You know we have all that “one” friend. That one friend that has nothing positive to say. That one friend that can manage to drain every conversation and make you second guess if you like the world. That one friend that is never happy and always wants to bring you down. You know who I’m talking about. You have that friend. That friend that sulks and hates their life and makes you want to sulk and hate your life, too. Negative. Fucking. Nancy. Everyone has that one person (or two) in their life, and fuck, they can be hard to manage. I know I have a few people in my life that fit this description, and while I desperately want to help them see the brighter side of life, I know it’s impossible.
I’ve learned as a mother of two that friendships are hard. It’s hard enough to maintain play dates, girls’ nights out, or even the occasional shopping trip with girl friends. Forget trying to have a date night. There’s no fucking time! It’s hard balancing life as a mom and wife while still maintaining friendships. I have always sucked at making and keeping friends. I’m just not a social person, and I’m not someone you would call caring. I struggle balancing my own hectic lifestyle so throwing a few friendships on top of everything else is difficult. But much like the rest of the world, I tend to have a “Negative Nancy” or two in my life at all times. Sometimes I feel like people with drama are attracted to me. So with much trial and error, I think I’ve learned how to manage these types of friendships (or at least I’d like to think so).
Maintain firm boundaries. Nothing is worse than getting sucked into someone’s negativity. Be sure to set boundaries and allow yourself an “out.” Don’t feel guilty if you don’t respond to a text or abruptly end a conversation. Don’t feel guilty if you choose not to enter into a conversation. Negative people can easily bring you down into their world, but by allowing yourself to leave the conversation gives you the opportunity to stay above water. Boundaries don’t make you a bad person or a bad friend. Boundaries keep you sane so you can be there for that friend when they need it the most.
You can’t fix anyone. These friendships are hard because I know my “Negative Nancy” friends are merely struggling with their own internal issues. I know the negativity and drama is merely low self esteem, depression and/or anxiety… I know it’s a result of a trauma or a piss poor childhood. But I always remind myself that this person can only fix themselves. Nothing I say or do is going to help them. I open myself up to this friend, but allow myself to understand that this person will only take what they want from the friendship. It’s a two way street. You are entitled to find your own happiness. You are not in charge of anyone else’s happiness. Much like an alcoholic, you can’t make them stop drinking or to seek help. The only way the process works is if the person is willing to change on their own. You can be a shoulder to cry on or a person to vent to, but don’t think you can save them. You can’t. Over the years, I’ve tried to be that savior. The “fixer” that thought I could bring my friends from a dark place to a happy one. I’ve failed at every single attempt. My job is not to save them. My job is to be there for support when they are ready to save themselves.
Don’t be afraid to say “no.” The friends in my life that tend to be negative are genuinely good people. They are caring, loving, and loyal. In my heart, I know these people have merely been dealt a shitty hand of cards and are struggling to stay above water. I keep them in my life because I know these things about them. But that doesn’t mean you have to hold onto yours. If you have a friend that sucks the life out of you, don’t feel obligated to stick around. Friendships are about balance. Give and take. There should be an equal amount of both. If you have a friend that does all the taking and none of the giving, don’t feel obligated to keep them around. Maintain your distance and end the friendship if necessary. Nothing is more frustrating than keeping a friend in your life merely because you feel you must.
Put yourself first. Considering your own mental health and well being is key in maintaining a well balanced, healthy lifestyle. Knowing what you can and can’t handle is important. Some days I’m on the top of my game and can really handle being around people that try to bring me down. I don’t allow them to get to me, and I do my best to change the energy in the room. Other days, I just can’t take much more than what my regular lifestyle has to offer. I struggle keeping my own head above water, and surrounding myself with “Negative Nancy” isn’t an option. It doesn’t make me selfish. It makes me smart.
“Putting yourself first is not selfish. Thinking about yourself constantly is selfish. Please respect the difference.”
My (very intelligent) family doctor has always given me the greatest advice when it comes to taking care of myself. “You know on an airplane when they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before placing it over the elderly and children? There’s a reason for that. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you’ll be too weak to take care of anyone else.” Genius.
I love the friendships I’ve maintained over the years. I love the people I have in my life. But as time passes, I’ve definitely learned how to balance these friendships in order to keep myself happy and complete. I don’t feel obligated to keep people in my life just for the hell of it. I don’t feel obligated to allow people to bring me down. I’ve learned that it’s ok to delete people from my life that have been there for years, and to open myself up to bright, new friendships. Friendships are hard. But that doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice myself to keep them. I’m not perfect. I’m not the perfect friend, either. As stated earlier, I really suck at friendships actually. But I try my damnedest not to be the “Negative Nancy” friend. I try to be positive and to look on the brighter side of life. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail… but that’s just the joy of being human.
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