Farewell to the Fair-Weather Friend
An examination of all the terrible people in our lives and how to cut them out
By Sammi Divito
Our lives are a collection of the people we meet and the moments we share with them. We forge relationships and hold fast, seeking comfort and companionship from the people around us. The world is often a chaotic, confusing place, and the shelter of a good friend is sought out as one traipses through the turmoil of their day-to-day life. This might explain why it’s so easy for individuals to let terrible people into their lives, allowing this toxic person’s (sometimes unintended) malice tear them apart. These people are aptly named “fair-weather friends” —friends who are only nice when it’s convenient for them. They disappear in times of difficulty and can be cruel when completely unwarranted. Yet, no matter what they’ve said or done in the past, when things go awry in their own lives, they’ll come crawling back, begging for a shoulder to cry on.
Most people have had to deal with at least one of these unfortunate friends in their lifetime. It can be difficult, however, to differentiate the good from the bad — or in this case, the real friends from the fair-weather ones. There are tell-tale signs of a toxic friend: they allow others to constantly reach out and make plans without any reciprocation; they dish out criticism but can’t take any; they lack empathy, and they make others feel small and unimportant. While these may seem like glaringly obvious indicators, it can be easy to overlook or dismiss such behaviors. We stay in bad friendships for many of the same reasons we stay in bad relationships. At one point, that friendship was close to perfect. People blind themselves with their own rose-colored glasses, remembering only the good parts and hoping that their now unhealthy friendship will eventually return to its former glory.
But it won’t. The depressing truth is that there are unpleasant people out there who simply make crappy friends, and this becomes increasingly difficult to recognize the longer you know someone. Imagine having a best friend since grade school, growing up together, going to college together, and suddenly realizing this person you’ve trusted forever makes you feel insecure and unloved. After countless years of putting trust into this person, they suddenly seem to be straying further and further away from the confidante you once knew. Despite this, that fear of change and conflict is enough to make a person ignore the pitfalls in their friendship.
A bad friend can cause the body to display stress-related symptoms such as high blood pressure, lowered immunity, depression, lack of self-esteem, and anxiety. In fact, BBC News reported about an Australian study that was conducted over the course of ten years that found that people who were in comfortable, solid friend groups were 22% more likely to live longer. So, at the end of the day, to escape the afflictions of unhealthy friendships, it’s just a matter of finding the strength to tear off that Band-Aid and give your toxic friend the finger. Every person deserves to feel appreciated in their friendships, and they need to give themselves the opportunity to grow. There are thousands of people in the world who are more willing and capable of giving you the love that your fair-weather friend never did.
The question though, is after finding yourself plagued by a fair-weather friend, what do you do? It would be best to talk to them first; explain how they make you feel and why it’s unfair. Give them a chance to hear your story and try to fix things, but if they don’t change their behavior, which isnotuncommon, begin the breakup process. Don’t blame the friend (they often have their own issues) but commence to detoxify your life and move on for the better. Create distance. These people do not have to necessarily disappear completely, but some space needs to be established. Begin focusing on the lighter people in your life — people who lift you up rather than drag you down. Recognize that you are deserving of only kindness. And give yourself time, because, despite the difficulty of losing a friend, one day, you’ll find yourself confidently saying a final farewell to that fair-weather friend.