I think you've raised a good point in that it's probably to do with us being our own person. I'm out at the moment and posting via my phone but I'll post later with the title and auther of the book I've been reading.

BettyBlueBlue Fri 08-Mar-13 16:09:19

Good luck, HerLorship! You sound like a nice, decent person. Don't lose faith in in those qualities you have or yourself as a human being. Lose faith in everybody else if you must, but never in you.

One other thing your OP got me thinking about, when I was very young, I was shy, very shy, not confident in any way. I was plain looking and didn't say much. I wasn't much of a threat to anybody. So everybody seemed to like more so to speak.

As I grew older, I started to look after my appearance, went to university, worked and studied abroad. Married, had two kids.

I think a lot of people don't like you to change or challenge their views of you. I know for sure now that I've done quite a lot with my life considering where I started, and lot of people might compete or perceive me as more of a threat to their egos because of that. Women friends, though really lovely, can be competitive and insecure at times. You need to watch out for those, and keep them at bay where possible.

All best smile

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 16:18:57

I often think jealousy has a lot to answer for in female friendships, Betty. It sounds like the people that don't like you are jealous of you. You sound like a lovely person whose done lots of good things in life. Some people can't handle others having or doing things they haven't got or done.

I think the ex friend that I tried to phase out is definitely jealous of me. Lots of nasty little digs and snidey comments. I think most frenemy-types are just jealous.

Pancakeflipper Fri 08-Mar-13 16:23:28

You have to like yourself. Recognise your strongpoints and embrace them. Recognise the weak points and accept them and try to improve them. Then you will start to be the real you. The fake people pleaser (who in all honesty is painful to be around and not much fun) will disappear. You'll start slowly by making friendships on a 1:1 basis and enjoy them because they are real equal friendships.

Inner happiness/contentment radiates outwards. Those people are attractive to others. They seem fun, caring and not fake.

I have obviously eaten several self help books. Take small steps but become the real you.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 16:40:10

Thank you pancake! Great advice! Hope you don't mind me asking, but which books have you read?

Pancakeflipper Fri 08-Mar-13 16:50:53

None - I worked it our myself. But lots say that type of thing.
I firmly believe you need to like yourself first. It still can feel lonely and still hurt but it gets better and better. And then you handle the nastiness better. It doesn't sting as much.

I was bullied for 2 yrs in secondary school. When I stopped wanting the bullies to like me, for me to be their friend, I went off and was lonely for months then 2 other girls found me, who had kind hearts and couldn't give a stuff what others thought about then. They were more busy with having fun and couldn't be fake if they tried.

I think I got to age when I thought "well this is me. I like this bit. Others like this bit. I don't like this bit so going to sort that but I will be truer to myself". My good points outweigh my crap points.

Don't worry about them, they aren't worth it, sort yourself our then the rest will fall into step. And any let downs - you will deal with more positively.

BettyBlueBlue Fri 08-Mar-13 17:03:25

I think jealousy has a lot to do with friends turning into frenemies, Herlordship.

I always found it really hard to believe that anyone could be jealous of me, since, as I said, I came into this world as the typical "ugly duckling". But now I realise jealousy might have been a element in the equation.

I think it's important to develop a strong sense of self to keep jealousy at bay. If you come across as a bit insecure, unconfident, that's when the predators pounce at you.

As Pancake said, you become stronger by recognising your strong points, accepting your weak ones. And also, try to learn a lesson from every single experience in life to become stronger.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 17:04:10

I think the best tack is to just not care about whether people like me or not isn't it? I find I often care loads about whether people like me or not, then it has the opposite effect! A friend and I had words about a week ago, well not words really I just didn't agree with her, basically she wanted me to be there for her and hang on her every word but wasn't prepared to return the favour. Now I feel like she's ignoring me. I've been making an effort with her but she's being quite cold and off, so think I shall just stop bothering and let her come to me if she wants to be friends.

Pancakeflipper Fri 08-Mar-13 17:14:07

Stop focusing on others. Honestly people are more wrapped up in themselves than looking at and judging you.
Concentrate on you. Don't sink under what you think your crap points are, balance them with good points.

2rebecca Fri 08-Mar-13 17:37:52

I think if you are assertive then people who just want a sounding board not a friendship will go elsewhere. That's OK, they were never friends anyway. As long as you're not being needlessly abrupt when people are being nice then I wouldn't worry. If people are cool let them be, they may just be busy with other stuff, most of us have busy lives.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 17:50:18

Good points, pancake and rebecca!

Grinkly Fri 08-Mar-13 17:52:29

I had an alcoholic parent and have always been desperate to be liked and respected (presumably because my parent certainly wasn't and I didn't want to be like them).

Now, older and wiser, and with an understanding why being liked was so important to me, I am no longer so desperate and am much more at ease with people.

brettgirl2 Fri 08-Mar-13 19:58:59

People probably see me as confident, when I first meet someone I start by assessing whether or not I like THEM rather than their opinion of me. If they don't like me that's fine their decision, and there are plenty more people out there. OP your friends are a nasty load of bitches and as for the ones who sat looking uncomfortable while that vile drunk woman mouthed off omg!!!

Please believe you deserve to meet some nice people.

HerLordship Fri 08-Mar-13 20:41:33

Thank you Grinkly and brettgirl2

brettgirl, I think assessing them as to whether you like them is a really good idea. I will have to start doing that.

I've been pondering tonight, and have decided to leave the online group I mentioned earlier in the thread. I do feel that there are several people on there that do ignore me all the time. Everyone else seems to get on well, respects each other, and makes an effort for each other. There are several alpha female types that get all the attention. None of them bother with my Facebook photos or statuses yet they are all over each other. If I comment on their stuff I get ignored, or replied to as if I am a nuisance. I think they must pick up on my 'wanting to be liked'. Anyway, I figure that I don't have to see any of them in real life, so I will be leaving the group and deleting all bar two group members from my Facebook friends. I think it will help my self esteem in the long term, as I don't think they will ever change in how they treat me as they have got into a rut of scapegoating me in a way and just ignoring me. I'm ashamed to admit this but I even cried on Xmas morning this year when I put on pics of my children opening their presents, and not one of them commented or liked anything, yet they were all over each other and saying how lovely each others' kids were.

I love forums and meeting new people online, but I think I shall start afresh and join some other ones

MrsMangelfanciedPaulRobinson Sat 09-Mar-13 19:19:13

I haven't got much to add to the excellent advice already given, OP, but just wanted to say I have felt the same way in the past, and have recently come to the conclusion that I would prefer to have no friends at all than a load of fake friends that don't treat me well. I always try to treat others as I wish to be treated myself. Unfortunately many people don't live by that rule and just seem to take pleasure in treading all over others.

I've really taken a step back from a lot of friendships lately, and I find if I do that, and give off an air of not giving a shit whether someone is my friend or not, people do seem more drawn to me. I am quite a self conscious person at times but I am working on not letting it show! People pick up on that kind of thing, and will use people that are like that, or bully them.

MrsMangelfanciedPaulRobinson Sat 09-Mar-13 19:21:16

I just wanted to add that with regards to the ignoring on the group you go on, I would just ignore those people right back! In fact, I would make a point of being as chummy and as sickly sweet as possible to everyone else, and try to exclude those that have tried to exclude me.

Grinkly Sun 10-Mar-13 14:37:51

when I first meet someone I start by assessing whether or not I like THEM rather than their opinion of me

Thanks for that Brettgirl - can't believe that it has never occurred to me to do that, just shows how ingrained the lack of confidence can be.

Grinkly Sun 10-Mar-13 14:41:28

I've really taken a step back from a lot of friendships lately, and I find if I do that, and give off an air of not giving a shit whether someone is my friend or not, people do seem more drawn to me

Ha, MrsMange I can believe this is the case too.

Some useful advice for you Herlordship.

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