Today we’re going to be talking about the pain of the friendship relationships that steal your joy. Specifically, toxic friends. Have you ever struggled with a friendship that has gone array? Perhaps you invested yourself fully into a friendship only to find out that the relationship was a bit one-sided, or perhaps even a toxic friendship? If so, then today is the perfect show for you.
There’s something wrong with your friendship, but you can’t figure out what. Is everything in your head? Unfortunately, most of us have a few toxic friends over the course of our life. Toxic friendships happen to everyone, but we seldom identify the underlying issues while we battle confusion or the friendship breaks up. Friendships can be hard but breaking up is even harder. Maybe you’re left bewildered in the friendship’s wake, paralyzed to move forward.
On today’s show we are going to be talking to Mary DeMuth. After wading through several difficult relationships with toxic friends, Mary reveals the seven different types of toxic friendships and empowers you to identify the messiest relationships causing you the greatest anguish.
I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of her book, The Seven Deadly Friendships and offered my written endorsement: “In 30 years as a mental health practitioner, I’ve had the privilege of working with patients who have struggled with and suffered because of toxic friends, akin to those detailed in The Seven Deadly Friendships. Mary helps us identify those toxic relationships and then points us to seven life-giving practices to help us receive and extend healthy friendships.”
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The toxic friendships are based on the seven deadly sins listed in Proverbs 6: haughty eyes, lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who sows discord in a family.
Almost all sins are relational in some sort of way, whether they are relational toward God or toward others.
The difficult relationships we face that coordinate with the seven deadly sins are: Narcissist Nolan, Unreliable Uma, Predator Paige, Conman Connor, Temptor Trevor, Faker Fiona, and Dramatic Drake.
For each of these types of relationships, we need to know what the scriptures say about them, but we also need to ask ourselves the question, “Am I like this?”
Relationships are built on two or more individuals, and we each play a role in their success or their failure.
We need to examine our hearts and become better friends, because the stuff of life is built on friendships.
Friendship breakups can be even more painful than a romantic breakup. Part of the reason for that is because we don’t expect it. When you are dating someone to find a mate, you anticipate kissing a few frogs before finding the prince to spend your life with. But especially as women, we tend to look at friendships and expect them to be lifelong and not just for a season. When they break up, we are left wondering “what’s wrong with me?”
The deadly friendship that seemed like it would be the least common was actually one of the most common: Conman Connor. When you have equated a relationship with finances or money, which can be as simple as someone friending you on facebook only to turn around and ask you to buy their awesome product, that is quite common. Just about everyone has experienced that kind of a relationship. That is a transactional view of relationship and we need to be super cautious about that.
When that happens we are left feeling dirty because we were used, and our relationship is undervalued because they only want you for the dollar sign.
In today’s world, Faker Fiona is common. That’s someone with cameleon-like tendencies because we present one way online but often different in person.
Narcissistic personalities are often difficult to identify because they present as charming and engaging, rather than controlling and manipulative.
It can be hard after a friendship breakup because we blame ourselves even when people with predatory or narcissistic tendencies are skilled at preying on others.
It helps to ask, “Why was I attracted to people who are so self-absorbed, or who were preying on me?”
It often goes back to childhood, thinking that if we could just get those personality types to love us, then they would complete our incomplete story from childhood.
The Lord has to be the completer of our story. He is perfect, He is loving, He loves me no matter what. He can complete that love need that we have.
This is not meant to just point the finger, but to help us grow and change and become better friends to others.
Relationship is a good thing. God said it was not good for Adam to be alone so He created a companion for Adam in the Garden of Eden. But sin has come into the world, so now it’s a matter of learning how to grow AND how to guard our heart.
Jesus had very close relationships with twelve, not with thousands. He modeled for us how to choose good relationships and invest in relationships that want reciprocity.
If we imagine the freedom to walk away, and think about how God may heal us, or heal the other person, that can truly be healing to know that things will be okay even if we walk away.
It also helps to consult an unbiased party who is not involved in the relationship to get their perspective; either a trusted friend or a counselor.
Whether you rely on a couple of close friends who have your back but will speak the truth in love, or a therapist who is unbiased and can offer an unbiased perspective, a neutral third party can reflect the truth back to you so that this doesn’t have to continue as a lifelong cycle. Therapy helps you determine why you continue to choose the same behavior repeatedly.
If you feel like you are the one contributing to a relationship, we always have the opportunity to apologize, and repentance does amazing things. But it takes two for reconciliation.
If God removes someone from your life, don’t go chasing after them. There is a reason He removed them.
It’s not up to us to change other people, we are responsible for our own behavior.
Don’t let past pain embitter you to future relationships. If you never open your heart again to safe community, you will spiral down in bitterness.
Our prayer for you is that you might identify relationships that are truly not healthy friends, so you can do something about them and remain in community.
Proverbs 13:20 says “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Recommended Resources: (If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).
Find out if you are currently in one of the 7 toxic friendships by taking this quiz: The Deadly Friendship Quiz
Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, winner of the Christian Literary Award Reader’s Choice Award.
Hope Prevails Bible Study by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, winner of the Christian Literary Award Reader’s Choice Award.
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Guest: Mary DeMuth, author, speaker, podcaster
Mary DeMuth is a writer and speaker who loves to help people live re-storied lives. Author of more than 30 books, including parenting books, Southern fiction, and a memoir entitled Thin Places, Mary speaks around the country and the world. Today, Mary is giving of her time to share with us in order that we might enjoy the fruit of healthy friendships.
Hosted By: Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Audio Technical Support: Bryce Bengtson