“Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called ‘perfection’, which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.” ~ Dan Pearce, ‘Single Dad Laughing’
People obtain (and lose) different types of friends all throughout their lives, and this is both a good thing and a bad thing. Your friends are a testament to your state of mind, and they change as you grow, just as your values do.
If you’ve come to find yourself surrounded by people who tend to make you feel worse, as opposed to better, it might be time to do some house cleaning.
There are two ways to do this: by looking at yourself, and looking at your company. While it’s always best to do both, this article concentrates on the latter. After all, you’re only as decent as the company you keep.
Here are four types of friends I believe really drag you down.
1) The Professor
No one knows when, exactly, they acquire this friend. The professor is unique, in that they sink into your life when you least expect it. They are there when you don’t need a shoulder to cry on but need someone to tell you what’s what in a bad breakup or relationship. They are there to tell you exactly what the situation is all about.
You feel relieved that you found The Professor because The Professor understands exactly what’s going on even when you are often terrible at explaining things.
Unfortunately, what makes The Professor so captivating and intriguing will also be what drags you down. Want to write a book that details a fictional world that’s been banging around in your head for years?
Don’t tell The Professor any of what’s in your head. The Professor will readily reveal every possible way that the story can have a plot hole, and they’ll tell you exactly who’s done something similar, rattling off poor sales statistics and the like.
How can they know all this? Their IQ is very high, and their memory is very good. Academic (even if they’re not formally educated), skeptical, and at worst, cynical, the professor unfortunately remains very low on EQ. They’ve forgotten about the power of dreams, and of simply doing something for the fun of it.
Whatever your aspirations, they will undoubtedly have a logical fallacy in them. Theirs, of course, will not, because they’ve danced around everything in their own head, to the point where their dreams are most likely highly logical, attainable. . . and boring. Probably even to them.
Keeping The Professor around too long can be terminal to your dreams, and possibly even your life. That’s how draining this type of intellectual snafu-ing can be. Hang around with them too long and you’ll become terminally depressed, most likely developing a number of psychosomatic conditions as well. The Professor is a true psychic vampire.
How To Disengage:
What seems to work is telling them that the sky is purple. Or insisting that AU is not gold on the periodic table. As a last measure, insist that The Professor is wrong about something. Anything. This will usually do the trick.
2) The Self-Doubter
When you think of a friend, you usually think of someone who will be there for you through thick and thin, just as you are for them. It’s a mutual understanding that doesn’t need to be said or even expounded on. It’s just friendship, after all — but there’s one type of friend that will leave you a bit tied up. The Self-Doubter.
People don’t spot the Self-Doubter right away because their personality is quiet. Yet don’t be fooled– it’s insidious. It will start off with a seemingly innocent question while you’re doing something innocuous, such as shopping or strolling, but there will be a particularly self-depreciating and needy tone underscoring it: “Do you think…?”
This is where the connection — or need exchange, imbalanced as it is — begins. They have an internal battle with their own confidence, all the time. The battle is too intense for them to deal with on an internal basis, so once they find a willing receptacle, the need for validation in the form of direct questions or indirect pitying sentences will never end.
The downward spiral will happen over the course of time so the Self-Doubter doesn’t look obvious, but soon, you’ll be caught up in a web of cheering, even if it’s something the Self-Doubter has a natural talent for. The Self-Doubter will passively-aggressively say they can’t do anything in life, even though they clearly have skills and talents that, often times, outmatch yours.
As stated in the beginning, this type of behaviour is insidious. Years might pass before you realize that you’ve spent innumerable dinners telling the Self-Doubter they can definitely do ‘this and that’, all the while neglecting your own talents.
How To Disengage:
Just tell them that you think you’re better than they are. Or, if you don’t want to be so direct, show them. Granted, this is almost as egregious as stating your nose is shorter but it is for your own health and safety. The Self-Doubter will be so hurt that they will immediately extend their friend finder app to a 30 mile radius to replace you with someone who will be more encouraging. . . forever.
3) The Striving Slouch
There are times when you want to just relax and have a nice beverage as you and your friend play video games. You’ve probably acquired a special friend who tells you, constantly, how he wants to strive for bigger and better as he dawns black sunglasses and beefs up his video game collection on a workday.
This friend has a unique title because you can have a huge amount of fun with them but the fun will come with a steep consequence, and it won’t be on your Netflix cue.
The Striving Slouch seems like they would be the best kind of friend. In fact, what makes the Striving slouch so awesome is their fierce desire to do better.
When you’re just starting to get your feet wet in the 9 to 5 environment, the Striving Slouch can serve as a motivator. After all, if you know someone wants better, just as you do, then that will give you incentive to work like an elephant towards your goals.
The difference? The Striving Slouch will share their dreams openly, but will never actually act upon them.
This becomes noticeable after you’ve made some progress with your life, and they haven’t. After you’ve established a little footing in your career, the Striving Slouch will leave traces that seem natural, but, upon closer inspection, spell trouble for advancing your life.
You might notice that your Netflix watch list has grown to over 200 titles. Then, you may notice that there are a dozen or more reality shows on your DVR, especially America’s Got Talent and American Idol. Your phone fills up with friends that the Striving slouch regularly invites to your place. This is particularly bad during the holidays, as the Striving Slouch feels that you ‘get them’ more than anybody else, so they will hang at your place more, attracting a lot of people to your holiday parties while, all the while, making your checkbook climb with charges that subtly add up. Over time, you’ll start funding a number of their habits while beginning to be aware of it.
The toughest thing about this type of friend is that they’re not manipulative. They are, in fact, one of the coolest, most loyal people you know– just one who hasn’t found a job yet. And probably won’t.
How To Disengage:
The only thing you can do with this type of friend is put your foot down. Call them out. This will be good for both of you. Either they’ll take the hint and begin to buck up, or they’ll be angry enough with you to cut ties. Either way, the truth has been told in the name of positive growth.
4) The Glowing Gossip
This acquaintance is by far the one with the most friendly weapons in your circle. The Glowing Gossip’s charm is in their attitude. They’re extremely friendly. You’ve probably met the glowing gossip while at a function or a social event, as you both shake your head at the woman embarrassing herself on the dance floor doing ‘the twist’.
Indeed, the glowing gossip is very popular in any group of friends they inhabit because of their extremely friendly nature. The Glowing Gossip can easily attach to many people within your circle and blend in anywhere. Unfortunately, this is what makes them such a compelling disaster.
The Glowing Gossip’s natural instinct is to tell everyone else what you are thinking and feeling, and tell you what everyone else is thinking and feeling– even private information like your foot odour problems and your eating habits.
The Glowing Gossip collects information and files it for later regurgitation, in the manner of a flashy press release. Everyone will know about your problems, and you, in turn, will learn a number of so-called ‘useful’ things about others from the glowing gossip.
What makes this so dangerous is the fact that nothing is secret. Everyone will know about the time you made out with that co-worker at the Christmas party, or when you were so tired you fell asleep and were two hours late for picking your kid up from preschool. Hang out with them long enough and they’ll fill every nook and cranny of your mind with useless information about others, distorting your perception and keeping you small-minded and negative.
How To Disengage:
Fortunately, the Glowing Gossip is one of the easiest friends to spot. You probably already know who they are in your circle, even as you read this.
The best way to get away from them? Don’t participate in the gossip. It’s that simple. Don’t feed into it. They’ll eventually get the idea and begin to distance themselves from you.
Although, you’ll definitely need to change your privacy settings on your Facebook and other social media.