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Dr. Irene S. Levine Headshot

There's one in every bunch

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QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I was Googling 'toxic friends' and came across your blog. I am friends with a pretty great group of women, with the exception of one. I don't much care for her. She is, in my opinion, toxic, and I would rather not spend time with her.

Unfortunately, a couple of my other friends feel badly for her, and they don't see her as toxic. I don't want to make my friends choose her or me, that wouldn't help anything. Is there anything I can do in this situation other than make new friends (which I have been doing as well)?

Randi

ANSWER

Hi Randi,

You are in a difficult situation. What annoys you may not annoy someone else: People have different thresholds for what and how much they can tolerate from another person. Being part of a group multiples the number of personalities you have to deal with so your situation isn't uncommon.

It's great that you are aware of your feelings and figuring out how to handle them. You are absolutely correct about the futility of putting your friends in the middle and making them feel uncomfortable.

You have several choices that I can think of:

1) Minimize the time you spend with the group. You may find that your "toxic friend" is more tolerable in small doses.

2) Limit your involvement with the group to activities that allow for less intimate contact (e.g. going to the movies vs. going out to dinner).

3) Maintain relationships with the individuals from the group whom you like, rather than the group as a whole.

4) Start to make new friends to fill the gaps in your social life.

Your question is reminiscent of another I recently received from someone who disliked a guy that her friends were better able to tolerate. So some of the same advice would apply in your situation. You can read that post here.

Hope this is helpful.

Warm regards,
Irene

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