Kick 'em to the curb, people.
People obtain (and lose) different types of friendships throughout their lives, and this is both a good thing and a bad thing. Your friends are a testament to your state of mind, and they change through your life as your values do.
If you've come to find yourself surrounded by people who tend to make you feel worse, as opposed to better, it might be time to do some house cleaning. There are two ways to do this: by looking at yourself, and looking at your company. While it's always best to do both, this article concentrates on the latter. After all, you're only as decent as the company you keep.
Here are four types of friends who really drag you down.
1. The Professor
No one knows when, exactly, they acquire this friend. The professor is unique, in that they sink into your life when you least expect it. They're there when you don't need a shoulder to cry on but need someone to tell you what's what in a bad breakup or relationship. They're there to tell you exactly what the situation is all about. You feel relieved that you found them because they understand exactly what's going on, even when you're terrible at explaining things.
Unfortunately, what makes The Professor so captivating and intriguing will also be what drags you down. How can they know all this? Their IQ is very high, and their memory is very good. Academic (even if they're not formally educated), skeptical, and at worst, cynical, the professor unfortunately remains very low on EQ.
Whatever your aspirations, they will undoubtedly have a logical fallacy in them. Theirs, of course, will not, because they've danced around everything in their own head, to the point where their dreams are most likely highly logical, attainable ... and boring. Probably even to them.
Keeping The Professor around too long can be terminal to your dreams, and possibly even your life. Hang around with them too long and you'll become terminally depressed, most likely developing a number of physical conditions as well.
How to get them gone? What seems to work is telling them that the sky is purple. Or insisting that AU isn't gold on the periodic table. As a last measure, insist that they're wrong about something. Anything. This will usually do the trick.
2. The Self-Doubter
When you think of a friend, you usually think of someone who will be there for you through thick and thin, just as you are for them. It's a mutual understanding that doesn't need to be said or even expounded on. But there's one type of friend that will leave you a bit tied up: the Self-Doubter.
People don't spot the Self-Doubter right away because their personality is quiet, but don't be fooled — it's insidious. It will start off with a seemingly innocent question while you're doing something innocuous, such as shopping or strolling, but there will be a particularly self-depreciating and needy tone underscoring it. "Do you think...?"
This is where the connection begins. They have an internal battle with their own confidence all the time. The battle is too intense for them to deal with on an internal basis, so once they find a willing receptacle, the need for validation in the form of direct questions or indirect pitying sentences will never end.
The downward spiral will happen over the course of time so the Self-Doubter doesn't look obvious, but soon you'll be caught up in a web of cheering, even if it's something the Self-Doubter has a natural talent for. They will passive-aggressively say they can't do anything in life, even though they clearly have skills and talents that outmatch yours.
Years might pass before you realize that you've spent innumerable dinners telling the Self-Doubter they can definitely "do this and that," all the while neglecting your own talents.
So how do you break free? Just tell them you think you're better than they are. Or if you don't want to be so direct, show them. The Self-Doubter will be so hurt that they will immediately extend their friend finder app to a 30-mile radius to replace you with someone who will be more encouraging.
3. The Striving Slouch
There are times when you want to just relax and have a nice beverage. You've probably acquired a special friend who tells you, constantly, how he wants to strive for bigger and better, as he dawns black sunglasses and beefs up his video game collection on a workday. This friend has a unique title because you can have a huge amount of fun with them, but the fun will come with a steep consequence.
The Striving Slouch seems like they would be the best kind of friend. In fact, what makes the Striving Slouch so awesome is their fierce desire to do better. When you're just starting to get your feet wet in the 9-to-5 environment, the Striving Slouch can serve as a motivator. The difference? They will share their dreams openly, but will never actually act upon them.
This becomes noticeable after you've made some progress with your life and they haven't. When you've established your career, they will leave traces that seem natural, but upon closer inspection spells trouble for advancing your life. You might notice that your Netflix watch list has grown to over 200 titles. Then, you may notice that there are a dozen reality shows on your DVR.
Your phone fills up with friends that the Striving slouch regularly invites to your place. This is particularly bad during the holidays, as they feel that you get them more than anybody else, so they will hang at your place more, attracting a lot of people to your holiday parties, while making your checkbook climb with charges that subtly add up. Over time, you'll start funding a number of their habits without really realizing it.
The toughest thing about this type of friend is that they're not manipulative. They are, in fact, one of the most loyal, cool people you know — just one who hasn't found a job yet. The only thing you can do is to put your foot down. Call them out. This will be good for both of you. Either they'll take the hint and begin to buck up, or they'll be angry enough with you to cut ties. Either way, the truth has been told in the name of positive growth.
4. The Glowing Gossip
This friend is by far the most friendly weapon in your circle. The Glowing Gossip's charm is in their attitude. They're extremely friendly. You've probably met them while at a function or a social event, as you both shake your head at the woman embarrassing herself on the dance floor.
Indeed, the Glowing Gossip is very popular in any group of friends they inhabit because of their extremely friendly nature. They can easily attach to many people within your circle and blend in anywhere. Unfortunately, this is what makes them such a compelling disaster.
Their natural instinct is to tell everyone else what you're thinking and feeling, and tell you what everyone else is thinking and feeling, even private information like your foot odor problem and your eating habits. The Glowing Gossip collects information and files it for later regurgitation, in the manner of a flashy press release.
What makes this so dangerous is the fact that nothing is secret. Everyone will know about the time you made out with that co-worker at the Christmas party, or when you were so tired that you accidentally dropped your dog off at your kid's pre-school. Plus, they'll fill every nook and cranny of your mind with useless information about others, distorting your perception and keeping you small-minded and negative.
Fortunately, the Glowing Gossip is one of the easiest friends to spot. You probably already know who they are in your life, even as you read this. The best way to get away from them? Don't participate in the gossip. Don't feed into it. They'll eventually get the idea and begin to distance themselves from you.