Everyone has at least one person they can confide in and get honest feedback in return from — Dr. Andrea Bonior. But our “Baggage Check” columnist hopes you have other folks in your life who can fill that role, too. Bonior’s first book, “The Friendship Fix” ($16), helps readers navigate every step from bonding to breaking up. Use this excerpt to find out whether the latter might be necessary.
1) You do not like the person you become when you’re around that friend.
Maybe you feel passive-aggressive or even downright aggressive, or you notice that you have a sharper edge to you. Perhaps you feel petty or jealous, or must admit that you don’t really seem to want the best for your friend. This may manifest itself not just in regular flickers of jealousy but in an overarching feeling that you don’t want her to succeed.
2) Your friend does not seem to appreciate the person you are.
You find yourself constantly embarrassed by how late you sleep or how big your feet are or the fact that you couldn’t tell anise from arsenic. You feel underappreciated for your real self and have a nagging urge to cover up what you perceive to be your “flaws.” (Or maybe you want to flaunt them aggressively in your friend’s face, just to get some pleasure from getting on her nerves.) You’re embarrassed when you say the wrong thing, or “screw up” something (which seems to happen a lot), or you have the nagging feeling that your friend seems to appreciate you only conditionally.
3) The words you would use to describe that friend are not flattering.
You find yourself dwelling on unfavorable characteristics or making fun of the person in your head. You feel condescension or resentment toward her, not just from one particular event, but in general. You’re not laughing with her — you’re laughing at her. Let’s be honest: You just don’t seem to like her anywhere.
4) The friendship feels totally unbalanced.
You feel that reciprocity in your relationship has gradually been lost or was never there to begin with. This could be because you feel that you are pulling all the weight in the relationship. Other times, it’s that someone is always trying to do so much for you, and you don’t feel as interested in returning the favor; her kindness feels more like a burden than a gift.
5) Your friend is bringing out bad behaviors in you.
When you’re around her, you drink a lot more, feel your creativity stifled, try too hard to conform, or perhaps become more cruel and dishonest. Maybe there are more tangible markers, like your job or grades are more in jeopardy the more time you spend with this person. Either way, this reeks of “bad influence.”
From The Friendship Fix by Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. Copyright (c) 2011 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.