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Writer – Shannon Stecker

My mentor once shared that true wealth is not monetary, but how we invest in other people, and how we are remembered. I’ve spent the better part of my 20-somethings reflecting on this concept – pondering over my impact on lost friendships, and relationships. (For the sake of redundancy, let’s consider them all “relationships.”) I’ve wanted to understand how my actions played a role in the outcome.

Confession: I have been the toxic friend we all hate to be friends with.

Learning this forced me to reevaluate my relationships to understand how painful my behavior has been to the people close to me. How do they currently feel about me? How would they remember me if I were gone? In a previous column, I made it a point to share that if you find it difficult to maintain relationships with other people, after a while, it’s not them, it’s you. To go a step further, if you’ve been a part of a long-standing relationship that abruptly ended, did you stop to consider how you contributed to its demise? Were you the toxic person? Hell Naw, right? It’s clearly not your fault. It’s never your fault I’m sure. But before jumping to conclusions, ask yourself this:

  1. Has this person ever found success, love or happiness in situations in life where you are lacking, and you felt a twinge of jealousy?
  2. Have you ever shared distasteful information about them after a disagreement, or after you are no longer close?
  3. Did you invalidate what they felt because it didn’t align with what you felt, or your experience?
  4. Did you become jealous when they created new friendships with other people?
  5. Have you ever been in a bad mood, and grown unnecessarily angry, or spiteful toward them because of it?

As I’ve grown I’ve learned that it’s best to accept responsibility for these actions and address them. Think about your own situations: did you do all you could to make the relationship last? While a lot of us have exhibited the above behaviors at least once in their (change to OUR) lives, we only actively become toxic if these actions become consistent. Considering this, I charge you to evaluate your past, and current relationships to assess your behavior. If you were someone else, would you want to be your friend? If not, you may be more toxic than you think.




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