We are increasingly mobile individuals. Whether it’s because of the American spirit, the advancement of technology, or expanding marketplaces, gone are the days when the average individual remains in one community for a lifetime. No where is this more apparent than within the military community, where a family can put down roots in Texas, South Carolina, and Alaska in a matter of years.
While this portability allows us to branch out and explore new cultures, it also requires a continual formation of new relationships. And while this may provide healthy avenues to expand our support systems, it also leaves us vulnerable to more predatory individuals.
The following archetypes are toxic friendships to avoid; they will prevent you from establishing healthy relationships with others, may take you away from your family or career, and have the potential to escalate to abuse. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to avoid these individuals entirely-you may even recognize some of them in your past or present life. The key is spotting them, putting your emotional and mental health first, and exiting the relationship.
1. The Perpetual Victim: ‘Woe is me!’
At first, the Perpetual Victim will draw you in because you can relate: you understand the challenges of marriage, military life, the shaky economy, or the lack of good people/friends in the world. You don’t realize you’re dealing with a predatory Perpetual Victim because they’ll suck you in by talking about legitimate-sounding problems, like: they’re fighting with their spouse, money is tight, their children are having trouble in school, their family expects too much.
But after a few months time spent in the company of this type of ‘friend,’ you find yourself depressed, zapped of energy, helpless. Every Facebook status they post details (or leaves purposefully vague) some sort of hardship in their life. There are the do-gooders who write notes of encouragement (perhaps you’re one of them!), but you’ll realize that those notes of encouragement are actually the purpose of the online post. The trouble with Perpetual Victims is their desire to feed off the goodwill offered them as a result of any supposedly destructive situation. They’re never going to change because they don’t want to change–a friendship with a Perpetual Victim will likely lead to frustration, sadness, and toxic friendships anxiety on your end. Ultimately, these relationships are very one-sided: there is no room for you amid their complaints.
*Note: The Perpetual Victim archetype is not to be confused with a victim of domestic abuse, family abuse, or depression. The Perpetual Victim archetype is usually not experiencing any type of abuse or victimhood; they are instead creating a scenario (real or imaged) that makes them victim for the sole purpose of eliciting sympathy and attention.