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Detox From Toxic Friends

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I admit it: I have a friend that I'm afraid to totally ditch for fear she'll do something nasty to me.

OK, now your turn: You have toxic friendships, I know you do. It's time to admit it--and figure out why.

Maybe you have a friend who only wants to talk to you when there's bad news. Or a friend who tries to steal your boyfriend. Or the one who stands you up time after time. Or the one who talks incessantly about herself without ever giving you a chance to get a word in edgewise. If you're over the age of 30, I'll nearly guarantee you've had all these friends at some point. The bigger question is: what do you do about it?

For the most part, I am blessed with a wonderful network of tell-it-like-it-is female friends. So it was an interesting and eye-opening experience to read Toxic Friends, the latest book from gender and relationships writer Susan Shapiro Barash, about why our most treasured relationships can sometimes be fraught with issues.

Barash argues that in an era where we wait longer to marry, are more likely to divorce and, as women, are quite likely to outlive our spouses, female friendships are more important--and complicated--than ever. Losing a female friend can have more repercussions for a woman than breaking up with a boyfriend or a husband, she writes. Maybe this is why we girls often hold on to those destructive, toxic friendships.

Based on surveys and in person interviews with 200 women from all ages and backgrounds, Barash finds that there are 10 types of female friends:

The Leader (who rules the pack)
The Doormat (it starts in high school and never ends)
The Sacrificer (she'll do anything for you, always)
The Misery Lover (always down and out)
The User (it's all about what she can get from you)
Intimate Frenemies (insincere, sabotaging-through-a-smile)
The Trophy Friend (status, power and conquest in motion)
The Mirroring Friend (you seem to share it all because you are going through the same things)
The Sharer (open, gives of herself and her emotions)
The Authentic Friend (gives, receives and is the real-deal BFF)

With chapters devoted to each friend type, Barash provides vivid examples and advice on which friends we tolerate, which friends we must ditch and which friends we should keep for life--plus how to be an ideal friend yourself. And given the wide age-range of women she interviews, Toxic Friends can even be a good opener for a mother-daughter conversation about friendships--both a guide for mothers to work through their own friendships and a guide for daughters as they form those important bonds.

As a bonus, on her website, Barash includes two quizzes to determine who your toxic friends are and what kind of friend you are.

You do creepy liquid diet cleanses to detox your digestive system. Check out Toxic Friends to see if you relationships need a similar tune-up.

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